What to do with the BFG | And who is his back up?

I am a huge fan of Per Mertesacker. He lives football, always plays with passion and love for the shirt, is bright, leads on and off the pitch and reads the game so well. His shortcomings are well documented, but what I love about Per is that he made it to the top in spite of these. He focused on his qualities rather than his lack of pace and ability to turn around his own axis quickly, and by doing so he became world champion.

We get best value out of the BFG when we play deep and compact. In those games the German is pretty much unbeatable with great anticipation of what is to happen next and accurate and decisive interceptions. By playing fast and furious ankle biters around him, Arsene has been able to negate Per’s shortcomings to a large extent, and especially Koz, Bellerin and Coquelin have been a great support for him.

When we push up we are vulnerable to counter attacks, especially when we involve our FBs and central midfielders. Per is not one for running back and making a last ditch sliding tackle to save us from a deadly counterattack, and we witnessed another painful example of this on Sunday. Yet, these sort of situations do not happen often any more, and it is fair to say that the central midfielders did not protect the BFG on this occasion. I also remember Kompany of Citeh making exactly the same foul on Rooney a few seasons ago, which led to his sending off and a loss for the blue side of the rainy pooh hole that is Manchester.

I reckon Per’s qualities still far outweigh his lack of speed and agility, but that does not mean we should not look for an even better CB partner for Koz. Gabriel looks promising but mostly as a straight replacement for Koz. Can Koz become the new Mertesacker with Gabriel becoming the new Koz? The jury is still out on this, and both look more like Kolo Toure/Keown types than BFG/Sol/Adams types to me. I like to have a pit bull terrier and cool and decisive organiser in our CB pairing and I am not sure whether a Koz/Gabriel combo would offer this.

So who else offers cover for the BFG? You would say Chambers is the right type, but he is young and has a long way to go. And this makes me worry about our cover options in case of a serious injury to PM.

Love him or hate him, Per is a vital player in our team and finding good cover, and eventually a suitable replacement, is paramount. Who that should be is very hard to answer, but what do you think Fine Fellow Gooners?

By TotalArsenal.





19 thoughts on “What to do with the BFG | And who is his back up?

  • With Le Coq’s imminent return to the lineup we will see more deep lying players and less of players up front.

    So, BFG can breathe better and not worry about his form anymore. Gabby looks like he likes the right side of the defense better than the left, and Gabby and Kos pairing, abeit the lack of height to challenge dangerous high balls, is more than fit to take care of the area in front of Cech.


  • Interesting post Total
    I’ve always been a Big Friendly German fan, despite his many detractors.
    His organisation skills and unfussy interceptions, are often overlooked by his critics, who focus on his lack of pace and slowness on the turn.
    John Terry is of a similar ilk, but Mikel and Matic never deserted their post all afternoon and gave him the protection he needed last Sunday.
    If you play Mertesaker, then it’s blindingly obvious that you don’t leave him exposed.
    BFG might be 31, but he hasn’t got any pace to lose, so there’s no reason why he cannot go on for awhile yet…
    A young understudy, of the stopper variety, would be handy though.
    I can’t see anybody in the Academy who fits the bill, so hopefully the scouts are keeping their eyes peeled…
    Matthias Ginter of Borussia Dortmund was one who we were linked with 18 months ago. I believe he’s quite a tall, commanding defender.

  • Per mertesacker is too clamsy to be a professional soccer player, if was from Asia, Africa or latin, he would not even make to 1st league, but being from Europe has its purks, he plays for a top 4 team. Wenger has his way of selecting players, you don’t have to be a great player, but someone with few followers to bring the numbers high. If it was for greatness, Resicky should play every Arsenal game. Resicky is one of the top 10 mid-field players in Europe, but Wenger wasted his golden playing years on the bench. The funny part is that Wenger lable players as injury prone, but the problem is when players don’t get playing chance their moral will be down and when they are called for 5-10 minutes they will be prone to injury. I hope wenger will reflect to such comments and realize his errors in his team selection. I realize the difficulty coaches face sellecting players, but making the same error time and time again is plain wrong. Arsenal Fans would very much like to see Resicky (Mozart) playing again.

  • I agree there are some players that Wenger has wasted…e.g if not coz of injuries Arteta was always in the team over Le coq, chamberlaine over campbell and even Rosicky when fit is better than many guys in the team. Any player benched for long leads to rust n injuries. Wenger needs to play Gabrie frequently in place of PM so that he gels with Koz.

  • Blazor, it’s a moot point if BFG would have ‘made it’ outside of Europe mate.

    Watching the Germans dismantle the Brazillians in the World Cup, doesn’t that make you wonder if the Europeans might have it right…?

  • i cannot believe what i am reading! Mertisacker is the worst defender in the premier league! Pascal Cygan was better than him! He has cpst us so many points with his awful defending and lack of ability to run or pass a football. The man is a total waste of space! Play Chambers and we might uncover another Jon stones? noy gonna improve unless he plays. THE BFG wont improve he is garbage. If i was Gabriel i would leave… if he aint better than a man who is as mobile as a brick wall he may as well quit.

  • Total, I’ve not seen Ginter play myself, just one of those little snippets that you see.
    He was at Frieburg when he was linked to Arsenal.
    He just looked/seemed a classic Wenger signing at the time.
    Since then he has moved to Dortmund and played for the German National team.

  • TA, Another fine & balanced post… Not exactly what you hear from a lot of Gooners about the BFG (including some who responded here…) but I think you’ve covered all the essential elements… I esp. appreciate the notes on his leadership and the (small) photo showing him yelling at Ozil to go and salute the traveling support after a disappointing result…

    My take on things is that the PL puts extreme demands on defenders these days as league policy is all about creating more goals. As such, the benefit of the doubt for referees is almost always in favor of the attacking side. Having a calm head (towering over others) in the box is thus a good thing. Pushed up further, Like you say, there’s not a lot worse than seeing Mertesacker chasing back towards goal trying to cut out passes beyond our back line…

    On the other hand, you can’t teach size (basketball cliche…) and that alone makes the BFG valuable, esp. at set pieces and for teams playing the more traditional English style of Route 1 and/or down the wing and cross it style of play… Those teams, however, (incl. Chavs at home…) are usually ones we hope to beat so the CBs push up (high line and offside trap) and also push out wide to cover for our marauding FBs… In other words, Mert is most useful in matches where our style of play demands putting him most at risk for looking very, very poor on the turn and chase…

    But, like you also say, if the DMs and the defenders on the other flank have the recovery pace which the BFG lacks, we should be OK, hence the notion of partnerships of two CBs with differing qualities. Likewise a keeper who can come off his line decisively also really helps… Perhaps Admir has a point, playing the BFG with Flamini as the deepest lying MF is a recipe for disaster… Should’ve bought Pogba/Schneiderlin/Wanyama/Busquets/Anybody…

    I think Chambers and Gabriel look pretty good for their ages and their experience in English football. Landing another big, mobile and intelligent defender–with real leadership skills–would be great esp. if they had the ball skills of Stones. Gary Cahill wants out at Chelsea, is he our guy? Better ask Petr Cech for a scouting report… Like “world class strikers,” (however) these players are at a real premium these days, so, while it can be argued that we have the money and just need to “push out the boat,” we should be sure that teams like City, Chavs, United (and the traditional giants in the continental leagues) are happy to push it (the boat) out further. Hopefully we’re scouting good replacements who we can snatch up who might surprise us AND develop over time… Still a couple of days left in this window, so maybe a surprise awaits… HAHAHAHA…

    That doesn’t really answer the question (Who is his sub?)… For this season, probably no one, as that size and leadership–organizationally and in terms of the ability to take things a game at a time–is critical. More immediately is the question about who plays in the BFG’s spot while he serves his ban, i.e., vs Burnley in the cup? I’m guessing Chambers…

    Apologies for the long-winded answer…

  • “You can’t teach size” – love it Seventeenho, and so true. Is it true that Cahill wants out? If so let’s snap him up. I have always liked him and his relationship with Cech and Koz could develop in something extraordinary over time.

    Good point about who will cover for BFG this Saturday. Chambers seems to most likely option indeed. Debuchy maybe?

  • Per’s weakness is glaring, but his strengths which are many are so subtle that they escape the uninitiated. Talk about his ability to kill an opponent’s attack by shear positioning. Or his skill in anticipating and intercepting a pass, so much more effective than a tackle in the sense that your team is able to launch an attack while the opponents are still not shorn of their attack mode. Or his incredible awareness of being able to pick the exact moment to step forward to make the opponent offside. And least we forget he dominates the air without having to leap and of all our CDers he is the best at passing the ball out of the rear.

    100 plus caps for Germany means that these subtle qualities are held in high esteem by the initiated and Wenger belongs to that fraternity.

    There is a technique of Per’s that I want to highlight. It took me time to grow into it. Per is the master of the judgement of probabilities. For example when he forces an opponent to assume a narrow angle to our goal, despite knowing that that player has, say, a 10 % chance of scoring he allows him to shoot. In comparison he reflexly understands that attempting to block or tackle could cause a deflection, an infringement and a booking, or the attacker even getting past the tackler. Possibly born out of experience he appreciates that the negatives of the block/tackle outweigh the negatives of allowing the man to shot from that angle. That ability is perfect discrimination and shows a mastery of the art of checking the rush of the blood to the head.

    Ironically this his masterful acquisition went missing in that Costa tackle. It was most uncharacteristic of him. Possibly that glance towards either the linesman or Kosh fractionally undermined his judgement.

    IMO, Per remains a valuable member of the squad. The day we will play Leicester, who invite the high line only to let loose the incredibly fast and athletic Vardy behind the defensive lines, will find me praying ferverently that Per be found sitting on the bench.

  • “We get best value out of the BFG when we play deep and compact. In those games the German is pretty much unbeatable with great anticipation of what is to happen next and accurate and decisive interceptions. By playing fast and furious ankle biters around him, Arsene has been able to negate Per shortcomings to a large extent, and especially Koz, Bellerin and Coquelin have been a great support for him.”

    Once Per retires, this should be a part of his biography. Brilliant description. πŸ™‚

    I agree with 17 regarding Per’s size. When he first arrived, I was thrilled we were finally getting a central defender who wouldn’t allow dozens of goals from the set-pieces. It was frustrating to watch in 2010-11 when almost every corner or an indirect free-kick was a clear-cut chance for the opponents. 😦

    I would also add something that should be part of Laurent Koscielny’s biography. I think that, while Koscielny’s pace has bailed Per out many, many times, it was Per who has enabled that Kos’ qualities get used in the best possible way. When Kos was paired up with Vermaelen, it was usually a double trouble because they were the same type of a central defender. Koscielny’s positioning has led him to many, many conceded penalties and own goals, especially in his first two-and-half seasons at Arsenal. From the moment his partnership with Per was established, Kos has turned into a world-class central defender.

    Then, there is a sense Per has been a captain of our team from the very first moment he signed for us. Like Arsene once said: “When the German commands, everybody listen.”

    I would like to see him as an Arsenal coach so that CC21 becomes a new Per. He is comfortable with the ball and has height. He has to improve his positioning so that two own goals from this season don’t become his routine.

    (Speaking of Arsene, I have to make a digression. His namesake Arsen Dedić was one of the best Yugoslavian musicians of all times. He was a funny man, extremely intelligent yet too hedonistic for his own good. An artist.

    Once he analyzed his first name: “Arsen. I can be either a poison or a cure, it all depends on the measure.”)

  • Extremely well said, PE… I think with his glance away from the play the BFG forgot it was a low-life, cheat first, play football only if you must, type that he was chasing… Vardy did make our defense look poor a couple of times… Luckily we made theirs look bad on five occasions…

    We should probably note that Low left PM out of his line-ups once they got to the elims of the WC…In those matches, where nil-nil after 90 is acceptable, he went with quicker defenders…

    TA, Zouma has displaced Cahill at Chavs but he is still likely to inherit Terry’s spot at some point…Like Debuchy he’s been making noise about his Euro spot, I think… The fact that he cannot displace JT should be seen as a red flag warning, IMO… Besides, I seriously doubt Abramovich is ready for another Petr Cech to Arsenal debacle… If he put a couple of million quid into Dean and Clattenburg’s pockets he’ll surely demand a ridiculous price from Kroenke for Cahill and sell him for half elsewhere…

    Better to look in other leagues and under the radar, I think…

    This window, I fear, is over, but you never know…There’s so little in terms of anything resembling heat to go with the smoke from the usual outlets (Metro, Daily & Sunday, etc.)…but then again I never actually click on any of those…

    Match preview is ready to go but maybe you’ve got something else planned…

  • BLOODY HELL folks, just as I thought this post was petering out, there are fabulous comments by 17HT, Admir and the poet of the African West Coast PE! Real joy to read! πŸ™‚

    I have just published a new post, so please join us there! πŸ™‚

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