The BFG’s injury that will mean he is out for ‘months’, as Wenger said yesterday during his press conference, is a big setback. I reckon Arsene was planning to gradually develop Koz and Gabriel as his preferred CB pairing, with Xhaka helping out in terms of organisation and leadership of our defending. By all accounts he started this process by the end of last season. Having Per on the bench offers an experienced CB to fall back on, whilst also giving Arsene a chance to give Holding and Chambers a chance to develop further.
But, with Koz needing a rest after his fabulous performances at the Euros, the BFG was much needed to get us through the three August PL games. Wenger has now indicated he needs to add CB experience to the squad and is looking in the market. The question is whether he is looking for a stopgap or long-term quality addition to the squad. Let’s hope it is the latter, as it is really hard to find a good CB anyway, let alone one that is available on an interim basis.
My money, for the short term at least, is on Debuchy standing in for the BFG.
He played there before and did well. Mathieu is not the tallest, but with the likes of Xhaka and Elneny we have some added height in the team for the set pieces. He is experienced, though, and also stays calm under pressure; he also has good organisation abilities and will be very keen to perform well. This is his opportunity to relaunch his Arsenal career and I reckon he is the safest option from within for the short term.
Other options, like Chambers or Bielik, carry more risk as they do not have the experience and may struggle to deal with the pressure that Pool and the Foxes will put us under, no doubt. I would also not be surprised to see Wenger move Xhaka to the back for a while if he cannot find somebody in the market.
If Arsene was to bring in an experienced CB, let’s hope it is somebody with PL experience. It is late in the preseason and bringing in somebody from another league is risky in terms of letting them settle in and get used to the ferocity and physicality of the English League. Is this the time to sign John Stones of Everton? I would love that, even though he is not the finished article as yet.
I guess we will get a glimpse of Arsene’s immediate plans on Friday morning when we take on the MLS Allstars, as this is a game in which we will not want to embarrass ourselves, given the large TV audience and the staging of one of our defence’s biggest nemeses in modern times…