Mertesacker’s Loss is Debuchy’s Gain; Let’s get John Stones

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…


By TotalArsenal. 


51 thoughts on “Mertesacker’s Loss is Debuchy’s Gain; Let’s get John Stones

  • Yes TA, in the short term it may well be Debuchy, although the gossip mongers will be quick to offer names for the longer term.

    Monreal is another who could shift Chambers back to his natural side? But surely this is where second season Gabriel steps up to the plate?
    I thought we might just about get away with it with Mertersacker around. Holding, Chambers, Bielik as the principal back ups, with Per sitting somewhere along that line, behind Gabriel.
    Unfortunately for Per, I do not see a short term solution coming in from the market, as; a, they would want a minimum 3 year deal; and b, they need to be good.

    But if we are only looking at the MLS game, Debuchy was certainly the sharper between him and Monreal. However, I think he will start with Debuchy at RB.

    In fact, the team that will start on Friday will go something like this:
    …………………………………… Ospina…………………………
    giving way to @ h/t…………Cech………………………….
    Debuchy ………..Holding……….. Gabriel ……Monreal
    ……………………………………………………^ ……………^…….
    giving way to @ h/t ……………….Chambers……Gibbs
    then ^ ……………… ^……………………………………………….
    Bellerin………….. Bielik………………………………………….

    I certainly I think Chambers is worth another try on the right side, so he could start and keep Holding to pair with Bielik.
    I think Debuchy is in the shop window rather than play back to Bellerin. How well, or indeed, whether he would want to play CB in the longer term is another question. He was pretty bitter while he played for Bordeaux, and I would guess he will get offers over from Lique 1.


  • Holding and Chambers have been the starting CBs for the England U21 team for some time now. They will start in the US. Bielik will be their back up.

  • Gerry, I was thinking more the period between now and half September when I expect the Euros gunners back…

    Your thinking of the line up seems okay with me, although I reckon he will not make as many changes in the second half.

  • Cheers Andrew and good comment re their role in the U21 team, which is new to me. I am not sure though Wenger will let them play together on Thursday, but an interesting call..

  • Wrong age range I feel. John Stones I mean. We already have a 21 year old in Chambers and a 20 year old in Holding (we’re so cruel!)

    Wenger said he’s looking to add experience now. I doubt that Stones at 22 qualifies. Even if we’re looking for a young CB, I think we’ll be looking more at a 24-25 year old. (Mustafi, Manolas, Koulibaly) Someone to match Gabriel there, with Kos our senior defender. Or we might go find a 28-30 year old.

    Shame about Per. I thought he had one more good season to offer us, and I with no international football for him in the summer, I was thinking he could really prove his doubters wrong.

    I think Debuchy will be sold. I don’t think Xhaka will play at CB, at least in competitive games. I’m looking forward to seeing how Holding and Bielik perform over the US tour.

  • You could be right, Shard, but Stones is an exceptional talent who would suit the Arsenal style of footie.

    I don’t think Debuchy will be sold anytime soon, maybe on deadline day…

  • Hi Total

    Interesting post, and yeah Debuchy is an option in the short term, as is Monreal, maybe even Jenkinson when he is fit (November I think), who is quite tall.
    If John Stones becomes available, especially being English, then in a head to head with either of the Mancs or the Chavs, I think we’d be priced out…
    It’s a nice thought though mate…

    Wrnger might wait until the end of the US tour before deciding, he has two games to experiment with, maybe more if he wants when we return from 17tinos backyard?
    That doesn’t stop us having talks with agents in the meantime…

    Do I talk to my passengers about football?
    Only if they want to and a heated debate with a Spud is always good for the soul.
    Putting them back in their box is cathartic… 😃

  • Krystian Bielik surely is a def/mid, he’s been playing centre-back in the U21’s because we haven’t got any centre-backs anymore, don’t know why?

    Total, he reminds me of that Dutch guy, can’t think of his name, hard as nails, played for PSV I think, who could play C/B and D/M, but more often than not was the latter.
    From the late 90’s early 00’s, back curly hair.

  • TA I am curious why you think there will not be many changes in this game?
    Surely the main point is to get as many of the ‘first 11’ fit. There are not many that can go the whole 90 minutes in their first game back. Also, what is the point of taking the youngsters along if you not trying to see who will move in the main squad, or go out on loan?

    Yes, we know it would be nice to put up a good showing, but I think there will be at least 6 or 7 changes after half time. We have been told that Zelalem will get some game time. I cannot see Wilshere or Cazorla going the whole match In fact only a few might when you look at those coming back. Monreal might do the whole stint, as could Elneny, as both look off the pace in France. Iwobi might be asked to stretch his stamina, and maybe Xhaka who hasn’t been off for so long? The only other one possibility would be the ‘keeper?
    Least that is how I read it.

    Thanks Andrew for that CB pairing news. It did seem that Holding at RCB with Chambers to his left was the more likely set up. However, I doubt that will be the starting pair if Gabriel is anywhere near fit?

    Something to look forward to anyway.

  • Kev, I reckon Stones is the kind of player who will not just go where the money is but where his career can develop the most. Playing with the likes of Cech, Koz and BFG will do him a lot of good. But yes, Everton will want to sell to the highest bidder so it could be difficult. Can dream though?! 🙂

  • Sounds like you are enjoying yourself in your cab, Kev, and having a good old go at the Spuddies must give you a lot of satisfaction. 🙂

  • Van Bommel, that the fella, didn’t take any prisoners, I really liked him, think he ended up at Bayern?

    Gerry, Arsene has taken 7 reserve/young players, excluding Iwobi…
    No point taking them if they aren’t gonna get game time so I reckon we’ll see all of them, at some point during both games…

    I’d like to see Willock get a decent run in one of the games as I think he has what it takes…

  • Kev, he came from the same area in Holland as me. Won the League in four different countries (Hol, Spa, Ger, Ita). Hard as nails but cried when he had to leave Milan. True professional and almost won the world cup as captain in 2010..

  • I really liked him Total, thought he was the perfect D/M to succeed Vieira when he left, I saw him play at Highbury in the CL, if I recall I think he played for PSV and they got a 0-0 draw, but I thought he was immense…
    Not sure why Arsenal never went for him, because we really needed a player like him at the time.

  • Greetings fellow Bk ‘ers I guess that means Summer is almost over.
    Hate to be pessimistic, but even with the BFG fit I don’t think we are strong enough at centre back. We can argue/ discuss the need for a new striker, if Giroud is the man for the job etc. Personally I thought our major issue last season was the lack of goals from elsewhere. I don’t think it would be the end of the world if we didn’t add further strength in midfield. We have the quality, it’s just a. Question if they decide to perform. When Ozil, Rambo, Jack etc are on form and fit they can be awesome.

    Koz is undoubtably top notch, but in order to break out of the 4th place syndrome (I know we came2nd last year). I think we need someone of similar ilk to Kos

    Per is a great servant to Arsenal, but he isn’t getting any quicker and he wasn’t fast to start with.

    I like Gabriel, but is he good enough yet? Not sure I entirely trust him

    As much as I want Chambers to succeed, he lacks confidence and is error prone at the moment

    Bielik may be a great prospect , but he is unproven and lacks experience.

    Debuchy isn’t a bad call, but big centre forwards could take advantage of his lack of height ad is only a temporary solution.

    I don’t know enough about Granit and am not brave enough to try to spell his name.

    Stones is a good call, although he lost form at the end of last season, but have Arsenal ever won a bidding war in recent memory?

    In Summary I am with you T A, it would be good to get an experienced centre back, but let’s make it a good one. All managers have made bad buys, but in my opinion Wenger has a record of buying bad centre backs, Stepanovs, Cygan, Squillaci, .Sylvestre Spring to mind.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to start a season without having to fit a round peg into a square hole for a change.

    I liked Van Bommel as well, but he should have been put in prison for some of the tackles (I use the term loosely) he made

  • Just a quickie from me this morning …. Are we desperate or what?
    Coquelin trains as centre back????

    Ignoring that thought, long term or short term.

    Two centre backs that could fit the bill.
    Virgil Van Dyke – expensive, but good.
    Micah Richards – cheap, injury prone, but very capable.

    May the thoughts be with you …

  • Hi TA.. Hi All..
    Mertesacker injured is a blessing in disguise for me.. As we may already knew Wenger will only bring someone if there’s a room for it..
    We won’t see Elneny if Coq and Cazorla were Fit.. We won’t see Xhaka also if our Veterans still around..

    Debuchy is a great option.. but Coquelin can be a nice try..
    John Stones.. why not.. I wish for him also.. but City will forced to get him.. and we all know Wenger won’t.. hehehe..

    Gerry.. Van Dijk will be great.. but we should bought him before he land to Soton.. I don’t think Soton will let him go easily..

  • Gerry

    Ask an Aston Villa fan for their opinion on Richards and I would bet you will get a pretty poor response. He is extremely unpopular there and they would be glad to see the back of him. I agree he was a great prospect when he was younger, but I think those days are long gone. I think we can safely cross him off the list

  • retsub

    Did you used to comment on Andrew Spanish Fly’s blog? (Arsenalafcblog I think it was called)

    If so. Howdy do? 🙂

    Actually, ‘Howdy do?’ even if not so.

  • Shard I certainly did. Good to hear from you. I remember we had some particularly volatile characters there.

  • Haha. Yeah. I had too much time on my hands. Spending hours and hours on blogs writing huge essays, indulging in back and forth.

    Still, it was all good fun. And there were a good few interesting and entertaining comments too. Including from you. I remember we had planned to meet once while I was in the UK, but somehow never managed to. Maybe next time 🙂

  • Hi TA, Sorry about my contretemps with Gerry on the previous post. I’ll use my “ignore poster” function as, in truth, I can’t even (really) figure out what I did that originally upset him…and, of course, because I shouldn’t sink down to that level. He’s got some inneresting ideas about who might be a good prospect but–like everybody else–they seem his own thing and surely, like retsub says, a name like MR seems pretty far fetched. My Micah Richardesque solution would be Miranda (sometimes called Joao Miranda) at Inter Milan… at least he could (maybe) help Gabriel with his communication issues. Well then, because I’ve written it, the links should start… 😀

    So, what a drag that our 3rd choice CB (or was he supposed to be a starter given that he was gonna be the captain…) is now out. Debuchy might benefit, like you say, or at least he might be told that his move to France is out as we need him as a multi-purpose back-up. I recall him scoring a headed goal (vs Pool, maybe?…) so he’s got that in his bag, which puts him ahead of Le Coq, perhaps, as makeshift solutions go… Truth be told, I like the idea of Coquelin as CB better than Debuchy or Monreal.

    Not to continue in my depressive ways, but again the reaction (and its echo around the interweb) is the most disturbing bit. Let’s see the kid from Bolton, let’s see if Chambers is looking a little bigger or quicker to make the plays and then lets see if we can get a good CB in from somewhere over the next month. Yes, we may need to score an extra goal or three to get good results in the opening fixtures, but that might’ve been true with the BFG available. People seem so (extremely) caught up in the moment, which is their prerogative, but it would seem to disqualify them from posting on the internet *as if they were the manager* who necessarily needs to take a longer term perspective. I remember the summer we bought Koscielny (who?) and Squillaci, the latter costing more than the former and arguing (on another site) with a guy who thought the latter was the “proper” signing… :rolly eyes:

    Enough said about all that… What’s the telly coverage for the game tonight? Half Midnight kickoff over there, if I’m not mistaken… What’s good for the goose, eh… :D

  • Haha, Shard caught me at my own game… How did you manage to reach your current state? Advice much appreciated, thanks in advance…

    More smileys…

  • Guys, what are your thoughts on Mahrez, I’ve been reading personal terms agreed, deal to be done in next 48hrs, do you think this is a wind up? I’d love it to be true. he’d be a perfect fit for us, Sanchez, Ozil, Mahrez feeding Giroud/ Lacazatte, can dreams come true? Apparently Lacazette is very similar to Vardy. I’d love these 2 transfers to come off. Please tell me it’s going to happen. Really looking forward to MLS game tonight, be great to see Santi back in action.

  • Ignoring the transfer chatter for a moment … I read somewhere earlier that Gabriel is currently back in London with tonsillitis … any truth in this rumour?

    As far as replacements go, I think the £20m German is the maximum AW will spend.

    Retsub, it was a pretty toxic environment at Villa last season, with very few getting brownie points? I really only suggested he, MR, might fit the bill because at 28 he would block the progress of the young guns, and at £5m if he only kept fit for 6 months it might not seem too outrageous?
    Plus the fact that he was good when younger …

    I agree with Henrychan that DVD(sorry Virg), then was the time, now he would be expensive.

    Now where do I find that ‘Ignore Poster’ function …
    😀 Hugs More smileys 😀 😀


  • I shall not attempt to predict the midfield line up, but the the forward line could be intriguing?

    I think he may be tempted to go with Jeff RA, Gnabry, and Walcott for starters, see if Akpom can do better against a tiring defence?
    The next question will be does he play Iwobi and Ox from the off?
    My guess is only one, Iwobi, but alongside Santi until half time.
    That leaves Xhaka in front of the back 4 … whoever that might include???

    In just 5 hours is the kick off time,1.01am (UK), but the match is not being shown live on the ‘Player, only full replay … according to the Website?

  • R07, Sorry there is a game of bluff going on, plus a load of recycled other post’s speculations.

    Official announcement is the one that counts, the rest is guesswork

  • Shard, yep in those days there was serious aggro on the blog, including death threats if I remember correctly. The fact that the blog was completely unmoderated didn’t help (whatever did happen to Andy). Amongst the characters was,’west coast Gunner’. Who tried to keep the blog going , but then disappeared into the blogosphere. I must admit I did wonder for a while if he had reappeared as 17ht, but closer inspection of their style made me discount this theory. Punch ups on this blog (which is properly monitored). Are far rarer and to be honest when they do occur, despite reading and re-reading Most of the ‘contretemps’ (great word 17ht) go straight over my head.

    I for one will be glad when all this transfer rubbish is over and done with. Headlines like Arsenal make major signing from Chelsea and it turns out to be the tea ladies assistant do my head in.

    Rant over, hope the boys do well tonight.

    17ht to go off topic slightly (or majorly). Just finished watching a great series on Amazon about the Arizona Cardinals and their attempt to win the super bowl. Very enjoyable, found it amusing that they wanted to a nickname for one of their defenders? And wanted the fiercest animal in the world. And what did they pick…… The Honey Badger and boy is that a fierce critter

  • Evening guys 😀⚽️

    Been out for the day in the lovely Highlands of Scotland. Good hill walking and great food, warm weather and breathtaking views in and around Oban. If you have not been yet, go and visit the Highlands: a special place!

    Fine comments today and agreed with Seventeenho and heheheheHenry that Le Coq as CB is an interesting option…

  • Call out to last season’s bloggers on BK: footie is back so let’s have your comments. ⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️💣⚽️⚽️⚽️😍

  • Can I put in a complaint against under the trades description act ….
    They said I could watch the match when I wake up ……
    I was awake at 4.0am and it isn’t available!!!!!

    Read the report though …

  • Now 7.00am … Still not available. I guess if they think ‘on holiday’ kids/students is their audience, I guess I may as well check again about 2.00pm when they wake up ….

  • The match was at 1am your time Gerry…

    Saw the highlights and we were lucky at the back, but maybe I should download the full match and watch it again.

    Till then,

  • NJK, I know when they kicked off, but the Arsenal website clearly indicated it was not being shown live.
    Whereas the next one the tour was indicated as being shown live – .KO 2.00am.

    I am guessing that Fox Sports, or whoever showed the match live in the USA, did not want it being ‘available’ over the internet for free?

    What I am annoyed about is their definition as to when people wake up. When they cover Sky games in the league they are available at 6.0am.

    I will get to see it this evening, but not ‘as live’, having seen the result when I logged on to the ‘Player, and then read their briefest of reports..

    It is just one of those GRRRrrrrr! days.

  • Total, have you visited Fort William yet, it’s very picturesque, and the scenery on the journey there is quite spectacular…

    I had a couple of holidays up there, in Dunoon in the early 1990’s, it’s a very beautiful part of the world…

  • Kev

    I know it well. We spend a lot of time west and north of Fort William. To get here you probably travelled through the magnificent Glen Coe.. ⛰

  • Good things come to those who are prepared to wait …

    After reading a variety of reports on the game TA, yours has to be an improvement. I’ll wait.

    I have done a couple of cycling holidays in that part of Scotland, as well as a car trip. ’tis indeed very beautiful. Nicer when you get the weather to match. Enjoy

  • Retsub

    Where there really death threats? Can’t say I remember that. But it’s the internet.

    I don’t know what happened to Andy. He was moving on up and writing a blog probably didn’t rank high on his list of priorities. I think he might still be on my Facebook, but I’m not sure. Shame about the blog though. It was fun.

    Can’t say I disagree with you about the annual transfer obsession (and following angst) I do think we need to sign a couple of players, but I’m not stressing over it. Que sera sera. I just can’t wait for the football to start.

  • My girlfriend and I drove – or rather, more accurately, were driven around- from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye last year by a friend I’d met on an AA. It was brilliant. Is Fort William the place with the ropeway? I remember we did that and the winds on top were just insane. Drove past a ‘Ben Nevis Hotel’ and wondered who Ben Nevis is/was 😛 The highlands were lovely. Will go back again at some point.

  • I did a tour of the Highlands two years ago. Stayed in Inverness and drove around for 5 days, Fort, William, Loch Ness Skye, Gairloch, Culloden etc. Great place if the weather. Is good

    My only negatives were 1 I didn’t see Nessie and 2 some of the local drivers were diabolical.

  • Cheers guys 🙂

    Isle of Skye is beautiful but perhaps a bit too touristic. Isle of Mull is a real gem with lots of wild life to be seen if you care to travel the width and length of the Island. The peninsula Ardnamurchan is also special, especially if you travel to the very west were you will be rewarded with the finest beaches you could dream of. The Highlands are most beautiful in the Autumn when it is less busy and you can get super clear skies and breathtaking views. The weather does not need to be good as long as it does not rain constantly, which is actually seldom the case. We celebrated my 40th birthday on the Isle of Skye and it was 25 degrees in early May with absolutely no clouds: lovely weather but it did not feel like ‘my Scotland’…. you need the clouds for the contrast and the occasional sunshine to light up the ancient beauty that is the Highlands. If you can, visit Mull or Torridon, or drive to Ullapool via Fort William and Lochcarron. 🙂

    Shard, was that a mate from AA the blog or did you attend a Alcoholic Anonymous group?

  • Haha TA.

    I think you know the answer to that one, but I’ll keep you guessing 😛

    I had actually wanted to go to the Isle of Mull, while the gf wanted Skye. You know who won that discussion.

    Ardnamurchan reads like it’s somewhere in South India. 😀

  • I’ll have a drink on that one, Shard 🙂

    Skye has the reputation but Mull is really special. However, the journey to Skye through the Highlands is also fantastic.

    Hahaha, but does it look like South India too?

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