Defensive stability over forward flair


The dust has finally settled on another January transfer window that promised so much and gave so little leaving many fans with a feeling of disappointment. With the one signing in the window, Spanish left back Nacho Monreal, those downbeat Arsenal fans should be reassured by Arsene Wenger’s shrewd defensive signing.

The signing of David Villa was just paper talk which was never going to materialise in January. In truth, Barcelona were never going to release him from their clutches no matter how much money Arsenal were willing to throw at him. Wenger, being an economist, is far too clever to pay over the odds for a 31 year old player approaching the end of his prime in football. In the summer it may have been a different matter because by than Arsenal may need to strengthen their attack but for the time being it’s not needed. It would have been an unnecessary signing if you look at Arsenal’s attack and their frailties are lying elsewhere. In truth there was no place for the name or signing of David Villa in an already tight knitted and successful attack who were providing more than their weight of goals. It wasn’t the answer to Arsenal’s defensive frailties or the solution to where the real problem lies. Defensively Arsenal are weaker than in attack.

Arsenal have adapted well in attack having lost the best striker in the Premier League to bitter rivals Manchester United in the summer, a man who scored over 65% of Arsenal goals last season. Wenger reconstructed the attack over the summer with the signings of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and the vision of Santi Cazorla. As the season has taken shape the positive with Arsenal’s new attack is that most of the goals are not focused on one striker anymore and the tag “one man team” from their critics left with Van Persie. Arsenal can pride themselves on the fact there’s now variety with their goalscoring.

The team have contributed positively to score more goals, you only have to look at their record at The Emirates. The Gunners have scored more goals than any other team in their own stadium, their attack is much more varied and has provided Wenger with more goals than last season than with Van Persie. An attack which is blooming well with 49 goals in 25 games didn’t need saving by the signing of David Villa. At 31 years old, his best years are behind him and while he may have provided the experience in attack, he may have also upset the formation of Arsenal’s settled formation. Players such as Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, have all done well to provide a more varied and balanced attack, all chipping in with their weight of goals having scored more goals alone than Man United “great” strike force of Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Hernandez and Danny Wellbeck.

If the signing of Villa had happened it may have upset the now settled monopoly in attack. Imagine Olivier Giroud looking over his shoulder as he sees Villa arrive, than starts to question his own ability and position in the team. In truth there was no place for David Villa in an already improving and confident attack. With this in mind, where would Villa signing have been relevant and if he was the “marquee signing” Wenger made then the defensive frailties would have been still open at the back.

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James Bayley
James Bayley

I'm a passionate football fan who writes philosophically about the beautiful game.

One thought on “Defensive stability over forward flair

  1. Personally, I am glad we signed Monreal. He seems like a very pragmatic, solid, dependable defender. I think that’s what we needed as of late. My only surprise was that another central defender wasn’t signed. I feel that we have good defenders in the make of Koscielny, Mertesacker and Vermaelen, but we have no young centre backs to challenge them. Midfield and to a lesser extent, attack, are the most congested in terms of challenging for that starting 11 position so I was hoping we’d get a talented young defender. But I have complete trust in Wenger, as I always have.

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