By Bilal Zaidi
Ashley Cole’s monetary value was estimated to be about £20 million MINIMUM and the final sale of him for £5 million PLUS one of the worlds best defenders, William Gallas, was a deal that in my humble opinion was a better deal for us than it was for Chelsea. So in essence, Arsenal accepted a £15 million valuation of Gallas and got rid of a player who even until today is going on about how unfair Arsenal were to him…how the fans didn’t sing his name at the last game of the season…hmm perhaps one shouldn’t go behind their clubs back and meet other clubs representatives…what a whiner oh my….
Anyway…Gallas a 29 year old French international who has experience of many years in the premiership, played in every stadium, played against every team….is admittedly a fantastic acquisition…HOWEVER if he ever would become our number one left back then we aren’t allowing him to be in his best position where he would flourish along side Kolo Toure….and therefore would be a waste of £15 million worth of money we could have got for Cashley instead. That is with reports I have read that we may be interested in Woodgate at the end of the season, add Senderos and Djourou into that then you can clearly see there would be too many centre backs.
Now don’t get me wrong, if we are in need of any player in a position right now it IS A LEFT BACK because Clichy is out injured, Hoyte doesn’t look too comfortable and Flamini doesn’t want to play there….however when Senderos comes back into contention for a first place spot…WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN THEN? We have 3 centre backs that should be playing first team football literally week in week out…Sure they can rotate but that isn’t ideal, Senderos has proved his worth as an organiser and leader at the back…He is a talker like Tony Adams, and perhaps one day a future captain for this fantastic club. Halting his progress would be a crime…some healthy competition always is a good thing, but it is more likely that he wouldn’t get a chance to really get a long run in the team so he can continue to progress as he already has.
So this leaves us in a dilemma, just as it is for the midfield positions which I will talk about in a moment…we have so many players playing out of their preferred positions and natural positions that it is surely going to effect our balance and rhythm of play. I think that is what has happened so far this season, we have dominated games, created chances BUT not converted them. Hopefully that will just come in time, lets hope tonight. We have one player really wanting to play at left back who is Clichy…four that are ready to compete for the two available centre back places, and 3 for the right back slot.
In midfield we have players that “can play in all positions in midfield”, like Hleb, Ljungberg, Rosicky…but lets look at their best positions and where they are most useful.
Hleb really can play anywhere and will do a fantastic job on either flank or in the middle, but he will do the same thing which ever positions he plays in…drift inside and play passes all day, he is a top “assister” and that is fantastic…goals aren’t really in his domain but a top class creative player is good enough for him to be in the side. I think most would agree he has played best for us on the right making a great partnership with Eboue.
Ljungberg is a world class “run maker” and a superb finisher but without Bergkamp he is no longer the same “red haired we love you freddy” player of his previous years where goals were his main asset. He is still a good player but if he isn’t scoring he doesn’t add much else to the team, a hard working player and an important one still with a role to perform but still I wouldn’t say his best position is on the left dribbling and making goals for others, we need some width on the left and I don’t think Freddy is the one to provide us with that. Pired did, Reyes did, Cole did…Rosicky could?
Rosicky is best in the middle, he makes quick passes, dribbles and has snap shots on goal…however he has the talent and is good enough to easily adapt to the left side of midfield as long as he keeps his discipline and can allow a left footed full back make runs on the outside of him. But if he is playing with Gallas, Hoyte or any other right footed left back behind him, the balance wont be there. Full backs are tremendously important in Wengerball, without fast overlapping full backs the system of play isn’t effective. They take defenders out of their position, give more options to the midfielders and allow holes to appear for the likes of Freddy and in the past Pires to get in those gaps to score goals. Those fullbacks have to have the ability to go on the outside like Lauren, Eboue, Clichy and how Cole did it….Gallas will do a fine defensive job and will be comfortable on the ball BUT at Chelsea it didn’t matter if he had a left foot or not to play left back. Flamini did a solid job last year BUT he was appreciated for his defensive display and decent performance in possession which at the time was enough but not for a whole season.
Baptista is the same, he is a central player, so is Fabregas, so is Gilberto, Diaby, Flamini, Song, Rosicky…That makes 7 players who are best suited in the centre of midfield and not one that is an out and out left sided midfield…
Freddy has been in the past but unless he scores goals he wont be in the team, I hope he can get going again because he is truly a unique sort of player when he gets going. Walcott is too young right now for us to be thinking of him playing the whole season on the left, Wenger will protect him but he could play tonight if we play a five man midfield, most probably on the right though.
So overall the message is that Gallas is a tremendous player and I have full confidence in his abilities to occupy any position in defence BUT just because he is ABLE to play in every position it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t play in the position where he is at his best. Perhaps for now it may be that left back is best for the team, but I can sense perhaps a few healthy-ish dilemma’s for Wenger in the coming months with Senderos coming back. But my last word would be that a centre back pairing of Toure and Gallas would be probably the best in the premiership and a formidable force, lets see what Wenger has up his sleeve…