In the five years since Arsenal last won major silverware I haven’t once called for Arsene Wenger’s head. You’re more likely to find me hanging with the “Arsene Knows Best” brigade than the boo boys. In fourteen years he has led the club to three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Champions League final and a national record for league games unbeaten. Whether you’re an Arsenal fan or not, it’s difficult to argue with those stats.
The one thing that has always puzzled me about Wenger though is his reluctance to invest in defense. Before signing Thomas Vermaelen for £10 million last summer the most he had spent on a center back was £2.5 million for Philippe Senderos.
I’m sure it’s no coincidence then that just a year later he has already paid out a similar amount to secure the services of Laurent Koscielny. It seems that the success of Thomas Vermaelen, and to a lesser extent Andrey Arshavin, has shown Arsene that money talks. Now rumors are rife that he is set to offer Werder Bremen £12 million for their international defender Per Mertesacker.
I would love to say that there’s no smoke without fire, but I think we have all learned otherwise after the Ibrahimovic to Fulham and Puyol to Newcastle rumours. After feeding off scraps for so long though, it’s difficult not to get excited when Arsenal are linked with new players – particularly when the move makes this much sense.
In Vermaelen, Sagna and Clichy the Gunners have a pretty good defensive base, but what all three lack is height. Add in a 6 foot 6 German and you have, on paper at least, a well balanced back four. Mertesacker would bring a physical presence that we have rarely seen during the Wenger regime.
And therein lies the doubt. Campbell, Toure, Vermaelen and Gallas have all enjoyed the adulation of the Emirates/Highbury crowd at some point in their careers, but Sol is the tallest of the bunch at 6 foot 2. Wenger has always favored smaller, mobile center backs. Perhaps his recent signings are a sign of the Frenchman accepting that changes are necessary. Two from Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Djourou and Campbell sounds pretty good to me. Of course, that could all be in vain if they’re forced to play in front of Almunia or Fabianski.
Would you be happy to see Mertesacker and Schwarzer at the Emirates. Or would you take a lower quality center back in exchange for a better goalkeeper? Hit the comment section with your thoughts. Also check out my blog over at http://clintbeefman.wordpress.com .