Defenders: Out with the old and in with the new

So Phil Senderos has officially left Arsenal – two seasons after he effectively did anyway.

There’s been a lot of goodwill on Twitter and across the blogs and that’s fair enough. Senderos was an uncomplicated player who gave his all, never moaned and represented the club very well indeed.

He was an up-and-down player though, with some commanding performances early in his career contrasting with plenty of wobblier ones at other points. Perhaps not surprising for a young player – one who is still only 25 years old now.

But I’m glad he’s gone.

Why? It’s got nothing to do with him at all. He’s a player who can and probably will still come good given the chance and a fair wind with injuries. Who knows, that may have happened at Arsenal in the past, but it’s not going to happen now. So he needed to go to reignite his own career, but nor is it a bad thing for Arsenal either. As a club, we need to properly address our defence, and we won’t do that by looking backwards.

Which is why there’s no reason to despair at the prospect of Gallas, Silvestre and even Campbell’s departures either. All are past their best, and while Campbell is a special case – his desire was palpable and put others to shame at times last season – even in a best-case scenario he’d have been third choice in 2010-11.

Look at our defensive record over the last few seasons. We’ve conceded 8, 9, 13 and 9 goals more than the league winners since we moved to the Grove, a consistent deficit. We have not eradicated bad defending as a unit, nor have we eradicated individual lapses of concentration – so much so that we are now seen as defensive soft touches. We get targeted between the sticks and we get targeted at set pieces. Such targeting often works.

That’s got to change, and a clean sweep of the brush might not be such a bad thing.

There’s no point worrying that if all three depart, then we’ll only have Djourou and Vermaelen left. There’s no way Wenger would leave it that way.

Sure, there’s a risk that starting next season with a new keeper and two new centre backs might be unsettling for a while. But it’s a risk worth taking compared to another season of the same problems.

In the meantime, I hope Big Phil makes it big and proves Wenger wrong. Not many players have left and done that – but I can’t imagine many Arsenal fans would begrudge him a renaissance if he did.

The long and winding post

Morning all, and a long overdue ‘morning all’ it is.

I’ve barely been able to get on the pooter recently, I don’t know what’s going on.

I did snatch parts of the Emirates Cup over the weekend – all the parts except the goals. I sat through the first 75, goalless minutes of the Atletico game before being called away to feed the animals, then managed to miss the first 20 minutes of the Rangers game. I did however see Wilshere’s second goal, so that’s not bad – 75% of the matches viewed, 20% of the goals caught.

Concisely if a little simplistically, I took the following from the weekend’s action: a) Rosicky’s return adds a whole new attacking dimension b) Wilshere is the most exciting Arsenal youth product for a long, long time, c) our defence is still patchy and d) we have too many left-backs but still not enough quality in central midfield.

All of which there is time to fix, this being pre-season and all that. But overall, I would say I was heartened, particularly by our added width and some of our attacking play.

It’s been covered elsewhere, but it was also interesting to see how 4-3-3 has become flavour of the day. It certainly sets our stall out as an attacking beast, but the crunch will be whether it works against the chunkier and less dainty sides. Perhaps we’ll just revert to 4-4-2 in those scenarios?

Now, transfers. With one or two exceptions, it’s been a quietish summer, but you do get a sense that the market is going to explode into life at some point soon. From Arsenal’s perspective, we know this because Arsene has told us he wants all his business done by the time the season starts, and that he wants one or two players to come in. Whether we believe Wenger on this is quite another matter, but that is what he has intimated.

In the revolving door, waving goodbye, is Philippe Senderos. It’s not been confirmed, but strong rumours suggest he is Everton-bound. Eboue’s departure, at one point seemingly a certainty, is less clear now. Beyond those two possible departures, I can’t see anyone else leaving at all. And with Eboue, he is our only reasonable back-up for Sagna, so if he was to go, we’d need cover there anyway. We have sold wisely (if that is possible), but we cannot decimate our squad any further, with the possible exception of letting a left-back out on loan.

Incoming, the whole of the Arsenal-supporting world is eager for an experienced central midfielder (I’m really so tired of typing those three words), but thus far, apart from Vieira and Wenger fluttering their eyelids at one another, we’ve had no indication of anyone being looked at since Melo said no thanks.

And then there’s central defence: at one point we had seven central defenders (if you include Song – and he’s down here as a defender), but now that Toure has gone, and Senderos could well be next, we’re down to five. Is that enough? Do we possess enough quality there if Gallas and Vermaelen get broken?

So bearing all this in mind, why am I surprised that, along with Chamakh, we’re now linked with Kalou?

I would argue our priorities lie elsewhere, but I’m not the Arsenal manager, and we all know how Wenger loves to throw a googly.

And finally, I promised (as one or two other blogs have) to make the following known:

Arsenal are filming some scenes for a Theo Walcott ad at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday. Rather than just fill it up with extras, they want genuine Arsenal fans to come along.

It’s 9.30 till 4 (quite a long day), but Nike will give you lunch and a free Arsenal shirt of your choice (home or away). On top of that, of course, there’s the chance to feature in a Nike film about your team.

Anyone interested in attending should email their Name, age, contact details, preferred shirt and size, and ideally a picture to nike@knucklehead.co.uk

So tuck in if you fancy it – could be fun.