Defenders: Out with the old and in with the new

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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.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Big Lozza

    I really can’t understand why Wenger favoured Silvestre over Senderos. A real shame as was the style of defender we need now.

  2. RotorGoat

    No, I never understood that myself. Really odd. Doesn’t mean Senderos was ever the long-term answer though.

  3. Hank

    Silvestre was signed coz he could play LB, but then Gibbs came thru big styleee.

    Senderos was given more than enough chances, didnt take em and therefore is out the door.

    He will look good at Fulham as they are a defensive set up. if he still looks shit, then he IS shite!

  4. Chris Redmond

    Whilst I agree that Senderos was the type of defender we now need, i.e. big, strong, aerially dominant and a trier, I very much doubt his inclusion in our side would have made much difference overall. Let’s not forget how error-prone he was, and how often his mental fragilities were laid bare. I remember when Johan Djourou scored an own goal at Stamford Bridge a couple of years ago, he didn’t let his head drop and gave a superb and authoritative second half display. That day convinced me that Djourou was a better long-term option than his Swiss counterpart.

  5. Gunner38

    Senderos was a good bloke just a shaky young defender in a very big team.

    Yer he had to go because he’s not good enough for Arsenal, but i wish him well.

    Keep Sol- he’s a legend and a rock at the back.

    Sorry Gallas m8 you cost us the title with ur lil hissy fit back when we should of won another title in 07/08.

    And Silvestres experienced so id keep him, but he’s to slow.

    Two new defenders on the wish list then.

  6. rockofgilberto

    The shame is that it appears very likely that Sol will be off to join the Bhoys up north, but if he does go then it’s a much better exit than when he departed the first time around. Silvestre is also gone, meaning we will have only 2 center backs in the squad, so Arsene will need to sign at least 2, hopefully 3 seeing as none of our youngsters in that area of the pitch have been tipped as ready to come up, Nordtveit being the only real possibility but only as deep backup. I do dread the rumours that keep linking us with Schwarzer, as I don’t see him as much of an improvement over what we have now. Frankly, I think Fulham’s more committed defending made him look better than he has been, whereas our squad will never be accused of being too defensive. I doubt the validity of the Lloris rumours though; I can’t see le boss dropping that much coin on a keeper, even a french one.

  7. Fabo[4]

    Well said. I for one will definitely not begrudge big Phil a decent premier league career.
    On the case of Johan Djourou this season will, in my opinion, be the biggest of his career thus far. He will be given his chance this year, it will then be up to him to grasp it.

  8. yakubu

    big phil makes the mistake of opening his mouth too much when he went to AC Milan on loan.may be that pissed up arsene.

  9. Sydney Gooner

    Good luck Big Phil.

  10. rick jones

    Your sentiments re Senderos seem to be the prevailing reaction. he seems a nice guy and, oddly enough, I always thought he’d mature and turn into a tasty defender, which now, of course, means that my business partner, a Fulham nut, will probably benefit from our loss. These are turbulent days, time to thank our lucky stars for V.Persie, Arshavin, Song, Diaby,Theo and Jack, all the lads, – Ramsey, Bacary bless ‘im. all of ’em. Go you flamin’ Gunners!!!!

  11. terry

    i would love gallas at arsenal for the next season but the problem is he will screw the morale in the team…..

    we should get really strong tackling def…
    inters defence was the major reason they won the champions league… the would kill the oponents to get the ball…

    cana from sunderland or melo from juve… would be excellent…

    along with zapata and kjier or samba from blackburn

  12. gilbert

    sometimes l dont want to blame the defence bse they really try but all l can blame is the keepers who concede funny irritating goals….let arsenal buy mark from fulham,two central defenders and may be yaya toure and retain fabregas…..then we will have hope of winning

  13. BGun

    Never understood Wenger’s handling of Big Phil, but that’s all water under the (London) bridge (sorry) now. Would be unhappy if Sol left, because we need his kind of experience in the dressing room more than anything else. Hope we get to keep him.

  14. d4Davis

    Big Phil will be good at fulham, coz he won’t play under a lot of pressure like at the emirates.Well that said, wenger shd let go of gallas, mikael, but i still think Sol gets a year long contract to be a god father to young lads, remember what walcot said of him…no real phrases here but he stated how sol makes u feel u need to do things rite, am no advocate but sol shd definitely stay put.
    – Suggets
    1 CAHILL from bolton they want JACK so we need GARY
    2 UPSON old boy and determined to make amends
    AND ANYONE SEES GOOD DEFENCE WITHOUT A SOLID GOALKEEPER, UNITED HAVE VAN—SAR CHELSEA HAS GOT CECH…..LIVER POSSES REINA, CITEH IS GIVEN.Professor shd get amble and get even SWCHARZER. And in the event that cesc leaves Van dar vaart and Goucroff

  15. Farnborough Gunner

    The real problem with our defense is that Wenger is hopeless at coaching defense. Our defense has not been good enough since we lost the last parts of the defense that George Graham built. OK, Wenger bought in Laurent and Cole as full backs, but Keown and Adams were still the core. Wenger needs to bring in a dedicated defensive coach; Steve Bould could be moved into the role or he could bring in martin Keown; it’s a shame he didn’t get Tony Adams in the role while he was available. And Wenger needs to actually listen to what they have to say, both about tactics and player transfers. I don’t seriously see it happening.

    As for buying 2-3 central defenders, we will more likely see 1 coming in, with Song and Nortvelt providing cover there.

  16. CarolusB

    Some other blog mentioned the theory that Fabregas’s wish to go to Barca is at least partly motivated by the departure/bad treatment of his friends: Hleb and especially Senderos! Any opinions?

  17. A2Gooner

    I always rated Senderos, but understood the type of player he is. He will do well for a side that doesn’t keep a high defensive line. He gives his all, but has no recovery speed. He did well in the 2006 run to the Champion’s League Final when Kolo was his defensive partner, because Kolo didn’t pretend he was a striker. With Gallas as his partner, Senderos’ lack of pace got exposed frequently because Gallas likes to rampage forward. He and Gallas didn’t function well as a pair and Gallas has been more important for the club so that has left Senderos as the odd man out.

    At Fulham, Senderos should do well, especially with another defensive-minded center half like Hangeland as his partner. No flair, but they can both be dangerous in set pieces.

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