Arsenal’s Double Signing To Secure Defensive Future

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Aug 2nd, 2014

When it became apparent that Bacary Sagna would not be staying at Arsenal emotions amongst the faithful ranged from mildly perturbed, to genuinely timorous to downright panic-stricken over our defensive future and the potential of undoing the hard work of the past few years. Arsenal has laid foundations for the future with new commercial deals elevating them to the big boy table in terms of transfers and finally winning a trophy again. Losing a player like Sagna, arguably the best and most consistent right back in the Premier League of the past 7 years would be an issue for any club but with a seeming lack of replacements on the market it looked to be potentially devastating for Arsenal.

It was clear to many that Carl Jenkinson was not ready to take over from Sagna on a full-term basis and all eyes appeared to be on young Serge Aurier whose uncanny playing resemblance to Sagna ignited a hot yearning for the Ivory Coast international. There were a few dissenting voices who claimed he was too young and green for English football to take over from Sagna but the general consensus was this was the man for us.

Losing Sagna wasn’t just about losing a top quality centre-back, we were also losing a pretty decent auxiliary centre-back so in effect were losing two players. How was Arsene Wenger going to address this? Our new financial firepower is something quite a few are still coming to terms with but before the end of the World Cup, to some, it just seemed like another display of frugality from our famously economic manager and faith that Sagna would be replaced as well as required additions being made was waning.

The announcement of Alexis Sanchez changed a few perceptions but the question of “can we remain defensively competitive” seemed to be unanswered. Serge Aurier looked to be going elsewhere despite spending most of the summer flirting with Arsenal supporters on Instagram with “come and get me” eyes and poolside photos of him in an Arsenal shirt – boy did he look good in an Arsenal shirt.

However, Arsene Wenger, like so often, had different ideas and, like so often, his ideas look to be the right ones.

In July Arsenal announced the signing of Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle United as Sagna’s replacement and handed him the famous number two shirt. Soon after Arsenal agreed a deal worth up to £16m for ex-Southampton starlet, Calum Chambers, in a bold move for a largely unproven young player but one with a little Premier League experience and another product of the excellent Southampton Academy that produced current Arsenal stars, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The signing of Chambers raised two very important questions at Arsenal. Firstly, what would happen to the boy through whom most of us live our fading and deluded hopes of playing for our beloved club; Carl Jenkinson? Secondly, and probably most importantly of all, what will Chambers’ nickname be as Chambo has already been taken? The conundrum keeps me awake most nights with taunting sniggers as my brain attempts to navigate the murky waters of simple yet pertinent monikers. If it doesn’t keep me awake it corrupts my slumber, pulls me through horrific dream sequences before dousing me in cold sweat and forcing me awake with a violent lurch and a blood-curdling scream.

Debuchy’s signature was met with general delight from the Arsenal support however there have been a few pondering aloud the cost of signing Debuchy and Chambers as opposed to keeping Sagna for a few more years. Especially when that money could be spent on a defensive midfielder or striker so many crave and believe was the difference between us winning the double last year instead of just the FA Cup. I would argue the loss of Ramsey and Walcott put paid to our title ambitions more than the lack of a new striker or defensive midfielder and any new signings this summer are about improvement and strengthening rather than addressing an urgent need but that is a discussion for another time.

If tabloid reports are to be believed then Arsenal have spent close to £28m in signing two players to replace Sagna and whilst that may seem expensive it pales in comparison to what would have been spent on loyalty bonuses, increased wages, agents fees and eventual replacement had Sagna stayed a while longer. Chambers is only going to get better and had we moved for him in 2-3 years time his purchase fee would easily have doubled.

Debuchy is the perfect signing in many ways because he has experience of the league and usurped Sagna in the French national team. When Kevin Keegan signed David James to replace David Seaman he rhetorically asked who better to replace the former England number 1 than the current England number1. People will have their own opinion on Keegan but regardless, he makes a good point. Who better to replace our outgoing French national right back than the man who has replaced him in the national team?

Two years Sagna’s junior, Debuchy will be a regular asset to the Arsenal starting eleven for up to 5 years. This is plenty of time to usher in the era of Jenkinson or Bellerin as first choice right back. I am not a huge fan of loaning out players who are already an essential part of the first team set up as understudy to an ageing lead performer like Jenkinson was to Sagna but I believe we have loaned him to probably the best place possible.

Jenkinson is a fantastic athlete who arguably needs game time to progress but also probably needs to improve his defensive positioning and awareness. Loaning him to another London club in the Premier League, where he is almost guaranteed to start every week, is only going to benefit Arsenal. He is close enough to watch regularly, not just in matches but training also.

When a loan looked to be on the cards I was secretly hoping for Crystal Palace or West Ham. Both have managers for whom no love is lost amongst the Arsenal supporters for various reasons but both managers are ones I can tactically respect. I am not a fan of overly defensive football but both Allardyce and Pulis know how to set up their teams to defend and under either managers tutelage Jenkinson would have learned bundles about defensive positioning and set plays. With his height, knowing how to better defend a set piece would be a boon to Arsenal.

As it so happened, Jenkinson has joined West Ham on a season long loan deal and their counter-attacking style will probably suit the development of Carl. He should improve defensively but West Ham’s tactics will ask him to do a lot of offensive work and improve his crossing. Carl’s crossing is arguably one of his strongest points but it’s an asset Arsenal rarely take advantage of. Playing week in week out will hopefully give Carl the awareness of when to cross and when not to cross and this will be advantageous to Arsenal when they need to find a way into the box in a scrappy match.

So what of Carl’s position as understudy? That is where Chambers comes in. Here is a player who does have experience of playing regularly in that position in the Premier League and he will be ideal back up to Debuchy but more than that he will also replace Sagna as our fourth centre-back. When Jenkinson returns from his loan a better player Chambers will most likely drop off the right back radar and be focused entirely on his future as a centre-back or defensive midfielder.

Chambers’ versatility will remain an asset to Arsenal and his exposure to the first team as a right back will enable a smoother transition to future first choice centre-back.

By signing Debuchy and Chambers, and then loaning out Jenkinson, Arsene has partially secured the defensive future of Arsenal with three of the four outfield defensive positions filled with English players. The re-“nationalisation” of Arsenal has continued with Chambers and the signings of Debuchy and Sanchez shows a continued willingness to complement the British core with top class imported talent.

The future of Arsenal looks more secure than ever and £28m on replacing Sagna looks to be a top investment by Wenger that will pay dividends for the next decade. That is frugality at its finest.

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

10 Responses to “Arsenal’s Double Signing To Secure Defensive Future”

  1. Micky D says:

    Totally agree but a defensive midfielder (song again .?)and,
    someone to fill in for the for the unbreakable two merty &kosher if injury happens!!!

  2. AmericanGunnerFan says:

    Your article makes several very good points. I understand the eagerness of some Arsenal fans to see Jenkinson make good at the club-the American football team from my hometown currently has four local kids trying to make the squad and I’m hoping they succeed, too-but sports clubs have to be a lot more cold-blooded in their judgement of what players are capable of. The truth is that, objectively, Jenkinson is not ready to start at right back for a title-contending club like Arsenal at this point; especially one that expects so much offensively from its fullbacks. He still has a long way to go if he is ever going to reach that quality and Arsenal cannot wait to find out if he will. While Aurier might have offered a bit more up-side than Debuchy, you are right to point out that his experience in England should allow the French international to settle in more quickly. However, if Wenger remains the manager, I don’t see Debuchy, at 28, holding down the spot for more than 2-3 years-he’ll want more than a one year extension when his contract is up and Arsenal won’t have to give him more than that with Jenkinson, Bellerin and Chambers waiting in the wings. Given that Chambers already has experience at centre-back and DM, I would not be surprised to see Wenger not only use him as the fourth CB, but give him a try at DM-particularly if Wenger continues to have difficulty finding a quality DM who wants to play at Arsenal for a reasonable price. I know that it won’t sit well with Arsenal fans, but, with Coquelin, Flamini, Arteta and Chambers capable of playing DM, it should surprise no one if Wenger tries to see if he can get by with some combination of aging veterans and inexperienced youth at the position if he can’t get exactly what he wants in the transfer market. Regardless, however, I do believe that your conclusions are correct in that the transactions that have been made thus far will set up Arsenal defensively in a couple of years. Even if Jenkinson doesn’t reach a level where he can start at right back for the club by then, Wenger will have a chance to test the capabilities of his young defenders and “blood” them in situations where it will not hurt the club’s chances of being successful overall. And, that can only be seen as a positive.

  3. heros says:

    What our team is need is that a nice striker & defensive midfielder please wenger cover this places then we will be good enough but not it’s dangerous. specially bring striker!!!

  4. george gunner says:

    Wenger can forget about winning the epl if he doesn’t fix his defence.
    He is too attack minded. If he had not won the cup he could have been axed.
    The fw wants winners not teams playing attacking/entertaining soccer and failing to win repeatedly even against mediocre teams.

  5. Arsenal says:

    Believe in wenger,he will make everything right..if he thinks chambers may be the dm,he may aswell not buy of cb it depends on the sale of tv..and he said for the next two weeks he will assess the squad and see the additional requirements are needed or not!
    The press conference was amazing actually,when he told keeping arsenal afloat all these years was his best achievement then i was so could see in his eyes how much it meant to him how much he loves arsenal..

  6. Neil says:

    Excellent well reasoned article, as for those saying need to fix the defence,I’m puzzled…..the reason for the fall off in results was lack of goals, not poor defending.

  7. Gare Gate says:

    fifth is Arsenal’s position dis season,e go clear for una eyes! rubbish!

  8. Wengerer says:

    Really articulate and well thought out article. This is my first time here- was directed here by the .com article- but i found your thoughts really encouraging, especially your opinion on Jenkinson, cos i really don’t want hi to leave. Thanks- I’ll be dropping in here more regularly from now on.
    P.S. Ignore the troll.

  9. Wengerer says:

    Alright now I’ll going through all your other articles.
    Great job!!!

  10. Winner Matahula says:

    Well-reasoned analysis. I really think Arsenal are on the way up. I’ve never been more excited going into the season for years. Happy days.

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