Welcome to the next installment of our preseason squad assessment! Today we will be taking a bit of a look over the defence, what we expect from our Senior players as well as what we’d like to see for the upcoming campaign.
There’s a few to cover so let’s get into it!
Per Mertesacker – 32 yrs – Centre Back
Our BFG had a memorable season only by the fact of his amazing performance in the FA Cup final off the back of only 27 mins of league football until that point. A fantastic role model for everyone at the club his playing days will come to an end at the conclusion of this season, when he will step into a development role alongside compatriot and Invincible, Jens Lehman. Expect him to play a support role on field, covering for our other options in league games and during congested fixture weeks. Hopefully he can stay fit. Love him!
Laurent Koscielny – 31 yrs – Centre Back
Lolo has developed into one of the finest Centre-halves in Europe since arriving in 2010 as a relative unknown. Has been managing a nagging Achilles issue for the past 6 months which is a bit of a concern given how important he is to the team. If fit, expect him to anchor that back 3 in as many games as he can handle. He loves a goal too and should continue to be a danger to opposition 18 yard boxes during set pieces. More of the same thanks!
Shkodran Mustafi – 25 yrs – Centre Back
Last Summers’ big money signing showed he has the qualities to tackle (puns) the best strikers in the league, with his balls to the wall, aggressive style of play. Loves a slide tackle, sometimes to the point of detriment to the team (we’d like to see him stay on his feet a bit more this season). Doesn’t mind marauding forward or pinging a long ball over the top. Has the ability to spring play from defence to midfield in a similar way to Koscielny. Forged a great partnership with Lolo and should find himself next to the Frenchman as the 2nd part of our back 3.
Gabriel – 26 yrs – Centre Back/Right Back
Has pace and aggression but lacks a bit of the discipline to utilise it at the right times. Found himself covering for an injured Bellerin at RB during the season and did so manfully. It wasn’t enough to gain him a regular berth in the XI and he still has some work to do to stake his claim. With the emergence of Holding and the return of Calum Chambers, Gabby could find himself squeezed out of the squad before the window closes. If he stays, he will provide competition and back up to our preferred options. Gets a bonus point for bollocking Costa, we still love it!
Rob Holding – 21 yrs – Centre Back
Looks like we’ve found one with Rob Holding. Made strides in his development last season when given the opportunities and found himself part of the new system in big matches towards the end of the season, including his famous double act with The BFG on FA Cup final day. Cool as a cucumber, he has leader written all over him and should find himself further developing into the team this time around. We’re sorry he didn’t cost £50m so everyone could know how good he is. Gun!
Nacho Monreal – 31 yrs – Left Back/Centre Back
Our versatile and reliable Spanish defender had another stirling season, with a number of key displays throughout the campaign. Scored a crucial FA Cup Semi-final goal vs City to put us through when the pressure was on. Works tirelessly for the full 90mins and rarely finds himself beaten on the day, even when facing trickier, pacier opponents. Established Left sided defender, we’re interested to see if he players as part of the back 3 long-term or out wide at LWB. He gives us options and has a consistent level of performance.
Sead Kolasinac – 24 yrs – Left Back/Centre Back
Our first signing of the Summer, the Bosnian born Left back was voted into last season Bundesliga team of the season – highlighting what a great piece of business his acquisition has been. From what we’ve seen so far and what we know from last season, he is another aggressive, direct defender who can provide an assist as easily as he can win the ball and run away from any number of Chelsea attackers. Grabbed a goal on his Wembley debut, cementing his cult hero status for the upcoming season. Unless he’s doing it in front of the Spurs fans, we’d prefer his goal celebrations to be modified from what we saw on Sunday. Tank!
Kieran Gibbs – 27 yrs – Left Back
Gibbs found himself on the outer last season after progressively falling further and further behind Monreal. Grabbed some minutes as a LWB late in the piece, but overall it was a season to forget for our boy. With the arrival of Kolasinac, his future looks likely to continue elsewhere and there have been numerous rumours connecting him with a move away from the Emirates. The club looks to be holding out for a fee in the region of £10m. We expect him to hang around until the final days of the window where managers will start getting a little jumpy before snaffling the Englishman up. Left out of preseason team commitments.
Hector Bellerin – 22 yrs – Right Back
One of our brightest young stars, everyone loves his sizzling pace and ability to work up and down the right hand side and combine with the attacking side of our game. Took the load of being our only fit RB for most of the season in outstanding fashion, although he did begin to wear down towards the end of the year. We want to see him work on his left foot so he isn’t as easy to box into a corner. Can also develop his passing/crossing further. Looks likely to take the majority of work on the right again this season.
Calum Chambers – 22yrs – Right Back/Centre Back
Had a successful spell on loan at Borough last season where he became an integral part of their ultimately relegated squad. Saw plenty of action in defence and was able to play at both Centre-half and Right back. Started every game at the U/21 championships this off-season and seems to be a player capable of developing with this Arsenal team. We like him and think he can provide good cover for Bellerin at RB, while also being a familiar partner to fellow U/21 Englishman, Rob Holding. Give him some chances, we think he’s got what it takes!
Mathieu Debuchy – 32 yrs – Right Back
I think it’s fair to say his move to the Emirates has been a total disaster for the Frenchman. Spent another frustrating season in the recovery room with various complaints before making a short-lived return and reinjuring himself in the very same game. Unfortunate, but his time is up and he will probably find himself moved on to a Ligue 1 team shortly. Arsene has spoken at length about the need to trim the squad and Mathieu is undoubtedly amongst those set to leave.
Carl Jenkinson – 25 yrs – Right Back
We love him, he’s a dyed in the wool Gunners man living the dream of playing for his boyhood team. Was used when Debuchy and Bellerin were both out injured in a couple of games but looked sorely out of his depth and played without confidence. Expect to see him on the list of players shipped out before the close of the window. Will always be remembered for his emotional goal at Carrow Road.
None, but we expect to see Gibbs, Jenkinson and Debuchy all depart. There are queries over Gabriel and Chambers at this stage as well.
Sead Kolasinac – Free Transfer from Schalke
We have a great mix of experience, athleticism and aggression that should be able to cope with most of what is thrown at them during the season. With a new formation and a handy group of Mids in front of them, we like our defensive flexibility for the new campaign. We will be watching the development of Holding and Bellerin closely again this season and also cant wait to see what Kolasinac brings to the table apart from his shredded rig.
Got any thoughts on our defence? Send us a tweet or comment on this post to kick off a discussion!
We’ll be back tomorrow with a look at our Midfield!