With the beginning of the English Premier League season less than a month away, most teams are making final preparations to strengthen their squads. Arsenal, however, have only made one signing while numerous players have left the club. For once, it isn’t the best players on the team that are leaving, but it could leave the team exposed a bit on the defense.
Depth is not a word associated with Arsenal’s backline. With summer exits, the team has only three recognized senior center-backs. The left and right-back positions each have two quality players, but Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen are both out injured leaving Kieran Gibbs as the sole player at right-back. Laurent Koscielny has a minor injury, and it is not clear when he will be able to return to action, which leaves Per Mertesacker as the only senior center-back. The right-back looks solid for now, but given Bacary Sagna’s injury history, I wouldn’t be surprised if Carl Jenkinson had to step up at some point this season.
These are all issues that have occurred before the season has even begun. A combination of injuries and/or suspensions could leave the back line exposed to a point that would make many Arsenal fans more uncomfortable than they already are. Action must be taken now to bolster that defense and add some much-needed depth.
The major transfer story-lines of the summer tend to revolve around attacking players because they are so exciting to watch. It is rare that one sees many big defensive transfers getting a lot of attention. Most Arsenal fans have been closely monitoring the Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez transfer sagas, while few focus on the lack of defensive options. Even though an attacking option is needed, there are plenty of potent options on the team now. Olivier Giroud, for example, is performing quite well in the preseason games and will be looking to have a big season for Arsenal. Currently, the offensive options are not what concern the team the most.
Arsène Wenger has named a lack of options in the market as the reason why the club hasn’t made any big signings this summer, but like it or not, it is essential to bring in at least one defender. Ashley Williams has been linked to the Gunners for weeks now, but it seems there hasn’t been any progress made lately. The Swansea City player’s transfer price seems to be the point of contention, but Arsenal might have to suck it up and shell out a few more pounds to give their back-line the stability that it needs.
As they say, defense wins championships, and there is nothing better than a deep squad. In their final eleven games last season, Arsenal went unbeaten and gave up only five goals. This run was vital to the Gunners finishing in fourth place and capturing the final Champions League position. The defense was astounding and wasn’t marred by injury or suspension. The team will not be able to rely on that good fortune for an entire season. The Premier League is long and legs will wear down. New players must be brought in on the defense for Arsenal to have any chance of winning the Premier League title.
If the Gunners can bring in a quality center-back, they will be in a good position defensively. A defensive signing is not the sexiest move from the point of view of the fans, but it is very important to the success of the team. Wenger is a smart manager and will likely make a move of this type before the season begins, but hopefully he does it before the best players are taken and he has to make a panic signing.