Good morning everyone, I hope you all had a better weekend then me.
My phone broke on Friday and I subsequently spent c. 8 hours speaking to Apple Support to try and resolve the issue, which they did but it wasn’t perfect. After they resolved it my phone was restored to 9th June so I lost all of 10 days data, messages, photos etc..
Anyway, the post I was going to make was about our centre backs so without further ado, here you are.
I guess Calum Chambers is a good place to start with his current involvement in the England U21 squad. He started the season with us, playing in the 3-4 loss against Liverpool alongside Rob Holding and it was hardly the start to the season you’d want as a young, developing CB, to playing with a younger, less mature CB making his debut for the club.
Anyway, having gone on loan to Middlesbrough I think it’s fair to say it was a successful spell. Bearing in mind a successful loan isn’t governed by how many trophies you win, just about how many games you play and how much experience you accrue.
Having been through the trials and tribulations of relegation at Middlesbrough it will have given Calum something not many players (if any) players have in our squad and should serve him in good stead next season. I think he will be kept for the upcoming season. I mentioned yesterday that the manager may well view him as cover for Bellerin in the right back position if we were to revert to a back 4 but also a great option to play in a back 3 as we will need substantial squad depth with Europa League.
That said we have a wealth of options at centre back (something we haven’t been able to say in recent years) when you look at it; Koscielny, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Holding, Gabriel, Chambers and Monreal should you hold the manager to his word earlier in the close season.
Koscielny’s biggest target for next season is to ensure he manages his Achilles injury appropriately to ensure we can the most out of him, he’s a man that may not talk too much when on the pitch but certainly leads by example and, in my view, one of the best defenders in the league.
Assuming we stick with a back 3 I would like to see us stick with Holding in there for no other reason than that he deserves to be there. Since being picked he hasn’t done too much wrong. A few silly mistakes (think of the back pass to check against Man United that feel short by some way). Besides that though he’s performed consistently well and hopefully he can build on that going into next season.
The last spot should also be allocated on merit to Per. Need I say any more about his FA Cup Final performance? It was sublime and a performance you would be happy to show any young, aspiring centre back because he did not put a foot wrong, mis-time a single tackle nor give away possession sloppily (is that a word)? With it being his last season in football and him considering a move into a role at the club behind the scenes I see no reason why we should dump him on the bench.
The back 3 seems to protect him from the pace of almost any opposition player and allows him to focus on what he is good at, reading the game. His experience alongside Holding would also go a long way to aiding the development of the young Englishman.
As for Mustafi, I think his debut season was okay without being spectacular. Yes he went all those games without losing with us but I think that was mere coincidence as opposed to anything else and I recall him saying he wants to go till the end of the season without losing and we lost our next game. Lol. Next season, he would be my 4th choice behind Mertesacker. At his age and with the injury we do not know he capable he is of competing 2-3 times a week so if he, like Koscielny, needs managing it would be Mustafi that I call upon first and foremost.
Following the German, I would then look to Monreal for filling in the left sided centre back role when needed. One reason is because he’s our only left footed option there so it makes sense but also because he’s better than Gabriel. Better at defending as well as carrying the ball out of defence and playing a pass into the midfield/forwards.
First and foremost I would like Nacho to be competing at left back with our new guy Kolasinac but knowing we can use him in the back 3 if needed can only be a good thing.
Gabriel is still recovering from a fairly serious injury but should be fit for the return of Premier League football. Although I feel he has performed well at times this season I also think he’s lack of quality has been laid bare for all to see from time to time. He’s a bit rash into the tackle at time, he isn’t the best (nor 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th) at carrying the ball and finding a pass and he tends to let his mind wonder from time to time allowing the opposition to capitalise on these lapses. As such, if I were to cut anyone out of this department it would be the Brazilian.
However, I feel he still offers great strength in depth for a squad that will require more depth now than ever before and would be inclined to keep hold of all players we currently have at centre back. If, of course, we revert to a back 4 the. We’d have way too many players but I can’t see that being an issue and have no doubt our injury problems will leave us threadbear at the back at some point next season although here’s to hoping the Aussie we’ve secured can work his magic and keep our players performing week in, week out, without suffering with the little niggling injuries we’re so frequently known for.
That’s all for today. Please feel free to contact me in the comments with your thoughts and I’ll be back tomorrow for the left back dissect.