skip to content

LEO'S LONDON: Arsenal's central defensive OAPs not good enough

More

24 Mar 2010 11:11:38

LEO'S LONDON: Arsenal's central defensive OAPs not good enough

It has probably never been said before but in the next week ArseneWenger could pay the price for not investing adequately in youth. Fine strikers, skilful and strong midfielders and even full-backs brimming with potential are coming through at Arsenal. But as the club hit squeaky bum time in the Premier League and Champions League they have got a crisis at centre-back.  The cupboard looks bare: Sol Campbell is one of the too-old brigade that Arsenal will have to rely on It is the one position Wenger has struggled with and it could forcehim to choose between the Premier League or the Champions League  inthe next week. After blowing the title race open last weekend, Arsenal go toBirmingham on Saturday with 35-year-old Sol Campbell and MikaelSilvestre, 32, as their only  recognised centre-backs. Alex Song could fill-in, but is  inexperienced in the position. Thomas Vermaelen, 24, an excellent addition this season, issuspended and Johan Djourou, 23, and William Gallas, 32, are injured.   More from Leo Spall... LEO'S LONDON: Forward thinking Harry set to change his game at Spurs17/03/10 LEO'S LONDON: John Terry must not follow Frank Lampard's path if he is to rise above the hate mob10/03/10 LEO'S LONDON: If Joe Cole is to burn bright again, the only way forward is through the Chelsea exit03/03/10 LEO'S LONDON: It's hard to show sympathy for sensitive Woodgate24/02/10 LEO'S LONDON: Mourinho is having a laugh over his latest Chelsea claims17/02/10 LEO'S LONDON: Arsenal face heartfelt blow if Spurs pip them to third10/02/10 LEO'S LONDON: Battle of Stamford Bridge could prove Arsenal's last stand03/02/10 LEO'S LONDON: Tottenham misfit Pavlyuchenko points the way to what is wrong with football27/01/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Fine, I hear Gunners' fans saying - it is only Birmingham. But even if that over-confidence was fair (and it is isn't), there is still a  problem. Vermaelen returns to face Barcelona next week but who should Wenger choose to partner him? Silvestre is not even close to good enough any more, Song would surely be exposed by Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry and Wenger doubts Campbell could handle two games of that importance so close together. The  manager has given Gallas no better than a 20 per cent chance of returning  to  fitness for that game either, so to play him could have serious consequences for  the rest of the season.  The quandary helps to explain why Wenger was so angry about Vermaelen's  dismissal against West Ham last Saturday. Arsenal  could argue it felt a little harsh but contact was made on Guillermo  Franco and the referee enforced the law to the letter. Wenger even pursued a futile appeal against the red card and one-match ban  because the Belgium defender is so important to his team. Now he can gamble with his team selections in the Premier League or the  Champions League, or both, but he is going to have to gamble. He insists you can't have six centre backs on the books and he has been unlucky with injuries. But the average age of his five first-team players in that position (Phillipe Senderos has, at last, been written off) is  more than 29 years old and it  really does need freshening up in the  summer. *********************************************************************************************** Gianfranco Zola put all his money on black  for last night's game against Wolves and it came out red. The West Ham manager effectively threw games at Chelsea and Arsenal by saving  his best  players for two home games he thought he could win. Savaged by Wolves: Gianfranco Zola Logically, it made sense. But as West Ham played like a bunch of strangers against Wolves in their 3-1 home defeat the flaws in the plan were clear. Stoke, who they face on Saturday, are a much tougher prospect and West Ham don' t appear to have the heart or gameplan to overcome stubborn opponents. So if Zola is still in the mood to gamble, he will have to put his money on Hull and Burnley being even  worse than his team. It might be all that can save them now. *********************************************************************************************** Millwall and Paul Dickov showed on Monday night how  the balance of power is  shifting in League One at a crucial time. Kenny  Jackett's team outperformed Leeds in every department at Elland Road to  complete  their 10th win in 12 league matches. During that run, which dates back to mid-January, they have conceded only six goals as Neil Harris and Steve Morison have continued to fire them in at the other end. Top cats: Millwall's Steve Morison celebrates after scoring at Elland Road while all Leeds striker Paul Dickov had to offer was an off-the-ball stamp on Lions keeper David Forde With the final stage of the season underway, even Leeds boss Simon Grayson  admitted his side were second-best all round - and Dickov underlined how desperate things could become. Jermaine Beckford's hamstring injury handed the 37-year-old his first start for Leeds, but his most notable contribution was a dirty, off-the-ball stamp on goalkeeper David Forde. As Millwall threaten the automatic promotion spots, Leeds may have to rely on a has-been who clearly needs to learn some new tricks. Heaven help them. *********************************************************************************************** If Eidur Gudjohnsen can grab a few more goals for Tottenham before the end of  the season there will be a clear case for the club to keep him. Nominally a striker, he was used as an attacking midfielder towards the end of his spell at Chelsea and probably operates best there or just behind a frontman. Gudjohnsen gets his fair share of goals (although he has never been prolific) and Spurs could do with a few others in midfield in a position to credibly make the same claim. Goals pay the rent: And Eidur Gudjohnsen (right) could help keep Spurs in the top four with his Niko Kranjcar has five for them in the Premier League - the same as Peter Crouch -  but can do much better. Luka Modric has a pitiful return of only two goals this season and without Jermain Defoe's success Tottenham's season would have  taken on a very different complexion. Put simply, Spurs need to share the goals around the team more equitably and  Gudjohnsen is the sort of player capable of helping to do that.


Daily_Mail

Sponsored links

advertisement

Related Arsenal News

advertisement

advertisment