Friday, 5 April 2013

The Fight For Full Back

Well, I say fight for full back but the truth is there isn't any fight at all, maybe a bit of hair pulling  just to acknowledged their mere existence but nothing major. That is the current situation facing Carl Jenkinson and it is one the factors that will end up being the undoing of Wenger if he refuses to change his extremely stubborn ways. For years he hasn't recognised key performances and it makes players like Bacary Sagna untouchable.

It doesn't matter which Wenger era you look at, these situations are rife. Go back to 1998 when Alex Manninger was dropped in favour of David Seaman despite several man of the match displays including stand out performances at Old Trafford and Upton Park. Seaman conceded his first game back and Manninger never recovered and arguably hasn't performed to that level ever since. Manninger did get several other opportunities at Arsenal but you got the sense that he began to try too hard and tried to achieve the impossible instead of playing his normal game. You see that's what happens when you get dropped whilst playing well, you doubt yourself. You think there must have been something you could have done differently but sometimes managers just have their favourites and there's nothing you can do about it. Then you can turn your attention to the current crop and focus on their continued failings and the ridiculous amount of trust placed in certain players. Wenger has only recently seen sense regarding Vermaelen but it took too many poor performances,that were easily into double figures (I'm being generous there) before any action was taken. If players play poorly then drop them, they earn the right to play it's not an entitlement.

That brings me nicely onto our current back four and in particular - Bacary Sagna. Whichever way you dress it up this season Sagna played poorly. He's lacked desire, which has led to usual exit talk but ultimately for a player who's health is in question after suffering two leg breaks in the same season, he isn't doing enough to merit a new deal. Our two best defensive displays all season have come away at City and in Munich. Sagna wasn't involved in either game and some will argue that Jenkinson was MOTM in both games. Throughout this season we've craved a solid defensive unit and only over two short periods of time have we looked like we've cracked it. Exhibit A - Sunderland, Stoke & Liverpool. despite the relativity poor opposition, it was still fairly promising and we kept three clean sheets. Exhibit B - Bayern & Swansea. Much better opposition but at a crucial time, we stopped the Germans scoring at the Allianz Arena for the first time in the season and we nullified Swansea on a ground that had seen us conceded five goals over our last two visits. We also went on to show some form of defensive cohesion against Reading but for a momentary lapse from our left back, we'll get to him in a moment. So when it comes to crunch, both Jenkinson and Sagna didn't play during the international break but Jenkinson is the one who makes way for Reading at home. I fear that Wenger thinks he can't upset Sagna, as the exit door looms large and whilst it may appear obvious to us that we need to make Sagna earn his place,Wenger is again expecting loyalty from yet another player that he has turned into a proven international. The truth is Wenger has scouts looking a Feyenoord's Daryl Janmaat - who impressed against PSV, as he kept the much hyped Dries Mertens quiet throughout and you can't help but feel he's getting used to being stabbed in the back.

Then you have left back, which is a position that was strengthened with the arrival of Spanish Monreal but despite his goal at Swansea has struggled to remain focused throughout games. He was a massive culprit in the NLD, he was let off the hook against Swansea and he was at fault for Reading's consolation last weekend. The difference with this position is Wenger loves both of his full backs. In fact he singled both left backs out for praise in his programme notes last week. He said Gibbs was in the top three full backs in the country (I assume he's behind Cole...) and he heaped praise on Monreal for how he has adapted to the league and compared him to Santi Cazorla. Now whilst his selection headache was eased due to Gibbs being injured, it appears he will soon have to make his mind up.The favourite will undoubtedly be Gibbs but shouldn't it be a case of may the best man win? After all it's a team game and the galactico era proved you need balance and a solid foundation before a side can reach the next level and that doesn't always mean you buy the best players in a particular position.

Please let me know your thoughts as I will take time to reply to everyone who leaves a comment. I hope you enjoyed this latest blog, feel free to share via the options below. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Inspiring quest there. What occurred after?

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