Based in London and writing for a global audience our aim is to produce EliteFootballTalk. Enjoy the site and feel welcome to join in our discussion on the beautiful game.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It must be Senderos over Cygan every time

Phillipe Senderos is Arsenal's answer to Roger Federer. A young Swiss world class talent, he was courted by the top teams in Europe before opting for the opportunity to be trained under Arsene Wenger.

After 18 months training at London Colney, he came into the team last February when it was at its lowest ebb: just coming off the back of a 4-2 defeat to Man Utd and a 3-1 travesty in icy Munich. Crucially he came in to replace the hapless Pascal Cygan (who in turn had replaced the injured Sol Campbell).

Drafting in a world class young talent over someone who triggers nerves among teammates and fans- or at least this fan- alike was the catalyst for the positive turn around last season.

Arsenal started to collect clean sheets with Phillipe Senderos playing like a veteran alongside the rejuvenated Kolo Toure- who had suffered a crisis of confidence next to Cygan. By the end of the season it was definitely a case that Senderos had made the absence of Campbell a forgotten concern. This was summed up by the absence of dissent when Senderos was preferred to Sol for the FA Cup final: an incredible scenario just a few months earlier.

This season Senderos has quickly been forgotten. Drogba's virtuoso show in the Shield match followed by that shinner at Stamford Bridge led to Senderos being excluded from the first team. I certainly never felt that Cygan should replace him-which resulted in three goals conceded in two games, including a calamitous Maccarone goal at the Riverside.

Sol Campbell's commanding return (replacing Cygan) from three months out has been the best story about Arsenal this season. But a second successive injury in an England shirt for the now sadly injury prone defender means that a vacancy has again arisen alongside the excellent Kolo Toure.

Against this context, its great news that Senderos has recovered from a brief back injury and is at the centre of the Swiss defence that just played out a score draw with France and is now travelling to Dublin for a World Cup showdown.

He must come back into the team in front of Cygan for Saturday's match at West Brom. After this fixture last season, Senderos spoke on television and gave an interview as impressive as his fully-focused defending. He spoke like a future captain and confirmed to me the impression that he creates confidence in his teammates with his attitude and focus on top of his precise defending.

You will see these attributes tonight when he stays cool under Irish fireworks and guides Switzerland into either automatic qualification or the play-offs: the perfect warm-up for his return to the Arsenal first-team.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...This is the best & most acurate article I have read this year. Senderos is a giant talent & I would rather move Kolo to Viera's old place , than drop him again. Why cant Arsene see that we can either play 3 centre halfs, with Cole & Lauren further forward, or we play Kolo in the middle, as the holding midfielder. Senderos, will be our captain one soon, and AW must sell Cygan asap.

10/12/2005 12:10 pm

Blogger Kim Stian Ervik said...

Sanderos will most likely start next game and he will hopefully have a great game to boost his confidence.

10/12/2005 1:55 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...


10/12/2005 3:17 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senderos is far from being the finished article, but what a talent!
As a young player he will make mistakes (as the great TA did), but the big difference between him and Cygan is that he is very capable of learning from them, which Cygan apparently isn't.
Cygan is not a bad option to have around as a 4th choice CB, but certainly no better than that.
I can't otherwise explain how he often plays so well but still give away a stupid goal or two.

10/12/2005 3:27 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...Further to my effort above... AW must accept the obvious fact that he has one big flaw as a manager ie: his defensive knowledge is poor, and it should be left to Rice & Bould to pick the defence for every game. They would also work out a strategy for Europe too, that would allow the team to grow with experience. Senderos is easily as good as big Tony was at this age, and in my opinion, did not make a mistake against Chelsea. In fact Kolo, Lauren & Cole have made more mistakes this year. I suspect AW is overconcerned about Senderos age, which is another flaw. We should play the best by ability, not by age or reputations. Finally, if we cannot win or draw at West Brom, then forget any trophies this season & hope AW has the guts to bring in some added class in January.

10/12/2005 3:49 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Senderos is a clear favourite with any football fan over Cygan for centre-baqck, particularly with his qualities and some 11 years Cygan's junior. OK so Drogba gave him a stern test but like another said, he'll learn from it, make him stronger.

Cygan, like Anon (3.27PM) said, is ideal for cover and that's about as far as I would rate him. He has height, not afraid to head, tackle or get involved but the thing is when he does it's unpreditable how he will behave. He has the potential to be a good defender but hasn't the guidance of playing alongside another regularly, whereas there is a better chemistry from two out of Campbell, Toure and Senderos. Cygan is part of the team, no doubt, but one feels more content with any two out of those three.

Saying that, having Cygan alongside Toure for West Brom isn't a major worry, Cygan has enough professionalism as cover to help out. Perhaps against stiffer opponents one would be concerned, Cygan more or less plays his own game where he knows he has to defend and on occasion comes forward to attack. When he is in communication with the other defenders then he has a better game, he's more aware. Otherwise, he is his own player.


10/12/2005 4:23 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flippin' internationals. I suspect if Wenger doesn't play Senderos against WBA it will be to avoid the youngster having to play three matches in one week. As Gunnerpete said, it is ridiculous for some fans to be writing him off when he's done so well in so few matches at such a young age. I think those fans have been spoiled by the electric pace and skill of the flair players. What we need in a defender is good positioning, confidence, strength in the tackle, heading ability, all of which big Phil has. As for his performance against Chelsea, in almost every match, a striker will get at least one chance. With incredible luck, Drogba bundled/bungled his in. Otherwise, Senderos hardly let him get a sniff. Cygan is not a bad defender; he's let down by his incredible lack of athleticism. He does make everyone nervous, including his own teammates, which makes his worth that much less.

10/12/2005 10:28 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanx for your comments- couldn't agree more with all of them. As expected, Senderos was brilliant tonight for Switzerland as they qualified for the World Cup play-offs.

Gunner Pete's suggestion re Toure becoming a utility holding central midfield player is one I'd like to see were Sol and Senderos available for selection, and Gilberto unavailable for selection. A Flamini/Fabregas partnership strikes me as too inexperienced, and Alex Song needs a whole year in the reserves before he should be considered.

Kolo started his Arsenal career as a midfielder- and his whole-hearted commitment is a must for the team in every match. If required, he has what it takes to do a great job in the Gilberto role.

10/13/2005 12:30 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

I agree with that, T. Toure dropping into central midfield is a plus, especially as he begun in midfield originally. And it would make sense for him to do so when Silva is unavailable, no need for the two of them to be there at the same time, one of them and either Flamini/Fabregas to guide the latter two. Minus sign is Vieira departed, plus sign is youngsters coming up and along with good heads there to protect them.

This all the more values the presence of Bergkamp, particularly with Henry injured. I think he and Reyes can be devastating, there's skill and flair from both, touches and an eye for the pass, Reyes has his pace, Bergkamp his tenacity.

Senderos remained part of a defence that held off the Irish Republic battle for World Cup 2006. I like Eire and hoped they would make it but what's to be is to be. Switzerland have it yet to play but Arsenal fans will relish seeing Senderos in where it also really counts, Germany 2006.


10/13/2005 1:53 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

Very interesting article T. It turns out that your prediction that Senderos would be a rock againt Ireland turned out to be spot on. Good call.

Yes Senderos made some mistakes early on this season, but we have to remember that he is still very young. He will get better with experience and the only way to get experience is by playing high-level games.

10/13/2005 3:16 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi t, from GunnerPete. Whilst I dont want to labour the point, what would you say to a line up as follows. Lehmann

Toure Campbell Senderos
Fabrigas Hleb Reyes Cole

Bergkamp Henry

Subs for rotation = Van Persie, Almunia, Lauren, Pires, Clichy

My reasoning is, with those three +Silver would make us as impregnable as Chelski, but still have to flair & goalscoring genius in the forward six. It would also cut out the need to have another centre back on the bench, and allow us the luxury of gradually bringing on Clichy as an attacking left midfielder, which I think he can be. My own personal idea would be to sell Cygan asap and think about selling Lauren too. he has been a great servant but is so limited at the back, and we have many real top youg players coming through for the forward six places.I cant wait to see : Quincy, Lupoli, Smith, Bredtner & Connolly given a chance.

10/13/2005 4:52 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Gunnerpete, I would say Toure and Senderos are more comfortable in central positions which gives them both the versatility to use either foot and more space to avert danger within, than being on the flanks.

I see Silva preferring to play central alongside another than as a lone figure. Fabregas on the wing isn't a bad option, but Hleb is more effective on the wings, Reyes upfront, drifting around like Henry.

A selection problem is all three main central defenders available, who to play? I think Wenger would play Campbell and Toure.

If Silva is unavailable, drop Toure into central mid and Campbell and Senderos partner. Currently, I see Arsenal's strengths as:


Lauren Toure Senderos Cole

Pires Silva Fabregas Hleb

Bergkamp Reyes


10/13/2005 10:52 pm

Blogger T said...

GunnerPete, you make good comments so no problem in extending the debate.

I can't imagine a Wenger team going 3-5-2, and although I'm intrigued by the attacking potential, I'm not sure if I fancy it for defensive reasons. My concern with 3-5-2 is if the other team uses out and out wingers like Chelsea.

From your line-up, this would mean that Cole and Fabregas would be pegged back- which harms the overall balance of the team, and also Fabregas would be pushed back into unfamiliar defensive territory.

I agree with Redsman analysis( for a Liverpool fan I'm quite impressed), solid 4-4-2 is a well-honed and successful system for the team.

For me Lauren is an important member of the team because he is comfortable on the ball, has speedy awareness of the right pass to make, is unflappable, and brings good experience to the defence. I know that against great wingers like Giggsy and Ronaldo he can be spun all over the place- but all in all he brings far more positives to the team than negatives.

When TH comes back he must play with Gilberto and Fabregas as the CM partnership: than for me five players contests for three starting places between Reyes, Bergkamp, Ljungberg, Pires and Hleb (VP is super-sub!). Bulked-up Reyes is looking so good in the centre forward position that I would start him with TH; and Freddie brings so much guts to the team that for me he must start on the right. With Gael at left back for the next two mths, Pires is preferred over excellent Hleb (his performance for Belarus against Scotland was awesome) on the left for experience down that side.

Good news today that apparently Sol may return as early as next week. Then when TH comes back our team can show its full worth.

10/13/2005 11:43 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks, T, it comes with the job!

For my previous post substitute Cole for Clichy, Cole is out for eight weeks.


10/14/2005 3:09 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete asks 'T'....I may be thick but I do not understand this site. I first found it because of the Senderos article, and very happily sent my comments to you. Since then, nothing ? Is this normal for Elite ? I for instance would love to comment on the 'messages' being sent out by TH, and what they mean to us. I would also like to read somewhere, what was said at the AGM this week? Any chance?


10/21/2005 1:33 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanx Gunnerpete for your questions.

EFT is not going to be a site that posts articles on every football topic or every Arsenal topic. I have written articles about Arsenal's defeat at West Brom and Henry's record since the Senderos article (did you see these posts?)- and this sort of frequency of articles on Arsenal is the norm.

There are other exclusively Arsenal fan sites that post two or three articles per day on news related to Arsenal. This is not going to happen on EFT- or at least not in the forseeable future.

You could (and still can) have added your thoughts on Henry's comments to the Henry article I posted on Wednesday. I didn't attend the AGM so it would be remiss of me to comment on what happened.

I hope this clarifies things GunnerPete. Your comments were of good quality on the Senderos article so it would be good to read more in future.


10/21/2005 3:48 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete.....says. Here we go again. Another left back injury and the great debate is on. "Who do we pick ". For me there is only one sane choice, 'Senderos', but Im sure AW will use Cygan. This means either our whole team will be nervous and happy to win a point, or, with Philipe, we will shut them out and convert at least two of our usual 10 chances. Whoever is chosen, he has got to do the business for about another 5 weeks......Oh Blimey ?????

11/15/2005 7:54 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home


Locations of visitors to this page