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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Squillaci - Silvestre - Cygan: the weakest Arsenal link

It's been a messy year for Arsenal. A couple of days after Christmas last year, Arsenal took apart Chelsea at home with a full-on performance which promised an exciting 2011 for the Gunners.

Unfortunately the atmosphere of that night has long-since dissipated and in its place has materialised a fog of unease and uncertainty that is threatening to engulf the Arsenal.

The first seven months of 2011 has seen Arsenal buffeted and wobble. The experienced steward, Arsene Wenger, looks like an increasingly beleagured captain who is seriously struggling to control his fine ship.

These are extremely rocky waters that Wenger has encountered, and with an imminent storm of fixtures to be navigated it is unclear in what condition Arsenal will look come the end of the month.

If I could make one immediate suggestion in this testing period to the great Wenger it would be to stop playing Sebastien Squillaci. It appears that when he is on the pitch we are at our weakest defensively with dire consequence. For me he follows the line of Mikel Silverstre and Pascal Cygan in being Arsenal first-team centre-backs who look a couple of quality levels below their teammates when on the pitch.

Scott Booth, the co-commentator on ESPN last night as Arsenal played Benfica, neatly highlighted the ease with which the scorer of Benfica's second goal turned past Squillaci on the edge of the box before driving a fine shot past Fabianski. Squillaci was indeed turned too easily: in my opinion it was characteristically sub-par defending in the Arsenal shirt for the French defender.

It probably did not help the mentality of Squillaci that just four minutes after coming on the pitch Benfica had equalised after a first half which Arsenal controlled and led. A goal four minutes after coming on the pitch must have raised feelings for him of that awful day at St James Park in February when four goals were conceded by the Arsenal shortly after he came on a sub for the injured Djourou.

To me Squillaci looks like a defender low on confidence; a defender who fundamentally lacks belief in his defending ability.

This is a period when Arsenal need to dig deep. There are tests to overcome this month which will define the subsequent 12 months. To come through them we need to be at our strongest all over the pitch. And, for me, this means avoiding playing Squillaci, who unfortunately is proving himself unsuitable for the Arsenal defensive cause.

By consequence, the incentive to immediately buy a new centre-back must surely now be overwhelming for Wenger??


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree. Never rated squillaci highly. Wenger on one hand says he will buy super quality players, but will end up buying cheap average french players on end of transfer deadline.

8/07/2011 12:12 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

U forgot Senderos.

8/07/2011 12:29 pm

Anonymous Knoxy said...

You're also forgetting Igors Stepanovs - what a gem he was.

8/07/2011 1:00 pm

Blogger gooner10 said...

Agreed. Unfortunately the Prof' places unerring loyalty in poor players just because he signed them, in the vain hope that he would at some stage be proved right. If you compare the good signings with the bad ones, i think you'll find the poor ones overtake the good ones, im thinking Jeffers, Grimandi, Garde, Cygan, Bendtner, Squillaci, Senderos, Stepanovs, Wreh, Boa-Morte, Almunia, Luszhny........... this list is practically endless (this is just off the top of my head) im sure there are plenty more. 99% of managers would be ruthless enough to out the dross and buy correctly, not reward with higher wages and longer contracts?????? hence nobody will take them off our hands. A.W. needs to take a reality pill, sooner rather than later.

8/07/2011 1:15 pm

Anonymous clockendjim said...

Squillaci does indeed follow a Wenger tradition of poor quality players who he perseveres with when obviously they will never make it.
I would slightly disagree with the lists above. I thought Grimandi was very under-rated; he did a Flamini like job with little fuss.
Although past his best I quite liked Luszny too.
Senderos drove me to distraction at times, but Squillaci makes him look like Tony Adams in comparison
I have supported Arsenal for 50 years. If they do not spend some money to fill the crying needs in defence, then I will not renew my Silver membership next season.
We are all being taken for mugs and enough is enough.

8/07/2011 1:33 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote: "If I could make one immediate suggestion in this testing period to the great Wenger it would be to stop playing Sebastien Squillaci." Doh.. he is the 4th choice defender and of course you play him in friendlies! Memories are short but at the start of last season Squillaci put in some very decent perfomances. The new scapegoat has clearly been appointed now Denilson has left.

8/07/2011 2:42 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the problem when you get 2nd rate defenders or wc kids. Remember Pennant,Upson,Stepenov,Luzny.If Arsenal had better players than these guys,the gunners could have won more than the three titles. If Wenger doesn't change tack,it is obvious the gunners will heading downwards.

8/07/2011 3:06 pm

Anonymous SL said...

Luzhny, Grimandi, Parlour, Wiltord, Gilberto, Flamini, Eboue, Denilson and now Squillaci...

All players that were the scapegoats for the Arsenal fans, but turned out to do a very good job as squad players when asked.

Look, you cannot have 20 world class players in your squad and there will always be players that are just average. Look at the winning Manchester United sides... for every Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy, Ferdinand and Nani, there is a Phil Neville, Silvestre, Fletcher, O'Shea...

Give Squillaci a break, he's a full international with experience at the top levels in the French and Spanish leagues. He's had a poor season last year, but he's only a forth choice defender here and adapting to the English style of football is never easy.

Look at the players above... Grimandi, Parlour, Wiltord, Gilberto, Flamini were very harshly criticised when they were at the club, but are now fondly remembered by the fans after they have left.

8/07/2011 5:38 pm


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