It is now a generally accepted truth that the best defender in the Arsenal squad is the France international Laurent Koscielny. But for the last two seasons or so it has been the combination of the Frenchman’s abilities of aggression, pace and playing on the front foot alongside the calmness, aerial ability, and reading of the game that his usual partner at the heart of defence Per Mertesacker has, that has given Arsenal a much more solid platform at the back.
That pairing has come under pressure this season though, with our January signing from La Liga’s Villarreal continuing to look better and more at home every time he plays. No doubt the Brazil international Gabriel will be hoping to appear in the starting line up for the FA cup final on Saturday but those hopes were dealt a real blow by Arsene Wenger this week.
As reported by the Arsenal website, Wenger did not talk about his individual defenders or what his starting XI would be, but the Frenchman did point out what he thought would be one of the biggest threats to Arsenal retaining the famous trophy.
He said, “I think some of the bad fortune of Aston Villa this season was linked with the fact that Benteke was not there.
“When he came back into the team, he gave a lift to everybody and of course he has a fantastic leap, he’s an intelligent player as well and he can score goals with his feet. He’s fantastic in the air and can score headers against any team in the league.”
And who is the Gunner best suited to stop Benteke damaging us with his heading ability? That’s right and that is why the Big Flipping German will be one of the first names on the Arsenal team sheet on Saturday. But how long will Mertesacker’s place in the first team be safe with Gabriel pushing to start?