An in-depth analysis of Arsenal’s backup players

An interesting story about our backups by Briantole‏

A lot has been said about Arsenal’s lack of depth and proper squad players. These are what we call backups. So where do we stand in terms of our backups? Backups can play different roles depending on the team’s philosophy. For example: They can be youngsters being groomed for the future i.e. Barcelona.
Players who alternate with first team players and provide competition i.e. the Manchester clubs.
Players who only play a bit part in the team. They are only included when first team players are missing i.e Real Madrid, PSG, etc.

So who are Arsenal’s backups and what are their roles in the team? Let me analyse them from the defence to the striker….

Ospina is our backup goalkeeper. He was bought from Nice due to his impressive World Cup performances. He came at first as the backup, but due to Szczesny’s howlers against Southampton he displaced him from the team. He put in a very good shift and played pretty well, putting Wociechch on the bench until an array of mistakes started costing the team. People questioned his ability to reach for the ball due to his small stature. To his rescue a much improved defence arose, but the club saw the need to buy a new goalkeeper who is much much better.

Debuchy: He came in from Newcastle as a replacement for Bacary Sagna who left for Man City. He did pretty well in the world cup. He in fact benched Sagna from the France national team. He did well at the beginning. His talent and experience put the team in check until two long term injuries put him out of action for an extended period. He remained a trusted player at the club even at this difficult period ,being tipped to regain his place on his comeback, but the electric form of Bellerin and his impressive performances reduced his role to a bit part player.

Chambers: Came in from Southampton for a hefty fee. During preseason he was our best player earning himself applause from the Emirates faithful. He got on with his strong performances into the new season earning himself an England call up. His great form earned him comparisons to the legendary Tony Adams. But his inexperience did him no good.
Poor decision making reduced him to play a bit part role on the bench. Now deputising for Merts, Gabriel and Koss as last choice backup.

Gabriel: Came from Villarreal for a sizeable fee. His inability to speak English put him on the bench for a while, but on his debut against Middlesbrough he put in a strong performance rating himself highly among the supporters, he started a number of games later on and continued to impress, though Wenger does not seem to trust him much, putting Koscienly and Mertesacker ahead of him.

Kieran Gibbs: A player coming from our very own Arsenal academy. Given his debut as a youngster, he was very decent on the pitch. He became our first choice in some previous years, but after Monreal was given his place on the left after a period of time the Spaniard was nothing short of sublime and made the position his own, with Gibbs deputising him.

Flamini: Returned to arsenal after his stint spell at AC Milan. He is a versatile player capable of filling centre back, full back and midfield positions. On his first season after returning he proved an important member of the club, helping the team lift the FA cup. But due to his old age he became injury prone and inconsistent. So a young and more energetic solution was sorted and it paid off. Coquelin has been a starter since then, and Flamini his deputy, though Flamini has had his moments with a tale to tell. The brace against Tottenham being the best of it.

Campbell: Came in as a youngster at Arsenal. Has been sent on loan on a number of occasions due to his ineligibility to play because of passport issues. He was to gain important experience. So the loan spell at Olympiakos proved his best. Scoring 8 goals in the league and a Champion’s league goal against Manchester United. He then came back to Arsenal after a strong World Cup campaign and everyone expected him to find a place in the team, but Wenger had other ideas in mind. He has had to wait all this time for his opportunity to arise so let’s hope he takes it like others have done.

The Ox: Once described to be our most promising youngster as he gained comparisons to Walcott. He was very impressive for England scoring that goal against Brazil. He started almost every game in the first part of last season and everyone was praising him. After another injury he made a good name for himself, including the thunderous goal against Monaco and that assist against Manchester United. But he dug his own grave with his costly mistakes, making wenger use Ramsey ahead of him on the wing despite it not being his natural position.

Olivier Giroud: Well he causes a split of opinion among Arsenal fans, just like Wenger does. Some say he is a very viable centre forward while others see him a very bad player and have been demanding a more mobile centre-forward. Well he still has an impressive return of goals and assistsand has also been capped many times by France providing cover and as an alternative to Benzema. Now the manager doesn’t seem to trust him anymore putting the speedster Walcott ahead of him in the pecking order – for whatever reason Le Prof might have. But Walcott’s injury record compared to his puts Giroud at an advantage over the season.

Well it seems pretty harsh for the manager to bench some of these players so let’s hope they can push the first teamers to perform even better


Tags Campbell Giroud Oxlade-Chamberlain


  1. Well, thankfully most of our defense ‘Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Koscielny and Mertsacker are fit so Ospina, Gibbs and Debuchy will probably be more needed in FA Cup

    Chambers and Gabriel may be important as DM and CB as Koscielny isn’t 100% and Mertsacker is older.

    The guys I will miss the most are Coquelin and Cazorla. Ramsey is a good replacement for King Cazorla, but replacing Coquelin is more difficult with Arteta out. Flamini, Chambers and Bielik are our options for DM. Flamini has good and bad days, Chambers and Bielik are promising but inexperienced. I would give Chambers an opportunity if Flamini fails to perform

    OX and Walcott gives us flexibility in attack with Campbell also. Alexis is a HUGE loss

    I would play Giroud and Walcott together for a while. (Giroud upfront and Walcott on wing). If Giroud doesn’t score, put Walcott up front

    Again our biggest losses are Coquelin, Cazorla and Alexis

    Our defense save Coquelin is intact. Our saving grace is OZIL. We just need more precision in our finishing off Ozil’s precision passes.

    Lets give Ozil more Assists

  2. It should have been 17,12,14 all year as our front line. Don’t understand Theo’s insistence on playing through the middle. He basically comes centrally all game as it is. I guess you do have to track back a bit more though because we use our backs Bellerin and Monreal to provide the width for the attack.
    All three are proven 20 goals a season forwards.

  3. Most people don’t bother reading the manuals or instructions!
    They just plug in and switch on!

    Welcome to Arsenal fc

    I take it that, this Article was for the new comers?

    1. wobs like you are neurotic and insane.
      You dont appreciate the magic of football.
      Spending most of your time with regrets complaints and excuses.
      We find the right reasons to watch and enjoy it but always come up short with the outcome

      1. Wobs like me?
        Have a day off! ?
        How would you know what I get up too? ?
        I have forgotten, more than what you know!
        If you didn’t even know any of whats in the above Article,
        Than you are either a new fan or a lazy one ?
        I hope that you Enjoy your prerecorded episode’s of sesame street ? Good day!

  4. Nice article and a relevant topic.
    One issue we have is with how some fans don’t realise the importance of match fitness. A player needs games to play at his peak, so when one steps in and underperforms some can fly off the handle by writing them off after very few performances. It is doubly worse when it is a player who is still in the early stages of development or is new to his teammates.

    Ospina – will prove to be a reliable no2 and will learn from the best.
    Gibbs – a solid back up.
    Gabriel – we are all happy with this player, receiving more game time is probably the only concern for some.
    Debuchy – I am surprised he has lost so much confidence from Bellerin displacing. With a couple of months football I have no doubt he would succeed, as with football however he will need to become more reliable on his earliest opportunity.
    Flamini – for me he has a major flaw. When we are under the cosh he seems to fall back in line with our CBs thus leaving a man free and the cut back an option for rival team. Also he reacts to danger more often than he reads it, which happens to be an area Coq began to excel in.
    Campbell – rough diamond ..we hope. With enough game time he will become more accustomed to his teammates and with his pace and body strength he would have to be a bad player not to make the most of it. Simply he wont have a better opportunity to make a name for himself than at Arsenal.
    Ox – seems to perform better when arriving later in games. That’s still a plus imo as every club wants their subs to make an impact. I’m sure he’ll mature into an all rounded dangerous player on a more regular basis.
    Chambers – too early to say how this one will go, even with his position. Good height, strength and agility for such a big lad. Hopefully he will learn the game quickly and learn it well.

  5. Briantole you’ve said something worth noting and commenting upon. I believe some of these lads of : the Ox, Chambers and Gabriel(De Abreu) are yet to truly lived up to the expectations for which they were signed.

    Chambers is said to have lacked adequate recovering defending pace, while the Ox is seen to lacked mid right wing stability as his often error prone(conceding own goals)and injury prone. And Gabriel is prone to committing horrendous defensive errors that led to him gave a Ucl goal away to Bayern Munich in the name of off-side trap tactics and also gave an away goal to Norwich City due to his poor defending in the last Arsenal BPL away game.

    I hope these trio will step up in training to improve the quality of their game for Arsenal. Otherwise, the Boss might have to internally or externally replaced them with more capable options that will be an upgrade to their quality for the position their playing in.

    The news has gone viral on the internet news media that quoted the Welsh man Gray Bellamy to have purportedly said, the Boss should play his fellow Welsh man – Aaron Ramsey in the middle of the Gunners front 3 as Arsenal’s play maker and Ozil should instead be moved to the left wing( Ozil Ramsey Walcott) maybe that’s what he ment in terms of senior Gunners mid front trio.

    But the last time Ozil was forced to play wide to the left side, he was mostly unproductive there for Arsenal. Right? I think the best thing Gray Bellamy should have said in my own IMO is, the Boss should swap Ozil’s position with that of Ramsey’s position. i.e. Ramsey to play as the Gunners maker while Ozil plays as the Gunners deep lying midfielder role.

    But would the Boss choice to experiment my own option in the not will be difficult Aston Villa away game on Sunday to see if it will bring more balance and stability to the structure of Arsenal game, will such a swap of positions by Ozil and Ramsey affects Ozil’s assists rate? And can he supports Flamini or Chambers or Kamara in the DM position as the case maybe with adequate defensive role duty as necessarily required? And would Ramsey’s new role as a play-maker makes him a better player and turn him to a prolific goals scorer he once was? If yes, then let the Boss swap the duo positions for each other in the Villa game to see if a new core stable balance could be gotten in the absence of Cazorla and Coquelin. Good evening.

    1. I don’t think you can put Ox in the same category as Chambers and Gabriel who have yet to really show much – and Gabriel has not had that many chances yet.

      Last season before his injury Ox was the only gunner to play in every game. He had been fantastic before the injury. Fans somehow tend to overlook the fact he HAS indeed put in many great performances early last season. His goal scoring was lacking but he was one of the few gunners willing to take the ball deep and cut it back in front of goal to carve out opportunities.

      This season he has yet to show the promise he showed last season. But remember Ramsey took YEARS to find his way on the pitch even though he had recovered physically from that nasty injury. Who knows?

      I think Ox should get his chance now due to midfield injuries. We will see if the form returns.

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