Arsenal lack of left-back depth highlighted in Villa loss

Cedric Soares has been filling in at left-back since Arsenal has been unable to call on Kieran Tierney, but the former Southampton man didn’t do a good job against Aston Villa.

To his credit, he has managed some fine performances in an unfamiliar position before the Villa match, but his performance at Villa Park showed that he can only do so much in an unnatural position.

The Gunners were linked with a move for a left-back before the last transfer window shut after letting Sead Kolasinac leave for Schalke 04.

Mikel Arteta’s side didn’t sign a backup, and no one would have faulted them at the time as Tierney was in fine form.

Villa has now exposed Soares and Star Sports’ Matthew Cooper claims his performance shows Arsenal needs more depth in that area.

He writes on Star Sports: “Cedric has done a pretty good job filling in for Kieran Tierney at left-back in recent weeks, with his form contributing to Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ deadline day loan switch to West Brom.

“Arsenal have been linked with a move for a more natural left-back but, despite Tierney’s injury and the decision to allow Sead Kolasinac to return to Schalke on loan, the Gunners did not bring one in before deadline day.

“Cedric’s error which lead to Villa’s goal only highlighted the need for a left-footed defender at left-back and, although he has done well recently, the 29-year-old is surely better suited to providing competition for Hector Bellerin.

“Cedric was withdrawn in the second-half, with the left-footed Bukayo Saka switching to left-back.”

It remains unclear how much longer Tierney will stay on the sidelines. Soares will want to have a better day if he plays in Arsenal’s next game.

Tags Soares


  1. my take is that even if Soares did not commit a blunder, the game may have ended a 0-0, which means our attack is useless. Blame the attack for not scoring, or we could have even won 2-1 if our attack was potent enough. Hope this is the end to Willian, shame we reached a 37 year low of 10 loses.

  2. While there may be a good debate on the subject, today it doesnt hold water. The pass the Soares made was a pass back to a player to his left and behind and was best suited to a right footed player which he is and totally fluffed it. No excuse except sloppyness!

    1. exactly it was not about strong foot, he wasnt under pressure, he control the ball well, it was a complete lack of concentration. though overall he didnt do well in the attack, it was a right decision to sub him

  3. Food for thought

    Emery fired for these among other reasons
    1. Dropping points & uncompetitive
    2. Too defensive in his play
    3. No style / Philosophy of play
    4. Players played out of position
    5. Arrogant & friction with players
    6. Failed in Europa, & no CL, or top 4

    Compare ro Arteta

    1. We’re soon to be 13th, lower than Emery
    2. Defensive tactics toothless in attack
    3. Arteta’s style? Philosophy of play?
    4. Willian as ST against city, Tierney as LCB, Xhaka as LB when 3-4-3, Laca as a 10, playing Saka as LWB, on & on
    5. Arteta’s failure to register Saliba, or give him a chance, what happened to “second chances”, friction with Ozil, Saliba, Guendouzi, Willian appearance
    6. Failed in Europa, no CL or top 4, likely not top 10 this year.

    Most wanted Emery gone; rightly so. Hypocrisy with Arteta? Far less experience, and no European trophies to Emery’s 3. Freddie developed Saka; remember Saka crediting Freddie for their talks and 1-1 sessions?

    Arteta stumbled on ESR and the combo with Saka, Tierney already top talent, hasn’t improved Pepe, AMN, Willock, Nketiah, or anyone really. Can’t help Willian or improve our attack.

    We fired Emery for far less failure with a far worse squad. Arteta is over his head and no closer to fixing Arsenal than when we sat in 15th.

    Just food for thought and something to consider as our club continues to struggle.

    1. Good points Durand…I posted this earlier but it definitely still applies after today’s performance, especially with his baffling decision to bring in Willian instead of Marts:

      ever since his appointment, I’ve been very curious about the evolution of Arteta, the manager…some like Tuchel’s protégé, Nagglesman, went out of his way to put his own stamp on his coaching style so as to avoid obvious comparisons, whereas it seems like Arteta has unfortunately decided to pay homage to the Wenger he played under, instead of either channeling Arsene’s earlier incarnation or even taking a page out of Pep’s Guide to the Footballing Galaxy…shoehorning players, picking favourites, laying blame at the feet of match officials, shipping out strong personalities, relying on overpaid “old” Cheski players, using the term “unlucky” far too often and the strategic over-exaggeration of a potential score-lines to deflect attention away from the actual reality of the situation…now I’m not saying that all of his actions have been horribly misguided, as I agree with the methodology behind a few of his decisions, but I believe a disturbing pattern has emerged…I would be far less concerned if the hierarchal structure of our club was far less reflective of the post-Dein Wenger years, but we did give Arteta the Manager title and not the more logical coaching moniker…if this is the case, and we’re actually looking for Arteta to restore the manager-centric model that left us in a shambolic state, then we have failed to heed the lessons of the past and are likely destined to suffer a similar fate

      1. RVL
        Very accurate opinion based on evidence we can all see. I love the wit you intertwined in your opinion; it helped take the sting out of realiy’s harsh slap to our face.

        I believe Arteta’s promotion to “manager” is clearly premature, and the supporting evidence is quite clear.

        We have escaped a regulation battle only to be mired in a midtable struggle.

        Arteta has still not solved our anemic attack, which depends on Saka’s performance and an emerging ESR.

        We have an inexperienced”manager” who is overseen by an inexperienced director, Edu. No assistant with Arteta to check his ego or help him avoid mistakes.

        Arteta can’t buy his way out of this problem; not with Kronke as owner. He has not adequately developed youth in 18 months; Guendouzi gone, along with Willock and AMN. Tried to loan Nelson, and Nketiah is still spectacularly under developed.

        Freddie gets credit for Saka, and ESR got his shot through injuries, not Arteta’s keen eye for talent. He repeatedly goes to Willian, and that cubbard still remains bare 6 months and counting.

        Arteta needs help 6 ways from Sunday. In tactics, developing youth, finding a style of play, venom in our attack, man management of players, even getting quality from veteran players.

        He fixed our defense to his credit, but that qualifies his for “defensive coordinator” not manager.

        I see nothing from him to convince me next year will be any different. What, pray tell, has he changed in 18 months besides defense?

        Arteta is actually making Emery look better; that’s hard to do. Side by side comparison shows Emery out classes Arteta while working with an inferior squad.

        Time Arteta gets held accountable now, Wenger and Emery got 18 months to turn things around. If Arsenal isn’t in top 10 by season’s end, Arteta has to go.

    2. Durand, Emery was sacked for losing 3 from 8 games, yet Arteta has lost 10 from 23. From the same number of games Arsenal under Emery (with a poorer squad) scored 14 more points than Arsenal under Arteta.
      Emery at PSG had a statistically better record than any other recent manager there and has taken unfancied Villarreal to currently 5th place in La Liga at the moment with only 2 defeats. The club’s position has been downgraded because of 10 draws. Leaders Atletico Madrid are the only club to have bettered Villarreal’s loss record having had only one defeat.
      Unfortunately Emery didn’t play for Arsenal or serve as #2 to Guardiola, so he wasn’t treated the same. A poor choice for Arsenal because of his poor English communication skills and desire to not use a translator. It wasn’t because he is a poor coach.

  4. Ignore Cedic, who is only a make weight player filling in. It is injury prone Tierney who concerns me. Hardly ever stays fit but a great warrior, future captain and one of our key players. But no use if he’s always out! God forbid we have another Diaby on our hands!

    1. I raised this concern when we signed him. If you look at the appearances he had for Celtic before, he NEVER finished a full season. More like 75% of the games.

  5. Gabriel was equally culpable for the Villa goal as their winger went past him like a drink of water.The idea of playing a ponderous , slow turning CB at left back is not one that appeals to me and hopefully will not appeal to Arteta.

    1. True the winger ghosted Gabriel. However, like most of us watching he wasn’t expecting an unchallenged Cedric to play it back to him.

      We can also blame Holding for not closing down the opponent, and Ryan for not being 5 inches taller.

      Brain fart maximus by Cedric, and costly. Sadly all his good performances are overshadowed by that mistake, but that’s life as a professional at the top level.

      It’s costly because our attack is still toothless, and we can’t score against a low block if we had a suitcase of gold in a Vegas brothel.

      Arteta has to get our attack purring, or we’ll be in midtable Hell for the foreseeable future. That’s why that mistake marked the whole match.

  6. Villa have exposed Soares?
    No, what has been exposed is our club’s lack of forward thinking.
    The sale of Kolasinac was greeted with praise by some of the fans, but we didn’t replace him and how that came back to haunt us today.
    Of course it was an error by Soares, one that was unforced and cost us the game… but what on earth were Arteta and Edu doing by not ensuring proper coverage for Tierney?
    ALSO, haven’t we got any left footed defenders at our club.

    OT Good to see Mike Dean continues to uphold the reputation of the PL referees 😂😂😂

    1. Great point Ken, inexcusable no cover was brought in for LB. With Kola and AMN gone that’s arguably 2 choices we don’t have now. Bush league stuff, and yet another reason for our table position and yet another match of dropping points.

      At what point will Arteta and Edu get held accountable? The deadwood people attributed to Wenger is all but gone, no more Ozil to blame, Arteta and Edu let 3 more players walk for free basically.

      You and I have been consistent in holding Arteta to the same standard as Wenger and Emery. He is getting less from a better squad than the previous managers had, would you agree? Should his job depend on how Arsenal place at season’s end?

      1. Durand, good to debate again.
        I read with interest your posts on this thread, along with VL’s reply and they all make sense…
        However, I still remember the complete shambles he inherited, the toxicity around the club (both fans and players) and how he has dealt with them.
        I’m not happy with some of his decisions, but, like it or not, he has stuck to his guns… Mesut Ozil being the prime example compared to UE.
        Other examples are AMN, Saliba, Martinelli, Guendouzi and, of course, the transfers out… all his decisions with no compromise given.

        So, I do see differences between MA and UE /AW inasmuch as he came in to a two and a half year period of spiralling downward mediocrity BUT he has put his head above the parapet and there is no one else to blame if it doesn’t work out.

        There is no doubt in my mind, that we have better players, but have also brought some questionable ones as well…. which is par for the course under all three managers wouldn’t you say?

        We must not forget how different things are are with the covid situation, something that MA has had to deal with for all but three months of his time at the club.
        Some might say that having no crowd at the Emirates helped MA during our awful run earlier in the season, but I feel he was very unlucky not to have the crowd welcome them after the FA cup win and get behind him.

        I’m not defending him, but saying it as I see it AND I do feel we have made progress, both on and off the pitch.
        For me, injuries and referee’s do not come into it, as both previous managers had the same issues to contend with.

        Finally, I desperately want MA to succeed, as every Gooner does and there are signs of that happening.
        The club have made it perfectly clear that, barring a catastrophic decline, they are backing him to the hilt – not the impression I had regarding UE – so, like you, I will call him out when I think he is wrong (no playmaker for instance) but feel compelled to give him more time due to all of the issues I have mentioned.
        So I don’t believe that our league position will determine his immediate future, but if we are discussing the same situation this time next year, then I would expect him to be on his way out.
        Take care over there, the virus is still affecting all of us.

        1. Ken, the lack of a crowd and empty stadia might be sheilding Arteta and the players from irate crowd reaction.

          1. ozziegunner, that is also correct, but the point I was making was with regards to the atmosphere that the cup win would have created, along with the usual parade around Highbury and Islington that comes with winning any trophy.
            As you say, the crowd might have turned, especially after the dismal home results.
            There is no doubt that the crowd turned against UE in his final games and I see no reason why they wouldn’t do the same with MA…unless one believes as I do!!!!

  7. I can’t understand this fixation with playing players out of position, surely we must have a player in the U23 squad who plays left back, although inexperienced much better than playing someone out of position I would have thought.

    1. Marty, you are right; Arsenal have the back up LB right under their noses in the U23’s. His name is Joel Lopez Salguero turning 19 on March 31, 2021 and was a Spanish U17 international. He is a quick elusive highly skilled player, good in attack and defense.

  8. I still believe that our problems stem from the fact that we overachieved when the season resumed following the covid stoppage…even some within the fanbase made an about-turn on their respective expectations for this season after our victories over ManCity, Pool and then Chelsea in the FA Cup final…of course, that was somewhat understandable for a fanbase that had witnessed our club’s glaring lack of success against Top 4 clubs for several years running, but there’s absolutely no excuse for the supposed professionals that run this club to do likewise…they knew full-well that we had some seriously problematic financial issues to contend with before we were ever going to realistically challenge for titles or even European places…from offloading deadwood and/or those with expiring contracts to addressing our myriad of needs, this club needed at least another year to get our house in order, especially considering our “self-sustaining” business model and the financial implications of covid…anyone with half a footballing brain and an ounce of common sense would never have made a move for an over-30 Willian, who would require a cost-prohibitive wage and guarantees about playing time…this short-sighted lapse of reason has cost us dearly, on several fronts, and now we are being unfairly subjected to the ramifications of this irresponsible act…it’s sad to think that these two young footballing grasshoppers have jeopardized their professional careers simply because they lacked the necessary experience and/or self-confidence to stay the course…so instead of doubling-down on themselves, they went all-in on a pair of 8s because it was the first time they were playing with house money

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