Arsenal’s CentreBacks targets analysed and compared to ours…

Pt. 1 Brief statistical analysis of strongly linked centreback targets & Arsenal’s current centrebacks by AidanGooner

Of course, different teams will have different amounts of defending required, so I have got the stats for one/two of their team-mates to look at for comparison.

Mehdi Benatia & Jerome Boateng & Holger Badstuber (below)

11 Bundesliga starts & 3 sub app – tackles per/game 1.2, interceptions 2.4, clearances 2.3, blocks 0.2

17 Bundesliga starts & 2 sub app – tackles per/game 0.7, interceptions 1.6, clearances 2.2, blocks 0.2

5 Bundesliga starts & 2 sub app – tackles per/game 0.7, interceptions 0.6, clearances 3.0, blocks 0.0

Aymeric Laporte & Xabier Etxeita (below)

25 La Liga starts & 1 sub app – tackles per/game 1.9, interceptions 2.7, clearances 3.5, blocks 0.6

28 La Liga starts & 2 sub app – tackles per/game 1.3, interceptions 2.6, clearances 4.1, blocks 0.7

Marquinhos & Thiago Silva (below)

20 Ligue 1 starts & 9 sub app – tackles per/game 1.4, interceptions 1.3 clearances 3.1, blocks 0.6

20 Ligue 1 starts & 9 sub app – tackles per/game 1.7, interceptions 3.1 clearances 4.8, blocks 0.7

Kostas Manolas & Antonio Rudiger (below)

36 Serie A starts & 1 sub app – tackles per/game 1.7, interceptions 1.9, clearances 4.1, blocks 0.8

29 Serie A starts & 1 sub app – tackles per/game 1.5, interceptions 1.5, clearances 3.2, blocks 0.3

John Stones & Phil Jagielka & Funes Mori (below)

31 Prem starts & 2 sub app – tackles per/game 1.4, interceptions 1.7, clearances 3.8, blocks 1.1

21 Prem starts & 0 sub app – tackles per/game 1.8, interceptions 2.4, clearances 8.1, blocks 1.0

24 Prem starts & 4 sub app – tackles per/game 1.5, interceptions 2.4, clearances 7.8, blocks 0.4

Daniele Rugani & Leonardo Bonucci & Giorgio Chiellini (below)

11 Serie A starts & 6 sub app – tackles per/game 1.7, interceptions 1.4, clearances 2.8, blocks 0.2

35 Serie A starts & 1 sub app – tackles per/game 1.1, interceptions 2.3, clearances 5.3, blocks 0.6

21 Serie A starts & 3 sub app – tackles per/game 1.5, interceptions 2.3, clearances 3.4, blocks 0.5

Kalidou Koulibaly & Raul Albiol (below)

32 Serie A starts & 1 sub app– tackles per/game 2.5, interceptions 2.5, clearances 3.6, blocks 0.6

36 Serie A starts & 0 sub app– tackles per/game 1.5, interceptions 1.3, clearances 4.4, blocks 0.5

Raphael Varane & Pepe & Sergio Ramos (below)

23 La Liga starts & 3 sub app – tackles per/game 1.5, interceptions 1.7, clearances 4.7, blocks 0.8

21 La Liga starts & 0 sub app – tackles per/game 1.6, interceptions 2.5, clearances 3.4, blocks 1.0

23 La Liga starts & 0 sub app – tackles per/game 1.5, interceptions 3.3, clearances 3.4, blocks 0.9

My snap judgements from these stats would be:

Benatia- top CB

Laporte- on his way, improvements needed, perhaps slightly overated at this stage in his career

Marquinhos- very overated

Manolas- top CB

Stones- very overated

Rugani- overated at this stage in his career

Koulibaly- top CB

Varane- well on his way, improvements needed, perhaps slightly overated at this stage in his career


How our current CBs compare with each other based on these parameters:

Koscielny 33 Prem starts & 0 sub app – tackles per/game 1.4, interceptions 3.8, clearances 5.6, blocks 0.8

Mertesacker 24 Prem starts & 0 sub app – tackles per/game 1.1, interceptions 1.5, clearances 4.5, blocks 0.4

Gabriel 18 Prem starts & 3 sub app – tackles per/game 2.0, interceptions 2.9, clearances 5.4, blocks 0.6

Koscielny comes out top of the pile in 3 of 4 criteria.

No shocks there….. let’s be honest.

Gabriel comfortably ahead of Mertesacker in each area was interesting to me, however……




  1. Ok but where are stats for fouls committed, yellow cards, red cards, penalties conceded and fault for goals against. This needs to be balanced. Just saying.

      1. If it is my money we are talking about, it has to be on Kalidou Koulibaly, without question. For me, strong individual stats must be backed by a solid team defensive performance and in this regard, Koulibaly is the lynch pin of the Napoli defense that conceded the least amount of goals behind Juventus in Serie A this season.

        I have actually taken a look at clips of him, Varane, Jose Gimenez, Manolas, Sule,Laporte,Jeison Murillo, Rugani, Björn Engels over the past one month and while I was impressed with some of them, I came to the conclusion that Koulibaly is just what the doctor ordered to fix our defense.

        Varane – complete all around defender- reminds me a lot of Rio Ferdinand but hard to think why he would want to leave RM with Pepe and Ramos already on the wrong side of 30.

        Jose Gimenez- all action defender, not that tall but very physical and good in the air. The way he put his head onto the pitch in order to block an opponent shot reminded me of a certain John Terry. However, like Varane its hard to think of any reason why he would want to leave AM as he is likely to be their future team captain. But should he becomes available in future maybe Arsenal should consider getting him as replacement for Kos (In 1 or 2 years time if our Gab experiment doesn’t quite work out).

        Koulibaly – He is the one that really blows my mind out in terms of what we actually need. 6’5 and can actually jump, with a searing pace to boot, he is just an awesome physical specimen. Due to his pace and good distribution skills he is equally at home at DM or RB. He now plays on Kos side of the pitch but I don’t foresee any problems for him to switch to Mert side as I believe he has the required presence, tackling skills and positioning sense to do so. He reminded me so much of a young Sol Campbell, our last, and along with Cashley Cole, only truly world class defender in the past 3 decades. As far as I am concern, our defense have never again look anywhere near as solid ever since Gallas replaced Campbell in 2007.

        It would be tremendously difficult to prise Koulibaly from Napoli as he is not at the end of his contract and like us, Napoli also finish second in Serie A and would play in the CL next seasons. But if we need to stump big I hope Arsene would play ball because I believe he would be worth it. He may or may not commit a lot of fouls while adjusting to the pace of the PL in his first season but I can see him go on to become the cornerstone of our defense for many years to come.

        After him, my preference would be Manolas, Benatia and Rugani, in that order. Manolas is tall and have searing pace but does not have the ‘Wanyama’ effect that Koulibaly brings in abundance,…Benatia has played just 29 times and has failed to cement a starting place at Bayern, so I am just not sure he has convinced at top level…. I have to admit that I ve yet to look up for his clips though.. Rugani, good prospect, but I believe Kos need a stronger partner to be effective, not someone that he needs to tutor.

        Laporte is left footed, looks good and he reminded me of Vermalean with his expansive ball playing and attacking skills…but Kos then would need to switch to Mert side to accommodate him and anyway, with his skills, I think he was born to play for teams such as Barca. My preference is for a beast DEFENDER who is a good tackler and dominant in the air to partner Kos and no one tick the rite boxes more than Koulibaly.

        I also like the look of Björn Engels, he is still young and unproven at the highest level, but maybe Arsenal need to sent scouts to watch him more often, bar injuries, he could be a real player in the future.

        The above were just some of my two cents on the matter…..some of you may agree with me and some may not but one thing I know for sure though, it is not my money we are talking about here:) please be gentle..

    1. yes. so many other stats not considered. furthermore, defending is not that simple to be measured in obscure stats. the biggest and most critical stat not mentioned is…… goals allowed per minutes played.

      also not considered in the analysis is cb pairings. the mert/kos pairing outperformed the gab/kos pairing where it really counts – stopping goals from being scored. facts are facts

    2. Right on. You should also look at % Aerial duels won, % tackles won, % succesfull take-ons, % passing, fouls, errors leading to a goal or a shot at goal. Check out squawka and use their comparison matrix. Very handy for comparing players stats.

      I made a comparison of Manolas, Koulibaly AND Van Dijk. All did very well, but van dijk was top by quite a bit. I honestly think any of these three will address our problem in defence as they are all strong, good in the air and read the game well. they also add exceptional strength and athleticism, something which Mertesacker lacks. But what also marks them out is their passing. All three are very composed on the ball.

  2. Gabriel is definitely better that Mert on a one-on-one comparison. The issue with Gabriel is his partnership with Kos. Mert is a better CB partner with Kos than Gab. If their combination can be worked on, we will be sorted at the back, barring injuries though.

  3. Manolas would be a great signing but I doubt that Wenger will sign him, as he refused to pay that players valuation which was half of what it is now, before he moved to Italy.

    No one is asking about Flamini and Wenger hasn’t exactly said his goodbye’s and best wishes to him, as he did with Arteta and Rosicky…. Be afraid! … Be Very afraid!! ???

  4. Hey guys,,I just registered to this site ?
    According to me Kalidou koulibaly is the best CB we can target…he’s everything we need in a CB

    1. Apparently Wenger wants him and so does afew other clubs who are willing to pay the £20 + million valuation fee.

  5. Chamber did ok tonight and England under 21 won
    from the analysis above I like Benatia for his experience and Aymeric Laporte for his left foot and distribution

      1. Two that come to mind are Higuain obviously, and Slimani. No point mentioning Auby and Lewy. Higuain is going to be too expensive for a player reaching his 29th birthday. Slimani, can he do it again and can he do it in the prem, we wont know until tried. There are players with 20 plus league goals we can look at, the dutch have a couple to keep on eye on. Vardy? I don’t think we will go for him. Lacazette broke the twenty mark again, some prefer him to Morata. The Euros will be interesting, players will move who have performed well. Id rather we got it done early though, like with our new member of team.

      2. Obviously that has to be Lewandowski … also known as… LeBondobski and Lewadobsky (according to Buttflaps)

  6. Laporte Koolitbaby and Manolas look the three to choose from going by those stats. But we need to remember some of those players are playing for a team which dominates games, others maybe on a team which soaks up pressure. Others are not starters and may have come on like a Gibbs for us. But looking up there Id say one of those three. Also Benatia numbers look ok and he’s been out with long injuries. What about your man off Villarreal, Musacchio. He’s Argentinian which is usually a plus in my books, skill strength and mentality, they usually hold a nice balance. I’m beginning to believe that we raided them for the wrong CB, Gab has all the tools but maybe his partner made him look better, because he might have the most important tool of all .. the intelligence. Or maybe Arsene just thinks, well they know each other well and we have to challenge next season (no time for adjusting in period). Might be an idea if the young man has a bit of what other Argentinian defenders have. I like how Arsenal are going about this window so far, there’s means business sort of feel to it.

  7. We got Granit[e] now lets get Tah to complete the Autobahn, surely if Wenger would pay 16 million for Chambers 25 million for Tah wouldn’t be a bad idea. The guy is big, comfortable on the ball and with excellent positioning not to mention seems to have a good head on his shoulder.

  8. based upon stats you just showed Phil Jagielka & Funes Mori are amazing. Lots of clearances. There was a lot to clear in front of Evertons goal this year.

  9. Most fans seem to make choices on idiosyncrasies rather than fact driven rationality. This talk about Arsenal needing a top top centre back appeared to start with journalists and pundits following Southampton, Man United, and West Ham matches. In those matches Arsenal conceded 3 or more goals. In total Arsenal conceded 3 or more goals in 4 matches: Southampton, Liverpool, Man United, and West Ham matches. These were 13 goals in total, accounting for over 36% percent of goals conceded in the season. Put differently the team conceded 36.1% of goals in 10.5% of the matches played in the season. Petr Cech won the golden glove, while Ospina kept 2 clean sheets as well. If I am not mistaken Arsenal had the highest number of clean sheets in the season. Arsenal conceded 1 goal more than the two teams with joint least goals conceded. Arsenal had 5 CB partnerings during the ended season.

    When one analyzes the 4 games in which the team conceded three or more goals, a number of factors come into play: attacking players losing balls in our defensive third, attacking players not committing fouls when they lose the ball to stop counters, attacking players not tracking back to defend, and attacking players lacking a defensive mindset.. Take the Liverpool game for instance, the first goal was a result of Theo trying to dribble out of our defensive third, after we had just successfully defended a corner. In the Southampton match the first goal you have to take hats of for the Southampton right back. It could easily have been a goal for the season. The other goals were a result of the team failing to adapt to Southampton’s long ball tactics. Southampton players were pumping long balls forward from their own half for Long to chase after. That tactic was taking our midfielders out of the game leaving the CBs chasing after Long. What was needed was for the frontmen to commit fouls every time our attack failed, to stop Southampton from pumping balls forward.

    In the Man United game, two goals were down to poor organization by the two CBs, which speaks to the ability of the partnership not individual players. The third goal was down to Alexis and Ozil not tracking back after losing the ball in Man United defensive third. In the West Ham game, you could see how our attacking players lack defensive mindset. The team was 2-0 up with 2 minutes remaining before halftime. Iwobi was in possession of the ball with the option to pass the ball back or hit it into touch for a West Ham throw in. In stead he decided to make a very difficult pass losing the ball in the process leading to the counter attack. If you pause there you would see that Ozil and Alexis were high up the pitch thus encouraging Iwobi to thread a through ball. That goal was a turning point for a team that was in form at the time, although luck played in their second goal. In short the team needed to protect the 2-0 lead going into halftime rather than try to score more goals.

    Arsenal’s defensive issues are down to the team as a unit not just defenders. Our attacking players forget that they have a responsibility to defend as well. In the second half of the 2014/15 and early parts of the 2015/16 season that problem seemed to have been sorted. However when one analyzes the matches it becomes apparent that presence of certain players played a huge part in the defensive unit, and these are Carzola, Per, and to some extent Olivier. These are senior players in the squad. In the Man City away game (2014/15), Man United home game (2015/16), and other related matches, the team would be happy to maintain shape, heating the opposition with quick goals once an opening arose. The team would be happy to sit back and defend its lead rather than try to add more goals. This is the mindset which players like Alexis, Ozil, etc need to have if we are to improve defensively. We could easily have won the West Ham game if the players had that mindset.

    Lastly the issue of CB partnering is one that needs sorting out rather than buying a new CB. The Kos-Gab partnership seems not to work very well just like the TV-Kos partnership in the past. Because of age Per is not expected to play a lot of games in the coming season, although his leadership and experience is needed in the dressing room. Its about time that a Kos-Chambers partnership be tried particularly in the pre season matches. Chambers when called upon played very well last season.

  10. I’ll take any one of those over Gabriel and Mert. Mert, for all his shortcomings, is not a bad CB. His biggest problem, obviously, is a lack of pace, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Gabriel, on the other hand, is worse than Squillaci on his best day. Total calamity, and needs to go, IMHO.

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