Former great predicts BIG changes in Arsenal defence

30-years old is not very old for a modern professional footballer and as it is usually the central defenders whose careers last the longest, there is no reason why the Arsenal star Per Mertesacker cannot have many more seasons for the club. Well no reason due to his age at least.

His performances, however, are another matter. After seeing the giant German´s replacement yesterday, Gabriel Paulista, recover from an early error to put in a very assured and impressive defensive display and help Arsenal to keep a clean sheet and beat Everton, Martin Keown had some worrying words for our BFG.

The former Gunners great was clearly impressed by the January signing as a Daily Mail report explained. Keown thinks that Arsenal fans may be witnessing a shift in power in the squad, as long as Gabriel can continue to settle in and play well.

Keown pointed to the great pace that Gabriel has and obviously that compares favourably with Mertesacker´s lack of the same that has seen him caught out regularly in one-on-one situations. However, Keown is not blaming the World Cup winner for the calamity of the Monaco game last week, as he accepts that it was a poor all-round team display.

He said, “I don´t think you can point the finger at one player after the Monaco game. It’s a big chance for Gabriel now, though.

“I think it could be a defining moment in changing Arsenal’s back four now, for sure.

“Mertesacker, with the experience he has in the game, should have been calling these young players back the other night, the two full-backs were just drifting up the pitch and not coming back.

“When he’s been left isolated one-on-one he struggles due to his lack of pace too. Gabriel is keen to defend so he’ll be relishing this opportunity to stamp a claim for a first-team spot.”

And with a really big FA cup game with Man United fast approaching, I would expect Wenger to stick with the central defence that did well against Everton, at least for the trip to face QPR this week. The boss will want to give the new pairing as much chance as possible to get used to each other.

If they perform again at Loftus Road though, that will almost certainly see Mertesacker sitting on the bench at Old Trafford. Is that where he will spend most of the rest of his Arsenal career? Or is this just a blip for our big German, with him just needing a rest to recharge his batteries?

Per has started all but two Premier League games this season and only Alexis Sanchez has started more in all competitions. After an extended World Cup and the partying after, I could understand Mertesacker feeling a bit jaded. What do you think Gooners?

Tags Gabriel Keown Wenger


    1. Let’s not judge Gabriel after just one game,he needs to put in a few more performances like the one vs Everton to convince me.but I have hopes on him.I think he will be a top defender. And we didn’t get him for a cheap we are right to have high expectations from Gabriel.

  1. we need another cb to deputise for kos an eventually take his spot-baring inmind his ongoing injury problem an age.
    love lil lucio, no nonsense , quick – defender from a bygone age
    11 mill is a steal- as u will see

    wenger we need another cb! another cf, a b-i-g.. p-o-p-p-a

    bring in someone to help with coaching side arsene – dont let pride an stubborness ruin ur good name

    1. Muff,

      Ive been steadfast in my praise for Fabian Schar after his incredible display @ Liverpool during the Champions League group stages last fall. He has stated his preference to stay in Europe, but as a FREE transfer this summer Im not sure @ his age with his experience how you dont throw some serious chedda his way.

    2. Comparing Chambers and Hayden to a internationally capped, World Cup and Champions league starter @ the ripe ol age of 23 is exactly why Arsenal finishes 4th in the EPL and laughed out of the Champions League elimination stage EVERY year.

  2. We have more quantity and less quality in our squad. Its time we let go off the fringe and underperforming players like Mertesacker, diaby, podolski, flamini , arteta and bring in players who can actually make a difference to d team.

    1. The big question isnt the quality of Ramsey/Wilshere/Walcott but are they worth the $80-100K a week they are receiving?

    2. Wud agree with you on all but Ramsey n Theo… Ramsey is not as bad as you want to sound and Walcott, tho not a very technically gifted player has attributes that can at least keep defenders on their toes…. What then woul you do with Giroud who besides tap ins, cannot even carry the ball for two metres.. It’s sad when the opposition has one defender marking you main striker seeing as it may, HE WON’T GET PAST HIM, even when they are left alone n the ball is thrown at Giroud’s feet…

  3. I have to go OT real quick.

    For those saying that Ozil assisting from a corner is not a “big deal”, how often do teams really score from the corners they have in a given game? Yeah exactly – not that often. Not agreeing that Ozil was at his best against Everton, but he gave us two assists yesterday which means he created two goals. Stop trashing our players and get behind them. That goes for Oli, Jack, Santi, Welbz, Ramsey, etc etc etc as well.

  4. MK’s analysis spot on. BFG is great when we play counterattacking style and/or have to defend high balls; however, when we play a possession style game, BFG is slow FG. The second goal against Monaco is a perfect example – he knew he couldn’t make the defensive run so it wasn’t a big risk to try to pinch the ball or slow the attach in midfield; IOW, it was his only chance. If both fullbacks are going into the final third regularly, SFG will be exposed.

    1. It’s a nice sentiment to suggest that BFG could recharge his batteries and thus improve. Sadly he just doesn’t have the physical mobility or does he have the anticipation or pace to play football at this level. I am amazed that it has taken so long for the penny to drop and for Wenger to realize it. Mert has been nursed for so long by Kos that he has avoided the glare. Now that Kos has his own physical problems Mert can’t hide anymore. He’s not going to get better because he can’t. It was so good to see someone with equal pace and a genuine defender get up and down the pitch with such ease. Now to sign a couple of beasts to play in midfield so we don’t get bullied anymore.

  5. Hope that there is truth in the Fabio Paratici rumour. Juventus did all of a sudden start buying very well over the last four years or so and this man could be the reason for that. Weather hes talented or liked as much as D Dein i wouldnt know but finally getting Wenger some help will have to be for the better.

    For some reason whenever we are away against relegation threatened teams it always seems we get them just after they start performing well. Well need no messing about so Gab is the man, no nonsense.

  6. The problem with some of our fans is their one dimensional approach to football. Balance in the team means having people with a variety of styles. There is no point in having only strikers who dribble the ball or those who tap in or head in. We need a variety. Hence criticising Giroud for not dribbling is simply ridiculous. Giroud head in goals, shoots, taps in. Why should we blame him for not dribbling. Let those who can dribble do so and feed him. Are we also going to blame some of them for not heading balls? A balanced team is one with a variety of styles which brings a wealth of options.

    1. Spot on – would have thought the absolute last thing this team needs is another gung ho dribbler.

  7. I have always argued that denigrating the players we have and praising those we have only heard about is nothing short of hypocrisy! Much as Mertesacker has had a few bad games he should not be labelled rubbish because he was one of the team that won us a trophy after nine years as well as the community shield. Let us learn to give credit where it is due. It is in bad taste to rubbish a player who has been loyal for three seasons. Even if it is true that Mertesacker’s performance has dropped a bit this is no licence to insult him. It is necessary to give him a rest so that he can be refreshed and then we observe how he performs. There is no standard age at which a player starts to lose some of his vigour. It all depends on individuals just like all trends in human development. Some people age faster while others take long. You can’t blame an individual for aging faster than another or vice versa. While criticism is accepted it should be constructive and not destructive.

  8. If AW wasn’t so controlling it could really benefit the club by bringing back key past masters to help with the coaching aspects,.

    Keown should be at Arsenal drilling the defense. No disrespect to Bouldy but he never did strike me as the most inspirational figure. I think Martin would bring a great deal to the table.

    And WTF is Viera doing at Man City?
    Get him in to coach the midfied

    And bring in the iceman to show Wellbeck and Walcott how to hit a barn door from 10 paces.

    BTW Per is on his way out for sure! GABRIHELL is a class replacement. Have to say it: AW did well there.

  9. Let us be very mindful and thoughtful too. I believe the boss won’t drop Rhinosacker. But will help him to regain his short of form and his short of confidence. Rhino’ is not the assistant Captain of the Gunners out of the blues. He merited the post, that’d why the boss gave it to him. After a week rest, I expect him to have recovered by Wednesday’s night when the Gunners engage the Hoops for 3 points taking at Loftus Road. I expect the boss to start Rhino’ but in a different role as CDM. But he should not be left alone to do that job solely by himself. I think the boss should draft in Rosicky there to start alongside him as 2 CDMs. They will complement each others effort very well. I think Cazorla may be needing a rest for the next game. Being a defender and a CB in particular, I believe Rhino’ will quickly adapt to this new role if he is given by the boss. And he will more than be able to hold tight the position until when Coquelin recovered from his nose injury and joins Rhino for a total number of 3 CDMs that’s included Flamini at Arsenal CDM position. The boss should not entertain any doubt or fear the deployment of Rhino’ at CDM will fail. Not at all, it will not fail. It will turn out to be very successful I can assure the boss.

    1. Per as CDM!? Probably the worst idea ever IMO. The man has the engine of a Robin Reliant..

      1. @arseovertit
        When you think about it. Per at CDM makes more sense than him at CB. He’s usually perched in midfield anyway and the closer he gets to goal, besides defending set pieces, the more of a liability he becomes…

        1. I would personally prefer him anywhere off the pitch as opposed to anywhere else on it!

    2. Yeah …I can just see per dominating all those number 10’s he’d come up against !

      Oscar ? …. No problem !
      Coutinho ?…… In his pocket !
      Silva ? …. In his sleep !

      Excuse my sarcasm , but what games do u watch ??? …. Per has more chance of being selected for Trinidad and Tobago than he does of doing a job in midfield !

  10. It’s really a disgrace to see how so many self-proclaimed “supporters” hate and despise theit own players. Giroud, Ozil, Mertesacker, Ramsey…. Arsenal “fans” sometimes are so pathetic…

    1. Why does this word ‘hate’ keep getting banded about whenever a AFC supporter criticises a player?

      Bit extreme don’t you think?

      1. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. The majority of Arsenal fans on this site that remember the days of the Invincibles @ Highbury have developed over the years an acceptable measuring stick in evaluating the Gunners squad and manager. Hating players is minority based imho, a collection of Gunner supporters that may need a little more balance in there life. However, scrolling over the EPL final tables over the past decade or so it is quite obvious that manager and said players criticism has been well justified and should continue to be so

  11. when per and kos played together kos was always having to cover behind per for the over the top ball into space, and yesterday he wasnt gabriel was tracking across to help kos and likewise it looked like it could develop into a top partnership
    However i do not think per will stay on the bench all season, as captain/vice captain wenger wont allow it
    Is it me or ever since the WC and retiring from international football, does mertesacker look less motivated to play, he isnt even trying to run back whenever the ball is played over him and he is always taking the easiest possible option
    Hope that we can sell per in the summer and buy van dijk but i very much doubt there is a club out there that will want to buy mertesacker

    1. Watching the Invincibles documentary yesterday brought tears of joy and accepted reality to my aging eyes. I understand the landscape of the EPL has changed over the past decade but honestly is there one player on the Arsenal squad that would be in Rooneys face if he dived for a pk like RVN did in the MANURE game. MK, Parlour, Gilberto all wanted to bury the dude after he clanged off the post. Viera, although often reckless didnt take crap from anybody and dominated the midfield with skill and aggression. The Invincibles had the perfect balance of beautiful football supplemented by a lunchpail, take no !#$$ spine.

      Its early, but I see a little old school moxy in GAB that would of fit right in with that once in a lifetime team.

      1. Spot on. He has some bite about him and Keown recognises this.

        We have the potential to be so much more. A sleeping giant that needs to wake.

        1. That giant is definitely sleeping and sadly when he awakes from his decade slumber he’ll realize a thorough wardrobe makeover is needed to once again be that world invincible. The ? is will he awake and will he make the right choices? I have my reservations

  12. BFG is slow. He has always been slow. He made up for this with positioning but ever since joining Arsenal I have felt he has been suspect and just short of being a quality defender. In defense one player being out of position shifts the whole defense, so quite often it is hard to see who the culprit is – it’s often a full back being too far forward or one centre back stepping forward too far. This season though Mertesacker has continuously been found out of position trying to cover for his own speed issues and making the whole defense shakey for it. Mertesacker challenges the early ball ALOT, but any striker beating him is gone and he will never get back. He has no second gear – if he needs to sprint at a ball he cannot. I think back to two instances – the third Monaco goal and the first southampton goal. Both times I was SCREAMING at the TV for him to get into position – it wasn’t easy to read the situation and know how to make it hard for the striker. Both times he didn’t sprint, he jogged. Both resulted in goals. This is the difference – in a solid back 4 when everyone is in the right position Mertesacker is decent. BUT never outstanding. I can’t remember him making a great last ditch tackle…mostly cos if he’s beat he’s beat. That there is the number 1 issue with him being in the team – he cannot cope with players who might be too good for him. There’s alot of extremely talented players who you can’t stop 100% of the time. When you get beaten you have to be able to react and get back to make it hard for them. He can’t do that.

    I’m being harsh. Merts isn’t the only player who is playing bad. I’ve just never seen him as outstanding and I feel he’s more a cog in a machine – he helps things tick over. When you need to step up a gear though, he cannot ever do that. He hasn’t got other gears. Gabriel we have yet to see properly, and I certainly don’t want Merts kicked out of the team (he’s good cover and a good, experienced voice) but this sea of change has been on the cards for a while and I’m glad it’s finally taking form.

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