In-Depth Analysis of the Arsenal squad – Part 2 Defenders

Continuing my analysis of the current Arsenal squad by JA

We’ll rate them again based on comparisons of requirements for the roles.

Hector Bellerin starts out pretty high when defending and gets ripped by typical wingers. On the offensive though, he tends to find the right pocket of space in and around the left side of the opponents penalty box. Debuchy is better at positioning. He sits in a little when defending and shows his man outwards. Offensively, I love how he sneaks up on opponents before they realise where he is. Chambers, tends to start too high when at full back but then gets too deep after getting into position, leaving his winger in yards of space. At centre back, he tends to be in just the right place. Per Mertesacker just knows where to be, need I say more? Koscielny also tends to start too high but is blessed with the pace to make up when he gets caught .Gabriel seems to like to start deep then rush out towards the ball. Over on the left, both Gibbs and Monreal start deep, Monreal stays there and waits for his opponent to make the wrong move. Gibbs, on the contrary, likes to rush out at his opponent. He often gets beaten then ends up chasing back.
VERDICT; Mertesacker, Monreal, Debuchy, Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny, Bellerin, Gibbs

Per tends to be less aggressive. Well this is mostly because he’s right in front of his opponent most of the time, but also because he just can’t chase a man down. His partner though is a tiger. He just wants to rip whoever has the ball in two! Gabriel tends to go a little beyond aggression into cynicism. On the left, Gibbs tends to love a good tussle, though he loses most of them! Monreal – Occasionally.
On the right, Debuchy loves a good fight. So does Chambers, not so much Bellerin.
VERDICT; Gabriel, Kosielny, Debuchy, Gibbs, Chambers, Monreal, Bellerin, Mertesacker.

When you don’t have game reading and patience to stand your ground, pace is your best ally to dig you out of ditches. I won’t go into reviewing one by one, all defenders use pace for the same reasons.
VERDICT; Bellerin, Gibbs, Debuchy, Monreal, Chambers, Kosielny, Gabriel, Metersacker
The most important thing in football is to have the ball. If you don’t have it, you can’t score, nobody understands that more than old man Per, so what he lacks in pace and aggression he makes up for in interceptions. Debuchy comes a noble second here. Despite loving his physical battle, this guy knows just where to be when the opponent plays a pass. Chambers comes third for me, he isn’t a very accurate tackler, but his game reading is superb and he often tends to get a foot in just before the pass gets to the receiver. Nacho comes next. Similar to Debuchy, except he’s usually on the side of the pitch with less defensive action. Laurent and Gabriel tie here. These guys want to destroy the man just as much as they want to win the ball. Gibbs and bellerin are not so good at this
VERDICT; Mertesacker, Debuchy, Chambers, Nacho, Koscielny, Gabriel, Bellerin, Gibbs

This is the essence of a defender. Don’t we all like to see a spectacular sliding tackle? Well yes, but the less spectacular standing tackle is more common all over the pitch. Believe it or not Per is going to have a higher chance of winning his tackles than anyone else. This is because he is in front of his opponent most of the time before the opponent even starts running. Laurent, by virtue of his tenacity, comes second. Nacho comes third here again as a result of excellent positioning. He is one of the few fullbacks I know that rarely end up in last ditch tackles. Gabriel comes next for similar reasons to Laurent, but the reason he’s not next to Laurent is he over-commits when tackling. This either causes him to foul or he’ll get beaten. Debuchy positions great but tends to let his man run with the bal,l causing him to end up in last ditch tackles. The same applies to the other two. Chambers appears very similar to Mertesacker when in the middle. He has to do a lot of last ditch tackling when on the flanks.
VERDICT; Mertesacker, Koscielny, Nacho, Gabriel, Debuchy, Chambers, Bellerin, Gibbs

Arsenal, my friends, plays in the English premier league. If you are a defender and you can’t jump in England you aren’t going to last very long! Laurent Koscielny is the hardest Arsenal defender to beat in the air. Gabriel comes a very competitive second. He also gives the advantage of offensive air prowess. Mathieu Debuchy would come next. You wouldn’t believe how many aerial duels this guy wins. Per comes fourth. Chambers would come next but the rest pretty much suck the same in the air. Maybe Monreal could edge the other two just a little.
VERDICT; Koscielny, Gabriel, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Monreal, Gibbs, Bellerin

I needed to incorporate ball control, passing and vision into the same category – so I called it ball work. Truth be told, all our defenders are very comfortable on the ball. I’ve seen Per and Koscielny successfully attempt a few step overs in defensive positions, a few dinks over incoming tackles, and they don’t seem worried by the idea of having the ball. The likes of Chambers even reach the extent of dribbling and beating two or three men in our 16 yard box – so not many struggle. Our fullbacks are even more gifted. We’ve got dribblers like Bellerin, Chambers and Monreal, so this is a tricky one.
VERDICT; Well I find Monreal most comfortable on the ball. Chambers, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Debuchy, Gibbs, Gabriel

All our defenders are pretty good at what’s required. I think Per is world class, Laurent is world class, Nacho is great. Debuchy is world class. Bellerin has potential to be world class Gabriel has potential to be world class. Gibbs is great. Chambers has potential to be world class.

What do you think?

Tags Debuchy Gabriel Koscielny Mertesacker Nacho


  1. I think our defence is good if not best.More chances should be given to Gabriel and Per should be benched.1st choice CB Partners : Gabriel and Bosscielny.

    1. Defensively we are OK. We have one world class defender and a couple of quality defenders. If we want to build a world class squad we would need another classy defender like otamendi. Currently we have an OK defence. Enough to challenge for the title. It’s the deep midfield and striker role which we need to improve. Hope we get the couple of players to complete our world class starting line up.

    2. Why bench Mertsacker?
      The above analysis shows Per is number 1 in Positioning, Tackling and Interceptions. Gabriel only came 1 in Aggression

      Even in Pace Gabriel is just ahead of Per.

      Gabriel can become an awesome player one day but he hasn’t earned the right to knock off Per yet.

          1. i disagree with you,i personally don’t appreciate silly sycophantic articles like this,we all know Per is not world class,we all know the only defender we have who is close to WC is Kos.And how the author can be so critical of Gabriel when hes played a handful of games is beyond me.We don’t need stupid articles like this,we need real articles which provide proper analysis.
            @JA you lose credibility writing articles like this

  2. I must have a vision problem, because I’ve seen Per been caught out of position more than once. Funny thing is, at 2m tall, he loses some aerial battles that he shouldn’t.

    1. Yes you do have a vision problem, Per rarely gets caught, he reads the game so well, you guys don’t like him only because he’s slow, but he rarely finds himself where he has to chase anybody, on one on one situations his long legs always comes out with the ball. Per is an intelligent defender, he’s a leader in that back line.

      1. I like him. I just don’t feel he’s as good as some people depicts him to be. That’s it.

      2. Upm look at Monaco, goal scored by former Spud and Man u dud.

        Mert raced up field and left Kos with 3 on 1.

        1. you serious? hahahaha giving merts the fault for those?? hahahaha


          he rarely , if ever gets caught out. end of.

          1. end of what? Your footballing intelligence? Per gets caught out many times when we play a highline, and we play a highline a lot. In the second half of the season with Coq sitting in front of the defense he got caught out considerably less. With Koscielny and Coq covering his lack of pace, he looks decent, but with a defender that does not need help from Kos, i think the defense would be more efficient.

      3. Upm look at Monaco, goal scored by former Spud and Man u dud.

        Mert raced up field and left Kos with 3 on 1.

        And by these stupid comparisons looks like Mert our best defender. Ridiculous

        1. yeh, that was poor play (should have held the position and tried to intercept any through ball); but it was 2 v 1 and he knew he would get destroyed for pace if there was any pass behind him (with Kos marking someone and Bellerin no where to be seen)

      4. its not just that he is slow but he is amongst the worst passers out of defence i have seen in top flight football…lateral or to someone with fewer options than he has … and the idiot statisticians mark this up as high completed pass rate…comical…constantly slows down movement out of defence…anyway its a non issue he is not a top flight CB which is why he is a bench payer at best for the germans…looks like he will be around for another year but needs to go after that…still worry about left side of defence..monreal improved last year but is a weak link defensively …how he got in to a list on aggresive beats me he backs off much to much for a top quality defender…gibbs has one more year to prove he can swing it at top…should have bought the left back from torino but too late i think…

        1. do you even watch the game???? his passing is very good. he doesn’t give the ball away. what utter rubbish.

          let the merts bashing continue, he doesn’t care. thank god you guys are not managers ffs

          1. @ Vince

            Dude the thing that pisses me off THE MOST when people are talking bad about mertesacker is that they claim he’s not a good passer! I mean do they watch arsenal?! Mert is very tidy on the ball he always plays it forward and he’s also very composed does not get spooked if some1 is charging him down or cutting off a passing lane.

            I’m telling you it really irks me when people claim he’s a BAD passer, off the top of my head he’s had a hand in 3 goals because of his ability to pick a pass

    1. We have 4 cbs, why would we need a back up???if we are to sign a defender it should be an upgrade on what we have.someone better than Gabriel and calum. Number wise we are good in the defence position

  3. Well here’s how I rate our team compared to the rest of the league (which after all is probably what will determine where we finish). Our first choice vs their first choice, backup vs their backup. In other words, quality and depth.

    ___________1st choice_______Backup

    Right Back_____3rd___________3rd
    Left Back______3rd___________2nd

    So from that, the two positions we need to strengthen are obvious to me – backup DM and ST. 5th may seem harsh on Giroud, I thought he’d be higher. But Aguero, Costa, Rooney and Sturridge (when fit) are better in my opinion. Also, a backup LW might be needed. I only ranked us as 2nd for that because I can’t think of anyone else that has a decent backup LW either, other than Chelsea who could play Willian there. A backup goalkeeper I was surprised to rank is so highly, but who has a backup keeper that’s better than Szczesny/Ospina? Chelsea? Not anymore…

    Any positions I’ve been too harsh/generous with?

    1. Not sure how far you looked into every team but that seemed really fair. Did you use Walcott as RW and Welbeck as backup ST?

      1. Also, I would really enjoy an article of this comment in more depth, would beat most of these rumour articles of late.

    2. Apologies if I have misunderstood your table – but who in your opinion are the 6 teams with better DM back-up than Arteta?

  4. i think chambers has a far more promising career at c/h than right back, he has just the right pace for c/h just not for r/b and he seems to read the game well for someone so young, he will learn way more from the guys above him. he will come good when he is 21 yrs old i think he seem to be a good mix of per and kos. he reads the game well like per and is quite on the front foot like kos if he gets more game time he will be top class need to beef up a little bit. but he seems tough and wenger thinks he is very intelligent game player. all good for him.

  5. Weird view. Literally the only thing Per competes with Kos in is positioning, the rest Kos wipes the floor with him. They may ‘compliment each other’ but Kos is a far better footballer than Per.

    Per: Tackles 0.8, Interceptions 2.1
    Kos: Tackles 1.3, Interceptions 3.5 ( via whoscored)

    Then Gibbs, Debuchy, Monreal, Chambers as being faster than Koscielny……
    Then Monreal, Chambers, Bellerin, Per better with the ball than Koscielny…….wtf?

    1. So you pick out two defensive stats and declare Kos wipes the floor with him. For someone who deplores selective stats you really should do better than that. List % total duels won, fouls committed, tackles lost, % aerial duels won, defensive errors. And you should mention their blocks and clearance stats are comparable. And some context – PM’s interception stat looks poor compared to Kos but is actually quite good in absolute terms, double John Terry’s for instance.
      Fact is they compliment each other well and not much point knocking one at the expense of the other.

      1. No I simply picked out the two that were used by the author, who claimed Per was superior in both, to argue against his ‘analysis’.

        I don’t feel the need to put together a spreadsheet to justify an opinion on here like you apparently need to.

        1. It is absolutely OK to ignore facts/stats and go with your instinct, emotions, biases, visual feedback from watching games or whatever etc – nearly everyone does it, but if you do so you should at least be a little more cautious with huge sweeping claims. Elevating Kos to Beckenbauer/Baresi status and reducing Merts to someone of Squillaci/Senderos status is not the way to go. It is no coincidence that eye witness testimony is the least reliable evidence at law the world over – perception usually overrides what the eyes see. An ungainly or unfashionable player will always elicit less favourable reaction even if he does exactly the same as a more stylish one. Kos is easily one of the top 5 PL CBs but generally overrated on here and by equal measure Mert almost universally underrated. All the guff about Kos does two jobs on the field – his own and covering for Merts – is the stuff of fairytales and ridiculous urban myth.

          1. I’ve never said as such, I simply said Kos was far superior to Per….considering I rank Kos among the top 5 CB’s in Europe it’s no wonder I think he’s so superior to Per who as CB’s go is little more than experienced and reliable, though not at all dominant.

            1. OK – let’s leave it at feint praise – “experienced and reliable” is not a bad couple of attributes and will have to do. Old hand with one of the best CBs in Europe can’t be all bad.

    2. Mert has been hearing this kind of nonsense his entire career.

      When the club of his youth dropped him – he would never make it as a pro.

      As he was first choice for years with one of the best national teams in the world – “but he is just no good.”

      When he was 2nd in the voting behind Ramsey for Arsenal Player of the Season = many fans still chanted he is “too slow”

      When Mert dies some idiot fans will complain his hearse was late because he is so slow.

      It will never end – by Mert just keeps on performing through all the nonsense.

      1. I’ll remember that next time he plays crap and 99% of Arsenal fans call for an upgrade. I’ll pay special attention to your thoughts at that time.

    3. Where is the stat on # of headers cleared from the box?

      This is one of several stats which would obviously favor Mert. And clearing headers from the box late in games is just a lithe bit important – it allows you to WIN GAMES.

  6. Gabriel will eventually break into the first team this year.I hope he would be given more chance this season.I rate Gabriel very highly

    1. You thinking is sensible. Most players reach the point when it is time for a younger player to be phased in and eventually take over. Will it be this season for Mert?

      I am a Mert supporter – he has been huge for Arsenal, but I think a slow transition may happen soon. And Gabriel appears to be more than ready. It is not always an easy decision for a manager so I will support Wenger whatever he decides on this one.

      1. Gabi has got what it takes.I have a feeling this is the season where he takes over from per slowly. I am a per fan too,and must admit he had a good season but I think gabi has the potential to be better.he might turn out to be our second world class defender.

  7. So quiet in here. No transfer news and no one is freaking out. good to be a gunner these days.
    p.s no articles on diary? wtf

  8. Our defense now is solid! Do you guys think Wenger would have bought Debuchy if he would have known that Bellerin could take role (Maybe Bellerin and Jenkinson). Another thing I don’t understand. Why could we not have given Sagna more salary? Would it not be cheaper for us than buying a new RB for around 11 Mill £? Was is it age thing and policies?
    However i’m happy with Debuchy and we should keep him as Bellerin most also learn from a experienced player when it comes to RB-defense. He seems solid in defense and intelligent when playing. If he maybe leaves in 2 years time. No worries We have Bellerin and Jenks.

    I don’t know why some of us worry about left back. 2 good left backs in Gibbs and Monreal should be enough in filling that role even when considering injuries, should it not? As I understood Gabriel can also play left back.

    Do you guys think that Koscielny and Gabriel can play together? If they maybe are too alike and can’t play that well together than I don’t understand why we bought Gabriel considering Koscielny will most likely be with us longer that Mertesacker.

  9. BILD reporting that Galatasaray have completed the signing of Lukas Podolski for a fee of €4 million


    auf wiedersehen Poldi!

  10. Is this the obligatory article to stir up controversy about the very tired old “Mertesacker is too slow” mantra?

    1. That is a complete Phalicy!

      Per did the 100m in training last week in just under 12 mins..

      Take that!

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