Opinion – Why Arsenal don’t need a center-back and can compete for trophies

Arsenal do not need a complete overhaul by Paul

Fans seem to think Arsenal are going to sign pretty much every center back in football, with the consensus being that they are all better than the players Arsenal already have on the roster.

It would be shocking if Arsenal sign another center back. Let’s have a little reality check before Arsenal sign a “Partner for William Saliba”.

First of all, Arsenal do have Saliba returning from loan. He has not played a minute of Premier League football yet, so any fantasy that he is going to walk into the team as the starting center back is just that; a fantasy. Arteta, unlike Unai Emery, has shown he is smart, tough, and willing to make decisions that are unpopular with fans.

In addition to the defensive savior of the Gooner-verse, (Saliba) Arsenal have the just-signed Pablo Mari, who they can sign permanently for a reasonable fee over the summer. Mari played well in his few chances before the shut down.

David Luiz – He is not “one for the future” (how I hate that phrase) but he is a proven center back who offers a lot in terms of leadership, skill on the ball, aerial prowess, and tackling. He has been labelled as mistake prone, but every defender gets beaten; in fact most get beaten most of the time because the attacker always has the advantage in one on one situations – they already have the ball and know what they are going to do with it.

Shkodran Mustafi – He was the whipping boy and scape-goat for Emery’s defense, in much the same way Mesut Ozil was for the offense, but Emery was wrong aobut Ozil and he was wrong about Mustafi. Is Mustafi the second coming of Tony Adams? No. No one else is either. Mustafi is a good defender both one on one and as part of a tandem. He is decently paced for a center back, he is good with the ball, and he has proven he can play at a high level in the Premier League; something William Saliba and the multitude of proposed defensive saviors cannot claim.

Sokratis – He looks like the odd man out here. He has not been anything more than steady at best. He looked like a player signed to keep the press from screaming that the club was not addressing obvious shortcomings, but he did not improve the team compared to either Mustafi or either Chambers or Holding. He certainly did not replace Laurent Koscielny.

Speaking of Arsenal’s young defenders… Rob Holding was playing regularly and well when he got hurt. He was beginning to look every inch the every day player he was envisioned to be when Arsene Wenger signed him. Then he got hurt. It happens. Fans have the memories of sand fleas; but Arteta will probably give Holding a fair shot at proving his worth and it is entirely possible he will keep a roster spot for at least the next season or two.

Calum Chambers has a little bit of the curse of the versatile player in him. He’s been a center back, left back, and defensive midfielder. He too was playing well when he got injured. Again, it seems unlikely that he would be discarded out of hand given the quality of his performances at Fulham on loan the year before last and this past season for the Gunners prior to his injury.

With five proven Premier League center backs on the roster, a newly signed potential star, and another potential signing already in the fold, Arsenal have seven center backs either under contract or available to sign at their option. The idea that they are “in the market” for another center back seems… unlikely at best; unless a major star like Kalidou Koulibaly suddenly becomes available for free.

Personally, I find the idea that the Gunners need an “overhaul” to be just dead wrong. If Arsenal do make one or two signings, they look to have a team perfectly capable of competing for a top three finish.

(reserve goalkeeper – new signing)
Bellerin – Luiz – Mustafi – Kurzawa
(Soares/Chambers) – (Mari) – (Holding) – (Tierney/Saka)

DM ( Thomas Partey – New Signing) – Granit Xhaka
(Torreira) – (Maitland-Niles/Guendouzi)

Pepe – Ozil – Aubameyang
(Reiss-Nelson) – (Xhaka/Smith-Rowe) – (Saka)


For me the team needs a true defensive midfielder; someone with the athleticism, size, discipline, and willingness to play the position. A number of players fit the bill. Thomas Partey, Wilfried Ndidi, etc.

The team needs a reserve goalkeeper who is really capable of challenging Leno for the #1 jersey. Right now Arsenal, who have had real depth at the position for years, suddenly have one guy who is even close to game ready. Martin Dubravka would be nice, or Nick Pope.

If Smith-Rowe is not deemed ready to play in the first team, a back up/eventual replacement for Ozil would be a good idea.

Other than that, Arsenal do have a team, if they can stay healthy and on course, that can compete for trophies.

Paul Desmerais


  1. Jonny Arsenal says:

    No not CBs ….full backA silly.
    We have millions Of CB’s but comparatively few full backs and we’re really weak in the protective midfield position

  2. ThirdManJW says:

    To suggest Arsenal do not need another CB is delusional!

    Like you say, Saliba hasn’t played a minute of EPL football, so we have no idea how long he’ll take to adjust, if at all, to a much faster, and tougher league. So surely he needs a quality, experienced CB playing alongside him…which we do not have. We have plenty of experience, but no quality.

    Luiz – One of the best ball playing CB’s I have ever seen, but an average defender.

    Mustafi – Terrible, error-strewn CB. Some say he has improved since MA came in, but still an improved Mustafi makes key errors, e.g. Two huge mistakes in both games against Chelsea.

    Sokratis – Our best CB, but looks worse than he is when asked to play the ball out.

    Mari – Not our player, and haven’t seen enough of him to form an opinion.

    Holding – Was really improving under Emery before the injury, but has looked shocking since returning.

    Chambers – Decent CB that has never really been given a solid run of games to prove himself.

    Mavropanos – Not sure how has been doing on loan, but has been very poor in the limited game at Arsenal.

    1. Mickwsmith says:

      What the hell is wrong with Torreira? He tackles well is persistent as hell and protects the defence feverishly.

      1. jon fox says:

        And is always injured and on the floor hurt, even when he plays. Great attitude, but too weak and too small a body to cope with the powerful 100MPH PREM. I love his guts but consistent effectiveness is what all top players need and the FACT is he is far too often unavailable.

  3. Robert Acedius says:

    Oh, how we need centre-backs, dussins of them! But not dead meat like Smalling, Lovren etc. Starting XI:s for the old people’s retreat. No, young ones! Guys between 20 and 25, like Upa, Disasi, Torres, Tah, N’Dicka, Diop… You name’em!

  4. Apangu iddi amin says:

    We need one more addition in defense and DM who can control the game like a leader and T Partey fits that bill.

  5. Wenger91 says:

    In my opinion, keep the young defenders (including Mari) and if they need to sell someone, Luiz or Sokratis.

    Mustafi is a different player with Arteta, Luiz was doing his part but yet he did some mistakes, Sokratis was stable. Yet, among these three Mustafi is the youngest, so keeping him is a good idea for the future unless selling him will bring some more cash than the others.

    Holding is always injured! I have no idea how he looks like !!

    Saliba was good in the French league but we have to see him closer so does Mari, the good thing about Mari and Chambers, they can play anywhere, that’s why I think keeping them sounds like a good idea for building a team for the future.

    We should get some midfielders.

  6. Kstix says:

    Not to sound like a broken record for Emery but you mentioned “Emery was wrong about ozil and mustafi and also that Arteta knows how to make tough decisions that fans don’t always like unlike emery” These are two very contradictory and wrong statements apart from the delusion of an article that we do not need anymore CBs. First of, how was Emery wrong about ozil and mustafi. Both of them were dropped, we were winning games and 3rd in the league. Fans clamoured for ozil to be put back in the team, we started to lose points drastically with ozil making very little or zero inputs to the team. Don’t get me started on how calamitous mustafi was. Single handedly cost us 3 to 4 games if not more under emery along with his pal xhaka. So you’re saying Emery was wrong to drop them.?
    Secondly, Emery made a lot of unpopular decisions even more than Arteta is doing. Freezing ozil out tinkering with the team to get the best formation, less playing time for torreira when he wasn’t playing him out of position and alot more.
    And finally about the article in entirety, it’s short sighted to say we do not need CBs, considering Chambers is a long term injury and holding is a shadow of his former self (needs to go out on loan in my opinion) and then we have two ageing defenders. How many CBs do we have if u remove this 5 defenders including mavropanos who is on loan. We have just 3 left. Mari(if the club decides to sign him), saliba and mustafi who I must confess as improved but no one knows when and if he’ll go back to his former settings, we can’t be hoping for the best and not expecting the worst by putting contingency plans in place. I admit we need to strengthen other areas as well. Particularly the DM, CM(to replace ozil) and fullbacks positions. You’re right about a reserve goalkeeper too as martinez and macey are not strong enough competitions to keep Leno (who has been superb bar a few mistakes) on his toes.

  7. Robert Acedius says:

    If I should think the unthinkable, being a complete dreamer, if Asn’l sign Thomas Partey, that would be enough. TP would make even average CB:s look good. But how realistic is the unthinkable? Could Laca and a sum of money on the top convince Atletico to let us buy The Anfield Assassinator?

    1. Knight says:

      Player and funds,nope.Just give the player a hard-to-refuse contract and fulfill the release clause

    2. Sue says:

      The Anfield Assassinator.. ooh i like the sound of that 👌

  8. Basil says:

    We should go for disasi and pau torres who are a long lasting solution to our problems. Since atletico have made laca their no 1 target we should exchange him for partey. We can replace laca with Edouard who scores goals freely in Celtic. If auba leaves to Barcelona and real we should exchange him for a good player from any of the teams and martinelli mmay replace him. We require a cm. If bellerin leaves then let’s kidnap upamecano.

  9. Liam Gallagher says:

    Mustafi can be an exceptional defender and can also be a disaster but we have mainly seen the former under Arteta. I can forgive the Chelsea display because it was his first back in months. Unless Mari under 15 million I wouldn’t make it permanent. Sokratis is our worst cb and we should let him leave. Holding is a dilemma why hasn’t he been playing, is he still recovering or just not good enough I fear the latter. Chambers is forever injured and is a utility man for numerous positions. Luiz can stay for experience and obviously we have Saliba incoming. Realistally we have Mustafi,Saliba,Luiz as reliable cbs with Mari and Holding a big maybe. Ideally if we aren’t in the champions league we aren’t in Europe at all, so we could bring in one good cb. Maybe we could do a deal with Bournemouth for Ake which would also allow us to move on Saed as I feel he doesn’t justify he salary.

  10. Peter Ikatwa says:

    The defenders we have are not gud u need one more to add to saliba, Luiz, and Holding selling OZil, chambers,mustafi and sakrotis is good idea to get a holding midfielder like kante.ceballos and mari should get contraract.Auba and Laca must stay under Arteta to make a team around them.

    1. Liam Gallagher says:

      What has Mari proven ? He has played two games and was brought in as a cheap fix. Holding hasn’t barely kicked a ball all season and you rate him above chambers who was one of our better players before the injury? Finally Lacazette would be first out the door for me, he’s obviously on the decline and it makes sense to get the max amount of cash for him. Play Abameyang centrally if we can keep him.

  11. towny254 says:

    will somebody put a rocket up Xahka back end because he is too slow for Arsenal

  12. Sue says:

    Sorry to go OT, but I’ve just seen on SSN, that Roma players have agreed to go without pay for 4 months to help the club! And they’re also topping up wages of furloughed non-playing staff to make sure they’re not out of pocket.
    Then I look online to see Posh has furloughed 30 of her staff.. I guess buying a penthouse with it’s own helipad in Miami earlier in the month has hit them hard 😂

  13. Knight says:

    I read somewhere Arteta being quoted as having said he has about 3 plans,one of which is doing nothing in the transfer window.Which means he believes in the staff he has.If he believes in the defenders he has,we as well should.

  14. Peter says:

    I think I’m OK with Toreira Xhaka at DM but we need to improve our attack like asap my suggestion.
    DF-Kurzawa free, Rugani £25-30
    AMD- James Rodriguez, Loan, Silva free,Willian free,Gokcu £30, Shaqiri
    CF: Sar £30
    Out:DM: Sokratis, Kolasinac, Mavropanos,
    MD-Elneny free
    AMD-Mkitaryan,£10 Oezil,£15(because of high wages
    CF-Lacazete,(swap with party) Aubhameyang.£60
    It’s just my opinion based on the fact that this board members are not ready to spend a dough so we can see to reinforce…. I know sar might find it difficult to replace Aubha but with such squad you have experience Amd that can score and create like Silva, James,Willian and a young wizard like Gocku so we’re not heavily reliant on our attackers and don’t forget we still have Martinelli.

  15. Glorious says:

    Freebies like David Silva, can still play for a year,Friazer, and Kuzarwa also, Then only bid for Thomas Party. We are good to go.

  16. Loose Cannon says:

    Articles like these and acceptance of mediocrity have made us from title challengers to mid table.Use the invincibles as a benchmark and get EPL ready players.None of our players would be starters for Pool orCity except Auba or Gabreil or Saka.

  17. Grandad says:

    Plenty centre backs but apart from Saliba, who will take to the PL like a duck to water, they simply lack quality.Obviously we cannot unload all our current CBS but to me Socratis and Mustafi are the prime candidates when it comes to selling .They are bang average at best and they will not improve.Luis is not much better but he is on a relatively short contract and he has the nous to guide and perhaps improve his younger collegues.

  18. Sirjoe says:

    I think most fans here seems to be delusional about Arsenal. Where’s the funds to buy the Party’s, upamancanos, we are clamouring for? If you were these players would you come to Arsenal ahead of other top clubs who are in Europe? Who’s going to buy of Mustafi ,Socrates, elneny, and Co from us to create space for all the new arrivals? Can arsenal afford a brand new backline? We must be realistic, with what is going on right now, I’m sure we’ll only go for young players if we’re to buy at all.

    1. kenno says:

      I agree with you sir@sirjoe. The writer of this article gave his insights and thoughts based on the current financial position of the club. Unless if our owners are willing to change the status of current affairs and decide that the key players arsenal need to take premiership are bought. We need reliable CBs, a Veiria, a Perez like player, and Henry player. Then release dead wood and average players even if for small fee. otherwise i see us working with what we have. Cut your coat according to your size. MID table again next season unless a miracle happens

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