Who Should our back up full backs be? By Dan smith
Arsene Wenger has had at least enough self respect to not get the excuses in early by not complaining that next week we have to play three games in the space of 6 days.
Unlike Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp, who campaign to change a fixture list which has been the same for decades, he realizes the only reason we are playing Monday Night is so we can earn millions in terms of TV revenue. He has been in the game long enough to know it is contradictory to criticize TV companies for telling clubs the days and times they must kick off, when it’s the income from the likes of SKY which allows the Premiership to be the cash cow it is.
When 20 teams are sharing a billion pound contract, the least they can do is accommodate.
The Frenchmen may also not be concerned as he has made it clear at least during the group stage, only squad players and a couple of youngsters will be featuring in the Europa League. That ethos almost guarantees that two different elevens will face West Brom and Bate Borisov. Apart from a couple, those who start on Monday won’t be asked to feature again till Brighton visit the following Sunday.
That’s the benefit of having a squad where you can boast having two players for each position, a standard for any top side ( which make a mockery of Jose Mourinho’s and Pep Guardiola’s recent complaints about the League Cup getting in the way).
Even when selecting three at the back, the likes of Mertesacker, Holding and Chambers are in reserve. The Frenchmen’s insistence to sacrifice a attacker for a defender means he has to pick 2 between 5 strikers. Even with Coquelin injured you still have Wilshere and Elneny as back up in midfield while iwobi has shown versatility if not consistency to play anywhere as an attacking midfielder.
The same cannot be said however in terms of our full backs, an increasingly crucial position in modern football. With Oxlade Chamberlain and Gibbs sold there is a lack of cover for Bellerin and Kolasinac, especially with Monreal first choice in the center until other find their confidence.
The League Cup in midweek was used as an audition for Reiss Nelson and Maitland-Niles to prove they could be alternatives in the role, but both made mistakes against Doncaster, with only their pace saving their blushes.
Supporters have questioned wherever it was fair forcing two inexperienced teenagers to play out of position on such a stage. Nelson in particular is earning a reputation in the under 23’s. However it is worth remembering he is only 17. Clearly there is no rush to play him in an attacking role which will further prevent game time for a Giroud or Walcott.
Having seen so many other prospects break out of the youth team only to be loaned to Championship clubs, to be playing at all is an achievement even if not his preference.
RWB does still allow him to hurt the opposition going forward while learning the defensive side of the game. Like when Wenger turned Kolo Toure into a centre-back overnight, his philosophy has always been, ‘ a clever player can play anywhere’.
A home tie to struggling League one opposition is one thing, a trip to Serbia is another. It remains to be seen if Niles and Nelson would be trusted in such an intimidating environment, how they played on Wednesday, you would have to say it would be a gamble. It’s worth remembering that Bellerin was asked to play the full 90 against Cologne then Chelsea, while Niles only improved when he was moved to CM in the second half.
Many fans will still want Nelson to play on Thursday but more forward, again forcing Bellerin to play 260 minutes in less than a week.
There is another player we may of forgotten about, a man who is in fact being paid a hell of a lot of money to not even sit on the bench.
Debuchy hasn’t been shy in the last couple of years making it clear he wants to leave the Emirates. Despite his questionable attitude though it is worth remembering that it was in fact a horrible injury that has ruined his career in North London. The fact that no-one will take him even on loan perhaps indicates how unlikely it is that the France International can ever get back to his best.
That’s why he is happy to get paid thousands for nothing, the moment his contract is finished he will be taking a pay cut no matter what his next destination. The fact remains though that at least until January he is an employee of Arsenal Football club, so why not use him?
Clearly he has no long term future with us but if him starting in the lesser competitions means a rest for Bellerin then at least he would be helping the squad.
Surely, experience alone he is a better option then a rookie playing in a position he doesn’t understand. If i’m wrong then Debuchy’s injury really has finished him. Remember he started against Burnley last year. At that point he had participated in many interviews not flattering towards his own boss, yet no grudges were held.
Heartbreaking for a man who had battled back from a year of injury hell, he didn’t last half an hour against Sean Dyche’s man, perhaps the moment it became clear his Gunners career was done.
Yet when Wenger couldn’t find a buyer for Bendtner he played him to give others a rest, so never say never…
Should Debuchy play or continue with Nelson or Maitland-Niles out of position?