We all know that football can be a pretty unforgiving game even at the best of times, to the point where a series of bad displays can destroy your career in the blink of an eye. Of course, that might be us being a little bit overdramatic, but we’ve all seen a player fall from grace before. It’s hardly anything new, and depending on who you support, it can happen quite frequently.
Most people are aware of the popular 1990’s movie starring Bill Murray called Groundhog Day where a grouchy, TV reporter revisits the same day over-and-over again until he changes his ways.
Arsenal fans stuck in their own Groundhog Day
Unfortunately, Arsenal fans seem to be stuck in their very own Groundhog Dog when it comes to their teams’ terrible away displays. Unfortunately, there is no signs of Arsenal changing their ways anyway soon.
The latest debacle came in a 3-1 defeat at Wolves on Wednesday night. The home side was leading 3-0 at half-time.
A short and simple message to Shkodran Mustafi.
It’s been an emotional journey, but after three years, it’s time to go. It seemed like this could be a positive step forward for Arsenal’s defensive problems at the time, but now, it’s evident that it wasn’t. The one thing we know for sure it this: Mustafi isn’t an elite level Premier League player, and the loss against Crystal Palace proved it.
According to the Metro, reported Arsenal target Manchester United’s Eric Bailly is now surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, which means the centre-back could be on the move in the summer.
The Metro reports suggest that the United hierarchy is set to back boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a transfer kitty of around £200million in the summer. With that sort of cash, the Red Devils can afford to bring in a new centre-back with Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld once again linked with a move to the north west.
For too long now, Arsenal have had a clear defensive weakness at centre-back. Former boss Arsene Wenger failed to fix it and current boss Unai Emery has been unable to fix the problem so far. However, to be fair to the Spaniard his reign in north London is in its infancy and he has not had much backing in the transfer market or time to sort the problem.
Centre-backs are not good enough
The simple fact is Arsenal’s centre-backs are not good enough. Experienced French centre-back Laurent Koscielny has been the Gunners best centre-back for a long time. However, injuries and the fact that he is the wrong side of 30 mean he will need replacing in the near future.
On Wednesday night, Arsenal host north London rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium in the last eight of the Carabao Cup.
The Gunners head into this clash on the back of a 3-2 defeat at Southampton that ended their 22-game unbeaten record in all competitions. This competition would not usually be high on the Arsenal priority list. However, the fact that the opponents are Tottenham gives this an extra edge.
Arsenal were defeated finalists in last year’s competition, as they were beaten 3-0 at Wembley by Manchester City. The Gunners will at least be looking to make it to the last four of the competition this season.
Arsenal may have extended their unbeaten run to 21 games in all competitions against Huddersfield on Saturday, but there was also a downside to the win, as both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi picked up suspensions.
Add the pair to Rob Holding sidelined through injury and the Gunners are left with very few central defensive options.
Who are the Gunners central defensive options?
The return to the squad and fitness of French centre-back Laurent Koscielny could not have come a better time. Gunners boss Unai Emery has allowed the veteran defender time to recover from a long-term injury.
According to former Arsenal hero and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, nothing has changed defensively at Arsenal since the summer appointment of Spanish boss Unai Emery.
Nothing has changed defensively
Merson told Sky Sports: “It looks like an Arsene Wenger team defensively, and they have always been irresistible going forward on their day,”
“I think they will get turned over by a couple of smaller teams and I don’t see them beating the big ones.
“I don’t think they were good at the start of the season. They went on a great run, but defensively they will get found out. Nothing has really changed at the back.”
According to Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny’s agent Stephane Courbis, the France international was considering leaving the club in the summer prior to rupturing his Achilles in the semi-finals of the Europa League against Atletico Madrid.
Could have exited in the summer
Talking to France Football (quoted by the Daily Star), Courbis said: “When he banged the floor with his hand, I immediately knew that it was serious, that it was over.
“Everything at that moment went through my mind, including the worst, which was validated when it emerged that it was an Achilles rupture and that he would miss the World Cup.
It is early days for Arsenal’s new head coach Unai Emery. I am in the camp that the Spaniard needs time to turn things around in north London. The Gunners players had been complacent far too long under Arsene Wenger to suddenly turn in a world-beating team overnight.
One of the main problems the Gunners have is in defence. Saturday evenings 3-2 defeat at Chelsea showed the major job Emery has on his hands to turn the team’s fortunes around.