Arsenal lost a vital game yesterday largely because of the inability of their two centre backs (and Nacho Monreal who was culpable on the second goal) to track players making a run behind a high line.
Maybe Arsenal midfielders, especially the increasingly immobile Arteta, should take the blame too.
The defeat is all the more painful because until the Bale goal the Gunners seemed comfortable and were controlling the game.
Yet Arsene Wenger seems to be reasonably content with his line up of centre backs. He had plenty of opportunity to strengthen in the window, especially after letting Djourou go on on loan, yet apart from vague whispers that Arsene would make a summer bid for Mats Hummel, it was eerily quiet.
There is one player who moved in the window who would have seriously strengthened the team’s defence – Chris Samba. Wenger is clearly a Samba fan and has allegedly been mulling over a bid on more than once occasion. Yet even though Samba was angling for a move from Anzhi Makhachkala it was QPR’s Harry Redknapp who got in first and secured the player.
Samba’s reputation, even after playing several weeks for a struggling side, is such that Zenit St Petersburg made an offer for the player which would have meant that QPR made a significant profit on Samba.
According to the Daily Star Redknapp was left mystified by Arsenal’s failure to land player
“When he was sold, I could never understand why Arsenal did not sign him that time,” he said.
“He is everything you need. He is quick, he can play round his feet.
“He is a proper centre-half. He could play anywhere in this country and for all the top teams.”
So is Harry mischief-making? Or does he have a point?
One one level Wenger would never have matched the wages that Samba is currently earning at QPR – unless that is he saw Samba as vital to the side and that he would make a difference in securing Champions League football.
For me Samba has three advantages over Per Mertesacker. Firstly he has as much, if not more, presence, especially on free kicks and corners (in both boxes). The ball just seems to ping off his head. Secondly he is much faster and more mobile that Per Mertesacker – lack of speed being the German’s Achilles’s Heel. He is also more precise in the tackle than his German counterpart – though I think from a positional point of view the German has the edge.
Lastly he is a leader – and Arsenal are perilously short of leaders.
He is 28 years old, has 4/5 good years left in him, has load of Premiership experience. He is another signing that would have been worth the cash in the winter window, or maybe if QPR go down.