Despite their worst league start in 58 years, Arsenal’s fate this season still lies in their own hands. With 2 games remaining, 2 wins will seal 3rd spot and guarantee them a place in next season’s Champions League. In spite of this impressive turnaround, there are undoubtedly still issues at the club. Having already conceded more goals in the Premier League than ever before, defensive problems remain unsolved and an over reliance on star man Robin van Persie at the top end of the pitch has been highlighted during his recent dry run. With the transfer window nearing, now seems as good a time as any to assess some of the issues at Arsenal and give an SFG rundown on how one of their supposed top targets, Jan Vertonghen, could go a long way towards solving them.
Balance at the back
For a while now it’s seemed that there’s an imbalance in the Arsenal defence, but due to the lack of fitness of the 4 preferred starters (which we’ll take to be Gibbs-Vermaelen-Koscielny-Sagna) it’s been difficult to examine. This fitness problem is certainly an issue in its own right – the defensive records of Liverpool and Newcastle early on this season being testament to the value of consistency at the back. Whilst this year has seen a long term injury to Sagna, there’s no suggestion of him suffering recurring problems, however, his left sided counterpart, Kieran Gibbs, has a worryingly extensive injury record for someone of his age. Vermaelen may not be nearing Gibbs’ level of fitness trouble yet, but the past 2 years haven’t been especially promising for him either.