Arsenal Is In A Defensive Crisis

March 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Premier League

Arsenal has been battling injuries all season long, but the Gunners having been doing well without one of their top two central defenders. But now they’ve lost their rock at the back for the rest of the season, and that could signal Arsenal’s downfall if you’re gambling online.

Thomas Vermaelen has been out since August because of an ailing Achilles, and the Belgian defender says he has no idea when he’ll be able to play again. That left Johan Djourou as Arsenal’s best central defender, and the Swiss has been brilliant this season under tough circumstances. But Djourou suffered a dislocated shoulder and will be out for the season, and the numbers show that Arsenal struggles at the back without him. To compound that, the Gunners have had to bring goalkeeper Jens Lehmann out of retirement in light of injuries to Wojciech Szczesny, Vito Mannone and Lukasz Fabianski, leaving Arsenal with only Manuel Almunia between the sticks. Much has been made about the time prior to Lehmann’s retirement, when he thought he was still capable of being the No.1 guy, but the Gunners were trying to bring along Almunia. Lehmann says that he doesn’t want to go through that again, and he and Almunia will have to come to some sort of agreement to make this work.

As we said, the Gunners are no strangers to injury, but to have these problems at the back at this time of year is potentially crippling. One positive way to spin it is that the Gunners only have to worry about the league title now as they’re out of the Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup, but they’re still chasing Manchester United in the Premier League, while trying to hold off Manchester City and Chelsea for second place. It’s going to be very interesting to see how manager Arsene Wenger handles this. Bacary Sagna will likely have to move into the middle, and there may be more time for Sebastian Squillaci, who has been less than impressive since moving to the Emirates. Finally, Laurent Koscielny has to put his disappointing play of the last couple of weeks behind him to give Arsenal a chance.