Wenger’s defensive dilemma.
I think we are all aware of the problem facing Wenger in the immediate future, namely central defence.
Mertesacker out until next January at the earliest, Gabriel also with a prospective long term injury. Koscielny only back in training on Monday, but probably carrying a knee problem aggravated in the Euros.
So, last seasons first choice centre back pairing is broken and will remain so for half the coming season at least and the regular back-up player unavailable for the time being.
Fortunately Wenger signed what seems on the evidence so far, to be a good prospect in Rob Holding, ready for regular starts in the Premiership? I’m willing to bet that wasn’t in the manager’s mind at the time.
Of course we also have Calum Chambers, signed with great expectations on both sides, but has he matured into a reliable defender. I’m not so sure, but it seems he’s likely to get some more games under his belt.
Bielik has been tried out in the pre-season games and again shows promise but ready to be thrown in at the deep end?
Now comes the Wenger dilemma, cold eyed logic dictates that the club sign a ready made, experienced centre back who can come straight into the first eleven. Doing so may well “kill” (Wenger’s word) the ambitions of the three young defenders Chambers, Holding and Bielik. Yet logic also suggests that Mertesacker is figuratively, if not actually, on his last legs, a return to fitness in January and a final couple of months may presage his departure or at least his move to a back-up slot on the bench.
Other options are to play either Debuchy or Monreal as make shift centre backs, or to move Xhaka or Coquelin into the back four. Frankly these are surely only to be considered in the worst case scenario of injury to even more central defenders.
So, what is Wenger to do? Buy the readymade defender and chance being held to ransom?
Stick with what central defenders he has and hope for the best?
Or the makeshift option of attempting to fit square pegs in round holes?
One thing for sure, he can’t just sit on his hands until the end of the transfer window, failure to make some attempt at rectifying the situation will have a lot more fans calling for his head.
Written by Norfolk Gooner