Could Arsenal spring a surprise signing... a defender?

Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has stated he and his scouts are working on potential deals this summer but could the boss spring a surprise by signing a defender?

Wenger has said he is assessing the transfer market this month with most expecting the arrival of a centre-forward at the Emirates to relieve the burden on Olivier Giroud up front but the French coach has only three centre-backs in his squad as we approach the business end of the season.

There is no doubt the partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny has developed into one of, if not the, most durable and impenetrable Premier League defences.

After so many years of calamity and catastrophe at the back Arsenal have miraculously transformed into a team capable not only of scoring goals but of keeping leads.

The Arsenal of a year or two ago and even further back could be 2-0 up at home in a game and you could never quite trust them to hold onto it – they would either go on to win 5-3, draw 4-4 or lose 3-2.

They were always just a break away from an upset but since March 2013 that pairing at the back has been exemplary, as has the whole team’s defensive work, even up to the centre-forward.

Subsequently, captain Thomas Vermaelen has barely gotten a look in – he has been used lightly and only when absolutely necessary to cover the Mertesacker or Vermaelen.

He sits on the bench and, despite the rumours, the skipper seems happy at the Emirates, but that’s likely because he knows he is just an injury or suspension away from getting his place back in the team.

That’s a reason for optimism for Thomas Vermaelen but that’s surely got to be a cause for concern for the manager.

An injury or lengthy suspension to one of his first-choice pairing would mean Arsenal would put Vermaelen back, no problem but what then?

Any further suspension or injury would mean moving Bacary Sagna in to the central pair and whilst he has been superb covering in a couple of games here and there, it’s going to impact the balance and security of the back line.

Wenger sent young Johan Djourou out on loan but he does need to bring in a similar option to replace him – we have seen what happened to Theo Walcott who scored five goals in five game and now misses the next six months of football and the World Cup.

Arsenal are just one injury away from having no central defender on the bench for the rest of the season, fighting across three competitions. That’s taking far more of a gamble than having no striker on the bench.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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