Arsene Wenger would have been relieved that the Gunners managed to earn a replay against Leeds through a late Cesc Fabregas penalty which saved them the embarassment of being knocked out by the championship side. The Gunners would surely be happy with the replay than being eliminated at this stage but Wenger will know they have to play an extra game at this point of the season.
The game against Leeds is important and the French tactician will be forced to play some of his best players for the encounter. But he has admitted that he does not have enough cover in defence if Thomas Vermaelen cannot recover from his injury by the end of January. Johan Djourou played in three games this week but it is still doubtful if he can be used more than twice a week on a regular basis.
Sebastien Squillaci was signed to provide experienced depth to the side but he has found it difficult to adjust to the hardships of the Premier League. He has not enjoyed a good start to his Arsenal career and has already dropped down the order with three players ahead of him at present. Though the French International has the experience, he has not provided a commanding presence at the back which has been lacking in the absence of the Belgian.
Laurent Koscielny has shown he has the talent to be an excellent defender though he has also had an inconsistent start to his Arsenal career. It is clear that this lad will improve with experience and will gain a lot more when Vermaelen is fit again. The former Lorient defender is a player for the future and will benefit from good guidance from the manager and his more experienced team mates.
Arsenal are still challenging for all the four titles and they need quality depth in every position because this is the time of the year when players have to be rotated so that they can perform at good fitness levels. If Vermaelen does suffer another setback, he could be ruled out for the entire season. In that case, Arsenal will not have the depth and Alex Song is too valuable a player to be played in defence because he is not a great defender.
Arsene Wenger said there there was a possibility of them signing a new defender in January and it is unlikely that the Frenchman will invest too much in that department considering that Arsenal have three quality young defenders in Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou and Thomas Vermaelen. Most of the supporters would like Wenger to target a quality centre back like Jan Vertonghen or Per Mertesacker but it is unlikely for such a move to happen in January.
There were reports recently which linked former Arsenal captain Sol Campbell to link up with the Gunners again. Though it is quite possible that it could be just tabloid rumours, all prospects will be evaluated by the shrewd tactician. He provided Campbell with the chance to rebuild his career which he did last season when he signed for the Gunners in January.
The tall defender has huge respect from the Arsenal supporters despite leaving the club twice and Wenger also is an admirer of the Centre Back's fighting qualities. In the context of the recent rumour, let us analyse what the England defender brings to the table for the Gunners.
Campbell is one of the most experienced players currently playing in the Premier League and his inputs could be invaluable to youngsters like Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou. It is clear that he has got huge respect for the club and has passion towards it. Arsenal do not have many players who have won many trophies but Campbell is one who has been successful in the past with the Gunners and has seen it all before.
He will provide a lot of fighting spirit for the Gunners and at times, Arsenal tend to give up too easily. The Centre Back has a lot of experience at the highest level and if his performances in the previous season is any indication, he can still add worth to the defence. He has excellent aerial ability and is excellent in dealing with danger. Also, Arsenal lack leadership at the back and Campbell can inspire a lot of confidence within the team at the back.
If another centre back is signed, then the Gunners will have five defenders if Vermaelen does return in January. Squillaci will move further down the order which would mean that Wenger has lost confident in the French defender. Also, Sol Campbell is 36-years old and is likely to be signed only on a six month deal, which is not likely to cost much considering reports that Alan Pardew is not keen on working with him.
Also Campbell is not the quality player he was in his prime years and his weaknesses could be exploited at the back. Though he has decent pace, he could not play with good fitness levels for the 90 minutes which might prompt a subsitution in the second half. Also, he has not played much for Newcastle and does not look as fit as he was when he played for the Gunners last season. He cannot play three games a week and Arsenal will again have to shell out the money to buy a centre back next summer.
Arsenal have been linked with a number of defenders including the likes of the powerful Christopher Samba and Per Mertesacker. Though Samba is very dominant in the air, it is still doubtful how he would perform against the likes of technically strong oppositions such as Barcelona and Manchester United. Also, he would not come at a bargain and there might be better options for Arsenal in the summer than spending around 10 million on Samba.
Sol Campbell has been immense for the club in the past and will still fight hard for the club. He commands the defence well and can work on improving the defence of the Gunners. He adds much more than only his defensive qualities which could prove to be pivotal in Arsenal sustaining a consistent title challenge on all fronts.