Saturday, January 15, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analysing The Pros and Cons of Signing Matthew Upson

Arsenal eased past relegation candidates West Ham United by scoring three goals at Upton Park with Robin van Persie netting a brace. The Hammers struggled to create anything meaningful and apart from a dreadful back-pass from Johan Djourou, the Gunners' defence looked solid and deserved their clean sheet. The victory would mean that they will be on the tail of leaders Manchester United who will play Tottenham on Sunday.

Arsenal have not got enough numbers at the back because of the injuries to Thomas Vermaelen and Sebastien Squillaci because of which Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou have to start almost all the games. It is likely that Wenger will attempt to sign a Centre Back to provide good cover for the defense.

Arsene Wenger revealed that Thomas Vermaelen will most probably not require surgery but it is still not known when the influential Belgian defender will be back for the Gunners. Sebastien Squillaci has also sustained a hamstring injury which means Wenger will be forced to try to sign a defender in January. He has also insisted that he prefers a defender who has the experience of playing in the Premier League.

Arsenal are looking for a defender who could add quality to the team as well as add some depth to the squad but with four defenders already in the squad, Wenger could add someone who could be a quick-fix solution. West Ham defender Matthew Upson, who has played for Arsenal in the past, could be targeted by Wenger to provide depth to the team because he will be available on a bargain and also he has a lot of experience in the Premier League.

Upson has played for the Gunners in the past but due to the longevity of class players like Martin Keown and Tony Adams and his own injury problems, he struggled to establish himself in the Arsenal team. Upson was allowed to move on from Arsenal and made a number of appearances for Birmingham City. He then moved to West Ham for whom he has been a key player in the last few seasons.

Arsene Wenger has not signed his former Arsenal players back for the Gunners except in the case of Sol Campbell who was signed in the previous season. But Upson could be targeted by the French tactician because his contract ends in the summer and the Hammers could cash in on the England International and also he has immense experience in the Premier League.


Matthew Upson has got a lot of experience in the Premiership and at the age of 31, he could still have some good years in him. Also, he is good in the air and is a no-nonsense defender which is what the Gunners need. The England International will benefit from playing alongside a centre back like Thomas Vermaelen who has good pace. Also, he has consistently performed at a top level for West Ham United and though he has made the odd error, he has largely been reliable for the Hammers.

Since the defender is available at a bargain, it makes good business sense to sign the England International as he will provide good cover. He will not take time to adjust and if he does prove to be better than Squillaci, then it could mean that the Frenchman could be shipped out in the summer. Upson has worked with Wenger and can adjust to the needs of the Frenchman if he is signed by the Gunners.


The England International is clearly not going to be the first choice defender and lacks the quality of Thomas Vermaelen or Gary Cahill. He could end up as yet another back-up defender like Squillaci who cannot establish himself as the first choice defender. The Gunners concede far too many goals in all competitions and they need a strong and capable defender who can add quality to the team.

It is doubtful if Upson will solve the defensive problems of Arsenal although he will provide decent back-up to the first choice defenders. He does not have great technical ability but he has experience in the Premiership and knows how to bring the ball from the back. He also lacks pace which means strikers who have good pace can get behind the defence and cause problems for them.

Should Wenger go for Upson or should he target a quality defender like Gary Cahill?

Wenger should decide whether he has to opt for a defender like Upson who is essentially a fourth choice centre back or to spend money to acquire a top quality defender to partner Thomas Vernaelen. Upson could be a good business deal for the short term but it would mean that either the England International or Squillaci will be on their way out in the summer because the Gunners will have four fit centre backs and Wenger could promote young talented players like Ignasi Miquel.

The decision taken by the French tactician will also be based on how long he estimates Thomas Vermaelen to be fit and back to his best again. If the Belgian is going to miss the majority of the remainder of the season, then the Gaffer must spend money to acquire a quality defender. But Wenger is more likely to make a deal to sign Matthew Upson instead of spending the money required to attract top quality defenders like Per Mertesacker.

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