Arsenal endured a frustrating night against Ipswich Town as they lost to the Championship by a goal to nil and will have to be more consistent. They still have the second leg of the Semi-final at the Emirates where one can expect the Gunners to dominate considering it will be a slick surface and with the support of the home fans, the Gunners could yet feature in the Final.
Arsene Wenger has made it clear that he needs another centre back in January to ease the pressure on his defenders because of the long term nature of the Achilles injury to Thomas Vermaelen. They have been linked with many centre back including the likes of Per Mertesacker and Gary Cahill but the French tactician has admitted that he would prefer if the defender was playing in the English Premier League.
Djourou has been in excellent form this season but the problem is that it is still a risk to play him three times a week because he was injured for over a year. He has already played three games in the last week which means that there is a good chance that he could be rested before the important Premier League game against West Ham United. If that is the case, young Ignasi Miquel will start for the first time for the Gunners alongside Laurent Koscielny who has been impressive in the last few weeks.
The Gunners are clearly short of numbers at the back and Arsene Wenger has admitted that he will look for a defender in January to ease the pressure on Johan Djourou. Arsenal have been linked with a number of centre-backs including the likes of Per Mertesacker and Gary Cahill. However Wenger could also make a move for Blackburn defender Christopher Samba who wants to leave the club following the departure of Sam Allardyce.
Samba will cost the Gunners in the region of £8 million and will be allowed to leave the club. Blackburn could be tempted by offering one of Jay Emmanuel Thomas or Carlos Vela on loan in addition to the cash in order to secure the services of the physical defender. Let us analyse what are the advantages and disadvantages of signing the former Hertha Berlin defender.
Samba is only 26 and is certainly one of the most consistent performers in the last few seasons in the Premiership. The defender has decent pace and has also been rated highly by many experts and managers. He has immense physical presence which Arsenal have lacked in the recent past and is a no-nonsense defender. The Blackburn defender is also experienced in the Premiership and his battling qualities could be important for the Gunners.
In addition to this, he was Blackburn’s Captain until recently and has got good leadership at the back. He has got enough experience and can command the backline. Arsenal have conceded a number of goals from set-pieces and this is where Samba will help the Gunners improve drastically as he will win a number of aerial battles. He is also a goal scoring threat on set-pieces and Arsenal have not scored too many goals from set-pieces although they have Robin van Persie who can deliver the ball brilliantly into the area.
Though the Blackburn defender offers a lot of physical presence and is good in dealing with set-pieces, he is not the best reader of the game. Also, he has not played for a top European club and he might be exposed in high profile Champions League matches. The former Hertha Berlin defender could struggle to cope with the intricate play of many quality teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid in the European competitions.
Christopher Samba does not have great technical ability and the Gunners style of play requires the defender to bring out the ball from the back and they have defenders like Vermaelen and Koscielny who are capable of doing that. However that will not be a problem since all other defenders at Arsenal have the ability to do so and Samba could be asked to stay back and do the defending.
Will Arsene Wenger spend £8 million on Christopher Samba?
The French tactician is a person who does not spend much on the transfer market unless there is a necessity to do so. In this case, Arsenal do need a solid defender but when Vermaelen does return from injury, Arsenal could have four fit centre backs without any new defenders which would mean very less playing time for some of the defenders. Vermaelen is the established defender while one amongst the rest will partner him.
If a new defender of the quality of Christopher Samba is signed, it does signal the end of Sebastien Squillaci’s Arsenal career because the Gunners will have four young defenders while the club also has some talented youngsters like Ignasi Miquel. The question is whether Wenger will spend the money required to buy Samba who is essentially going to be the fourth choice defender when all the others are fit. Having said that, Samba is a player who could add a lot to the Gunners and could be extremely effective in many games in the Premier League.