Arsenal’s main problems in recent seasons has been their defence which has not been solid and this year, defending from set-pieces was particularly awful as the Gunners conceded a number of soft goals. Wenger will look to bring some taller players into the squad in order to mix it up and will hope that their defending is better next season.
The Gunners’ attack also did not fire towards the end of the season which is why Arsenal are linked with the likes of Karim Benzema and Gervinho. However, the defence presents a bigger problem for Arsene Wenger’s team who struggled in 2010-11 season although their best centre back Thomas Vermaelen was not present for most of the season.
However, it is not only the back four which has to be blamed for Arsenal’s shoddy defending as many of the attacking players have not aided in defence and also, the team’s average height is quite low which is another reason for their poor defending from set-pieces. As a result, Wenger has been looking to strengthen the team’s defending and he would prefer signing a defender who can cope with physicality of the Premiership and also, look for players experienced in the EPL.
One of the players who has been linked with a move to Arsenal in the summer is Blackburn’s promising youngster Phil Jones, who can play as a centre back or in the defensive midfield role. Wenger is a manager who is renowned for developing youngsters and could be interested in signing the Blackburn defender.
Phil Jones, who is only 19 years old, has been one of the best performers for Blackburn this season and will not come on a bargain for the Gunners. Arsenal should beat competition from many other clubs if they are interested in signing the England youth International. This article is on the advantages and disadvantages of signing Blackburn’s Phil Jones.
Phil Jones is experienced in the Premiership and has made over 30 league appearances for the club despite only making his debut towards the end of the 2009-10 season. He has performed excellently against tough oppositions like Manchester United and Chelsea and looks destined to move to a bigger club in the future.
At a height of 6’ 2”, he possesses excellent aerial ability in addition to being decisive on the ground and also has decent technique on the ball. He has played as a defensive midfielder in a number of games for Blackburn and has displayed his battling qualities in the middle of the park and also, he showed that he can be adept with his passing and technique for a midfielder.
Arsenal do not have depth in the defensive midfield role with Alex Song the only natural holding midfielder in the squad. Though Abou Diaby can play in the role, he is not suited to the role and is better when he is proved with the freedom to surge forward from midfield. Though Song is currently not in the Cameroon squad due to off-field issues, there is every possibility that he could be in the squad for the African Cup of Nations which could mean he miss matches in January and February.
Jones is comfortable in the role of the holding midfielder and can be used in the role in the absence of Song. Also, he provides additional presence for set-pieces which will undoubtedly help the Gunners. Though his overall game can still improve, he certainly has shown a lot of potential and can go on to be an excellent ball-playing centre back in the future.
With Sebastien Squillaci being unimpressive in his first season at the club, there is a good possibility that he could be shipped out to accommodate new arrivals. Though Johan Djourou had a good 2010-11 season, he is still prone to errors and suffers from inconsistency. Laurent Koscielny had an extremely shaky start to the season but has also shown a lot of promise for the future and it is expected that he will have a better season next year when he is well accustomed to the Premiership.
As is the case with many Arsenal targets, he could prove to be quite costly and though Wenger has said that Arsenal have the financial capability to make big signings in the summer but it is doubtful as to whether he will spend as much as the £15 million reported in the Mail to secure his services. Wenger has admitted he needs to bring in experience to bolster the squad and Jones does not fit the bill in that respect having played only 35 games for Arsenal.
Also, it is doubtful whether Jones will be the first choice centre back alongside Thomas Vermaelen because he is inexperienced at the highest level and Laurent Koscielny has shown a lot of promise in his debut season. The Blackburn defender could however be an excellent back-up and add quality depth to the squad.
If a youngster like Phil Jones, it could possibly mean the departures of promising youngsters Kyle Bartley, who was impressive on loan this season, and Ignasi Miquel who will enjoy lesser playing time. Bartley in particular has shown that he can be a part of Arsenal’s first team in the next season and he can also play as a defensive midfielder.
However, Phil Jones is considered to be a better talent and has been touted to be one of the best defenders in the future. Arsenal would certainly benefit by having a promising youngster like Jones in their team and the England U-21 player would certainly improve Arsenal with respect to dealing with set-pieces along with providing more depth and competition to the squad.
Manchester United signed Chris Smalling from Fulham for around £10 million and though it was too much at that time, Smalling's performances have meant that United have made an excellent investment for the future. Similarly, the spending on Phil Jones could prove to be an important investment for Arsenal who need to sign quality players in order to end this frustrating title drought.
English players are generally over-rated and cost much more than their counterparts in foreign leagues which is why Jones might cost more than his market price. However, if it is possible for Wenger to sign the defender at a price which is affordable, then he should make efforts to sign the Blackburn defender who could be a future England International.
If interested, read Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Pros and Cons of signing Falcao, Ricky Alvarez, Scott Parker and Gervinho in this series of Arsenal Transfer Prospects