Arsenal v Spurs: Mertesacker is not what Arsenal need

Arsene Wenger’s recent teams are known for two things: free-flowing attacking football that’s easy on the eyes and defenders, particularly central defenders, who are simply not up to the physical aspects of the EPL. So Wenger’s transfer deadline solution? Bring in a centre back who seems to be a conscientious objector to tackling. A player that has seen fewer yellow cards than Stevie Wonder. Per Mertesacker.

Tossed into the cauldron of a north London derby against Spurs, here’s how Mertesacker did in the tackling department compared to Spurs centre back Younes Kaboul.

Not too well. Maybe it was a bad day. How about the previous game against Bolton?

Hmm. Blackburn before that?

I have always enjoyed watching Arsenal play and I think Wenger has done more to advance the game in England than any manager in the last ten years. But to persist with the idea that you don’t need a central defender that gets stuck in and make opposing strikers think twice when the ball comes to them is doing this team no good.

Mertesacker is the last thing Arsenal needed. Younes Kaboul attempted ten tackles today and won all of them. Mertesacker has ten attempts in his last three games combined and has only won four of them.

Sadly, it looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better for Arsenal.

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3 Responses to Arsenal v Spurs: Mertesacker is not what Arsenal need

  1. K says:

    Compare Mertesacker to Rio Ferdinand.

    • Gregor says:

      It’s true that Ferdinand has never been known as a hard nosed tackler and especially in recent year has relied on (a) positioning to separate opponents from the ball and (b) Vidic. I think now as Ferdinand hits his twilight years and increasingly has to deal with injuries, he’s tackling even less. Point taken that you can still be a top centre back without making loads of tackles every game but most of my point with Mertesacker is ‘horses for courses’ ….and Arsenal need a centre back that lets opponents know that the free ride inside the box (on the ground and in the air) is over. Mertesacker is not the horse for that course.

      • K says:

        Absolutely. Rio is effective because Vidic does the “hard” work. Rio last year had the best fouls/game time ratio in England. You can see how much MUFC is struggling defensively without Rio, despite having the “hard” Phil Jones playing.

        Arsenal will bid for Cahill if Vermaelen can’t get fit. A Mertesacker/Vermaelen pair may be nearly as deadly as a Rio/Vidic … ok, maybe a level behind.

        Will be interesting to see if Ferguson goes with Phil Jones/Chris Smalling as the long-term pair. More of a Pallister/Bruce pairing than a Rio/Vidic one….Jones is lightning quick and can dribble out the back but it will be interesting to see if they develop the technical skills to match that of Pique at Barca – who MUFC never should have sold.

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