After a bright start to the transfer window, Arsenal now faces a problem heading into their season. Thomas Vermaelen has decided to join Barcelona after Arsenal agreed to sell him after a sub-par 2013-2014 season. This only increases the pressure for Arsenal to claim the Premier League title because now they lack the defensive depth for the title run.
Arsenal only has two veteran center backs in Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, who are going to be the rightful starters on the team, and have only one Premier League ready center back on the bench in Calum Chambers, but they won’t know what to get from him until he’s out on the pitch.
Considering Arsenal plays in four major competitions in Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup, and Champions League, they will need a considerable amount of depth in their squad to at least claim one trophy for the season.
With only three central defenders on the 23-man roster at the moment, Arsenal will now have to shop for another center back to keep all of their players fresh during the season. Arsene Wenger will need to rotate his players to keep them healthy because he has not had the luxury of healthy players on the roster for quite some time.
This puts an immense amount of pressure on Koscielny and Mertesacker now: they cannot afford to get injured because there’s no one else who can replace them. They are irreplaceable at the moment, not because of their ability to lead the Arsenal back-line, but because of the lack of depth in the squad.
Vermaelen has played admirably during his tenure at Arsenal, but his recent form has been in question. He failed to fight for his spot on the starting line-up and even lost his starting spot for his country, Belgium, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. What’s worse is that he failed to stay on the pitch when he was given the chance to start a game for Belgium against Russia, only to be replaced by Jan Vertonghen before the half. His ability to stay healthy has come into question as well as his dip in form, as a result, Arsenal had to make the decision to allow Vermaelen leave for Barcelona.
Although the sale of Vermaelen is understandable considering he has been injury-prone as of late and has underperformed dramatically when he has played, Arsenal should have at least found an adequate replacement for Vermaelen before shipping him off to Barcelona.
Some may argue that Chambers is Vermaelen’s replacement, but having only one center back on the bench for the whole season is asking for trouble. What’s worse is that Chambers has played at right back majority of the time for Southampton last season, so he’ll need to get accustomed to play the center back position at the Premier League level. Yes, Chambers has the potential to be great, but Arsenal needs trophies now because the fans have gotten impatient. Chambers is not the solution to the problem at present, so Arsene Wenger will need to bring in another center back that is capable of making an impact right away.
There has been reports that Olympiakos center back Kostas Manolas is on the verge of joining the Gunners after undergoing a medical examination. Manolas would be a decent addition to the squad, who is a very physical defender and very capable of withstanding the physicality of the Premier League. But, it remains to be seen how he’ll be able to stand to the pace of the Premier League.
Arsenal will need to address their defense depth before the transfer window closes, but the problem with that is Arsenal still have other areas to address, such as the defensive midfielder position. There are rumors that Sami Khedira is available from Real Madrid, but the center back position is the area Arsenal needs first and foremost before adding more potential needs.