Gael Clichy will be out of action for three weeks. He will miss the league games against Wigan Athletic, Liverpool and Middlesbrough, the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and the Champions League return leg against Villarreal and the first leg of the Champions League semi final (if we qualify).
Wenger’s dilemma is who he picks to deputise for Clichy, who though has been solid for most of the season, has not had a great season and has been caught out of position too often.
Wenger can go for experience in Mikael Silvestre, who spent most of his Manchester United career at left-back. When Silvestre joined he hoped he would play as a centre-back. Silvestre will give us experience at left-back that is for sure, but what else would he offer. His performances for Arsenal have not been the best; they have coincided with games that we have conceded more goals and lost more games.
Whilst you cannot place the entire fault at one player, if that player is inexorably weak, then the buck must stop with that person. A defence needs all four of its members to perform, there can be no passengers and for me Silvestre is a passenger.
He will offer very little going forward and will be torn to pieces at the back. It will not help him with Arshavin playing in front of him. The Russian rarely tracks back, leaving an extra burden on the full-back.
Arsene’s only other option is rookie left-back Kieran Gibbs. Gibbs has played in the Carling Cup and all the FA Cup ties this season and has not looked out of place. The opposition were Championship sides plus Wigan and Hull. Gibbs is a tenacious defender, good in the air and because he was formerly a winger, he has speed and is good at crossing the ball, something neither Clichy nor Sagna have mastered this season.
I would not be fearful of Gibbs playing on Saturday against Wigan nor on Wednesday against Villarreal. I believe he will cope admirably against both teams. There will no onus on us pushing forward in either game; these games can be used by Arsene to see how he copes under intense pressure. He can than decide whether to play him against Chelsea in the FA Cup and Liverpool in the league.
I believe that Wenger will plump for the experience of Silvestre over the youth of Gibbs. I have not been a Silvestre fan from the time he joined us and have seen nothing in his performances to change my mind, all I hope is that if he does get the nod over Gibbs, our fortune with him in the team changes.
Eboue is the player Arsenal fans love to hate, but little has been mentioned of one of our summer signings, the experienced France defender Mikael Silvestre.
The story is that he was at Manchester City undergoing a medical when Arsene called him, and offered him a two year contract at the Emirates. At the time Silvestre was injured and he had spent the best part of the last two years injured, Arsene wanted to sign him.
This was a strange signing, Wenger normally looks at selling players once they hit 30, this was one of the reasons Pires left, yet he was prepared to offer Silvestre a two-year contract. Some fans welcomed the signing, as he would bring some experience to the squad, but for some of us die-hard Arsenal fans, Silvestre was tainted with the United brush, he was one of Ferguson acolytes, he was a United disciple, how could we cheer him on?
Silvestre explained, that despite having spent most of his career as a left-back at Old Trafford, he will play at the centre of the defence, so Senderos was dispatched to AC Milan and Silvestre was our saviour!
Silvestre’s record at Arsenal has been a complete disaster. His one highlight was scoring against Tottenham, but on the defensive front it does not look good. Silvestre has played in 16 games and we have kept 5 clean sheets, whilst we have conceded 22 goals with Silvestre at our heart. When Silvestre has been missing, in the remaining 27 games we have kept 15 clean sheets and conceded 12 goals. Silvestre has been involved in 5 out of our 7 defeats this season in all competitions.
Whilst statistics can be made to say anything, the facts speak for themselves, Silvestre needs to be kept away from our first team and then sold or given a free transfer in the summer.
As revealed late on Tuesday night, Arsenal have completed the surprise signing of Mikael Silvestre from Manchester United. The France defender becomes Arsenal’s fourth summer signing and will add experience and versatility to the squad. The greatest surprise was that Ferguson allowed him to move to one of United’s rivals. What will shock Arsenal fans is that Silvestre, aged 31, is being offered a two year contract, whilst Wenger let Gilberto leave, 31, and now we are trawling Europe looking for an experienced midfielder.
Following Silvestre’s arrival, it was no surprise to learn that Armand Traore had joined Arsenal’s south coast retirement home, Portsmouth. Traore is a raw talent, spending time in Arsenal’s reserves with the occasional Carling Cup game will not improve him as a player. A season or more on loan at a Premiership club or a Championship club will benefit Traore. He will be exposed to top rate wingers week-in week-out at Portsmouth and be al to improve on his defensive qualities. At Portsmouth he will come under the defensive instructions of Tony Adams, if he is sensible he will listen to the Arsenal legend and improve ten-fold.
The great piece of news coming out of the Emirates is that Arsene Wenger has stated that he is still after another player, and that it will be a midfield player. When pushed as to whether Barry is out of the equation, Wenger merely stated the obvious that a player’s value drops if he is not available for European competition, but that does not preclude you from buying him. Wenger stated that he might surprise the media as he did with Silvestre. Whilst not dismissing the Barry link, this might have been a way of Wenger telling Beintez that if he doesn’t get his finger out over selling Alonso to Arsenal, Wenger is prepared to move for Liverpool’s number one transfer target of the summer. This will be a kick in the teeth for Benitez and might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, leading him to resign.
Other target for Wenger are Gohkan Inler, he will be a cheaper option than either Barry or Alonso, however he is not the experience we need. I am sure given the chance Diaby or Denilson will perform as well as Inler.
Miguel Veloso has again been mentioned as interesting Wenger. The drawback is the high transfer fee that Sporting Lisbon expect to receive for him. A transfer fee of £18M, is the transfer fee that was expected for Barry and Alonso before their European appearances redcued these fees. The Veloso transfer link is being engineered by his agent, who is desperate to get a move for his player and is running out of time and clubs.
I clearly believe the Alonso is the number one target for Arsenal, as demonstrated in the recent Spain game he is a goalscoring midfielder, something that Diaby and Denilson clearly are not. Alonso will add to the experience of the squad and to the attacking abilities of our midfield something distinctly lacking last season. But Arsene being Arsene it will not surprise anyone if the new signing is one who has not been mentioned in dispatches so far. Time is running out, the FC Twente game is 6 games away, this was the target set be Wenger for a new midfield signing, we will have to wait and see.