COMMENT By Alex Taylor
In a summer of extravagant spending on golden-boot winners and transfer record-breakers, even amongst the hullabaloo of John Stones’ £47.5million switch to Manchester City – it is easy to forget the importance of the lowly defender.
The dream centre-back pairings of Rio Ferdeinand and Nemanja Vidic, Tony Adams and Martin Keown and John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho all rightfully have their place in history as some of the greats of the game.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will know this all too well – he has seen first-hand the effect playing Sebastien Squillaci can have on a back-four, instead of the more solid options he has employed in the past, like Sol Campbell or Steve Bould.
One lesson history has taught us over and over again is that if one vital cog is found lacking in a defensive unit, havoc can wreak.
This Sunday Wenger is without Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista for their first game of the season against Liverpool.
New boy Rob Holding and the inexperienced Calum Chambers are preparing themselves to be thrown into the deep end as the only true central defenders left available for the Gunners.
It seems that the north London outfit will be left hopelessly exposed in a game that has the potential to set the tone for their entire season.
The Arsenal boss once again spent in excess of £30million this summer on another midfielder, Granit Xhaka.
The only area in Arsenal’s team that need absolutely no new additions in the current transfer market was bolstered, while in the forward line and defensive unit, no new senior players have been added.
Arsenal finished last season in second place, but still 10 points off the top – not bad going for a team never really in the title race.
On reflection it is easy to see why, it may take up to five months for Wenger’s first-choice defensive back-four to be re-united on the pitch, in that time it is almost impossible to know the total points cost that not taking action in the transfer market could have.
Such are the fine margins of the Premier League at the moment that the top-teams will kick-themselves for weeks for dropping even a solitary point, let alone throwing away six or seven before the Premier League has even started.
Wenger does not have long to act on his current predicament and it seems whatever happens now it is already too late to bring in cover for this weekend, perhaps three crucial points lost already?.
Arsenal fans must hope that their manager acts, and acts fast, before their title race is over before it begun.
In other Arsenal team news, how the Gunners can win the League next season.