More 'Nils' please!

Last updated : 23 August 2004 By Femaiden
Keown - Where is his replacement?
The electric come-back was quite something to behold, but we will not be able to repeat that performance at will. We are playing 'August' football right now, and once the cold, rain and mud set in, then our form will take it's usual dip. By then, I seriously hope that we have strengthened our defence.

Make no mistake, Arsene Wenger was very upset about our defending yesterday and he'll want to do something about it. Conceding goals is always going to put extra pressure on the attack, and conceding three is going to require an offensive display of herculean proportions to avoid defeat. Fortunately for gooners everywhere, we are capable of such feats when we're on song.

We were supremely fortunate last season that Campbell and Toure played together for as many games as they did. Sol seemed to be permanently carrying a near-miss groin injury, and of course now he has different affliction keeping him sidelined. Kolo clearly needs an experienced head alongside him for now, but it won't always be that way, as the young Ivorian is baffling everyone with the speed at which he improves.

We have no problems on the left, where Ashley Cole continues his progress and is now almost universally recognised as one of the best left backs in the world. Gael Clichy looks like a fabulous stand-in. Our preferred central pairing of Campbell and Toure is superb too, but they won't play together as often as they did last season again.

I'm happy with Lauren on the right, but perhaps we need strengthening. Trabelsi was at one point supposed to be on his way, which indicates that I' not alone in that opinion. But I don't think the right back position requires urgent attention. If we buy another good central defender, then we can always use Kolo as an emergency right back should the need arise.

Our stand-in central defenders are providing us with the biggest problem. Cygan is far too slow on the turn, and he appears to have a self-confidence problem at the moment. I don't think he's a bad player, I think he's got a few flaws and has not had the best of luck. Frankly, though, I don't think he's good enough for Arsenal. Senderos has not impressed me yet in the games I've seen him play. He is clearly a young man full of promise, but he seemed pretty ordinary the few times I've seen him. I'll reserve judgement until another date, but right now, he's not the answer either.

The rumours from inside Highbury are that Justin Hoyte is being converted to a central defender, and this could be excellent news. He's a fine athlete but does seem quite good enough to play as an attacking rightback which has always been his preferred spot. Hopefully in years to come he'll become a top defender, and it'll be great to see another one coming through our own youth system. But for now, like Senderos, he's not ready for the big time.

Our attacking play compromises some of the best football I've ever seen, and with Vieira, Gilberto, Edu and the impressive Fabregas, we are more than covered in the central midfield.

Wenger's passion is clearly attack. Just examine his list of signings, literally dozens of attacking players have been bought and sold. He also had to take on the task of replacing the most famous defence in memory. He's done a good job of that so far, but the transition is not finished. Toure and Campbell compare well with Bould and Adams, but where is the Keown we need to complete the picture?

Think back 13 short months to our dreadful start in last seasons Champions League. Our amazing come-back to qualify was in alot of ways analogous to yesterday's remarkable reversal. But we still suffer from the ability to keep a clean sheet against the top teams. 'Best defence in England last season' you say? Well yes, but for me, and I'll wager, our perfectionist manager, it's still not enough.

I hope this doesn't sound negative - it's certainly not meant to be - I genuinely believe this team can defend the title with no new additions. However, we stand on the precipice of greatness, and with the addition of an experienced central defender I believe we can kick on and leave the rest of the English clubs in our wake. As much as I dearly want the domestic domination of the old Liverpool and Man Utd sides, our true target must surely be sustained European glory.