The situation with the personnel in Arsenal’s central defence has been unclear for two seasons running. Last season, the club only had just three centre halves in it first team squad in Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. But the Arsenal captain barely featured last season, has be was kept out of the team by the impressive partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Added to this fact was that his playing time was also limited because of injury which resulted in him making just 21 appearances in all competitions, with 14 in the league with just 7 league starts.
With a difficult 2013/2014 season, his future as an Arsenal player has been thrown into doubt.
To add to the situation in defence going into the new season, Arsene Wenger extended break to the German contingent means Per Mertesacker would miss Arsenal’s first competitive match of the season. Besides, when the German trio returns they are not expected to come into the team immediately as, they would have to undergone some fitness regime before they can come into the team.
This present scenario throws up some interesting questions.
If Thomas Vermaelen leaves before the season starts, and no defender is signed, who pairs Laurent Koscielny in centre defence?
Arsene Wenger asserted that he would react in the transfer market if Thomas Vermaelen leaves. As of yet there have been no movement towards that angle even though the manager has failed to give assurances about his future after the friendly with Boreham.
The only person who has the capacity to play centre half that the club has bought is Calum Chambers, and with the Thomas Vermaelen situation, and the extended break for Per Mertesacker, it means Calum Chambers could pair Laurent Koscielny in defence for the early part of the season. Already from the footage in Arsenal’s training sessions in Austria, Calum Chambers as been stationed several times in central defence which means Arsene Wenger is already thinking along the line of playing him in central defence.
This could open the opportunity for the former Southampton starlet to keep Per Mertesacker out for the early part of season at least, if both Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker continue with uncertainty about the former future and, fitness issues for the latter. Although, it would be difficult for Calum Chambers to keep out Per Mertesacker out of the team entirely, but this could be possible in the early parts of the season if Thomas Vermaelen’s future stays unresolved.
In the end, Arsene Wenger would have to sort out the long standing issues in central defence before the season starts.