Who do Arsenal buy to fill the gaps at centre back?
Arsenal’s unbeaten run wasn’t the only thing that was snapped at Southampton on the weekend. Their defensive injury crisis got a whole lot worse as Hector Bellerin was next to join the injury list.
However, the biggest giveaway of the injury crisis was Arsenal’s back three. Of the three, Laurent Koscielny was the only natural centre back and was making his first start since the Europa League semi-final.
This has only increased the fans’ demand for a new centre-back in January. Especially as after the match, Unai Emery said: “January is not a good transfer window for this reason, but we are going to look and the club is working for transfers in January.”
So in this quick read, we will look at centre-backs who’ve been linked with the club and whether they’d be worth a punt on.
Player Comparison: Defending
Here we can see that, although he is a divisive figure amongst the fans, Shkodran Mustafi is the best defensive performer among those above.
With 16 games played, however, he’s had much more chances than his compatriots. Throughout the fanbase, it’ll be fair to say that Sokratis’ season has been looked at more positively. Therefore, it may be best to look at these statistics in terms of per 90-minute percentages.
When we do this, we can see that Kalidou Koulibaly is more solid that Mustafi. His tackle success rate stands at 47.9% whereas Mustafi’s is 40.7%. With this, we can see that Koulibaly would be a more efficient defender when he needs to put a foot in. Often Mustafi’s tackling is very hit and miss which creates debate.
Looking for the defender that may compliment Mustafi and Sokratis also means filling in where they may be weak. One of those areas seems to be in blocks. Despite playing a game less, both Koulibaly and Fernando Calero have made more. Koulibaly with 23 and Calero with 31. This type of instinct for where the ball will fall can only be valuable especially in the Premier League where teams can attack you in a variety of ways.
Player Comparison: In Possession
With Emery keen on playing out from the back, it’s also important to examine the players’ passing. When looking at the stats, it may seem the Koulibaly is best but we have to look deeper. He may make the most passes, but he’s only third in forward passes.
When playing out the back, the main aim is to progress forward. With this, forward passes are most important. In Calero’s stats, we can see his ratio for forward passes is much great than Koulibaly’s. 17% of his passes go forward whereas only 8% of Koulibaly’s do. Therefore, we can see that Calero’s passing has much more purpose.
Although Koulibaly may be the biggest name, Calero could be a player that may surprise people. He’s not too far off Mustafi or Koulibaly on the defensive side and he seems to pass with purpose. This is something that Emery could take a huge liking to and pull the trigger on him.
Not just this, but going into January, Calero will, without doubt, be seen as less of a risk as he’d be less expensive than Koulibaly. But we’ll just have to see how things pan out.
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