There were huge doubts as the transfer window was shutting down back on the 1st of September. Arsenal had spent £83 million in the summer to build a swashbuckling attack but they were going into the season with just two recognised centre backs in Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker along with a 19 year-old signed for a hefty £16 million.
In less than a couple of weeks, Arsenal’s worst fears were realised when new signing Mathieu Debuchy was ruled out for three months with an ankle injury and it was already proving to be of gross oversight on Arsene Wenger’s part since it was Arsenal’s most expensive transfer window.
He had let Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson leave the club and it was of utmost importance that another central defender was brought in, short-term or otherwise.
Calum Chambers has made 25 appearances in all competitions already and Wenger has admitted that the Southampton youth product runs the risk of burning out.
Once Debuchy made his return, it was the turn of Koscielny to be on the sidelines following an Achilles injury which forced Wenger to field Nacho Monreal, and then Debuchy himself as make-shift centre back with both of them standing just 5 foot 10 inches tall. Put together, the duo has made the same number of appearances as the French defender in all competitions this season.
In Arsenal’s two defensive collapses this season, the home game against Anderlecht featured the Spanish fullback in central defence while the first half thrashing saw Chambers along with Mertesacker along with young Hector Bellerin featuring at right back who had to be hauled off at half time which Arsenal went into 3-0 down.
Fortunately for the Gunners, Wenger has recognised the need to strengthen in January, something which he has not always been willing to do. On an average, he has spent just £3.6 million in the January transfer window since its inception 11 years ago with the Frenchman on occasions even expressing the idea of scrapping it altogether. The following are the players most heavily linked with a move to the Emirates in recent weeks.
Tyrone Mings, 21 – Ipswich Town
Loic Perrin, 29 – Saint-Etienne
Virgil van Dijk, 23 – Celtic
Winston Reid, 26 – West Ham United
Matija Nastasić, 21 – Manchester City
Benedikt Howedes, 26 – Schalke
Fabian Schar, 24 – FC Basel
With Wenger believed to have around £20 million to spend next month, the fans must be hoping he swoops for a central defender along with a defensive midfielder. It looks like the options for defenders are limited, and someone like Winston Reid could prove to be a very important squad player, especially with the Champions League Round of 16 tie against Monaco not far away.