Who will play right back at the start of the season as Sagna will not be match fit? This question had fired the debate amongst Gooners the past few weeks. Should it be Jenkinson who is a right back, Koscileny who was right back, Coquelin who is not a right back but can play there or Yennaris who isn’t either, but did a job for 45 minutes v Man U? You notice I am not adding Djourou into the mix!!
I have been involved is similar discussions about Cazorla. For me he will be play central attacking midfield, but for others a classic 10 in a 442 and for some he will be on the wing. Add to this Santos – Left back, left wingback of left midfield and of course we can discuss young Theo all day – Striker in a 2 or a winger in a 3?
Well you will be delighted to know that I don’t have the answers to all the above, although I have a view on all, as you would expect, so what is the point of this article today? So here’s the deal Coquelin is a top footballer and if Wenger chooses to play him at right back it’s because he can do the job. If Wenger selects Cazorla in the Cesc role it’s because he thinks he can pull the strings and if we play 442 and Santos plays left midfield I won’t bat an eyelid.
This long winded introduction does have a point and that is that we don’t actually know what these top footballers can do but Wenger and his coaching staff does. So when you argue with fellow Gooners about players positions and you debate formations as we all love to on twitter can you just read what follows and take a pause for thought before you next argue about where a player can play:
Arsenal FC 1st 11 2003/04 – EPL Champions – Unbeaten W 26 D12
Goalkeeper – Jens Lehman
Right Back – Lauren Mayer – Central or right midfielder star of Cameroon Olympics triumph in Sydney. Lauren was signed as a direct replacement for Petit to play with Vieira. After a first season plagued by injury he began season as our first choice right taking over from Lee Dixon and leap frogging a specialist international right back in Crazy Horse Luzhny. He played there impeccably for the rest of his career. Nice conversion Arsene!
Play right back boss – Are you crazy?
Left Back – Ashley Cole – The best left back in world football according to many spent his whole youth career as a left winger and began there when he joined Arsenal at 17. It was not until he was in the reserves at Arsenal that he was pushed back to left back (by Pat Rice) and even when he went on loan to Palace in 99/2000 they were still playing him left midfield. Nice conversion Arsene and Pat!
So let me get this straight you want me to play centre back with Sol? Are you insane boss?
Right Centre Back – Kolo Toure – joined Arsenal in February 2002 from ASEC Mimosas and was used as a utility holding midfielder behind Vieira or as a right back. Summer 2003 Keown is injured on England duty and the fans and media cannot believe Wenger is going into the season with Pascal Cygan to partner Sol Campbell. Wenger however knows and he pulls Toure out of his magic hat as a centre back. Only Lehman and Henry play more game as Toure starts 36/38 and he never looked back.
Left Centre Back – Sol Campbell – Yes he was always a centre back, although in his teens he played full back for a lesser side in London.
Right Midfield – Freddie Ljungberg – Signed by Wenger after he saw him play on TV for Sweden v England. Although our scouts had watched him, Wenger signed him without seeing him play live. He was signed as an attacking centre midfielder, where he has played for Halmstads and for Sweden. Indeed for the first 2 seasons Freddie was never a regular starter but he came into his own in 2000/1 when ‘Le Boss; gave him a regular birth on the right flank. Indeed at the end of the 2001/2 he switched the left after Pires was injured. He remained often the central attacking midfielder for Sweden but to the Arsenal faithful he will always be a right midfielder. Nice conversion Arsene!
Left Midfield – Robert Pires – To be fair this genius could player anywhere but he was signed from Marseilles as a direct replacement for Overmars on the left so no conversion here from Arsene.
Defensive Centre Midfield – Gilberto – signed and as holding player and always played there so no conversion.
Attacking Centre Midfield – Patrick Vieira – Please don’t ask me to remember which red top it was in 96 when underwhelmed with Vieira being purchased on Wenger’s instruction before he arrived, lead with this: “Arsenal sign yet another defensive midfielder. Most probably the same tabloid that had the back page ‘ARSENE WHO?’ Well if he had started at Cannes as a DM, then lost a year at Milan, Wenger soon had him playing at the head of his diamond in front of Petit and his legacy at Arsenal, in my view has him second to Liam Brady as the best attacking centre midfielder I have watched. Nice conversion Arsene!
Second Striker – Dennis Bergkamp – Always a number 10 and to be fair Arsene you can take little credit for this genius.
Don’t tell anyone Thierry but I am changing you back to main striker
Striker – Thierry Henry – well you all now this one but Wenger converted Henry twice. As a kid at Monaco he converted him into a left winger from a centre forward at youth level. As Wiki will tell you he thought his pace and trickery would be more effective against full backs than centre backs. It was a s a wide player he made his international debut and from there scored 3 in the 98 World Cup win. Juve signed him as a winger and then failed to play him so Wenger, now at Arsenal swooped in 99 for his prodigy. Now he was bigger stronger and Wenger was playing with 2 up front so the time was right to convert TH14 back to a central striker. The rest as they say is history. Nice double conversion Arsene.
A bit of fun really but a semi serious point and I hope it adds to the debate. I am not for one minute suggesting that Coquelin will be the Lauren of 2012/13 but I am saying that you certainly cannot rule it out.
Until next time thanks for reading and next time is back to Global Gooner Passion in INDIA.
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