The Most Irreplaceable Players at Arsenal

Obviously, no player is irreplaceable. We have the squad to cover our injury problems, but the truth remains that certain players are harder to replace in the starting XI than others.

Kieran Gibbs suffered an injury yesterday. Our first and second choice LB are now injured. Silently, Clichy has been projected for a longer spell on the sidelines. The same thing happened to us last year, where Clichy was only supposed to be out for a month and subsequently became a season ending injury. Clichy’s back is suspect. But even with Gibbs’ injury, we have options. The hardest thing for clubs to acquire seems to be a LB. There really aren’t too many elite LB’s out there, but we have the luxury of having three bona fide LB’s. Armand Traore could deputize there, and we also have Pedro Botehlo out on loan. If that’s not enough, we could easily use Silvestre and even Senderos there. Neither offer an attacking option, but defensively, they should be sound enough.

So, while other teams suffer when their LB’s go down, we actually have it reasonably covered.

Now, Robin going down on the other hand, that injury made me consider this post.

The three hardest players to replace in the starting XI are:

1) William Gallas – As a right-sided central defender, his backup was Johan Djourou. He’s out until March, at least that’s what the Arsenal website says. Of course, we can plug in Silvestre or Senderos there. Wenger would probably choose that route, but there’s still an unbalance. Neither Silvestre nor Senderos play the type of defense that Gallas provides. It would make more sense to play Sagna in central defense, but again I stress that what would occur is that Silvestre would get the first crack. The bottom line is, for as much heat he took last year, Gallas is the most natural right-sided recovery defender that we possess. Nobody else can do that job nearly as well, except possibly Sagna, until Djourou returns.

2) Alex Song – From Arsenal forum whipping boy to irreplaceable member of the starting XI. Such is the fear of the ACN that Arsenal fans are wondering already what we’ll do. My guess would be that Denilson gets the first crack. For any Denilson haters, I won’t use stats to support him. Instead, I’ll just point out that Denilson played the role last year, he played it while we used a far more attacking formation and without Vermaelen. That being said, it’s something he’ll need to adjust to, as nobody has really played that position since Song has been a stalwart. Diaby could also do a job there, as could Nasri, although Wenger today suggested otherwise. You cannot argue against the power of Alex Song’s appearance in the Wolves game, something fundamentally changed the game in our favor. And that had nothing to do with attack and more with the idea of balance.

3) Robin van Persie – He’s been electric. Off to a slow start, he’s been on fire. He’s been dynamite. He’d won over nearly everybody, even Myles Palmer. Then, of course, he gets injured. Robin is one of the only false nines in world football today, a false nine being a player who seems to play as a forward but drops deep to help link up play. Robin, in the first few weeks, learned the valuable skill of leading a line. Eduardo could try to do the things that Robin does, but again, the adaptation to the role is not something anybody can pick up quickly. I’ve heard calls for Andrey to be fielded there, but methinks that may not work, unless we deployed strikers on both wings to supplement his positioning. Regardless, van Persie’s loss on the offensive end will be felt.

This post isn’t to suggest that these three players are the best players at Arsenal. They may or may not be, but it’s to suggest they’re hardest to replace in our optimal system. Cesc is also playing extremely well right now, but we have Ramsey, Rosicky, and even Nasri to deputize.

Arsenal tend to pick up injuries frequently. That’s something to think about, but it’s nothing to fret about. We have the squad depth needed to push through times like this.


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