There is a lot of worry surrounding Arsenal fans at the moment, centred around the perceived lack of depth of the squad, especially in midfield, and rightly so. Wenger’s words of praise for those he has are irrelevant – he knows as well as anyone that we’re light in the centre of the park but is moving to give the players confidence in case the next five days go badly.
So with all the anxiety, the departure of Senderos to AC Milan seems badly timed, especially as it is fairly apparent that he’ll never play for the club again despite his move officially being a loan. But on reflection, the paucity of options in one area of the field shouldn’t make anyone panic about the depth in another.
Because defensively we’re better equipped than we were last season. Toure and Gallas are still there, Song is improving, Djourou is showing potential and is not out on loan this season, and of course Silvestre signed last week. Even when you remove Senderos from the equation, the cover is better than a year ago.
What this is actually doing is shedding a great deal of light on Silvestre’s arrival. He covers the central defensive positions just as Senderos did, except he should be able to be in and out of the side without it affecting his performances as much as it did the Swiss. And he can cover for Clichy at left back while Traore is out on loan.
That’s not to say that Senderos’ departure isn’t a shame – it is. At times he looked immense, a throwback to Tony Adams in his pomp, and he had the ability to form partnerships with both Toure and, last season, Gallas. But his trouble was his shaky mental state. One mistake would affect him for three games, but more than that, he was badly affected when out of the side.
I don’t believe Wenger helped him by rotating him out of the side when his form was at peak levels – two years ago Gallas arrived when Senderos was a regular for the first time, and even last season he’d embarked on a great run of form before Toure returned from Ghana and took his place back. He never recovered from either blow.
But at the same time, can you really afford a player who takes four or five games to get up to speed after being dropped or injured? He isn’t someone who seamlessly slots into the side, he needs that run of games. Worryingly, that trait is also true of Rosicky, which is another reason why he may never make it at the club.
But back to Senderos, and he’ll probably shine at Milan. Their focus on defence will give him a feeling of stature, and he cannot fail to learn from the legends around him. The pace of the Italian game will also suit him – what is often missed is how good he was on the European stage. Ironically, it is a team like Arsenal that would actually cause him the most problems as his turning circle and recovery speed are his weaknesses – just like Cygan, who has also thrived since he left (yes, really).
So it is probably a good move for everyone. Not a first choice here, he was unlikely to ever fulfil his potential, and he has to think about his career and move to a big team where he can be a regular. He may have found that.
It is a shame though – I’ve always been a fan of his.