When Philippe Senderos left for Milan in the summer, it seemed like the loan move was but a formality before he left the club on a permanent basis. Having arrived from Servette touted as the next big thing, his form had been up and down for years following a couple of serious injuries early in his career, but with the Gallas-Toure partnership pushing him down the pecking order, and his form patchy when he came into the side, it seemed that his career was stalling.
Milan seemed like a perfect escape – surrounded by experienced defenders, he would have the chance to move on, and with the emergence of Djourou, Arsenal would be fine without him. But football is a strange game, and times can change quickly. Senderos has not featured much for the Rosseneri this season, and his future again seems uncertain.
The defensive situation at Arsenal isn’t exactly secure anymore, either. Toure and Gallas publicly do not get along, and while friendship is not a prerequisite for performing well together on the field, the belief still remains that they are not an ideal partnership, so similar are they in style. Meanwhile Djourou is still promising, but beyond that there is a paucity of options.
Amidst all the talk of injuries this season (and there have been an awful lot), it has gone unnoticed that it has been mainly the creative players that have spent time on the sidelines. Perhaps that isn’t a surprise given how targeted they are by the sort of team we played yesterday, but we have been fortunate not to have a similar level of absence at the heart of our defence. Behind Gallas, Toure and Djourou lay only youth players.
The summer promises to be an interesting one. Gallas may be playing himself into the shop window since his much publicised loss of the armband earlier in the season, and despite his improved performances it would not surprise me in the slightest if he moved on, freeing Toure to play alongside a new partner. The Ivorian has always looked more comfortable alongside a ball winner, a tall defender willing to go and meet the ball, leaving him to clear up behind. Remember the Campbell-Toure partnership was among the strongest we had.
Senderos, for all his flaws, is in that mould. Whenever he is given a run in the team, he shines – he struggles when he flits in and out of the side, his confidence and comfort in his first team place seemingly fragile. But if Gallas does move on in the summer, we certainly need one, if not two centre halves (I’d argue two – I think we need one anyway), and perhaps the returning Senderos can fit that role.
Personally, I’d welcome him back. I’ve always liked him, a strong, honest defender who works his socks off and really seems to care about the level of his performance, an attribute we perhaps take for granted until we see a couple of others not pulling their weight. No, he isn’t perfect, but even out of the Milan team he is sure to have improved, and can bring that experience back to the Emirates next season.
I certainly wouldn’t be quick to write off the possibility just yet, and the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of the big Swiss returning.
Feel free to add your thoughts below.