Arsenal’s Mr 100% reliable (not @GeoffArsenal) has left the Emirates. As well as leaving, Bacary Sagna has chosen to join French compatriots Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy at Manchester City, perhaps thinking he must earn all he can before he draws the curtains on his professional career. Fair play to him. Now we must get a better replacement to back our claims of having an ambition that can match that of Europe’s top teams.
You’ll hardly see more efficient right backs than Bacary Sagna, so searching for a like for like replacement might be quite tedious. You could get a better offensive right back, but he’ll be exposed when the going gets tough. Considering the fact that Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal are all convincing going forward, perhaps a move for a rock solid fullback should be Arsene’s priority.
Wenger is the king of player conversions. From Lauren to Thierry Henry, Kolo Toure, Kieran Gibbs, Robin van Persie and Mikel Arteta, he’s switched player’s roles almost impeccably, without it affecting the style of said players. He could do it once again, if he convinces Lars Bender – the sort of player who would sell Arsenal tickets on demand – to join his German compatriots at the Emirates.
Lauren was converted into a fullback because of his sheer athleticism and belligerence. And he turned out to be a tenacious option at the right side of defence. Exactly the sort of player Lars Bender could grow into.
The combative one: Bender’s athleticism would come in handy at right back.
The 4-3-3 system Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen adopt has seen the 25-year-old occupy the right hand side of the German side’s three-man midfield in the last couple of years. In this role, he tracks opposition runners and also makes intelligent runs himself. Converting him into a fullback would suit his style, due to the natural engine he possesses.
Bender’s engine as a right back would also have a positive effect on Arsenal’s midfield. His recovery rate would help when defending counter-attacks while he can also occasionally move more centrally into midfield to close down space the opposition could exploit. A tactical ploy the likes of Philip Lahm and Dani Alves execute to great effect.
The German International’s height would also come in handy when trying to defend set-pieces. Sagna has an astonishingly great leap but was still beaten by taller and more robust players. However, Bender being 6ft plus gives him the edge when going into 50-50 aerial challenges.
In recent years, we’ve seen how important it is for fullbacks to retain possession in tight areas. When Sagna arrived at North London in 2007, he wasn’t the most secure on the ball but he worked immensely on that side of his game and improved as much as 1st4 football tickets.com along the years. Bender meanwhile is already a naturally technical secure player and averages 78.4% pass success rate per game according to whoscored.
Image: Lars Bender is a possession expert.
He also delivers inch perfect crosses, which means more balls on the forehead of Olivier Giroud. Sagna’s crosses were quite inconsistent till the latter part of his Arsenal career and it would be refreshing to have constant delicious deliveries from the right hand side of attack.
Bender’s experience in midfield would also prove useful whenever we have our annual injury crisis, as he’s comfortable in the holding midfield or box to box role. With Jenkinson, Mathieu Flamini and Hector Bellerin acting as cover at right back, Bender could slot in seamlessly in the middle of the park when necessary.
Arsene’s love for Lars is anything but ordinary. He has tried to sign him at least twice in the last couple of years and would possibly give it a go once more this summer. A bid of £19m for the twin was reportedly rejected by Bayer Leverkusen last summer so a few add-ons might be necessary if Arsene is to finally land his man.
Since we signed Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, the German influx seems to be increasing every year at The Arsenal. Another addition in Lars would not only strengthen the German core at the club, but also pave the way for another potentially successful experiment from our scientific French boss.