Arsenal Club Focus – Is the Gunners defence strong enough to win the title?

When speculation surrounding Gary Cahill’s future at Bolton Wanderers arose, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was stood with his chequebook at the front of the queue for the defender. The Gunners boss made his offer, but it was accused as being ‘derisory’ by Bolton manager Owen Coyle and the interest was supposedly delayed until January.

The Arsenal boss has seemingly ended his interest in the England international stating that despite Cahill’s ability to play Champions League football, he has five central defenders at his disposal and four of those are international footballers.

Wenger said: ‘Cahill is good enough, but he is not someone I would be interested in. I have got five central defenders – Koscielny, Squillaci, Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Djourou. Of this five, four are international players’.

Many wonder whether these players are good enough to help Arsenal towards their Champions League push or charge to the title. There is no doubting the talent going forward with captain Robin Van Persie scoring 31 goals in 2011 so far and looking like he can score every game. Van Persie is ably supported by the developing wide talents of Theo Walcott and Gervinho, as well as Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta and the returning Jack Wilshere. However, if the Gunners defence is not strong enough, there could be problems.

The alternative to Cahill in the summer was German international Per Mertesacker, who despite some robust defending in spells, has overall been average. Rafael van der Vaart’s first goal against the Gunners at White Hart Lane in early October was the fault of the Arsenal defender, who allowed the Dutchman so much time to score past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Mertesacker gifted Wales international forward Steve Morison the goal for Norwich in the Gunners 2-1 weekend win and Arsenal fans should not be content with the German international. With Cahill on offer, Arsenal fans are looking for their manager to sell the inadequate Koscielny and Squillaci to make room for the Bolton defender.

The duo have been poor during their short spells at the Emirates Stadium and Wenger must know that realistically, he only holds three quality central defenders. Cahill’s ability would complement Thomas Vermaelen, who has been a magnificent signing for Wenger, and the backline would be much more assured.

Bacary Sagna’s injury at right back, and reserve defender Carl Jenkinson’s recent injury, has caused problems with who to pick there. Wenger plumped for Laurent Koscielny, but he will be looking for a speedy return from Sagna. Brazilian Andre Santos has been a good performer for Wenger at left-back and provides support on the attacking side of the Gunners, which adheres to Wenger’s free-flowing playing style.

Cahill is a must buy for the Gunners. His head is evidently not in the right place at Bolton and with his international calibre and rugged defensive approach, Wenger will gain a player to provide real steel to the flowing Arsenal movement.

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