Seven matches into the season and the biggest positive of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal team has arguably been the steady improvement of the rearguard.
That, of course, discounts a makeshift back five in the opening three Premier League fixtures where the likes of Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares, Pablo Mari and Sead Kolasinac all had their chance to infuriate the fanbase.
Since and including the 1-0 home win over Norwich, however, it’s been a vastly different story: with one goal conceded in four top-flight outings, the steadiness of the goalkeeper and defence has given Arsenal a reliable platform to build from.
A centre-back partnership of Gabriel and Ben White looks surprisingly solid given their short time together and language differences; Takehiro Tomiyasu has come straight in and won Player of the Month; Aaron Ramsdale has been superb; and Kieran Tierney continues to be provide battling qualities even if seems to be suffering from a dip in form.
Arsenal and Liverpool target transfer of gigantic centre-back Pape Abou Cisse from Olympiacos – could stunt William Saliba future
As is, the best thing going in this team is that group. There may be some magnificent talent in other areas, namely the Hale Enders, but you can’t overlook the clean sheets and structure.
Behind the desired central defensive duo it doesn’t look quite as assured.
Rob Holding and Pablo Mari are not Arsenal level centre-backs – in truth the standard has been so poor for so many years that perhaps they are – thus without Gabriel and White the stability in the side changes drastically.
Is there movement on the cards? Perhaps there is. As per the Mail, Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton have all sent scouts to watch Olympiacos’ towering centre-back Pape Abou Cisse in the Europa League this season.
Arsenal have been linked with the Senegalese giant as far back as July 2019 when talks with William Saliba appeared to be hitting a dead end and the prospect of David Luiz joining was anything but realistic.
Now 26 years old, the 6’6″ defender is enjoying a fine season alongside none other than Sokratis Papastathopoulos, conceding only twice in five league matches and keeping a clean sheet in the impressive 3-0 away win over Fenerbahce where Arsenal had sent scouts.
Remember the round of 32 defeat to Oympiacos in February 2020? Cisse grabbed the opener on the night.
There are holes to pick in the story, such as Liverpool not needing a central defender especially after signing Ibrahima Konate in the window just passed, but for Arsenal there could be some legs to the speculation as Holding is certainly an expendable member of the squad.
Yet, what would this mean for William Saliba?
Continued on next page…
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