The recent departure of Thomas Vermaelen to Spanish giants Barcelona could already be biting Arsene Wenger in the butt. First-choice center-back Laurent Koscielny was removed at halftime today during the Gunners 3-0 Community Shield win against league champions Manchester City with an unknown issue that has later been diagnosed as an Achilles issue; his availability for selection for the Gunners season opener next weekend at home to Crystal Palace is now in serious doubt.
With Vermaelen now officially in Barcelona and first-choice partner Per Mertesacker still yet to be cleared for first-team selection following his elongated summer with the German national team, Le Prof now has a bit of a quandry on his hands should Koscielny not pass fit for duty on Saturday.
Young Calum Chambers shone well for the north London club in his first official appearance for the club today, but with Vermaelen’s departure, Koscielny’s question mark, and Mertesacker’s rest not complete, that leaves Wenger with just two options available to him; slot Nacho Monreal in at center-back along side Chambers, or, put faith in Ignasi Miguel to do a job instead – either options presents a large gamble.
Monreal as not done much to endear himself to the Arsenal faithful with his performances at left-back when Kieran Gibbs was not fit, and Miguel is no where near the quality required to feature in the first team during the league campaign under any circumstances. While Palace are a club destined for a second-half of the table finish this season, performances last season (especially their job on Liverpool late on in the league campaign) should certainly give Arsenal issues at the back should Koscielny not be ready.
Apart from calling into questions the amount available center-back options when everyone is fit and the notion that the club should have perhaps gone to heaven and earth to keep Vermaelen, it only now highlights the increased importance that the club bring in a new center-back to replace the former club captain.
With the club being linked with a late surge in the Mats Hummels sweepstakes, interest in Liverpool center-back Daniel Agger, Manchester City youngster Matija Natasic and other targets, Arsene Wenger must be honest with himself and ask if Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Calum Chambers is sufficient depth in the center of defense for Arsenal to mount a serious effort on all four fronts this coming campaign.