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  • A Yahoo! User Nov 3, 2011 15:38 Flag

    Praise deserved for Arsenal’s adaptable central defence

    When Mertesacker first arrived at Arsenal, the first thought for Gooners and football fans in general was the mouth-watering combination of the German and Vermaelen, together in one line-up. Two such experienced leaders – and among the best defenders in their respective leagues – playing as one central-defensive partnership was a pleasing prospect. Now it seems that the dream of an enviable pairing is materialising.

    Wenger’s post-match comments didn’t focus on the central defence in particular but he did point out the effectiveness of the duo: “Vermaelen had a good game and Mertesacker was solid tonight, Santos as well and Jenkinson has just come back – he lacks experience in some situations but overall he did all right. The positives are that we didn’t concede a goal and Marseille had one shot on target…”

    Koscielny was described as being ‘just another Cygan’ after his unstable first few performances for Arsenal but he has matured quickly and has now become one of the most on-form defenders in the Premier League. His partnership with Mertesacker was looking to be a vital one, with some suggesting that the former Werder Bremen captain’s occasional misjudgements and lack of speed were being rectified by the Frenchman. However, playing alongside Vermaelen last night proved that Mertesacker too can adapt to play with any other central defender.

    The fact that only one on-target shot was allowed by the defence – and that no goals were conceded – suggests that Wenger can ‘mix-and-match’ to a point, something that will allow for the inevitable injuries, suspensions and need for rests.

    Could frequent changes to the central defensive partnership work well all season?

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    • Mertesacker was always going to need time to settle and get used to the EPL.

      Vermaelen hopefully will stay fit long enough for them to get used to playing alongside one another.

      Then after ten games or so, we might start to see something special. Still early days yet.

    • outstanding post Lubov and well observed. Others will not see it that way. I always thought Merts. was an astute buy for AW, and your observation on Jenks is spot on. He could nail that spot I think. All we need now is for Arshavin to start producing and hitting the back of the net regularly, then I see a sustained run of good, hard to beat form. Faith rules.