Arsenal’s lack of squad depth means they will always get left behind: Arsenal 1-3 Bayern Munich

by Rayed Mamun on February 22, 2013

Where to now?

It wouldn’t be fair to assess our performance against Bayern without giving praise to the opposition. They brought a complete game to the Emirates, their engine room never stopped working, like the fine piece of German engineering they were. Apart from one vulnerable moment from which we scored, and Giroud’s golden chance, we were never really in the game. They were in control, and it’s scary what they could actually do to us at the Allianz stadium.

There is one thing that is glaringly obvious however, which is the lack of depth we have, especially in defence.

I can go on forever about how the goals were conceded. For the first the marking was terrible, the second was poor to allow the first header and parry the ball the way Szczesny did (instead of pushing it out to the side for a corner). The third I’ll admit was a touch of class from them and I’ll spare our boys criticism. The point is two of the goals were avoidable, but for our carelessness.

I’m seeing an alarming trend, it’s been there every season, but this season it’s become worse. The defence as a unit is not solid. Every week there’s a weak link or two which ruins it for the other three defenders. If we want to be champions this needs to be more consistent. True, mistakes happen to the best of teams, but they happen maybe once a month or something. For us it feels like nearly every game someone makes a howler.

Why is this happening? Sagna, Kosicelny, Vermaelen, Szczesny and Mertesacker are meant to be class, all play for their countries, what is so wrong? While it may be a number of factors and it wouldn’t be fair to blame the problems at the club on one sole reason, I believe one of the reasons for our plight is a lack of depth.

Think about it. What motivation do you have as a player in Arsenal’s defence if your competition is the likes of Squillaci and Fabianski? Even if you perform badly, which our back four has been doing, the manager just can’t afford to replace you with what’s on the bench, because quite frankly it’s pathetic.

The same goes for our attacking players but to a lesser extent, I do believe we have much more depth there but even then we can improve.

Bigger teams have players all of a high standard that compete with one another, and nobody takes their place in the team for granted. In Arsenal however our centre backs can make as many mistakes as they like knowing that there’s no way in hell Wenger will select Squillaci to replace them.

Keeping all the deadweight in the squad is hurting us in many ways. It’s not just a simple matter of not playing these deadweights and we’ll be OK because we are playing the good players. It just doesn’t work like that. Intense competition for places is the only way each player and the squad as a whole will play to their maximum ability.

Just think about the players who came on for Bayern. Robben and Gomez. These world class players weren’t even good enough for the starting XI, so can you imagine how good that starting XI must be? We had some decent quality on our bench too, but not names as big as that. This highlights the lack of depth between us and a team like Bayern who unsurprisingly outclassed us. If we are to get to the heights of the heavyweights of Europe our squad as a whole needs to be of an excellent standard, each and every player.

The problems of Arsenal go further than this which I highlighted in my rant in November, but the key take away from the Bayern game is the gulf in quality both on the pitch and on the bench.

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