I’ve been doing alot of ranting about Arsene Wenger as of late. He benched Alexis Sanchez, he made excuses for our defensive predicament, and now he’s rumored to be lining up a bid for Chris Smalling.
Let that sink in for a second – Chris Smalling.
For my own enjoyment, I asked a diehard Manchester United fan what his opinion of Smalling was. His response – “Not good enough.” This coming from a fan who continuously complains how bad his team’s defense is – a defense that is too good for Chris Smalling.
Let me tell you something about United’s defense – it’s awful. They blew a 2-0 and a 3-1 lead against Leicester City in grand fashion, as they ended up losing 5-3. What’s funny about that game is that Chris Smalling wasn’t even good enough to crack the starting XI. Essentially, Louis van Gaal finds Smalling worse than three other guys who combined to give up 5 goals to Leicester City.
In the following match, a rare win by United, Smalling wasn’t even in the substitutes.
Smalling has been dealing with a groin problem as of late August, but reports indicate that he’s healthy now, and his performances have just been below par.
It might just be that Smalling is out of favor. He is an England international after all, so there has to be some talent right?
Well, what do we know about the English International team? Their defense is shaky. And Smalling doesn’t crack that starting four either.
So what does Wenger see in Smalling?
Easy answer: He’s cheap.
Arsenal have the best center back pairing in the league. But they’re human and human’s get hurt (just ask Aaron Ramsey, who’s also human). But, fun fact, humans get tired too, and it’s highly unlikely that Mertesacker and Kocielny can suit up for every single Arsenal engagement.
Maybe Wenger sees Smalling like he saw Danny Welbeck, an untapped talent who is just bursting to spread his wings and fly. And maybe he’s right, obviously the Professor knows more about football than I do. To Smalling’s credit, he is versatile, as he can play right back, center back and defensive mid (a la Calum Chambers)
But it gives me significant indigestion that he cannot even crack his way into the United defense or the English National defense.
Arsenal need defense, but they need quality defense, not just a body. I’ve been preaching the name Fabian Schar for what feels like a decade and the link is still there, but apparently Wenger has a newfound buddy in van Gaal.
Rumors will be rumors, but this potential signing has all of the pieces of a token Arsene Wenger signing – a player who’s cheap, out of favor and versatile.