Arsenal’s defense is mired in the era of Shkodran Mustafi, but if we sign Dayot Upamecano, we start a new era. And what a new era it would be.
When Arsenal spent £35m on Shkodran Mustafi, they were supposed to be issuing a brand new, solid era of defensive reputation at the Emirates. It was the first significant investment into the defense in recent memory and alongside Laurent Koscielny, it was supposed to be lights out for years.
It hasn’t been. It’s been an era of defensive failure with a rotating stable of names, none of which have been able to rescue this defense. Whether that was because of injury or ineptitude, it just didn’t work out.
Since we are in the habit of ending era lately—The Wenger Era, the Emery Era, the Ozil era (fingers crossed)—it’s time to stay with the theme and end the Mustafi era of this defense and let it run into the Dayot Upamecano era.
The thing about ending eras is you don’t have to throw it all out. When the Wenger era ended, there was a lot of carry over. Not all has worked, but it was given a fair shake. Same goes when the Emery era ran into the Mikel Arteta era.
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As the Mustafi era runs into the Upamecano era (hopefully), we will have a new pillar of this defense, around which the rotating stable of names will, in fact, be much different. William Saliba, for instance, won’t be called upon to be the savior. He will be the auxiliary savior, which is better for a teenage defender.
Calum Chambers won’t need to be the savior, but he can be the homegrown presence (even though he really isn’t home grown).
But the rest of the satellites of the Mustafi era shouldn’t be needed. David Luiz? Sokratis? And, of course, Shkodran Mustafi? Unnecessary. A surplus. Turn Luiz, Mustafi and Sokratis into Saliba, Upamecano and Chambers. Maybe sprinkle in some Rob Holding and, if you’re feeling spicy, a little Konstantinos Mavropanos.
What do you see as the big difference between the Mustafi era and the hopeful Upamecano era? One is younger and built to last. One is shorter and not sustainable.
Mikel Arteta is built to last. The underbelly of this attack is built to last. The midfield is built to last. It’s time to dig into this defense and make sure it’s built to last as well.