International week is dragging worse than Lily Savage (does that work?), so I thought I’d spark some debate on an otherwise boring Arsenal news day!
The question is, which is the greatest back 4 of Arsenes reign. Geoff and I put together a joint effort here.
Dixon – Adams – Keown – Winterburn
Lets star with Arsene’s inherited back four.
Dixon was a wing back could get up and down and whip in a cross as could Winterburn.
Adams was captain fantastic, great in the air, scored goals (as did the two full backs) and marshalled the whole team to fight to the death, never give in, Kolo has some of that.
Keown was probably the best man marker I have ever seen and would run all day long. The lot of them were like Cesc for being Arsenal, through and through. We conceded 19 goals the year we won the league in 1991.
A great back four who won many trophies and practically invented the offside trap. The only negatives would be their all round technique.
Lauren – Campbell – Kolo – Cole
The great invincibles defence of 2004! Lauren was a powerful solid right back. He had been converted from a defensive midfielder and cost £7 million from Real Mallorca. Some thought him to be the weakest link in our team at the time, but I think after our right back problems last year, we all realised what a powerful and reliable defender Lauren was.
Sol Campbell instantly became a legend when he joined us on a Bosman Free in 2001 from the Spuds. He was a man mountain of a player, good in the air and hard in the tackle. I think his mobility could have been questioned in the later part of his Arsenal career but as a defender and a leader, he was second to none and an England international.
Kolo Toure, one of the few remaining invincibles to still hold his position in the current back 4. I think the season he started in the back four was the season we won the league. He was green to central defence, but took to the position like a duck takes to water. His enthusiasm was infectious and his hard work and determination was often an inspiration to the team. I remember hearing a story about Kolo… Apparently after each meal he had at the training ground, he used to go to the kitchen, thank all the staff and shake their hands.
I will write about Ashley in the light I used to see him. He went out on loan to Crystal Palace for a season, he came back like most of the youth do and filled in for Silvinho while he was out injured, when Silvinho came back from his stint out, he couldn’t regain his place. Wenger sent Silvinho packing, Silvinho changed the spelling of his name in shame (Sylvinho) and that was that! Ashley Cole endeared himself to the Arsenal faithful immediately with his ability to go forward and his pace to get back. His defending was criticised to begin with, but he soon sorted that out and became one of the most revered left backs in the world.
The season of the invincibles, we only conceded 26 times. When you consider the money that had flooded the Premiership and subsequently, how high the bar was raised with player quality, that is quite an achievement. In my eyes, it probably supercedes the efforts of the 98 Prem winning team.
Sagna – Gallas – Toure – Clichy
So how do the current table topping defence fair up, pound for pound?
Sagna is one of the only players Arsenal have signed who has slotted into his role seamlessly. The guy is hugely underrated and pivotal to the current Arsenal team. He is young, pacey and a very accomplished defender. He is also deadly going forward. Acting like a wing back, delivering pin point crosses and causing opposition problems all game long! He gives us width, stability as well as health. The guy rarely gets injured does he?
Gallas was signed on a bosman free from our rich chums over the other side of London (Notice any parallels?). He spent the whole of his first season bitching about the ambition of Arsenal and the quality of his counterparts. The second season was about to begin, and to reward Gallas for his professionalism, Wenger awarded him the captaincy to the horror of many Arsenal fans. This season has so far prove that he is a no nonsense captain and a million miles away from Saint Thierry Henry. We are 25 games in and we have only conceded 17 and a lot of that has to be put down to the improvement in Willy G’s form.
Toure has upped his game this year and has proved that he can work with Gallas in the centre, despite people questioning this at the start of the season. They are both under 6 ft tall but have dealt with the aerial threat at set pieces a lot better this season. Kolo has had one bad game (Boro’) this year, the rest he has played well in as far as I am concerned. We thought we would miss him greatly when he left for the ACN, but so far big Phil has lessened the blow with some sterling performances. Kolo will be back soon and he will be hoping secure his position in another great back four.
Clichy spent the first few years of his Arsenal career injured. At one point he thought his career was over as he broke his metatarsal twice. Cashley left us to join the scum across town and it was up to him to takeover the mantel as king of the left backs. This season has seen Clichy step up into the realms of ‘World Class’. He has everything Ashley Cole had and more. He anticipates passes and uses his blistering pace to nip in front of the player to nick the ball. He has added crossing to his C.V, setting up a number of goals over the last few months. The only thing lacking in his game is a few goals, but I am pretty sure a ‘Nigel Winterburn’ classic will fly in within the next couple of months!
We have 13 games left, and if we concede more than 10 you would have to think the league may be out of the question? So if we concede 9 or less, and possibly break Arsene’s ‘league winning goals conceded total’ (mouthful!), would you make this current group your greatest back four of the last 11 years?
My favourite memory of a back for was the commentator at Anfield, probably the most famous game in history, let Brian Moore take it up.
Something like this…
‘Lukic throws out to Dixon, Dixon to Smith, Smith to Thomas, it’s up for grabs now…bang, …goodnight Vienna’
The best back four of Wenger’s reign was the class of 1998, Dixon, Keown, Adams and Winterburn because they were hard and unmoving, but this current one we have I like as well, only they have more pace and play great one touch.
Geoff’s dream Wenger Back 4
Sagna – Adams – Keown – Clichy
Winterburn would be in my back line but Clichy will get better, Winterburn had goals in him, Clichy doesn’t.
I am going to place my faith in the current back four. If they win the league this year, I think they could possibly be classed as the greatest Arsenal back four of Wenger’s reign. Willy G is an inspirational leader who comes up with goals and leads by example. Clichy is better than Cole already and has been a winner all season, Sagna is just superb, as is Kolo. The level of the premier league is much higher than it used to be, so to win the league this year amongst so many big spending clubs could be marked down as one of Wengers greatest achievements. Another thing about the current crop of defenders is bar Gallas, they are very young! If Wenger can keep this group together, they could have many successful years ahead. Its all down to trophies though, so lets hope I can come back to this article at the end of the season and be able to put those players in the defenders hall of fame!
Pedro’s dream Wenger Back 4
Clichy – Adams – Gallas – Sagna
Can the back current back four become great?
Can you pick a better Wenger dream back 4?
Let your thoughts be known in the comments section!