As Andre Santos comes to learn what’s expected from him from a defensive point of view, Arsene Wenger has defended the Brazilians … uhm … defending, and says that full backs who attack are crucial to teams winning things.
Santos has scored two goals already in his Arsenal career, as many as Gael Clichy managed in seven seasons, but his defending has left many Arsenal fans feeling scared, alone, bereft and like emptying their bowels into their pants. The manager, however, is more sanguine about his funky new Brazilian.
“I believe he is much better defensively than people are giving him credit for”, he said. “He is still sometimes caught but in a one-on-one he is quite good and in the last 10 minutes at Chelsea he saved three or four goals.”
Of course there are cultural differences too. The job Santos is expected to do in Brazil is very different from the one he’s expected to do in England, but the boss is confident he can adapt.
“They have a different perception of full-backs in Brazil than in Europe. For me, having a full-back who creates is an important part of winning. Take the Brazilian national team, the ones who have won trophies anyway, you will see that there is always two good full-backs.
“With two average full-backs they would not have won. But they had Carlos Alberto and Roberto Carlos, Jorginho and Cafu.”
Santos keeps his place for today’s game against West Brom as Kieran Gibbs remains sidelined with a stomach muscle problem. And with three fit centre-halves, all pushing for a first team place, the manager has something of a decision to make when it comes to his pairing for today’s game. He was giving no clues as to who would start but said, “It depends who we play against and who is the most tired or who is the fittest. I think Vermaelen and Koscielny are very good and quicker.
“Mertesacker is a leader who can organise very well and is good in the air, tall. It depends what mixture we need. That will decide who plays.”
When normally having a litany of injuries to deal with, this problem is one that the Arsenal manager will rather enjoy.