Arsene Wenger says he considers Mathieu Debuchy a bona fide centre-back option this season after the Frenchman was deployed in the position during the 2-1 win over Norwich City in the Carabao Cup.
The 32-year-old came through 120 minutes unscathed, his first game time at the Emirates since last November, and has been set the challenge of pushing Arsenal’s more established central defenders in the coming months.
“We are all very pleased for him here because he has gone through some very difficult moments with setbacks,” Wenger is quoted as saying in the Evening Standard.
”The fact that he got through 120 minutes the other night is a huge boost for him. He needs to recover now but from now on, he’ll be a candidate to fight for the team places again.”
Wenger added: “Mathieu is absolutely strong and determined as well. He’s a quiet character but a very strong one. I must say he’s 100 per cent a professional player. Everybody in the medical department just says he’s exceptional.
“Maybe his future is as a centre-back. He has the attributes because he’s very good in the air. You think he couldn’t play centre-back because he’s not tall, but if you look at the number of balls he wins in the air, it’s impressive.”
With Hector Bellerin holding down the right wing-back position and the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson given the duty in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, perhaps the boss is right to offer Debuchy a chance at redemption in a position where we’ve been a bit short recently. He’ll no doubt be looking to catch another club’s eye ahead of becoming a free agent in 2019…
If memory serves us correctly Debuchy once played as a centre-back in an away game at Liverpool a couple of years back, albeit when we played 4-4-2 rather than 3-5-2. He actually scored in that game and looked pretty solid despite us conceding twice to draw 2-2.