Cesc Fabregas said he wasn’t sure if Ipswich’s approach was ‘long ball’ or ‘rugby’. The press quickly picked up on the rugby comparison and this sort of statement from our captain does not help our cause. It wouldn’t wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t concede so many goals from balls over the top, which has been our downfall all season (and for a few seasons before that!) It is a weakness of our team, we can not defend balls over the top, but why?
I am known on the Goonersworld forum for liking tall players, particularly at centre back. Whilst Wenger’s tactics don’t help, I’d say the height of our lack of height throughout the team is a major issue when it comes to defending balls over the top and free kicks/corners. Our centre midfield of Song, Wilshere and Fabregas, out wide with Nasri, Walcott, Arshavin and Rosicky, at full back with Sagna and Clichy we lack height almost everywhere. Even Vermaelen, Koscielny and Squillaci all relatively short for centre backs. Our only height comes from Djourou and whichever player out of Bendtner and Chamakh is starting. I’d say that one of the main reasons that we look better with Djourou in the team is that his height adds something to our defence.
So when it comes to balls over the top, which might usually be met by a header from a centre back, we struggle. When it comes to corners and free kicks, when teams send their giants up, we struggle. We struggled last season with Gallas and Vermaelen, just as we struggled the season before with Gallas and Toure. Neither partnership had the height that I would argue is needed to survive in the Premiership and Wenger’s summer signings failed to address this issue.
Vermaelen’s injury has given Wenger another opportunity to sort this issue out. We have been linked to a number of centre backs who would add height to the squad. Christopher Samba and Per Mertesacker would be top of my wish list, but I’m not holding my breath!