Who is Cheikhou Kouyate and can he solve Arsenal’s defensive problems?

Cheikhou Kouyate has recently been linked with a move to the Premier League and in particular Arsenal but who is he?

Can Kouyate solve Arsenal's problems?

Can Kouyate solve Arsenal’s problems?


The Senegalese defender is currently playing in Belgium for Anderlecht and has been in impressive form and with him only be 23 will have a lot of time to develop and get better. He can also play in the holding midfielder role so his distribution is very good and not only does he stop attacks but he also starts them from the back, which means that he would certainly fit into Arsene Wenger’s style of play. Kouyate has nearly played 100 league games for Anderlecht and also has five international caps to his name and played at the London Olympics for his country in 2012.

Kouyate has already announced that he will be leaving the Belgian side in the summer and with Anzhi Makhachkala and Borussia Dortmund also said to be keen on the player, Arsenal may have to move quickly if they are to sign him. Arsenal have expressed their interest in the player a few times but that has never came to anything, however this time could be different and it seems a lot more likely that a transfer will come off.

But what does this mean for Arsenal’s other centre backs? At the minute they only really have three centre backs anyway, so it doesn’t mean that somebody has to leave. Sebastien Squillaci is still at the club but he really shouldn’t be and has been an awful signing and I fully expect him to leave this summer. On to the other three and in my opinion there isn’t much between them at all and that is because they are all as inconsistent as each other.

Firstly, Thomas Vermaelen has got quite a lot of praise for his time at Arsenal but for me he hasn’t been that great and at times looked more interested in adding to his goal tally than actually defending his own goal. He can be very good at times and got away with some poor performances in his first season because he did score eight goals but now they have dried up, fans have been more critical. In his defence though he did miss almost a full season through injury so I am possibly being a bit harsh.

Per Mertesacker is another defender that came to Arsenal with a good reputation but on the whole has been too slow and cost his team on several occasions. It is surprising that he has struggled at times because he is a German international and has a lot of caps to his name but put him in a one on one situation with basically any Premier League striker and he is struggling.

Finally, Laurent Koscielny is possibly the most frustrating to me because he looks very good for spells and then he will just have an awful game and seems to lack the required concentration to be a first choice centre back in the Premier League. All the defenders have good qualities and maybe if they weren’t in a team competing in the Champions League and expected to win trophies they would be seen as brilliant players. But to put it simply, Arsenal score enough goals to win trophies they just simply cannot defend and a lot of this is because of how poor they are in the centre of their defence.

Who is to blame?

Who is to blame?

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Assesment of English teams in Europe this week

The English teams in Europe this week all had tough tests and it ended up being a difficult time for some.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United all had games this week. To start with Manchester United were at home to Real Madrid and after getting a 1-1 draw in the away leg, they may have been slight favourites to go through and when they went 1-0 up at Old Trafford they seemed to have one foot in the next round. However, Nani was sent off and the game was taken away from the quickly with goals from Luka Modric and the returning Cristiano Ronaldo ending their hopes this season. The turning point was the red card and it was dangerous play but in my opinion it should have only been a yellow card and Man United should have been in the next round.

Should Nani have been sent off?

Should Nani have been sent off?


Now, the Europa League first legs were taking place and Chelsea were playing Steaua Bucuresti and Rafa Benitez wasn’t given any help from his opponents. His time at Chelsea has been pretty close to a disaster with a lot of people unhappy with him in charge and the players not exactly playing to the best of their ability. They lost 1-0 but should go through by winning comfortably at Stamford Bridge but it is going to be more difficult than Benitez would have hoped.
Will it ever turn round for Benitez at Chelsea?

Will it ever turn round for Benitez at Chelsea?


Tottenham Hotspur had possibly the best looking tie on paper and one that could have went either way against Inter Milan. But they were too strong against the team from Italy and made them look very poor. 3-0 did not flatter them and they possibly should have had more. Gareth Bale added to his growing reputation by scoring the first and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen were the other two scorers. Spurs do need to be careful and not concede early in the away leg but I feel they have done enough to get into the next round.
Will Bale become one of the best in the world?

Will Bale become one of the best in the world?


Finally, Newcastle United had the toughest tie in the Europa League but got through it and defensively performed brilliantly against Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. They did not offer a lot going forward but could have nicked a result had Hatem Ben Arfa went for power instead of a chip. The two centre back James Perch and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa were fantastic and neither of them have been first choice in that position so far this year (with Yanga-Mbiwa only signing in January) and with Fabricio Coloccini injured at the moment they have both staked a claim for a starting place.
Newcastle's new Mr Consistent

Newcastle’s new Mr Consistent


So who had the best result in Europe this week? Who was the best player for an English team?