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?

Papiss Cisse to sign for Newcastle

Newcastle United have once again shocked fans but this time somewhat surprisingly it is in a positive way. Papiss Demba Cisse is close to joining the club from German side Freiburg. The Senegalese striker is expected to sign before he goes away for the Africa Cup of Nations to join up with current Newcastle striker Demba Ba.

This may come as a surprise to the Toon faithful as they were not expecting to sign a striker this January because their manager Alan Pardew said it was unlikely they were going to sign one after Modibo Maiga failed a medical. There were rumours that they were in the market for other strikers and in particular Andy Carroll who left the club at this stage last season.

Mike Ashley will be hoping this will at least get the fans off his back for a short period of time after he controversially renamed St James’ Park, The Sports Direct Arena which caused a backlash not only from fans but also from pundits who categorically said they will always call the ground St James’ Park. Adding this to the many other things he has done such as sell the club’s best players such as Carroll, Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton and then not spending a great deal of this money on replacements. All you have to look at is the fact that they sold for Carroll for £35 million and replaced him with Demba Ba who was a free transfer. Although, with Ba already hitting 15 goals for the club and Carroll struggling at Liverpool this seems to be a good decision.

But back to Cisse who has been on fire this year scoring nine goals in 15 games and last season scoring 24 goals in 34 games. He is the type of striker you need in your team because he is a great finisher and seems to put away a lot of chances as his goals to game ratio suggests. He likes to play on the last man and never panics when running through on goal in a one on one situation with the goalkeeper. A major plus for Newcastle is that he has played with Ba before with Senegal where he also has a good record scoring seven goals in 12 games. He is a goal scorer and the Newcastle fans will be hoping if and when he does sign that he can adapt to the Premier League quickly and aid them in their quest to finish in the top six this season.

However, there will be a few cynical Newcastle fans who will be thinking that they are only trying to sing Cisse because they have already accepted a bid from someone for their leading marksman Demba Ba. Therefore Mike Ashley has only signed Cisse as a replacement for Ba rather than to pair the two together, but in my opinion this seems unlikely as the two will be together with the Senegal squad and surely Ba will have a major influence on whether he signs. If he is leaving why would he tell another player to join the club?