After an embarrassing defeat to Stoke City, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal needed a strong response against Newcastle. The Gunners responded perfectly with an emphatic 4-1 win over the in-form Newcastle. This was an important victory for Arsenal, grabbing them three important points as well as taking the pressure off the squad and off of Arsene Wenger.
There were plenty of impressive performances for Arsene Wenger’s side, but a very unexpected and possibly very important performance was that of Mathieu Debuchy. The Frenchman played his first Premier League game in three months against his former team. For the first time in his career the former Newcastle man played centre-back. With all the injuries Arsenal have had Debuchy was put in as an emergency central defender. The former Lille man was exceptional in the heart of defence, putting in a very assured performance.
Debuchy was composed on the ball completing 79% of his passes. Despite being only 5’10 the natural right-back was very strong in the air winning six of his nine aerial duels. The Frenchman read the game well making two interceptions and winning his only two attempted tackles. He was strong defensively completing five of his six clearances and made a block on the edge of the six yard box.
With Laurent Koscielny out with a calf injury, Debuchy had to come in and play the roll that Koscielny usually plays in that defence, albeit as the right sided centre-back instead of the left. The former Lille right-back was paired with World Cup winner Per Mertesacker in the heart of defence. As everyone knows, Per Mertesacker is not the fastest centre-back in the world, Debuchy played the role of Koscielny as the defender that was tasked to cover the big German and sweep up behind him. The former Newcastle man performed in that role very well. It may have been the first time he has played in this position, but it did not look like it with the Frenchman defending well, looking composed on the ball, and did a very good job of reading danger then sweeping up for his large German compatriot.
Arsenal have had defensive problems all season. The Gunners’ best defender, Laurent Koscielny, has had injury problems all season with his nagging achilles problem as well as his calf issue. This has forced Arsene Wenger to chop and change his back four playing people like Nacho Monreal in the middle of the defence. While having Debuchy at centre-back is not ideal, if he can be a solid option until Koscielny comes back or Arsenal buy an extra central defender in the January transfer window, it could be huge for Arsenal.
The Frenchman was not tested as much against Newcastle as he could be in other matches, say Liverpool over the weekend, but Debuchy was very solid, provided a better aerial presence than Monreal, and seemed to have a good rapport with Mertesacker. If Laurent Koscielny continues to be out with injury, Debuchy could be helpful for Arsenal picking up points this over the Christmas period, if he is picked over Calum Chambers at centre-back.
It was just one match and not too much can be taken from one match, but Arsenal were fantastic as a whole and Debuchy was fantastic on an individual basis. The Gunners looked great and showed the kind of team that they can be on their day. Now it about them finding consistency. Arsenal have been inconsistent all season, but, if they can get players back, like Debuchy, and get their defence in order, Arsenal can get their season back on track.