Clichy and Senderos, what does the future hold?

This week Arsenal fans have read about the futures of both Gael Clichy and Philippe Senderos.  Their futures seem to be very different with one likely to stay and the other to go.  Although it seems obvious that Clichy will be at Arsenal and Senderos elsewhere, the way this summer seems to be panning out it could well be the reverse.
In my opinion, Gael Clichy must remain at Arsenal.  He has shown quality ever since he replaced Ashley Cole as the number 1 left back.  Many people have criticised Clichy for what has been a relatively poor season; poor final ball, defensive errors but during previous seasons this has not been like Clichy.  He seemed to be making great progress with us and I am sure he will rediscover his best form.
Many fans will not like the following comparison but in a way, Clichy’s season has been similar to that of Cole during his first season at Chelsea.  Cashley has recently acknowledged that he struggled at Chelsea early on due to niggling injuries.  Clichy missed the final part of this season through a back injury.  Back injuries can be very gradual and not seem as serious as they actually are.  They can slow a player down without him noticing it.  This may well have happened with Clichy.
I am backing Clichy to come back from a well earned rest and show why he is integral to our plans.  He has seen out Wenger’s plan thus far and understands the Arsenal ethics.  It is players like this that we must KEEP not sell.  Teams develop through consistency and progress can only be made if there is some continuity.  Gallas is our best defender and therefore I can understand Touré wanting to leave.  The two find it tough to play together and therefore Wenger will probably look for a new solution.  Touré wants first team football and he may not be guaranteed it at Arsenal any longer.  However, Clichy is first choice, has played with the likes of Cesc and Nasri and fits into our attacking play.  There is no need to change our full backs and therefore he must be kept.
If Wenger was randomly to decide to sell Clichy, I would be very angry at the reported £15m.  Last summer, during a far less ridiculous market Dani Alves cost Barcelona around £23m.  Now Real Madrid have spent over £100m on two players, the market values of players has increased massively; especially when Real Madrid are involved.  I would expect at least a fee similar to that of Alves because although Alves has shown he can attack, he sometimes looks nothing more than a diver, loose cannon and a fish out of water when he is defending.  Add to this the fact that Alves wanted to go, whereas Clichy has today said he does not, I would be very disappointed if we accepted anything less.
Should we get anything close to £20m for Clichy, Wenger would have to find a player to replace him.  I have thought about this quite a lot and I am struggling to find someone that offers what Clichy does.  Left full backs with similar amounts of energy, commitment and potential are scarce at this moment in time; the only obvious one is Cole and we would never want him back!  Clichy has shown he will soon be a very accomplished defender.  His tackling and intercepting has improved and his positioning is slowly becoming less naïve.  Too often he was caught out early on in his Arsenal career but now he is learning well.
That said, he does have areas to improve but I would rather see him do that here than anywhere else.  He needs to decide when to get tight and when to drop off; I have seen occasions when he has given the winger time to cross when getting tight is the thing to do.  At Hull this season, Clichy allowed Mendy plenty of time to measure the situation and then to cross the ball.  It led to a goal but the chance would not have surfaced had Clichy closed down his man.  I have seen this problem creep in at times this season and I just hope he works out where he can improve defensively.
Also, his crossing still has a long way to go before he can accept he has a decent final ball.  Too often there is little accuracy and too much or too little power.  This must improve.  There is such focus on the use of full backs at Arsenal that we rely on quality delivery.  It gives us a plan B which we need if games are tight.  Last season, Sagna provided good crosses which allowed us to change up the play if needed.  This rarely happened down the left.  If Clichy can do this, we will soon have one of the best full backs in the world.
Who out there
I have heard some people suggest Gibbs would be ready to replace Clichy now.  This is utter nonsense.  It was inevitable that people would get excited about a young Englishman putting in very good performances for Arsenal.  He made Clichy’s absence easier to bear but the hype is too much.  He played only a small part of the season and although he performed well in big games, there are still big question marks around whether he can do it consistently over a season.  He has never played a full season at the top level and therefore throwing him into the team as first choice left back could so easily back fire.
There were similar murmurs when Clichy began to pressure Ashley Cole.  However, Cole’s move came at a perfect time for Clichy as he was ready.  Clichy had learnt from Cole and could only gain his final knowledge from regular first team football.  There is a chance Gibbs will provide similar pressure to Clichy but there is no way that will happen this summer.
I think the defence needs one player to make it complete and that is a new partner for Gallas and not a new left back.  That leads me onto my next subject, the future of Philippe Senderos.  IT seems Milan have turned down the £6.25m offer to sign him.  In my opinion this means he will not go there as it is not a big sum for a side who have just received around £45m for Kaka.  If they wanted him I am sure they would have paid what is a fair price.  Therefore Senderos returns to Arsenal…for now.  Should we take another risk or ship him out to the highest bidder?
Senderos has shown he ability but he has only really shown this when he is given a run in the side.  During the 2007/08 season I did an article on Senderos and how he did in our defence.  It turned out that we conceded fewer goals on average with Big Phil in the side than we did with Touré and Gallas as a partnership.  When he was granted an extended run of games, he delivered consistent performances with attributes m any crave right now.  He attacked the aerial ball, was strong in the tackle; there was also a balance to the defence.  Both Touré and Gallas, whoever was his partner, were able to concentrate on their preferred job as sweeper.
Could Senderos work at Arsenal now?  I still have my doubts but it is mostly due to the way we play.  It is the same reason I did not want us to sign Brede Hangeland from Fulham.  He and Senderos both have little pace and struggle with balls played in behind them.  On countless occasions I have seen Senderos beaten for pace and strength as a combination.
Arsenal always play with a high line and therefore slow defenders are at risk of being exploited.  Craven Cottage is very narrow and very short and therefore Hangeland is protected by a deep lying defence.  His pace is rarely brought into question due to the way Fulham set up.  It seems Wenger will never change the way he wants his sides to set up on the pitch.  To press high we need the defence to sit on the half way line and therefore he prefers pace at the back.  Finding a player who has both pace, strength, height and aerial ability is tough and they only come around once in a while.  Man United have two and that’s why they have built such a strong defence.  To fit into our side in the way we play now, Wenger needs this type of player.
If Wenger was to adapt the way we defend to incorporate a slower, but more combative defender, Senderos might have a future here as he could then concentrate on defending as he does best, rather than worrying about things that might hinder him. It was clear that Senderos struggled against quick strikers like Drogba and Torres and therefore the English Premier League may well be the wrong league for him.  Unless he can find a team like Fulham or Stoke who will buy him, Senderos should probably look to teams in Italy.  The pace of the game is slower there and defending relies more on positioning and reading of the game. That is why I think Senderos could thrive if he is given time in Italy.  Sometimes a player does not fit in a certain league and Senderos may well be one of these players.
I expect to see Clichy lining up for Arsenal next season but I do not foresee the same future for Senderos.  However, there are permutations for both that could see a reverse in fortunes, see both of them here, or even see neither here.  This summer has taken many twists already so do not expect it to be a quiet summer at Arsenal; it never is!

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