Time for Squillaci to prove he’s no Cygan

by Will ODoherty

Monday, February 7th, 2011

The shocking collapse at St James’ Park has left many Gooners bewildered and looking for a scapegoat, and one player above all others is being singled out: the abject Sebastien Squillaci.

The Frenchman came to England with a good reputation after years of impressive service at Monaco, Lyon and Sevilla, but six months into his career in England he is not winning comparisons with Tony Adams or Martin Keown, but Pascal Cygan and Mikael Silvestre.

The truth is, if you want to find the true villain of Saturday afternoon, you should look no further than Phil Dowd. Believe me, you will not miss him, such is the size of the belly.

His performance was so bad that reports emerged in France that Interpol were investigating him for match fixing. But it was really anything but extraordinary. To put it simply, evidence suggests he hates Arsenal.

This season he has sent of two Gunners and awarded four penalties against the club in four games. In the other 17 games he has presided over, he has produced five reds and awarded just three penalties. Did I mention he is from Stoke-on-Trent?

But even with Dowd in charge, there was no way Arsenal should have shipped four against a side that had just sold their only decent striker and lost the next best thing to injury.

Joey Barton’s tackle was borderline, and it’s easy to understand why Abou Diaby would react the way he did but his reaction put his teammates at a disadvantage.

And then there is the defence, or more specifically the continued struggles of Monsieur Squillaci.

The 30 year old from Toulon has played in every one of Arsenal’s league losses. In fact, Arsenal have only dropped points with him out of the team on one occasion: Roberto Mancini’s masterclass in bus parking in early January. Squillaci has been on the pitch for all but four of the 27 goals Arsenal have conceded this term.

The most damning statistic is this: with Johan Djourou on the pitch, Arsenal concede at a rate of one every 251 minutes, without him, which is to say, essentially, with Koscielny and Squillaci as our centre backs, the rate is one every 54 minutes.

With Djourou possibly out long-term, Thomas Vermaelen being nowhere near fitness, an injured Alex Song a vital midfield cog and Arsene Wenger’s dangerous refusal to bring in another centre back, Arsenal’s hopes may now rest on a pairing that has often looked terrible.

Both are new to the English game, but Koscielny has showed marked improvement alongside the more experienced Swiss.

He may very well have to play the senior partner to his more decorated colleague in the hope that he can turn his performances around before it is too late for the club.

With the business end of the season approaching, now is the time for Squillaci to step up and prove he is not just another Cygan or Silvestre.

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  • Stan

    I’m worried, very worried,. We’ve been here for the last 2 seasons. we lost Vermalen and last season and collapsed. The same may well happened this season.

    Squillaci is on the same level as Silvestre, when he played we lost too

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