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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Arsenal: Why Wayne Bridge is not the answer to Arsenal’s defensive problems

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Arsene Wenger has seen his defence ravaged with injuries this season. So much so that the liability that is Sebastien Squillaci managed to bag himself an appearance bonus against Fulham, and cost the Gunners a result.

Rumours in the Press recently have suggested that Arsene Wenger could be willing to reverse the most recent trend of Arsenal stars going to Manchester City by actually signing one of Roberto Mancini’s reserves, left-back Wayne Bridge. However, this would be a terrible move for the Gunners, and there are a number of reasons why.

Firstly, let me just say that there was a time when I thought Wayne Bridge was a really good player. He would do his defensive duties well, provide an attacking option offensively and generally get stuck in. He was no Ashley Cole, but he wasn’t a bad alternative. However, what has Bridge done in the past few years? Nothing. His most recent claim to fame is the John Terry incident and failing to shake his hand at Stamford Bridge. While everyone felt sorry for him at that time he has seemingly fallen out of love with football and in love with the money.

Bridge is reportedly earning £90,000 a week for sitting on the bench at Manchester City. Do you know how many games he’s played this season? Just one, and even then he didn’t even last the whole 90 minutes. That was against Birmingham City in a Carling Cup match in September. At 31 Bridge should be playing every week. If I was in his shoes I’d be seeking a move away to play the game I love, not sitting back checking my bank balance.

West Ham United gave Bridge a chance to rescue his career last season but on countless occasions Bridge was caught out of position, left on his backside and looking an absolute liability. He was supposed to bring his experience to the Hammers and keep them up. Instead he helped send them down.

Where is his hunger to play? Is he knocking down the gaffer’s down begging for a chance or is he just sat at home with Frankie from the Saturday’s planning his wedding? To be fair if I was engaged to Frankie I would probably do the same, but Bridge only has a few years of a professional career ahead of him. He may have won the FA Cup, League Cup and Premier League with Chelsea but doesn’t he want to win more?

At the moment Arsenal are facing a huge fight to finish in the top four. They’ve got Henry back which will give everyone a huge lift, but they already have Andrei Arshavin looking like a lost child, they do not need another in Wayne Bridge. With Arsenal’s defensive problems, Wenger needs to bring someone in – even if it is only a loan deal – to steady the ship; someone who can come in and do the business from the off. That man is certainly not Bridge.

Also, let’s not forget that it was his late goal at Highbury in April 2004 that knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League. Before that game Chelsea couldn’t buy a win against Arsenal. Wayne Bridge, you have a lot to answer for!

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Colin Illingworth



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