Arsene Wenger's first summer move to finally repair Arsenal's shoddy defence, could signing Ashley Williams. The Gunners have been linked with a bid for the Swansea City centre-back, according to reports in The Guardian.
Arsenal conceded two goals in the recent North London derby due to identical defensive errors. Fixing the back four is fast becoming the top priority for Wenger is he is still around to rebuild Arsenal next season.
Many of his current defenders seem ill-suited to the style Wenger favours across the back line. Germany international Per Mertesacker lacks the quickness and agility needed to execute the high line Arsenal used against Tottenham Hotspur.
Most of all each of Arsenal's main central defenders have been alarmingly prone to individual errors. Club captain Thomas Vermaelen is enthusiastic, but reckless. While top deputy Laurent Koscielny is timid and clumsy.
Arsenal lack a steady and reliable performer. That's just exactly what Williams has been for Swansea this season. He is a muscular stopper, whose physical strength is combined with sound positional sense and a calm authority.
Those last two qualities are attributes Arsenal's defence has lacked since Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure patrolled the middle. Poor communication and a general lack of organisation are two of the most frequent criticisms levelled against Arsenal's defence.
These flaws were glaringly obvious during the 2-1 defeat to Spurs. Organisation hasn't been a problem for the Swansea defence marshalled by Williams. The 28-year-old has been the key figure in ensuring the Capital One Cup winners' back four maintains a disciplined structure.
The question is are Arsenal really currently primed to tempt Williams away from Swansea? After all, Michael Laudrup's squad has claimed a trophy and are a team on the rise. Arsenal meanwhile are mired in a myriad of uncertainty.
They certainly aren't ticketed for their customary qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League. The Gunners may find it difficult to prise Williams away without the lure of playing in Europe's premier cup competition.
Williams will be playing in the Europa League next season, due to Swansea's domestic cup triumph. Arsenal aren't even assured of that. They have the look of a club in decline and even a hike in wages might not be enough to get Williams to North London.
If it does come down to choosing a suitor outside the Champions League, Williams could even opt for Liverpool. The Guardian also links the Merseyside giants with interest, considering Brendan Rodgers' time in charge of Swansea.
Yet Arsenal's need for the player could be considered even greater. At a mooted fee of around £8 million, Williams fits the bracket of a Wenger signing. The Arsenal boss is under pressure and won't field another contender until he acquires at least one smart and powerful centre-back.
His critics would say Wenger has ignored the issue for too long. However, attempts were made to sign Fernando Amorebieta in the winter transfer window. His current defence simply puts too much pressure on Arsenal to score at least two goals in every big game.
No team can adequately contend under those circumstances. Snaring Williams could be the key first step to probably Wenger's last attempt to get Arsenal back in contention.1102763