One journalist asked Arsene about Eboue in his pre-match press conference. We’ve all realized the Ivorian has done brilliantly on the pitch to win over the fans and the scribe asked Wenger about this change. Arsene was full of praise for the full back,
He is developing into a complete player. He can play full back, right midfield, left midfield. He is a great football player.
The next question was about Eboue’s best position and Wenger’s spontaneous response was Right Back. He later added Right Midfield as an after thought, but I think Le Boss believes the Ivory Coast international does best in a defensive role.
Some fans believe he is a very useful attacking player and gives us physical presence and direct thrust in the final third. I can’t argue against that although I do feel we have better players for that role.
After giving this some thought, I have come to a conclusion that Eboue’s best position is a Substitute! Yes, I know players want to be in the starting line-up as often as possible. It is seen as a recognition of one’s abilities and can have a significant impact on international aspirations as well.
While recognizing that, if we look at it from the team’s point of view, when does a team need a substitute? The broad requirements could be classified as,
- To get an extra edge in attack when chasing the game
- To shore up the defence towards the end
- If a player is injured or tired
The first two reasons are tactical while the last one is a forced change. With seven players on the bench the managers try and cover all their bases. There are always one or two in the starting line up who can adapt their role to a situation. At Arsenal we have quite a few versatile players.
Let’s think about Eboue,
- If we need an attacking threat, a guy who can run at defenders, cross the ball, and occasionally get on the end of one himself – Eboue is our guy.
- If we need someone to defend on either wing, Eboue can do a job.
- If we have a forced replacement, Eboue can play Right Back, Right and Left Midfield and maybe even Central Midfield.
I can’t think of too many players who have such an adaptable game and offer diverse options to the manager. This is not an attempt to say that he should never start. That decision rests with the manager and when he starts he can always adapt on the pitch, if necessary. I guess the manager would choose based on how consistent a player is and the tactics required in a particular game.
The problem for the Ivorian is that Sagna is a more solid defender and players like Rosicky are much better attackers. When most of our players are fit his chances of starting games are low. Even then, Eboue can be a big player for the team by doing a job towards the end. In my book that makes Eboue the world’s best substitute.