What’s the Matter With? Andre Santos’ defensive shortcomings

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Arsenal left Old Trafford both empty-handed as well as flattered by the scoreline after a defensive performance against Man United that was reminiscent of the comedic efforts of old which many believed they had put behind them.

No one was more culpable than Andre Santos who was taken a lot further than the cleaners by Antonio Valencia and if the Gunners don’t address this problem area they can forget about Champions League qualification at 8/13, let alone winning their first trophy since 2005.

Santos isn’t first choice at Arsenal, but he cannot be relied upon as Kieran Gibbs’ understudy when big games roll around due to his inability to defend and, with the England youngster prone to injury, he is often required to step up to his sides’ cost.

Arsene Wenger splashed £5.5m to sign him from Fenerbache in a panic-induced, deadline-day splurge after losing Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri without bringing in adequate replacements prior in the summer. Perhaps Santos hadn’t been properly scouted because there is no way the shrewd Frenchman would throw that sort of cash away on a player he knows to be hopelessly inadequate.

The alarming regularity with which Valencia was drawing the 29-year-old into making challenges before knocking the ball out of reach and burning him off was almost embarrassing to watch. At his age, he should be too experienced not to be making such rookie mistakes.

He doesn’t have any obvious talents that would point to him being a converted winger; he lacks the flair that is synonymous with Brazilian football, his non-existent pace was exemplified last time out and his one attempt on goal was about three yards wide of the corner flag.

It appears that the issue we should be exploring is ‘What use is Andre Santos?’ as opposed to what’s the matter with him.

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