The first signing of the post-Wenger now Emery era, has arrived and signed on the dotted to join the revolution at Arsenal Football Club. Stephan Lichtsteiner arrives on a free transfer from Juventus after a short period of negotiations. Lichtsteiner himself siting the Arsenal ‘project’ as something he wants to be a part of.
What will he bring?
Grit: Fairly versatile throughout the last few seasons, its clear that Lichtsteiner has come in to support Hector Bellerin in the right back position. Juventus deployed a back three with wing backs many a time whereby Stephan earnt umpteen caps on the right side so he’s well-equipped to handle a number of positions. A hard footballer, known for a card or two, will strengthen the Arsenal defence in a number of ways. He is tough in the tackle and often leaves ‘one on’ opponents, such tactics that Arsenal have severely lacked during the second half of Wenger’s tenure. Fortunately, Emery looks to be a fan of tough tackling footballers, with the likes of Eva Banega and Steven N’Zonzi appearing a number of times under our new manager in the past. One-hundred and sixteen yellow cards in five-hundred and sixty-five club and international appearances proves that he loves a tackle. Passion and grit lived deep down in the likes of Adams, Keown and Vieira – Stephan Lichtsteiner looks to have the same traits pumping through his body.
Experience: Capped ninety-nine times by Switzerland and now the team’s captain, Stephan is blessed with a wealth of international experience on the biggest of stages throughout a twelve year span so far. At club level he has played in a Champions League final, multiple Italian cup finals so knows how to deliver in the big games. Winning two-hundred and fifty-nine caps for Juventus in a seven year spell, Stephan will be looking to share this experience with the likes of Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding in the red and white of Arsenal. Playing at the top level for such a sustained period of time and in a team of Juventus’ domestic dominance will only help his new team mates at The Emirates. At age thirty-four, he won’t be marauding the touchlines for ninety minutes every game but what he brings goes way beyond on-pitch performances; he brings reliability and consistency, know-how and a football brain you can only get from years at the top. Experience counts so unless a bad injury were to curtail his season, Lichtsteiner will only help take our club forward in the right direction.
Leadership: A natural leader at the highest level, Litchsteiner will bring a calm to the back line, and will be a hugely valuable back up to Hector Bellerin throughout the long season. He’ll no doubt finish the season on around twenty-five to thirty appearances, some of which will be as a substitute but the combination of Unai Emery’s rumoured tactical adjustments and Lichtsteiner’s experience, twenty or thirty minutes to close out games will be a huge asset to possess. Although injured and/or unfavoured for much of the last two seasons, Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker’s departures leave the current squad high and dry in terms of real experience and winning mentality. Koscielny, Cech and Monreal are left as the only wise heads now so Stephan Lichtsteiner will be a great addition to help lead the younger players through the good and the bad. Experience as a captain these days can be so overlooked as so many ‘get given the armband’ for a game or so but the difference between these types and the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner is that he leads, performs and delivers on pretty much every occasion.
Winner: Stephan Lichtsteiner has an extremely decorated career to date. Part of Juventus’ on-going domestic dynasty, he has won seven Italian league titles on the bounce. He has also won five Italian cups (four with Juve and the first with Lazio in 2008/09), four Italian supercups (three with Juventus preceded by a first with Lazio in 2009/10), and a Swiss league title that started it all off in 2002/03. Seventeen trophies throughout a successful career, Lichtsteiner has more honours to his name than any other player in the current Arsenal squad, something that will only help to improve both the desire and mentality of all involved.
Stephan Lichtsteiner should prove to be a great signing for Arsenal. Very little risk involved (on a short term deal) and so much to gain for the club; the team will only profit from his mass of experience and leadership. His gritty playing style and winning mentality should at worst pull us through some big games which at times has been our downfall, and at best provide a mentality blueprint for other players to follow. Training and playing day in and day out with someone of this calibre will only benefit our squad, ten-fold. Welcome to Arsenal Stephan, the new number twelve.