Arsenal News Blog

fact and opinion intertwined

The Pros and Cons of Philippe Senderos

Posted by James Dall on 27, March 2007

With literally nothing going on at the moment I thought I would compile a discussion/debate/compelling piece on our 22 year old centre back Philippe Senderos. After joining Arsenal almost four years ago now for two and a half million pounds, the 6 ft (according to Football Manager) Swiss has edged his way into the Arsenal first team. However as of late there has been doubters of his ability, many calling for him to be sold. After some below par displays he appears to have moved down the pecking order too. I plan to just touch on some of strengths and weaknesses and then hopefully read what you folk have to say about the issue…


Firstly let me just say that I have always been a fan of Philippe, I have always tried to look on the bright side of a bad display. It was clear that in our European run he was immense. Him, Toure and then the rest of our make shift defence went an absurd amount of hours without conceding a goal. He kept out some of the top strikers in Europe. Did our formation assist in this record though? We did play 4-5-1 which gives the back four further protection, a point to consider I feel. Aside from that he was still superb. Highly consistent. For me Senderos is a leader, at just 22 he appears to be an influential character, whenever the camera pans to him in games he is geeing up the player or organising. I respect him more for that. He does read the game well I feel for a 22 year old. How many centre backs were on top of their game at that age. Most mature towards their late twenties. This boy does have time on his side in my opinion. There is no getting away from the fact he has made mistakes but I recall John Terry making a lot on his journey to becoming one of the most respected defenders in the world. For me I see Philippe as a similar player to John Terry, certainly the potential to mirror him, not so much fast but a good reader of the game and brave. He is good in the air too. Senderos is a different type of defender to what we have already – Djourou is fairly quick of the turf and Toure/Gallas are just rapid. Senderos is a no nonsense defender who could well compliment the current crop we have.


Now for me straight away his pace stands out. The boy is not fast. At the top level you need to be pretty quick at the back or be unreal at reading the game – that part of his game will improve though. The thing with Toure etc is that i they make a mistake they can recover or at least attempt to. If someone skins Senderos it is unlikely he will catch up with him, it is more likely he will foul the player. Physically he is strong but he does not appear the most agile of players. His turning circle seems pretty slow. In the premiership when the game is so fast not being able to react quickly can be costly. Technically or me Philippe is poor, his passing worries me. Whenever he gets it I urge him to knock it short. His attempts at long balls often result in a loss of possession. When Gallas or Toure pick it up they rarely lose it. When Gallas has it I feel at ease. With Philippe I do not. His first touch is terrible.

Is it unfair to compare him to Toure and Gallas who are experienced? Well right now I think if you asked most fans who they would prefer to see – Djourou or Senderos start most would opt for the quicker, better on the ball Swiss – Djourou. Johan has two years on Philippe too, which gives him longer to progress. Djourou has slotted in fine at full back on a few occasions, something Senderos could not do – reiterating his technical difficulties. Should Senderos be sold? In my opinion no, he is a good back up defender and with time will improve I feel. If he fourth choice right now? Probably yes. For me right now we need to begin playing Toure and Gallas along side each other on a regular basis so they form a partnership. I am unconvinced Wenger would sell Senderos anyway, I think he believes in him. For those that compare him with Cygan, let me remind you Cygan was in his late early thirties with us, I can guarantee that Philippe will be twice the player Cygan was at that age.

Just a brie round up now – Gilberto has spoken about Juve and how he thinks they are a good club, plus investment talk has been dismissed.


32 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Philippe Senderos”

  1. Tomas said

    wew need to give Phillip a break. HE was thrown into the deep pool to early and for to long he had to svim upstream. He is not flawless. Remember Tony Adams was slow as christmas but still wad the best. I think next season is a make or break season for Sendros. Either he pulls through or he will be sold

  2. James said

    Senderos is not Arsenal quality and will never be the player we want him to be. He would do a good job at a lower division side where there is no pressure and the team plays defensively.

    As you saw in the Champions League, Senderos is at his best when Arsenal play deep and can intercept crosses all day long. But Arsenal only play a handful of games like this throughout a season, we are an attacking team. Senderos cannot play in a team with this attitude, he doesn’t have the nerve, the pace or the temperament.

    He should be sold and replaced by a quality centre back that can communicate with the defence properly. Toure should switch to right back and provide centre back cover.

  3. Just too add, he was injured during the early stages of our season after a sound world cup, not making excuses but just a point to be aware of. much to love Arsenal

  4. Ozi Gooner said

    When people ask for Phil to be sold right now, it is usually the same people who say that Wenger needs to go, Gilberto is useless, and Henry should be sold to make way for another striker.

    I’m not saying Phil hasnt been bad this season, at times horrible, but he has also come in for unfair criticism too, being the scapegoat on a number of occasions. Anyone remember seeing Adams when he was young? Even Gallas wasn’t great until he was 25. Defending is an art that takes more experience and discipline than other positions on the field and he will get better. He is definetly better than Cygan, thats just mean.

  5. Michael said

    In my opinion Senderos should not be sold. He is strong, tackles hard, good in the air (except against Drogba), and a great reader of the game. I agree with the blog in that, he compliments Toure and Gallas. By the beginning of next season ‘Big Phil’ will learn that he is not a great passer or dribbler and hopefully, he will pass it right to Toure, left to Clichy or short to Fabregas.

    There are some worrying parts of his game, as you guys have noted, his pace and I think in a game against Middlesbrough he blatantly stopped the ball with his hands when he was well beaten, funny as it was things like that can prove costly. However he is young and learning quickly. He can learn from Gallas and Toure and from the members of the coaching staff like Rice and Keown (if he is still there).

    Arsene will know that Senderos is rough round the edges and that he WILL learn from his mistakes and I’m sure he will be working closely with him to improve this. Another good point is that at least we have competion at centre back for the young players whereas a fully-fit Eboue and Clichy walk straight in at full-back without too much pressure from Hoyte.

  6. richie said

    i dont think he has recovered mentally from his broken shoulder,next year we will see him as a better defender

  7. MAC said

    we are an attacking team, with a defensive line pretty much settled in the middle of the park for a good proportion of the game.
    we do need 2 solid and more important quick CBs to block counter attacks, and sendros is no where near that, but perhaps he can shine in a defensive team like bolton, that all he needs is stay in the box and clear the balls,…but not in arsenal, not even in the next 10 years, cuz what i think is people get slower as time goes on not faster, for Johan it’s a different story, he is already fast enough, and as time goes on he would learn good positioning, better tackling, better heading,etc and he can be the next toure! what do you think guys?!!! 😉

  8. Anonymous said

    Whenever Senderos has played Arsenal have been better in the air compared to any other pair of defenders Arsenal have. He is a handy player to have. Reads the game better than Djoruo. Both Toure and Djourou depend on their speed of recovery, whilst as Senderos reads the situations better than both of them. Must give him an extended run before we do away with him

  9. lc said

    I don’t see much wrong with Senderos’s play. He is a fantastic center-back who needs to learn from his past mistakes. Those who call AW to sell him don’t know much about football.
    Didier drogba has always scored goals against us, whether it has always been Senderos’s fault, that’s another matter; but all I can say is that there is double standard when we criticise our players. Some of our senior players have mad similar mistakes, but no one is calling to sell them. Senderos needs support from us, as in my opinion he is only short in confidence at the moment.

  10. Flint McCullough said

    When you think of Sanderos it is inevitable that you compare him to Tony Adams.

    At age 20 Tony had just completed his 1st full season after bit parts in the 3 previous campaigns. At that point he had obvious qualities that propelled him to early England caps. He was also prone to clumsiness & lacked true pace. Incidentally the same was true of Bobby Moore.

    He got better & better gradually & ,after a disasterous Euro 88,he slowly became the legend he was.

    Now all we can say at the moment is that Swiss Tony has the potential, in terms of physique,ability & mental toughness to emulate Tony Adams.

    The big difference is that Tony was in an Arsenal side that was rising out of a depression so the fans had less expectancy and more patience than they do today.

    A big factor this season has been that Sanderos had a serious injury,particularly for a CB, which prevented him having a proper pre season, & it has shown.

    Give him time but to me, at present he is behind Kolo,Gallas & Djourou, who I am convinced will be a really top top CB. Phil could be a “horses for courses” CB for the time being.

  11. HardcoreGooner said

    Im sorry but he is too error prone and has to go, he is one of the young players that has been given time and he isn’t good enough. mnay will think i am being too harsh, but he makes big mistakes every time he plays, he is a liability and he isnt good enough even if he offers us something which we don’t have in a big, strong, typical center back…

  12. HardcoreGooner said

    by the way, i do not think wenger should go…i love arsenal more than life itself and i fucking love arsene and everything he has done for arsenal…but i just hate having senderos in our team…

  13. Flint McCullough said

    Then Hardcore by your logic you would have got rid of:

    David O’Leary
    Tony Adams
    Peter Simpson
    & many many more.

  14. fishpie said

    My heart goes out to Senderos because he gives 100%, he cajoles and battles. But my head sees a player who will never be good enough. He is slow and cumbersome and we will always be under pressure with him in the team. The opposition will be encouraged by his presence and their belief we are beatable will increase. In my view we need a third great centre back because sure as eggs is eggs, Toure or Gallas will be injured or suspended and we will be vulnerable. There are better players (older and young) out there than Senderos. Now whether Arsene can spot a good centre half is the question. Campbell and Gallas were established World Class defenders before he got them, Toure was half midfielder converted but Upson,Cygan, Stepanov and Senderos have had one thing in common – just not quick enough for the Premiership. For a man who knows how to spot exceptional talent it’s bizarre Arsene should be a bit dodgy on such a fundamental requirement.

  15. GoonerRed said

    Good post. Props to OziGooner, too, spot on with the comments. I think Gallas is the only player out of the current crop of defenders who could play anywhere across the back. Phil isn’t a fullback, neither is Kolo, but it’s injuries and a bit of indiscipline that’s unsettled the defence this season. Yes, I know lots blamed Phil for the cup exit at Blackburn, but the lad isn’t a right back who can turn on a five pence; as far as I know, he’s a left-sided centre back. Johaan has been used as fullback on occasion, but I disagree that he’s slotted in there without problem. I’d rather see Gallas or Flamini fill in at full back than any of our central defenders. Last season’s European formation helped the defence, but I think if you compare Senderos’s contributions in Europe last season, and for that matter his performances of Sol’s period of absence, with Toure’s emergence as centreback when he had Campbell alongside him, it’s not a valid comparison. Toure had Sol to show him the ropes, Senderos had Toure, valuable as this would have been, it still could not have afforded the same assurance as a player with Sol’s level of experience (granted, some of that would have been with the Tinytotts).

  16. chima said

    If commonsense is applied, Senderos has to be sold. As you wrote, most Arsenal fans would prefer Djoru on the pitch as opposed to senderos. Even when we played chelsea, Djoru was much more impressive. In the swiss team Senderos seniors Djoru. It won’t be fair on him if Djoru went ahead of him within the Arsenal ranks. This may affect his status in the swiss team. Moreover, Wenger is not a great manager when it comes to defensive tactics. Terry shines in the chelsea team partly becuase of the defensive tactics employed by mourinho. Senderos’s lack of pace to often leave him exposed like a boxer with a glass chin due to wengers lack of defensive tactics. Senderos to seria A

  17. James said

    Wenger is a genius, but defensive buys have been pretty awful. If he could buy defenders we’d have a lot more trophies than we do now under him.

    If you think about it the only decent defenders under Wenger’s reign have been Cole – who was already there, Campbell – a no-brainer free transfer and Gallas, who also fell into his lap. When you think of who he has bought, Upson, Grimandi, Stepanovs, Vivas, Silvinho, Luznhy, you can see where he has fallen flat.

    Even Toure is dodgy, great athlete but can’t defend a set piece to save his life. Eboue is dodgy too, but Clichy is faring well.

    What I’m trying to say is that I don’t trust Wenger when it comes to defensive buys, because history has proved he has a much better eye for attacking players. Senderos is another Wenger flop and will continue to cost Arsenal for as long as he plays – it’s obvious.

  18. James said

    PS. not forgetting the back 5 he inherited of course.

  19. Flint McCullough said

    Yes but he had the sense to keep the old back 5 for years, prolonging their careers.

    The reason our centre backs get exposed is because we are not set out to defend, thank god.

    If we played 4-5-1 all our defenders would look good because they would have protection, as the 10 game run in CL last season proved.

    We don’t want that though do we? So our defenders will occasionally be caught out.

    The main problem is the lack of a settled side and the fact that not had a regular defence,let alone a 1st choice, all season.

    There is something to Sanderos,as his performances for Switzeland & for us on most occasions, prove.

    Again why is it you “want it nows” can’t learn from history.

  20. fishpie said

    It isn’t about being “want it nows”. If Senderos looked genuinely talented as a tackler,or as a distributor, or as a headerer, or as reader of the game etc etc etc I’d wait in the same way I’m happy to wait for Cesc to blossom more and more. It’s great to see a young talent develop. There is a strong stream of opinion in this discussion that views Senderos as being devoid of the underlying talent to do the job at all. If we can’t afford to buy experienced players at the peak of their abilities, then the least I want is to know I’ve got the next Alex or Hansen or Adams, not the next Stepanov or Cygan. I’ve been raised on Arsenal blooding youth players since the late 60’s. It’s part of our DNA and I for one love it. We’ve spotted the good ones (Rocastle, Brady, Davies, Adams, Cole) and we’ve spotted the less good ones (Hughes, Devine, Ceaser, etc) This debate is not about bad fans being impatient or critical vs. good fans being patient and supportive. If we were crap (and down the years we have had some poor teams)I’d still be there. But we have hit a level of football that very very very few fans are lucky enough to have witnessed and I’m buggered if I’m going to let the higher standards Wenger has established at the Arse be eroded by letting him or anyone else think he can get away with letting the standards drift away again. We have to fight for our desire to be the best and that’s about both encouraging great talent and calling a spade a shovel when the talent isn’t there at a high enough level.

  21. Michael said

    Every club that plays 4-4-2 needs 4 centre backs in their squad.

    So the people who feel that Senderos should be sold, do you feel that selling Senderos and buying a replacement should be at the top of Wenger’s ‘to do list’ this summer? If so, who?

    Personally as I stated earlier, I do NOT think Senderos should be sold and I feel that the money could be spent better elsewhere.

    In my opinion we need someone in midfield to raise the tempo in our attacks whenever they get the ball. Like Ronaldo does at Man Utd, like Robben does at Chelsea or even Lennon at Sp*rs.

  22. Swineshead said

    As you mention, it’s about how secure you feel when he’s on the ball – the likelihood is that’s how Jens feels too – and the rest of the team. I think he’s thought of as the weak link by the opposition. He’s ok as a bench option but shouldn’t be first team.

  23. Flint McCullough said

    Fishpie we shall have to disagree on Sanderos’s ability. I admit I am not sure myself, but he has shown enough not to be written off just yet.

    You must have had some doubts about the young Tony Adams surely?

    You are contradicting yourself somewhat when you applaud Arsene’s high standards then accuse him of not knowing who is & who is not a good player.

    I am sure if Arsene doesn’t rate him he will be allowed to leave for the sake of his career.

    It is all part of the Wenger bashing, which is so unjustly prevalent at the moment,that gets to me.

    He has given us so much & I feel that we are on the brink of something really special.

  24. fishpie said

    No I agree Michael, if there is a prority it is working out how to score more goals from up front and from midfield. We mainly failed by not scoring goals rather than conceding lots. So selling Senderos would not be on the top of my to do list transfer wise. I’d be “not buying” Baptista, raising some cash for Aliadiare and finding more money to buy a stiker or goal scoring mid. If I needed to sell Senderos to fund some of that, I would.

    But in the context of the original “The Pro’s and Con’s of Senderos” piece as posted by Arsenal News, I’d have as my fourth priority ( goal machine squad striker, 2.)new goal scoring mid, 3. new keeper if Lens leaves) a new central defender.

  25. fishpie said

    I admit I have worried about Wenger more this season and my confidence in him has been knocked but I agree with you that we are so close to something special. It’s partly because of that that it’s so frustrating to be one or two players short of perfection.

    Adams – I used to watch him as a youth player. He was majestic, just awesome in that company. And yep he had some embarressing slip ups in the first year or two (if I remember, worse than Senderos) but my overiding memory of Adams right from the word go was he also did some stunning and brilliant things in defence. You could see a dynamism, significantly more pace than Senderos and some telling tackles. Part of the pain of the “Donkey” label was that he was extra special at the same time. Senderos doesn’t have that extra special quality to make the pain worth while. But as you say it’s an opinion thing. What is very heart warming is just how many people value the boy. If he reads this stuff he should ignore me and take his determination to succeed from you.

  26. Flint McCullough said

    You remember Tony as I do Fishpie & you sum him up very well. He did have an obvious dynamic but as I said those were very different days for Arsenal.

    I think this season has been particularly strange because:
    1. The new ground
    2. The effect of the world cup
    3. Total disruption because of injuries partly because of WC.
    4. The Cashly/Reyes affairs & Gallas/Baptista late arrivals.
    5. Very young side constantly changing because of injuries
    6. Doing too well in the domestic cups. An early exit from the FA Cup & no CC Final probably would have seen us through PSV?

    All right other teams have had some of those problems but not all of them. I see no reason whatsover to doubt Arsene now. If he needs to make changes he will know much better than any of us.

  27. fishpie said

    Arsene indeed deserves more than a season or two to rebuild. He is our greatest most successful manager ever and has got us as close (indeed closer) to Utopian football as any club team on the planet, ever. So my doubts are rooted as much in the scale of his ambition contrasted with the means he has to achieve it with, rather than in his inherent ability. Do you think he can create the perfect passing, winning, defending team without having at his disposal the best footballers to realise his vision? If we were to play more cautiously (Chelsea-esque)Senderos would be a fine player protected by strong machine like defending midfielders. But we play an open passing possession game which means we cannot rely on our midfielders to be there when we lose possession. That is when we need our defenders to be individually exceptional to compensate for the lack of collective organisation. I suppose I fear we cannot be successful trying to be an Utopian team on the cheap or with anything other than the best. Teams that cannot afford the best players compensate by being organised. Even Chelsea, who can afford the best, are organised around their defence. We are nether organised enough or have the best players in enough key positions. So my doubt is, in the financial circumstances of the club, is it do-able?.

  28. Manx Gooner said

    Loan Senderos out for 2 seasons and Djourou for 4 seasons (ie until they are both 24). Bring in 2 EXPERIENCED centre-halfs this summer (eg Woodgate and King). We cannot afford to have centre-halfs making mistakes due to inexperience like we did when Tony Adams wa learning his trade.

    It’s better that both Senderos and Djourou make their mistakes due to inexperience at other clubs, where there is less pressure. If they choose not to come back at the end of their loan spells, that’s just too bad. I don’t ever want to see an inexperienced centre-half playing for Arsenal’s first team again.

    Our ultimate target now should be to sort out our defence and to go an entire Premiership season without conceding a goal (unlikely, I know!). The days of 1-0 to The Arsenal can’t return soon enough for me.

  29. Flint McCullough said

    How many games,per season, will you get out of Woodgate & King Manx?

    If you are looking up the 1-0s , I think you will find AW’s average per season is very similar to GG’s. The 1-0 is a bit of a myth, although Steve Bould was a very comforting sight.

    It is indeed Utopia you are after Fishpie & Manx. How many goals would we score in front of a 2000 crowd if we didn’t conceed any at all.

    Unfortunately I don’t really think the CBs you want actually exist. It would require supreme mobility with a big physique. Kolo is probably the nearest anywhere -if he was 4 or 5 inches taller he would be perfect. Could be why Gilberto is experimenting at CB?

    Now Djourou could just be the man. A very quick, highly skilled, big b’std but as yet inexperienced. He needs to improve in the air, positioning & learn when to just whack it away. To loan him out would be madness although Manx’s idea would have some merit if the wengerball type of game was taken out of the equation.

    Alex had a great game for PSV but he wasn’t exactly lacking support or facing our best strikers.

  30. amiripz said

    Last season he was fantastic I must say.
    I don`t know what happened to him afterwards but this season he is not playing on the same level as last year, especially, as pointed out above in Arsenal`s Champions League run.

    I think if Gallas and Toure are healthy, they should start while Senderos I consider as a third choice defender for the time being.

  31. Passenal said

    Poor Philippe is just the latest scapegoat for our short-comings. It’s interesting how most of the criticism started the moment 17 year old Alex Song went on loan to Charlton and wasn’t available to be blamed for our woes or castigated as ‘not Arsenal quality’.

    I accept that Philippe is not flawless, but then who is? Djourou, Toure and Gallas among others have all made mistakes this season. Philippe’s strength is his heading and his back to the wall penalty box defending. I do agree that his speed and passing could improve, but I think 22 is too young to write someone off, especially after he did so much for us last season in Europe.

    The World Cup injury and the delayed start to his season appears to have knocked him out of his stride from last season. This, together with a few high profile mistakes have dented his confidence. He needs support and encouragement to get back to the player we know is in there. This quick-fix, one mistake and you’re out mentality is just sad.

  32. kuku man said

    I think sanderos is still a good player.

    He is a bit slow… so he will be Hyppia type of defender/player.

    And remember how unstable Carrager was when he is 22 years old?

    playing center needs more maturity… so sanderos can still be arsenal 3rd choice central defender.

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