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Is Silvestre the experience Arsenal need?

Arsenal's young side have been crying out for an experienced player since the departures of Gilberto Silva, Alexander Hleb and Jens Lehmann this summer. And now they have one.

But many Gunners' fans will have to look twice at Arsene Wenger's new acquisition, Mikael Silvestre, as he made his name at arch-rivals Manchester United.

Not since Brian Kidd 34 years ago has a player left United for the red half of North London and it makes you wonder: if Silvestre wasn't deemed good enough to carry on playing for the current champions, is he really the type of player that can turn Arsenal into champions?

The short answer would appear to be no. Having spent most of last season on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury, Silvestre has lost the pace, strength and solidity that made him such an important player for Fergie's men in days gone by.

More importantly from an Arsenal perspective, although the versatility of the Frenchman is a good attribute, the club have no need for a player who can fill in at left-back.

Armand Traore has shown himself to be a more than able deputy to Gael Clichy and Johan Djourou and Alex Song will fill in quite happily should anything happen to William Gallas or Kolo Toure. Of course Philippe Senderos is there in an emergency too.

If anything, Arsenal need cover for Bacary Sagna at right-back. His absence at the end of last season (along with Wenger's decision to use Toure at right-back over Emmanuel Eboue) left a gaping hole in the defence and Silvestre is a left footed defender, unable to play at right-back with any authority.

The fact that the Frenchman is 31 also raises some questions. Wenger has been loathe to sign any player over the age of 30, firstly becase it would 'kill' his youth policy, and also because of his desire not to give ageing players a long contract.

Robert Pires, Jens Lehmann and Dennis Bergkamp have all fallen victim to this policy and were never offered anything more than a one-year deal, but the injury prone Silvestre has been offered a two-year contract.

Hypocritical? Desperate? Who knows, but if Silvestre follows the lead of Younes Kaboul at Portsmouth and is the 'experienced defensive midfielder' that Wenger has been pursuing all summer, Arsenal really are in trouble.


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