After experienced centre backs William Gallas, Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre all left over the summer, Arsène Wenger drafted in Sebastien Squillaci to reinforce his defensive options. The Frenchman’s knowhow would prove useful.
Laurent Koscielny, a fellow Premier League debutant, and Johan Djourou both helped to fill the gap left by Thomas Vermaelen’s injury but it was Sebastien who led the way during the opening months of the season, marshalling the defence in the Belgian’s absence.
As with all new recruits, Sebastien took time to find his feet but he was named captain at Stamford Bridge on only his sixth appearance for the first team - recognition for a low-key but accomplished start to life in English football.
Djourou and Koscielny were the preferred central pairing after Christmas but Sebastien was on hand when called upon and even popped up with the winning goal against Stoke to keep Arsenal in the hunt for the title in February.
A shoulder injury to Djourou in March left Sebastien as one of just two fit central defenders in the first-team squad for much of the title run in, when he renewed his partnership with Koscielny.
“I think it helped [that I was a relative unknown when I joined]. Adapting-wise, I knew that it [English football] would be physical with some good sides, playing good football. The strikers are big and strong and it is a great contrast with Spain where the strikers are faster and not so strong.”
On a tense night at Emirates Stadium days before the Carling Cup Final, Sebastien’s early header secured a narrow 1-0 victory against Stoke. Jack Wilshere fired over a corner from the right that was touched on to Nicklas Bendtner at the far post. He returned the ball into the six-yard box for Sebastien to nod home from close-range.
Sebastien Squillaci scores against Stoke City