By Andrew Mangan

The main story is that the Mathieu Debuchy deal is done. In terms of what he brings to the squad, I’m sure you’ve all seen the defensive comparison between him and Bacary Sagna, but just to refresh your memory here’s a graphic via squawka.com.

  Mathieu Debuchy Bacary Sagna
Games 29 35
Minutes played 2491 3059
Tackles won 71 45
Aerial duels won 111 119
Interceptions 69 51
Blocks 12 7
Clearances 152 197

Offensively they’re very similar too, with the same number of goals and the Newcastle man slightly out in front in terms of chances created with 23 to 21. The aerial duels stat is also an interesting one because one of our tactics in recent seasons has been to aim goal kicks towards Sagna and that outlet can continue with Debuchy (in the absence of somebody with more aerial ability in midfield).

What would concern me slightly is the pass completion stat. Sagna’s was around the Arsenal average of 85 per cent, with Debuchy’s at 73 per cent, which is definitely something he’ll have to work on. Some of that, I guess, is down to how Newcastle play and he may be under instruction to get it forward rather than play it safe.

A key indicator there is the fact that he played just 267 backward passes in the season compared to Sagna’s 791, an indicator that Arsenal are prepared to retain possession with a more cautious approach.

However, we know stats don’t tell the full story, so to get a better idea of what he’s like, I asked Ed from nufcblog.com for his views on the player. He watches him week in, week out, I don’t, so here’s what he had to say to the questions I posed to him.

What would you say his strengths are?
He’s a very good attacking full back, gets up the wing quickly and he can put a good cross over. Mathieu gets forward as much as he can - and when given the chance he’s also got a decent shot on him.

And weaknesses?

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This first appeared on Arseblog in July 2014

Mathieu goes forward so much that he sometimes gets caught up-field and out of position. When he started out on Tyneside he was also a bit reckless with some of his tackles inside the box and gave away a couple of penalties. But he improved a lot in the 18 months he was at our club, and he’s a much better player than when we initially signed him.

I’ve seen some Newcastle suggest there’s a lack of discipline with him, both in terms of his positional play, and also because of cards he’s picked up. Is that something that should be a concern?
He does tend to pick up some cautions, but as I said before he’s improved his discipline and other elements of his game – and there’s still room for improvement for him at Arsenal. Don’t think it should be a concern.

One of Bacary Sagna’s strengths was his aerial ability, how is Debuchy in that regard?
He’s a decent header of the ball and probably on  a par with Bacary in that element of his game.

Are you sad to lose him?
Newcastle fans are sad to lose him for at least a couple of reasons – he was one of our best players last season and he’s only been at the club 18 months – and since he gives 100 per cent in every game and has a great temperament – most of our fans will be sad to see him leave. Unfortunately he wants Champions League football and we cannot give that to our players in the foreseeable future.

Any other observations not covered by the questions?
He’s a very good professional and a positive lad too. I still think he will get better at Arsenal.

18 Jul 2014