Werder Bremen 1-4 Bayer Leverkusen Scout Report: Edmond Tapsoba Impresses
By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)
Coming into the final fixture of the Bundesliga’s 26th match week, Bayer Leverkusen were set to take on the massively underperforming Werder Bremen. A win for 5th placed Leverkusen would see them go just one-point behind Leipzig in 4th after Julian Nagelsmann saw his side suffer an unexpected 1-1 draw to Freiburg on Saturday. 17th placed Werder Bremen were sat nine points off of complete safety. They were also five points off of 16th place which would award them an opportunity to dodge relegation if a play-off battle was won between them and whoever comes third in the German 2. Bundesliga.
So, in short there was a lot to play for, for both teams. Leverkusen could smell a champions league spot, given Leipzig’s surprising draw on Saturday, and if Bremen did not get anything out of the game, the ripe stench of the 2nd tier of German football was sure to grow more pungently prominent.
Anyways, this is an Arsenal blog site after all, so let’s associate the topic with the gunners.
The player in which I was initially going to opt for was that of the long-time linked, Jonathan Tah. However, the 6’5 24-year-old, somewhat surprisingly, took no part in the game whatsoever and instead was replaced by Edmond Tapsoba. Given the man who, admittedly I had hardly heard of having a massive physical profile, which sees him stand at an almost Tah level of imposing at 6’3, and an ‘Arsenal fancied’ age of just 21-years-old, I decided to keep a close eye on the defender.
Given the fact the bottom dwelling Bremen have the joint worst attack and defence in the division, it was fair to say that the game, on paper, should have been a relatively easy one for the 8 time capped Burkinabe international, even if he is just 21 years of age. If Tapsoba and co saw some goals trickle into the back of the net against the joint least potent side in the division, it is certainly fair to ask questions of Leverkusen’s resilience as a whole.
The match did predictably end up as an emphatic win for Leverkusen. Die Werkself walked away with 3 points earned from the away fixture after the side played out a 4-1 win. Kai Havertz made up for the absence of the club's top scorer, Kevin Volland, through injury and bagged himself a brace. An efficient attacking display saw Leverkusen win convincingly and they now sit just one point off of fourth place Leipzig, while Bremen remain 17th.
While it was the attack that saw Leverkusen win the away fixture in such an emphatic manner, defensively on the day they were equally assured. Tapsoba in particular caught many people’s attention. The just recently signed central defender displayed his abilities and honestly, he is the epitome of a modern day central defender.
The former Vitoria man was partnered alongside the veteran defender Sven Bender and the two complement each other very well. The pair were the top two passers of the game contributing with 214 passes out of the back out of Leverkusen’s total 631 in the game. Bender and Tapsoba helped to see Bremen passed off of the park with their side ending the game with 63% possession. Along with Tapsoba’s impressive passing display came an overall solid defensive performance as well. He ended the match with 3 out of 4 tackles completed, a Leverkusen high 9 recoveries, and a shot blocked as well.
All in all, it was a very good performance for such a young and raw defender, who has only seen 6 appearances in the Bundesliga this season. However, despite the fact that his services would interest me, I think there are certainly some questions to be asked.
While his confidence on the ball is promising and that is a skill that Arsenal, and moreover, most attacking teams want in the modern game, there were a number of occasions where the January signing dwelled on the ball too long and put his side into danger. Similarly to our very own Ainsley Maitland-Niles in a way he has an element of nonchalance that generally does him a world of good, however it does see him surrender possession on some occasions too.
Luckily for the 21-year-old, none of his insouciant instances led directly to a goal, but going into the future they inevitably will. And that, in a funny kind of way is actually a good thing. If young and raw players have a deficiency in any given department, the best thing that can happen to them is having it exploited so they can grow aware of it.
In a nutshell, the Ouagadougou born Burkina Faso international would be a good addition to the gunners back line, but he would by no means be the saviour to our defensive deficiencies. It appears as though the newly signed Leverkusen man has an incredibly high ceiling and maybe the sure to be expensive price tag that Die Werkself will ask for should be heavily pondered. If Tapsoba was brought in, he would need time to reach to top level, or to "cook" if you like.
If the recent reports are true that Leverkusen are holding out for double what they paid for (€15 million) then I would be inclined to argue that €30 million or £27 million could be much better and far more wisely spent. He is a good player, but that is a ridiculously ludicrous price for such an unproven player.
Nonetheless, keep an eye out for Tapsoba going into the future. While he may not end up an Arsenal player, it does appear as if the sky's the limit for the hidden gem.