A quick look at the recent run of Arsenal results suggests that Arsene Wenger has every right to point to the way his team have defended as a major reason why Arsenal are in the sticky situation we currently find ourselves in. The Gunners have conceded at least three goals in five of our last eight games.
The three other games all saw us keep a clean sheet but they were against EPL strugglers Hull City at home and the two non-league sides Sutton and Lincoln in the FA cup, so when giving an interview to Sky Sports this week you can sort of understand why our manager blamed this aspect of Arsenal’s game for our problems, when asked whether the uncertainty over his future could be affecting his players.
He said, “I don’t know. I don’t believe so but we can have a difference of opinions. You do not need to concede a corner because I have not signed a five-year contract. You defend on a corner no matter if your manager has a one month or 10-year contract. We have to look at ourselves and believe in our qualities because if you look at our offensive numbers they are very positive in the league. We need to defend better and that’s why we’ve lost some big games. When I say defend better it’s not just the defenders it’s the team as a whole.
“What’s gone wrong? We don’t defend well enough and that’s what’s gone wrong. We can still have to turn this around by the end of the season. It’s a strange season because we played 20 games unbeaten and then you slip slightly away in one game, two games and suddenly it becomes a problem.”
However, Wenger was challenged by the interviewer who rightly pointed out that the other parts of our game have not been great of late either. Those same eight games have seen us score 14 goals but if you take away the five we put past Lincoln it is just nine in seven.
Wenger said, “It’s linked with confidence as well. We had 70 per cent of the ball at West Brom and didn’t create a lot. That is obviously a concern so we have to come back to being more creative, playing with more flow and more freedom as well because when the results go against you play with the handbrake on.”
In a way I agree with him and the fact that Arsenal have not failed to score in the last 21 games, with some strong opposition in there like Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Man City suggests that although we are not at our clinical best we are still doing that side of the game well.
So is the Arsenal defence to blame? And what does the boss do to solve it?