“Can’t pass the ball five yards” damning verdict on Arsenal’s defence

Paul Merson watched in horror as Arsenal threw away their lead to lose 2-1 to Tottenham in the north London derby on Sunday.

That wasn’t the first time that Arsenal has thrown away the lead in a game or that their defence has been sloppy and cost them the points.

Arsenal’s defence has been the reason why they have struggled this season and despite the good form of their attackers, they have remained outside the European places because of the basic errors they keep committing at the back.

Merson slammed them for being unable to pass the ball five yards and claims that even if the current team is being managed by Arsene Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho, they would still not be successful when their defenders cannot make a simple pass.

The Gunners have become a better team defensively, but their defence still finds a way to let them down on a regular basis.

He told Sky Sports as quoted by the Mail: ‘Against Spurs, I don’t care if you’ve got Pep Guardiola sitting on Jose Mourinho’s lap, on top of Sir Alex Ferguson’s lap, on top of Arsene Wenger’s lap and all four of them are one manager: if you’ve got a defender who can’t pass the ball five yards to another defender, you are in trouble.

‘When the manager puts on a training session and you’re doing five-yard passes to start off with, everybody is moaning: “What the hell are we doing this for? Who can’t pass the ball five yards?” But that is why.

‘It’s concentration, so you can keep on doing it without even thinking about it, like you’re brushing your teeth in the morning.

‘Footballers are so obsessed with pass percentages. Defenders want 88, 89, 90 per cent pass completion, but they’re all five-yard passes to each other! Who cares? Honestly?

‘There are so many stats now, and players are scared of them, so try to play the easy ball!

‘All these players should care about is keeping clean sheets: that should be like scoring a hat-trick for a defender. You want defenders who think that way.’

Tags Paul Merson


  1. Well, we certainly ain’t keeping a clean sheet tomorrow…..
    I think we’ll see more panicking, poor decision making, hundreds of back passes… and unfortunately I don’t mean from Dejan Lovren!!!
    Is anyone else still angry over Sunday, or is it just me?

    1. Lol, Sue..

      No. I’m still a bit pi**ed about it. You would think we were all used to it by now!? 🙁

      I’m hoping for a good bounce back and at least put the performance in. Even if the result is not so good!

      1. I’m still absolutely raging about it, GunneRay 😂 You’re right, we should be used to it by now!!
        That’s the thing that annoys me with this lot, about how they’ll ‘try harder in the next game to bag the points’ (& all that crap!!) Try in every bloody game!!! Don’t just wave the white flag and admit defeat!! Sheesh!!

        Haha my blood is boiling again…. 🤣🤣🤣
        I don’t think I can bring myself to tune in 😂😂

        1. Next time you go to the bar Sue, have a double on me 🙂 and then have another for yourself!!! 🙂 🙂

          I know what you mean though, Sue. Words are cheap! Like you said, “all that crap” keeps circulating and so do the mistakes! 🙁 Just a shame it’s Liverpool tomorrow. I know you’re nerves are growing by the second. I hope we get a good result just for you! 🙂 🤣

          1. Cheers, GunneRay!! 🍻
            Hahaha I’d like to disagree with you but I can’t!! My heart will be pounding in the morning!!
            Nice one 😊👍 Fingers crossed!

    2. Anger isn’t the word. Maybe there is no word for it. But an unpleasant feeling of an upcoming threat and an uncertainty of where we’re going. What’s gonna happen? It’s a little like the world around us just now, with the corona pandemonium, but compared with “the end of the world news” football is kid stuff. So… allting är relativt, as we say in Sweden (roughly – everything is a matter of relativity.

  2. YOU KNOW WHY Merse is not popular with Gooners? It is cos he tells thetruth, unvarnished and some silly Gooners take it as personal criticism. How many of us on here regularly refer to our clown defenders? Loads of us, because it is true. MERSE IS TELLING THE TRUTH AND INSTEAD OF BERATING HIM, AS SOME WILL why not get real yourself and accept we have had little BUT clown defenders, with a very few exceptions, for well over a decade and the majority of honest realists among us are sick to death of our clubs unwillingness and inability to banish clowns , instead we collect them. WEEP!

  3. I dont know if merse heard arteta interview after the game that how proud he was with his players .how on earth can anybody say such crap the back 3 are a shambles and arteta can see it well done ,merse you are still a legend you hit the nail on the head

    1. Merson is right Joe as you say
      I’m only trying to defend Arteta here, purely because public criticism of his players was a feature of Mourinho and I found it cruel and ultimately counterproductive. I hope that Arteta keeps his strong words behind closed doors as much as possible

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