Paul Merson slams Arsenal’s defending as a team and claims even top defenders can’t stop them leaking goals

Arsenal’s defending isn’t one of the parts of their game that inspires any form of confidence.

The Gunners have struggled with a combination of bad tactics and bad defenders at the back for a long time now.

Mikel Arteta knows about this first hand having been an Arsenal player not so long ago and the Spaniard is looking to correct that.

Most fans have bashed the club’s defenders for not being up to the task, but defending is a team effort and if the team’s defenders alone are left to defend against top teams, there is every likelihood that the team would still leak goals.

This is the opinion of Paul Merson who claims that even if Arsenal landed one of the greatest defenders of all time, they would still leak goals if the team isn’t defending from the front.

He claimed that if you allow players to run at your defence, then you will concede goals.

The former Arsenal forward told Sky Sports: “You’ve got Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a world-class centre forward who scores goals. He’s a one out of two merchant, where you get two chances and score one, there aren’t many of them in the world. There’s a lot more to come from Alexandre Lacazette, he’s a top-drawer player.

“We talk about the defence at Arsenal, but it often comes from the front. If you’re not closing down from the front, and then the midfield aren’t connecting, I don’t care who is playing at the back for you. It could be [Paolo] Maldini, [Alessandro] Costacurta, [Franco] Baresi, if you’ve got players running at you left, right and centre, you’re going to leak goals.

“I think it’s important they play as a team, but at the moment I don’t see it at Arsenal. I know Arteta is trying to change it, but it seems like the forwards have their game, the midfielders have their game, and then we then just see what the defenders do.

“I think they’ve got to get back to basics, get tight at the back. We all like watching Arsenal play because you know you’re going to get action and goals at both ends.

“I think they need to say: ‘Right, let’s get tight, if we have to win games 1-0, we will.’ I just think they are too entertaining, it’s too open, they don’t move up the pitch as a unit or move back as a unit.

“It could be a few years before Arsenal reach top four again. I do believe in Arteta, I like him and I think he’ll get it right, but it’s hard as an inexperienced manager. You’ve got to be careful not to just try to entertain the fans. When you’re inexperienced, you often try to entertain the fans behind the goal.”

Tags Paul Merson


  1. Our forwards ain’t tracking back in most cases to support the midfield and at times no communication between the midfielders.
    Its outrightly true we could be vesting our frustrations and fury on the defence when in reality its ain’t their fault.
    There are games where we’ve seen glimmers of hope from the like of Mustafi etcetera. They ain’t really trash or tired legs as we at times put it .
    Our manager has to build a team playing teamwork football.

  2. What do you expect from Paul Merson, I know we need defenders but Chelsea fan Merson jumps on Arsenal at every opportunity. He’s been the same ever since Wenger got rid of him and rightly so. Magic Man, the funniest statement in football

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