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Is This The Answer To Arsenal’s Defensive Crisis??

Apart from a host of downbeat Arsenal fans, I don’t think anyone saw that the circus was visiting Ewood Park at the weekend. But in their oversized, clown shoes and whacky array of hair the Gunners started with artistic dominance and finished with some comedy defending.

Alex Song and Laurent Koscielny were the unfortunate victims who got an ‘O.G’ next to their names on the scoresheet, but it’s the same old problem with the whole of the squad at the Emirates; why oh why can’t they defend? After Gervinho and Mikel Arteta put the Gunners in a comfortable position, Wenger’s side went a blew it again as they gifted a struggling Blackburn outfit the points.

Everyone has been aware of their leaky defence and the side’s inability to defend a lofted ball into the penalty area and Arsene Wenger finally got out his chequebook and brought in a 6 ft. 6 in German giant as the answer to all of the boss’ set piece woes. Per Mertesacker looks like he fits right in with the current Arsenal backline when it comes to getting beaten on the floor and in the air by average Premier League players.

Many commented at the start of game about the physical appearance of Rovers new-boy Yakubu. The former Everton hitman looked like he would be more suited to playing in Masters football for retired has-beens, but he managed to grab a brace and was made to look a World-beater by the Arsenal back four. And Yakubu spent most of last year either on the sidelines or in the Championship. You only have to look at Wayne Rooney to see what a real World Class player can do against Wenger’s side.

So given this shambolic defence display as well as the rest, it has you wondering what on earth do the Arsenal hierarchy have their players doing during training. For all we know, the defenders are Arsenal could be training all day everyday on defending set pieces but when you’ve got Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin as the opposition who isn’t going to look good. It shows that change needs to be made behind the scenes at Arsenal.

The only player that appears to have a clue about how to thwart the opposition forwards is Thomas Vermaelen but with him seemingly made of glass, Arsenal are look clueless.

When Wenger took charge of the Gunners back in 1996, the side was blessed with rock solid defenders such as Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and Mr Arsenal himself Tony Adams who helped propel the Highbury club from European hopefuls to doing the ‘Double’ in 1998. Could one of these Gunners greats be the answer to Arsenal’s current defensive issues? I think so yes.

There are two things the Gunners faithful know when it comes to those players. The first being that they’d drag Lee Dixon out of retirement to play as centre back rather than watch another Sebastien Squillaci show, and the second is that any of these players could do a job in the form of a coaching role.

Whilst Wenger has taken all the flack for his sides horrendous start to Premier League campaign, he is a very good manager who has really transformed Arsenal. I mean for goodness sake Arsenal wouldn’t have the fantastic arena they play their wonderful fluid football in if it wasn’t for ‘Le Professor’. So for me, he stays put.

His assistant Pat Rice is another matter. Rice has been a fantastic servant to the club both as a player and coach. It is well thought that Rice is a real ‘Yes man’ when it comes to making decisions alongside his boss. But given his age and the current state of the side, is it time for him to move on?

I’m not saying he has done anything wrong or to warrant being replaced as Wenger’s number two but times are changing and are at the moment leaving Arsenal behind.

Look at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. Fergie has changed his number two every few years to a positive effect. Steve McClaren, Walter Smith and Carlos Queiroz have all served the club well and helped forge United into England’s most successful club. Should Arsenal be doing the same?

Going back to my earlier point about former players, the outstanding candidate seems to be Steve Bould. Whilst Adams has had a mixed start to management and Winterburn a brief coaching stint at Blackburn, Steve Bould has been coaching the youth at Arsenal for a decade now. Not only has he kept involved with the club, he has managed to win things with players like Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs back in their youth days.

Bould currently runs the under 18’s side that won back-to-back Premier Academy League titles in 2009 and 2010 as well as adding an FA Youth Cup to those accolades in the former year. Bould has managing experience, has been winning things and most crucially of all knows how to defend. Surely it’s only a matter of time before the board recognises this and acts on it.

Despite what I’ve said Arsenal don’t have awful defenders, they’re athletic and technically gifted but just seem to be missing that X Factor. Given the chance, Bould could make Arsenal into the defensive titans they used to be know as.

John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are two partnerships that have won domestic titles in recent years. With some work, Vermaelen and Mertesacker could be next in line with adequate backup in the form of Koscielny, Djourou and Miquel.

Just like the managers position, Arsenal don’t need a new defence, just a changed one. Could Wenger and Bould do the business for the Gunners? Time will tell.

Submitted by Football Friends




  1. Danny Salford Red

    September 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I dont think he needs an assistant as he is more than capable as shown by his achievments. What he needs to do is stop being so stubbourn and admit that the likes of Koscielny are not, never have been and never will be good enough as they simply cannot handle the physical nature of defending.

  2. bradster

    September 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I think even though Wenger says he has 32 years of experience, he is not as adept in coaching defensively as he is coaching attacking.
    I believe he has an eye for noticing good talent at the back but not how to get the best out of them.
    Most FB’s he got were in the bombing forward type and not so much the defending type.
    Good move to change the assistant to Bould or a defensive knowledgeable coach as Wenger will coach the attackers

  3. Scott

    September 21, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Danny,your opinion of Koscielny is NOT fact,its just your opinion,so don’t carry on as if your word is gospel.
    My opinion is that your opinion shows you know absolutely nothing about football at all,but again,that’s just an opinion.
    You obviously have no clue as to his playing background though,so your comments are just plain ignorant.

    • Danny Salford Red

      September 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      How is it ignorant? He is CRAP and if you do not know it im afraid it is you who knows nothing about football. You still cannot admit like Wenger that he is not good enough. Honestly the entire premier league is laughing at you. Wasnt going to mention this but seen as you chose to go down the insult route instead of sensible comment, how did you enjoy the 8-2 you bunch of soft losers? 🙂

  4. 4evergunners

    September 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Danny Salford Red,You don’t know soccer….how will you say Koscielny is not GOOD….He IS MORE THEN GOOD….

    • Danny Salford Red

      September 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      You dont even know what the game is called so do one you Pillock. Soccer indeed.

      • bradster

        September 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

        The rest of the world call it soccer cos football is a game played with an oval brown ball with one guy throwing, one guy catching and the rest bashing into each other.
        Why do you care if he’s good or not if you support Manure, you could say the whole team is crap and no Arsenal fan will care about your input.

  5. g clarke

    September 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    other sports have specalist defence and attack coaches i dont believe arsenal defenders are not good enough they do need organizing and the box is not a place to play football boot on soon as pos and any where except the goal will

  6. Malick

    September 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Wenger himself formaly plays as a dfender so why all d mess?I think dat our problem come 4rm dfensiv isn’t d type&jack has d physical presenc;yet,still needs xperienc.But arteta will play it beter.Bsides,le’profesor does it wrong at d right time.Every positvty needs skilful changes not 2 talk of failur.why construction&destruction?2006-2007:ineficient midfield,2007-2008:inexperienc,2008-2009:no striker,2009-2010:no goalkeeper,2010-2011:no dfense,2011-2012:?We need gud/ technical crues,xperiencd dfending coaç&the likes of cahill,hazard&zarate come january while almunia,squilaci&diaby/dnilson shuld leave.

  7. clif

    September 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Most times you overcome the physical of the opposition IF, you see the play earlier and react quicker than the opposition, you can use these developments to your advantage.
    But if your assessment of play and reaction time is slow, in my oppinion, that player is not good enough and will be error prone.
    In the match agianst Shrewsbury, some players stood out for me as follows:

    AOC was very good and deserves a place in the first team ahead of Walcott
    Francis Coq was good and deserves a place in the first team ahead of djourou.

  8. Steve BB2

    September 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I think this piece is not the full story.

    Yes it points out the Arsenal failings but doesnt recognise the battling Rovers team who were also in this game.

    It was an important game and some good performances by the likes of Olsen in running at the frail Arsenal defence, creating chances.

    The comment about Yakubu is insulting and disrespectful for a player who has regularly scored in the EPL and Championship. In fact he would have had a hatrick if Koscielny hadnt put the ball in his own net from Olsen’s pullback.

    Arsenal, like Rovers needed 3 points on saturday and Rovers determination won through. Some credit should be given to them too !

  9. Gilla

    September 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    For someone to say that Koscielny is not good, shows that the person does not the game well. Maybe, it’s Mertesacker who is amazinglly sluggish and offposition that will rescue you. I hv always said that, that guy is a waste of cash. He can’t catchup with the pace in premiership. Koscielny only needs a good partner.

  10. Pingback: Arsene Wenger wants ‘another 14 years’ at Arsenal – BBC Sport | Arsenal Football Club Stuff


    September 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    We surely need a defensive coach who should double as proffs assistant Steve is my man.he will shape up Koscielny,and the 6’6” man into world class defenders to partner TVR.He can also nurture the likes of Jenkinson into reliable covers.

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