Sport Soccer

Friday 30 September 2016

Wenger makes case for the defence

Published 10/05/2015 | 13:21

Arsene Wenger is happy with his defensive resources
Arsene Wenger is happy with his defensive resources

Arsene Wenger believes he has solved Arsenal's soft defensive core and that the Gunners can win the Premier League title playing free-flowing football.

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Wenger has Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Calum Chambers and Gabriel as central defensive options and he is not in the market for another defender.

"Four is enough," Wenger said.

"(Mathieu) Debuchy can play there, (Nacho) Monreal can play there, so you can say we are not out to buy a central defender.

"And Gabriel will be a great central defender, believe me."

Arsenal have won nine of their games in an unbeaten 10-match run ahead of Monday's clash with Swansea.

The exception was a goalless draw with champions Chelsea, whose approach became more pragmatic as they neared the title.

Wenger insists Arsenal's attractive style can deliver a first title since 2003/04, but knows his side must show more steel and win when not at their best.

"We can win (the title), of course we can win," Wenger added.

"We have done it before. Manchester United have done it. Plenty of teams have done it.

"It is how well you play, the kind of game you play. For example, you don't question Barcelona about the way they play football.

"But if they start to lose games you will question 'Are they not too naive?'. But when they win you don't question it of course.

"You cannot play 38 games in the same convincing style. You need to have a balance in your team so that if you are not at a level of fluency you can still win the game.

"Then most of the time it is the individual talent of the players.

"You have to accept that at some level - unfortunately - the game becomes an individual sport."

One of the games when the Gunners' defensive failings were exposed this season was at Swansea on November 9, when Jefferson Montero gave Chambers, operating at right-back, a torrid time.

The then 19-year-old had made an impressive start to the season after a summer switch from Southampton and been rewarded with his first three England appearances.

Wenger believes the Swansea performance proved he was right to be cautious about the England call-up.

"It was a bit early," Wenger said.

"You remember the fact that he had a difficult time at Swansea.

"Now imagine that happens to him with England in a big game. It's terrible afterwards. You carry that with you your whole life.

"You have to be equipped to deal with that kind of pressure.

"It was not unhelpful. It shows him that if you do well then you are rewarded but he was not completely there experience-wise to deal with that."

Wenger says Chambers has developed since the Swansea performance, although he has been in and out of the starting XI.

"He had some difficult games, but that's part of gaining experience and the learning process. Everybody goes through that," Wenger added.

"When they come out of it, they are stronger. He analyses well what happens and I think he will learn and come out stronger."

Wenger seems to take some responsibility for Chambers' Swansea performance, as he knows the 20-year-old is not a right-back.

"I want to develop him more as a centre back - even a central midfielder," the Frenchman added.

"He's a tall guy, he played against a small guy (Montero), very tricky, very quick and it was a confrontation of styles as well.

"On the flank, today you need more pace, more change of direction, more agility and he has the stamina, the power and the quality to be a central midfielder or a central defender."

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