We are watching Arsenal’s second worst season defensively in the Arsene Wenger era. Things are bad.
The manager was quizzed about the situation over the weekend and his answers frankly, were worrying.
If you believe Wenger, it’s a miracle any team can defend.
Citing changes in society, he says: “In the football education system you cultivate less that intense desire, it’s more about the quality of the technique and maybe that creates less defenders.”
He went on talk about improved pitches, saying: “Before, it was muddy and you could tackle and throw your body in – it created opportunities for defenders to work naturally on their defensive techniques.”
So a few things are immediately striking.
First of all, he alone dictates what is cultivated at Arsenal.
Secondly, slide-tackles are not the answer here. Good positioning, decision making and midfield protection would all help, a lot.
And their lack of aggression is not down to changes in society.
Where his musings really nosedive is when he addresses communication.
“When I arrived here, the back four all was English but they were not only English, they communicated because they had the same culture, the same way to see the game, they were educated together.
“With people coming in from different countries, communication has gone from the back four.”
The first two Spanish words David Beckham at Real Madrid learned were ‘cover me’ courtesy of Michel Salgado.
A back four don’t need to analyse Shakespeare together. Lauren, Kolo Toure, Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole managed.
It seems, however, that Wenger can’t quite pull together two French internationals, a World
Cup winning German and Kieran Gibbs.