Ross Bellamy doesn't hold back in his assessment of Arsenal's back line, and ponders whether Arsene Wenger should give Martin Keown a call...
As Roberto Mancini is placed firmly under the media microscope after another Manchester City Champions League horror show, one group of players will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that the spotlight is elsewhere.
The collective group of players I am talking about are Arsenal’s defenders, though calling them ‘defenders’ is being generous. After watching every Arsenal game over the last seven days, I wonder if their fans are longing for the days of the “One-Nil to the Arsenal”.
Arsene Wenger has complained that the current board has not invested the necessary capital to make the club title contenders. Well, what little money Arsene does spend is wasted buying defenders who have no place wearing the same shirt worn famously by Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Lee Dixon et al.
The current squad is full of mediocrity that has opposition strikers licking their lips in anticipation:
Per Mertesacker - £10 million, Andre Santos - £6 million, Sebastien Squillaci - £4 million, Laurent Koscielny - £10 million.
That’s around £30 million spent on players. Are they really any better than the English pair of Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill?
Only Thomas Vermaelen can be deemed as being up to Premier League standard, but he is also prone to the odd calamity – just ask Robin van Persie. Some supporters have rallied round their beleaguered defenders, claiming that the loss of Alex Song has caused the backline to become unsettled. Well where is his replacement?
I personally believe that even world-class midfielders like Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele would have had sleepless nights playing in front of Mertesacker and friends on current form.
Lewis Doe discusses five reasons for Arsenal fans to be optimistic, but even the most ardent supporter must be fearing the worse after a painful week for the Gunners. I appreciate Wojciech Szczesny is out injured, but he is far from being Arsenal’s defensive lynchpin.
In fact, Vito Mannone performed heroics against Manchester United on Saturday, otherwise Arsenal could have been staring down the barrel of another embarrassing Old Trafford scoreline.
Arsenal have already conceded 20 goals in all competitions this season, and we have not even reached that notoriously tricky Christmas period. Those three consecutive clean sheets at the start of the season must now seem like a lifetime ago for the long-suffering supporters, and all the praise for Steve Bould and the defensive unit premature.
Unfortunately the club is destined to remain without a trophy as long as they continue to ship goals. Successful teams tend to be difficult to score against, whilst Arsenal appear to be operating an ‘open house’ policy for their grateful opponents.
With no easy solution to the problem, Arsene Wenger should be contemplating sending out an SOS to Martin Keown and Tony Adams, or rethinking his football philosophy.
Do you agree on Arsenal's defence? What is the solution, are they good enough?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald