Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn believes Arsene Wenger’s first step towards solving the club’s current defensive issues should be to adopt the tactics of former manager George Graham.
Arsenal let a lead slip for the second time in a week to lose 2-1 at Swansea City on Sunday, just four days after surrendering a three-goal advantage to draw at home to Anderlecht in the Champions League.
Originally building the celebrated back-four of Winterburn, Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Lee Dixon, Graham was renowned for orchestrating numerous 1-0 victories during his time with the Gunners from 1986 to 1995, and the ex-left-back believes Wenger should take inspiration from the defensive grit shown in that era.
“Too often when we see Arsenal struggle, particularly when the opposition break quickly on them from midfield and they can’t close them down and win the ball back, we see both full-backs chasing backwards,” Winterburn told Sky Sports News HQ.
“I would love to see us defend how we did it under George Graham, where one of the full-backs sits back in there, so you’ve got two centre-halves and a full-back facing the play as you’re being quickly counter-attacked. I think if Arsenal looked at the way we defended under Graham it would help them immensely.
"We’re talking very small numbers and minute details with Arsenal. But the minute details end up being a massive loss in points and I think that’s slightly where Arsenal are losing out at this moment.”
Winterburn also stresses, however, that Wenger needs to bring in another centre-back in the winter before the club can be considered genuine title challengers.
“They’ve been caught out because Debuchy has been out injured for a long time and, at the moment, Koscielny is out, so it’s left them short,” he said.
“Wenger may have taken the gamble on Calum Chambers, who can play in both positions, but what they didn’t plan for was that two of them are out for a prolonged period of time. They do need a centre-half, that’s for sure."