Charlie Nicholas outlines what crucial thing Arsenal have not had for five or six years

The former Gunners star says his former side have suffered yet again from a lack of a "proper defence" this year.

Former Arsenal star Charlie Nicholas has told Sky Sports that it is defensive issues, not injuries in attack, have been their main downfall this season and insisted that the club have not had a "proper defence" in five or six years.

The Gunners were one of the leading contenders in the title race at the start of the year but a slump in form has seen them win just five of their 15 Premier League matches since a 1-0 win over Newcastle United on 2 January.

That saw the club's title challenge disintegrate in recent weeks, and they now face a battle even to keep their place in the Champions League as they sit just five points ahead of Manchester United with the Red Devils holding a game in hand.

Nicholas, who scored 54 goals in 184 games across four-and-a-half years at Highbury in the 1980s, acknowledged that the club have had to deal with injuries and poor form for several of their key attackers such as Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud this season.

However, he insisted that to focus on that would be to ignore the real issue at the club, which he claims is the fact that Arsene Wenger has not been able to put together a strong enough defensive at any stage this decade.

Nicholas told Sky Sports: "I accept over the last two months that the central striker area has been a massive problem, but there's been a problem from day one and that's at centre-back.

"There's the soft excuse that Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott have all had their injury problems, but for me the biggest issue exists at the back.

"There's been so many games where they've been in control then boom, there's a weak defensive decision and then all of the sudden they're over the place and the panic sets in. It's just not been solid at all and in my opinion Arsenal have not had a proper defence in five or six seasons."

Nicholas' point about throwing away games is a fair one - the Gunners have lost 10 points from winning positions in the league this season, a total which when added to their current 64 points would have seen them in a two-horse race with leaders Leicester at this stage.

With Arsenal's centre-backs having endured both poor form and spells on the sidelines this season, it seems certain that Wenger will be looking to target defensive reinforcements in the summer transfer window.

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