Lukas Podolski has signed up, Olivier Giroud and Yann M’Vila are widely reported by folks ‘in the know’ to be headed our way very soon. With Robin van Persie’s contract still playing out like the third Lord Of The Rings movie, it certainly appears change is on the way at Arsenal.
We need change. I’m not one to bash players, or throw wild, idiotic abuse around in the hope of courting controversy. I like to think of myself as a realist. I don’t see a everything-is-fine perspective through red tinted spectacles, either. Arsenal concede too many soft goals, and there are elements of our defending – collectively and as individuals – that need to be worked on.
Sagna, Gibbs, Koscielny and Vermaelen are very good players. I look at those four guys and I don’t see all that much weakness. However, countless times in the previous season, Arsenal have allowed opponents to score because of poor positioning and silly mistakes. If you take Spurs’ first goal in the 5-2 (still makes me smile!), and Norwich’s equaliser at the Emirates as examples; both could easily have been prevented by simply having players where they should be on the pitch – the Norwich goal saw Kieran Gibbs on the halfway line as the ball was played through the full back area he ought have been. Arsenal had just gone 3-2 up at the time. To be that far away from your area of responsibility is criminal.
I think the problem is a team thing. We can defend as individuals, but not as a team. Too often our back four are left exposed by a midfield that neglects to cover runners, or by Alex Song’s continued desire to establish himself as the new Platini. Too often our defenders saunter up field and leave gaping holes for teams to exploit. If someone vacated their position to support an attack during his time, Gilberto would fill in. We lack someone like him, and we have done for a while. Would Tony Adams have allowed anyone to just wander off? I doubt it.
To remedy the problem, Arsenal should invest in a solid holding midfielder. Yann M’Vila is ideal, but there are other options who could do a job. I wouldn’t mind Nigel de Jong, personally. If you add a greater level of communication and positional diligence from the back four, then the team would look a great deal more solid. Our wingers should be encouraged to track back and hunt for the ball.
I’m no huge fan of Barcelona, but their ethic without the ball is something I greatly admire. As much is made of their ability in possession, it shouldn’t be underestimated how their success stems from their determination to win the ball back. They hustle as a team.
We already have the players with the ability. All we need is to add a few elements here and there. If we could fix the defensive blunders, I truly believe we could mount a serious challenge for the title next season. Buy hey, that’s just me and my opinion. The comments below await a few of yours. I look forward to reading some.
Thanks for taking the time to read today, you delicious rascals. You can keep up with my blathering on Twitter @_ArmchairGooner