Farewell Phil - now Wenger must make good defensive claims

By Avenell Dave

It's been interesting to read Arsene Wenger's take on the problems we have had this season - and his comments were hardly revolutionary to the majority of Addicts who watch our games on a regular basis.

Time and again, we have given away cheap goals, the sort of goals the top top sides give away maybe once a season.

After claiming that the 2008/2009 season saw us concede too many goals, the fact that we conceded more last season suggests that defensively, we went backwards.

Alex Song may have grown into one of our best players, but can he alone be expected to shield the defence?

Does the 4-3-3- formation really suit our playing staff or does it rely too much on Cesc Fabregas having a good game and being fit enough?

All the best sides start with a strong defence - Ch*vski and Inter being prime examples last season.

It's not pleased many of our readers, according to the comments section, that I have long been an advocate of William Gallas being allowed to leave this summer.

He is a fine defender but has never had the right sort of centre back alongside him.

Thomas Vermaelen, a consumate professional, is the future and it makes sense that Wenger allowed his overpaid former captain leave.

The disruption caused by Gallas in the dressing room, which is now showing itself in France's preparations for the World Cup, has now gone - and I bet the likes of Samir Nasri will be mighty relieved.

What we need is a big ugly stopper who never crosses the halfway line and is remorseless in his determination to stop forwards - and maybe Laurent Koscielny will prove to be another gem who at 24 will be the missing link in the centre of defence.

Given that Gallas, Sol Campbell, Mikael Silvestre and Phil Senderos have all left, I hope that Wenger doesn't believe that Kyle Bartley and Johann Djourou, supplemented by Song, are all we need to get us through a season with TV and one other.

Even if our disastrous injury record improves, suspensions and knocks will take their toll.

In many respects, Senderos is the player who should have become the mainstay of our defence, who could have been the big ugly beast we now so desperately need.

He did well at times, having been signed from under the noses of Milan and Real Madrid after a youth tournament, and was part of the Champions Legaue defence that served us so well in 2006.

Did he get enough of a chance under Wenger? Probably not.

He was inelegant, not a great passer of the ball and not particularly mobile, meaning he could be turned easily by increasingly nimble and skilful opponents.

But he had heart and gave his all and I'd rather have seen him as back-up this season than Silvestre or even Song (whose absence in midfield was always felt).

He had his injury problems and Wenger probably decided that he couldn't hold him back at what should be the peake of his career.

But now it's up to Le Boss to do more than just make up the numbers and ensure that our first choice defence (I haven't even mentioned the goalkeeper!) and reserves are all capable of helping us to a fair few more clean sheets than last season.