The truth about the Arsenal defence

By Avenell Dave

In this period of Interlull where all us Addicts can focus on is injuries - the recovery from and avoidance of by our players - I had a think about the defence that is so often castigated by pundits, former Gunners and fans alike.

A look at the bare facts is somewhat surprising.

M*nure may be leaders but they have conceded 30 Premier League goals this season, while Arsenal have conceded one less, 29.

Ch*vski have let in just 24 goals - and just signed a new superb defender in Luiz - while Citeh have conceded 27.

So while our defence may not be watertight, it at least compared favourably to that of the Premier League leaders.

I don't always agree with what the pundits say on Match of the Day but the point highighted after last week's draw against WBA echoed much of what I have been saying this season.

While other, perhaps less talented defenders are more assertive and have a go at each other if one of them doesn't do their job, our back four are comparably meek and mistakes do not create as effective a machine as we knew when george Graham was manager.

When you think of the great French defenders such as Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc or Lilian Thuram, they took no prisoners, they wanted the ball and they knew how to win it and distribute it.

Our defenders knew how to distribute the ball when under no pressure but where is the brutal determination that is required?

One Arsenal fan on Twitter said last week that we are building Thomas Vermaelen into Paolo Maldini in his absence and that may be true.

Certainly we have missed him, but he had his fair share of defensive fallabilities last season.

When William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre left Arsenal last summer (who both come in the category of NOT great French defenders in my book) I expected us to sign two strong stoppers to give us strength in depth.

Laurent Koscielny has his strengths and his weaknesses and hopefully will grow as he gains experience but Sebastien Squillaci, who rumour has it only signed because our top target fell through at the last minute, has failed to show the know-how and assertiveness I would have hoped for from one of his age and experience.

Yes, we can argue that having had all four defenders injured at one point or another, including Johann Djourou, we have been unlucky.

With Ignasi Miquel and Kyle Bartley - who by all intents and purposes is doing a fine job at Rangers - coming back, maybe we will have the strength in depth required.

That may have been in Arsene Wenger's thinking when he decided not to sign a quality stopper in January but when you see how M*nure have missed Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, O'Shea, Smalling and Brown for periods of the season, it puts into context the importance of having more than four centre-backs.

If only we could regenerate Tony Adams aged 20...