For everyone who has been following Arsenal this season or in fact for the past 5 seasons would have noticed that the defensive part of the game is where we are most vulnerable. Which would be a very strange thing for older fans like me who were brought up with the super mean defence in the 90’s.
The foundation of that impenetrable defence was of course from the manager himself. Though George Graham is known to be a cavalier type of attacking midfielder, the team he manages are measly in defence. Any defenders in the world would do well to learn and watch how the legendary back five (if you include Seaman in goal) operates.
Wenger is not renown to be a manager who drills his charges in the defensive side of the game like Graham once did. What is even stranger is the fact the assistant manager of the club is a former captain and a tough tackling right back. I think it is same to presume that any training that involves defending would be guided by Pat Rice.
Yet, somehow it doesn’t seem to work. Being a player with a history like his and the vast knowledge when it comes to stopping the opposition from scoring, the amount of goals we concede via set piece like freekicks and corners are nothing short of embarrassing. It is not a secret that as a whole, the team is generous in leaking goals this way. And it is not just the first team players. Have a look at the reserves and Under-18’s games and you will understand what I’m saying. So, in short, what I’m trying to suggest is that, if Rice can’t keep up with the method to defend in today’s game, is it time for a change.
Tony Adams is of course the most famous one from that legendary defence and has done his part in terms of management and coaching. From various clubs in Holland to the disastrous short term spell in charge of Portsmouth. Perhaps, he is not yet ready to become a manager yet but could do a whole lot worse than being the second man to Wenger. All he needs to do is to concentrate on the defensive side of the game and leave the actual management to the Frenchman. Currently the scouting job that he does for Arsenal is an absolute waste of his talents.
Nigel Winterburn and Martin Keown has also done several jobs which utilizes their defensive knowledge. Their playing careers did not finish that very long time back and could still act as a mentor to some of the players who started out their careers when these players were still playing for Arsenal. Add Lee Dixon into the mix and we have more options that we could ever hope for.
These players will not only work in their capacity as coaches but will also work like leaders of the team, much like the same way Sol Campbell is currently doing for the club. The latter is another person who could do the job for the club. The options are there to be seen and it is up to the management to decide whether a change is necessary. As Birmingham have shown by taking 2 Championship defenders and moulding them into a solid Premiership centreback pairing, sometimes it is not all about talent.