For the umptenth season, Arsenal’s title hopes capitulated just as their campaign was coming to an end and just as the Gunners had silverware in their sight. Through all the endseason madness,t hrough all the dropped points, through the breaking of water bottles by Arsène Wenger and through all the frustrations by the fans, the blame has always been piled on the defenders.
“The defenders are not good enough for Arsenal” or “Wenger needs to buy experienced defenders” or “Arsenal need a defensive midfielder in the mould of Claude Makelele, one who doesnt roam forward.”
It is true that some of Arsenal’s defenders have weaknesses. Djourou is vulnerable when he is facing a pacy forward and his turning makes my grandmother look like Cristiano Ronaldo. Koscielny’s slight built means the Premier League’s bully strikers such as Drogba have fun when he is marking them. Clichy loses concentration and he is easily pulled out of position forcing the centre backs to cover him up most of the time hence leaving the goalkeeper exposed. But show me a defender who’s all perfect. Tell me whether Terry and Vidichave no failings. Tell me their pace is as good as their power in the air and I will tell you Denilson is as good as Xavi! And apart from Clichy, show me any member of our first choice back five(including Song) who is poor in the air. none! Can you say the same thing about Manchester United with Evra, Rafael and Carrick? Or Spurs with Ekotto, Sandro and Corluka. No!
People talk about Song roaming upfield but I ask, wasn’t Makelele a box to box midfielder, what about Flamini, Vieira? Would you trade Song for Sandro, Obi Mikel, Lucas, Carrick or even Busquets? In my opinion, the only holding midfielder at par with Song in the Premier League’s Top 6 is De Jong (no wonder their names rhyme, they must be made of steel). And still on our Cameroonian terrier, people have to stop referring to him as a defensive midfielder, he’s not. He is a holding midfielder! Someone will ask “then why don’t the other teams ship in goals like we do?” The answer is simple: the other teams defend like a unit. Watch Manchester United when they have lost the ball. The whole team including Rooney retreat and start tracking the opposition, shielding the defenders and shepherding the danger away from their goal. When Barcelona lose the ball, all the players press the opposition to retrieve it.
Then watch Arsenal play, you will see Jack Wilshere and Alex Song running around tracking their opponents while Arshavin, Nasri and Fabregas relax to watch the proceedings. Walcott and RVP, on the other hand, will be waiting to latch on to Fabregas’ defence-splitting pass. This leaves the goal completely exposed. Arsenal’s attacking football means that they need more personnel to push the ball forward. This leaves them susceptible to speedy counters. Now, tell me whether Vidic can keep a high line and then break to chase after Ronaldo, Nani or Walcott in a counter attack (the image is choking). And you can bet that two weeks after Vidic’s purchase, Wenger will be roasted by the media for falling prey to the gullible Ferguson’s ploy of selling him a defender whose playing years are past him.