A Case for the Defence
Year after year the media talks of Arsenal’s weak defence, a defence they say that cannot handle aerial threats, a defence that does not like playing against big centre forwards. Is this true or is it one more myth that needs to be blown up for its fabrication.
The media has never forgiven Wenger for dismantling the all England back five and not replacing them with other English players, hence the lack of criticism of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea who have an Englsihman at the heart of their defence.
Last season both Clichy and Sagna were voted into the Premier League team of the season, so our full-backs are recognised by both their fellow professionals and the media as being the best in the league.
This leaves our centre backs, Gallas and Toure, aided last season by Djourou and Senderos. Whislt both are admired, they are also much criticised as being unable to handle long balls or big lumps known as “traditional English centre forwards”. Well if the criteria for a good centre back is being able to kick lumps out of a forward, deal with an aerial bombardment and be capable of sustain kicks and elbows from an opponent, then no wonder the England national team has struggled at the highest level.
In Gallas we have a defender who thinks, he is confident on the ball and is happy to bring the ball out of defence and create an attack, his comfort on the ball is evident from the number of goals that he scores not from set pieces but from joining the attack.
Alongside him is Toure, one of the strongest defenders in the Premier league. Rarely is he knocked off the ball and his tackling is impeccable. So good is Toure’s tackling that he rarely gets booked for a bad challenge, please note John Terry. He is anotherplayer who has great ball control, and as we all know is never afraid to shoot.
But this is not enough for the press, only yesterday Ray Houghton was moaning at the number of chances that Blackburn had against Arsenal. Nobody looks at the statistic that in six competitive games this season we have conceded one goal, and all this without a recognised defensive midfielder that is the bedrock of Liverpool,Chelsea and Manchester United.
The season is young and no awards are made in September, but we have started with a solid back four, which will be augmented further when Silvestre is fit. My message to the media is give us some respect and give credit to a great defensive team.