“We need a new central defender” I often read or hear.
Whilst new personnel will not go a miss at Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny is deteriorating by the week and those below him are not up to much, simply signing a new centre back does not solve Arsenal’s defensive problems.
After Liverpool spent £75m on Virgil van Dijk, Jamie Carragher had his say:
“This thing about Van Dijk is going to come in and fix this problem, it is absolute nonsense. That one player comes in and fixes the whole problem, he’s not that good.”
Earlier in the season, when Liverpool were heavily linked with van Dijk in August, Carragher had a heated debate with Jamie Redknapp over the signing of the Dutch centre back.
“On set pieces it’s not about the defenders. The way Liverpool are set up – set piece wise – they will always concede goals. No matter which defenders they buy or how much they cost – it won’t make a difference.”
A teams defensive problems are much more than just the personnel.
Signing a new defender would not solve the problem of the midfield not giving the defence enough protection.
The first goal yesterday came from Mesut Ozil giving the ball away and Granit Xhaka not following a runner – compare Xhaka’s attitude to that of Aaron Ramsey earlier in the first half.
A new centre back will not solve Arsenal’s goalkeeping issue – just like van Dijk does not solve Liverpool’s. Petr Cech is past it. Not just based on last nights error for the goal, but his form over the last 12 months.
And a new centre back will not solve the way we defend. The way we set up.
When it comes to defending, the team as a whole (not just the back 4) needs to be on the same hymn sheet. They are not. And this comes down to them being poorly coached, poorly instructed and poorly motivated.
A good defence is usually about the sum of its pieces. Under George Graham, Arsenal did not necessarily have the best individuals – look at how few caps Dixon, Winterburn and Bould won – but they had the best drilled unit. They knew their roles. They were organised. It was this that made them the best defence in the country – not the individuals.
Now I am not saying we do not need to be players. We do.
But Arsenal’s defensive problems go deeper than the individuals on the pitch. The problems start with Arsene Wenger.
As Jamie Carragher says about Liverpool, one player does not make a difference if the set up is wrong.