The defensive woes Arsenal have faced this season has elicited some comments from several quarters, and previous players who played under Arsene Wenger have been amongst the most vocal to voice their concerns as well as adduce reasons why things have unravelled defensively since the season commenced.
Arsenal’s former striker and previous record goal scorer Ian Wright has pointed out that the club’s defensive struggles is linked to the refusal of Arsene Wenger to give a freer hand to his assistant Steve Bould. He claimed as much during a BBC 606 Phone in programme. He was asked why Steve Bould’s effect was not been felt in the defensive set up of the team despite his past as an uncompromising defender. The fingers he says points to Arsene Wenger.
“What is worrying is that Steve Bould is there and these mistakes are happening.
“I know there are players Steve Bould has recommended to Arsenal that they’ve not taken. That needs to change.”
With the way things have gone this season particularly defensively for Arsenal, it makes you wonder what kind of advice Steve Bould gave that was not taken, this is assuming Ian Wright is speaking from a position of knowledge, yet going by his past affiliation with the club he wouldn’t have been speaking to cause mischief, but rather to get things across by making it clear.
When Steve Bould took over from Pat Rice in the summer of 2012, there were positives, even though not initially, but the defensive improvement was all too common for all to see last season when Arsenal could defend a lead without any fret that they were going to concede. The team was organised, and the hand of the assistant manager was also apparent from the way the team took corner kicks last season, there was a clear plan to it, with Per Mertesacker stationed at the front post while he flicks the corner to the back stick for a tap in where possible.
There was a clear plan from the way Arsenal defended, and the way they were organised. Even if that did not prevent some heavy defeats last season, yet there was an overall improvement acknowledged by many observers.
However, the defensive woes of the team this season bear the hallmark of past Arsene Wenger teams that have lacked any measure of organisation.
Conversely, looking at the contributions or better still the non contributions of Steve Bould, could the present personnel in defence has something to do with the present disorganization? Steve Bould had Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny throughout last season to work with, both on shape and technique, plus there was Bacary Sagna, meaning there was a stable back four to work with.
Fast forward to this season, the absence of Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy means there have not been a stable partnership in the back four, and the situation has not been aided by the square peg in a round hole that is Nacho Monreal in central defence alongside Per Mertesacker.
The issue lies in both a dearth of quality defensive cover, coupled with the fact that Steve Bould role in organising the defence may have been reduced. Only time would tell whether there would be any improvement on that front in the coming games.