Has Arsene Wenger finally heeded the calls of the fans and started to slowly remould his erratic defence? Laurent Koscielny’s arrival has bolstered for the time being but is it enough? Attack has always been Le Professeur’s style but in order to seriously consider landing their 14th league title, it is possible the time has come to consider a change – not just in players but also in philosophy. Maybe fans will get what they wish for, but will it happen quickly enough?
Enter Koscielny, the new centre-back who has been handed the hallowed No 6 shirt once belonging to former captain Tony Adams. Could Wenger be ushering in a new defensive era? (Forgetting that slight slip-up of Phillipe Senderos with the same number.) Handing Koscielny Adams’ sacred number has shown his extreme faith in the new signing, and combining this with an experienced defensive coach to instil a stoic mentality into the back four could be the catalyst for an explosive season.
Whether Koscielny will forge a partnership with Thomas Vermaelen remains to be seen but perhaps a more defensive attitude could be just what Arsenal need. The attractiveness of Wenger’s XI need not be stifled – surely Arsenal can find a middle-ground to entertain while keeping a level of pragmatism in their play? Wenger stated in an interview with the Guardian that his methods must yield results now: “Frankly I consider it always like that in my head, maybe now more than ever.”
This writer was at the Emirates – excuse me, Ashburton Grove – on both days of the Emirates Cup tournament two weeks ago, being accosted by ubiquitous ‘Chamakh 29’ shirts at every step. Not a single ‘Fabregas 4’ was to be seen printed on the new strip. As part of the ‘Arsenalisation’ project, the old Highbury clock has been affixed proudly above the south stand but perhaps instead Arsenal should consider bringing some of the old legendary defensive qualities that dominated the 1990s in their former home and create a stern defensive unit.
Against Celtic the defence was penetrated too frequently, and this time Wenger has witnessed and acknowledged the worries early. Arsenal, rehabilitated from past mistakes, looked out of ideas against 10-man Liverpool and must work harder to assault the season with gusto instead of becoming the Premier League’s annual nearly-men. The Mark Schwarzer saga drags on and the ever economical Arsene Wenger looks to be waiting till the very last minutes of the transfer window for the right price, but by that time the worry is that the damage to the Gunners’ confidence could have already been done.
As the Gunners conceded two goals against Celtic, a fan turned to me remarking: “We’re going to be seeing this a lot come February.” Arsenal’s failure to hold on to a lead was frustrating d