Sebastien Squillaci puts the boot into Arsene Wenger over tactics

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has signed his fair share of defensive duds during his 18-year reign at the north London club and Sebastien Squillaci is generally considered one of them.

Squillaci wore the number 18 shirt during his three-year spell at the Emirates, following in the footsteps of previous flops Mikael Silvestre and Pascal Cygan.

Hardly the most illustrious of names to follow, although current number 18 Nacho Monreal, fortunately, seems to have escaped the jersey's curse.


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The 35-year-old centre-back is currently enjoying something of a career renaissance at Bastia in Ligue 1 and while speaking to beIN Sports he lifted the lid on Wenger's tactical approach during 2010 to 2013.

He said, “It’s true a lot was expected from me when I arrived. But it’s always been difficult for central defenders at Arsenal.

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“You can see that from before my time and after my time. The style of play was a bit like Spain’s. It was very open, and often we found ourselves defending in the middle one on one with the opposition attackers. It was never easy. It was very attacking. But that was the club’s philosophy.

“I talked about it with coach Wenger. He told me, ‘I know it’s difficult, but I want us to play like this, I want the attacking players to have more freedom and less defensive work’."

All pretty fair comments you'd have to say. Arsenal still have a habit of pushing their full-backs high up the pitch even when leading by two or three goals and the tactic has backfired on numerous occasions.

Arsenal v FC Shakhtar Donetsk - UEFA Champions League

Getting caught on the counter with two attackers running at two centre-backs is not a position you want to find yourself in, yet the Gunners seem unable to learn from their mistakes.

Even so, it is a bit rich hearing Squillaci, who made just 23 league starts under Wenger, criticise his former boss when he was crafting his own howlers on a weekly basis.

His accidental but wholly avoidable headbutt on teammate Laurent Koscielny which led to Diomansy Kamara scoring for Fulham at the Emirates being a particularly memorable example.

Squillaci goes on: “There was a lot of intensity, arriving in England from Spain, the game’s not the same. It’s very demanding in England. My performances dipped. That’s the way things go.

“I fought all the same, I gave everything, but there were high expectations and, like I say, Arsenal conceded goals before I came, they conceded goals after I left, and they’ll concede in the future."

They certainly will judging by their last performance against West Ham, in which the Gunners shipped a ten-minute hat-trick to Andy Carroll - just the second treble of his career.

The ex-Monaco man believes however that he has witnessed a change in Wenger's philosophy at certain points this season.

“I think it’s changed in the last year,” he added. “I’ve seen matches where Arsenal have had ten men in their own half.

Arsenal v Watford - Premier League

“That didn’t exist at my time. When I see the defensive work Giroud does… the midfielders too, I think Arsenal defend a lot more these days. And I think that’s a good thing because to win games at the highest level, to win in the Champions League, you need that.”

Olivier Giroud's last goal came over three months ago and has lost his place in the side to Danny Welbeck, but apart from that Squillaci is not far wrong.

When Arsenal's season reaches its annual capitulation point, they tend to revert to 'safe mode' and put ten men behind the ball until they regain their confidence.

Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League

If Arsenal want to tighten up at the back Wenger would be well advised to sign a world renowned centre-back.

But seeing as they've been devoid of one since Sol Campbell left the club (the first time round) in 2006, I don't imagine many Arsenal supporters will be holding their breath during this summer's transfer window.

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Thierry Henry
Sebastien Squillaci
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Arsene Wenger

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