Ex-Gunners winger calls for defensive signings

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Former Arsenal winger Perry Groves has called on the Gunners to begin an overhaul of their defensive tactics, after another embarrassing display on the weekend saw them lose 3-2 to Blackburn.

"I'm very worried," he told Sky Sports News HD. "It's their worst start for 58 years, they're conceding goals left, right and centre and the basic principles of play seem to be missing.

"It's the basic principles of defensive play. Arsene Wenger inherited a real tight back four when he first went there in 1996 - Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon - they then implemented their defensive ideals onto the next generation, but that hasn't been passed on.


"I think they need a change in the coaching set-up. I'd like to see Steve Bould get involved because he can bring some structure to the back four. Against Blackburn on Saturday it was basic schoolboy errors that caused their own downfall.”

While Wenger has always held true to his transfer policy of buying younger players and creating a team rather than purchasing one, Groves believes that after the exits of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, the club need to change their policy if they want to challenge for the top four.

"Wenger's philosophy is all very well, but that's OK when you've got world-class players, like Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira and Cesc Fabgregas,” he argued.

"This set of players haven't got that ability at the moment, so you have to be better structurally and set your team up better defensively.

"I would advocate Steve Bould as the defensive coach. He learned his trade under George Graham as part of that back four, so he can pass that on. And he has a winning mentality.

"If you label someone a defensive coach it puts them under pressure if you put him in then they go and concede goals, then he takes the blame. But they need a different coach. Pat Rice has been there 35 years, brilliant club man, Boro Primorac has been there 15 years and it's been the same voices.

"The principles of defensive play were wrong on Saturday, so that needs addressing first."

Defence is clearly an issue for Arsenal, with the side standing at the top of the table for the most goals conceded this season. And while Arsenal came close to deals with Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill in the summer, both fell through, and Groves believes this was a huge mistake on Wenger’s part.

He added: "People say managers are judged by their results, but they are judged by their signings. If you get the right ones, the results will follow.

"Personally I'd have bought Gary Cahill or Phil Jagielka because they can go straight in and they're used to the Premier League.

"They've bought Santos in, he was a yard off the pace on Saturday, and I would've gone for Leighton Baines; again he's used to the Premier League."

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