Steve Bould was appointed assistant manager at the start of the season and the early signs suggested he was the perfect man to help sure up the Arsenal defence.
However, the newfound steadfast defence didn’t last long and the Gunners have now conceded 32 goals in 28 league games – an unforgivable number for a club competing for long-awaited silverware. So what went wrong?
Bould had a successful playing career at Arsenal for 11 years before being appointed as the Gunners’ youth team coach. He was then promoted to the position of Arsene Wenger’s assistant coach when Pat Rice left the club at the end of last season.
Arsenal fans were excited at the prospect of Bould’s defensive input, especially after the first five games of the season, which saw the team concede just three goals.
However, if the rumours are true that Wenger stopped his new assistant from controlling the Arsenal defence after the first few games, it certainly wouldn’t go down well with those supporters who are calling for Wenger’s head after a poor and yet another trophy-less season.
Truth be told, Wenger and Bould do not have the greatest selection of defenders to work with, perhaps with the exception of Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna, who both have had a significant drop in form over the last few months.
Andre Santos can probably be counted among some of Wenger’s worst signings ever and the lanky Per Mertesacker is simply too slow to successfully deter fast-paced attacks.
The other problem is Wenger’s refusal to sign a defensive midfielder to replace the departed Alex Song. Mikel Arteta is a good attacking midfielder but he is no holding midfielder - and this put more pressure on the back four this season.
Regardless of what the problem may be and whoever should take the blame for the tremendously mediocre defence of Arsenal, it should be rectified sooner rather than later.
Summer signings should include a class defensive midfielder, a right-back to replace Bacary Sagna if he leaves, and a solid centre back.
And perhaps a new defensive coach who will not be afraid to stand up to Wenger.
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