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Why Arsenal's priority must be defense this January window

Anup Bengeri
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
18 Dec 2018, 13:11 IST

A poor defensive record last season resulted in Arsenal finishing 6th on the Premier League table. It was pretty clear that Arsenal had to strengthen their defensive department. Unai Emery, Head Coach of Arsenal, and Sven Mislintat, Chief Scout at Arsenal, brought in few players in the summer and this should be continued in this January window as well.

Defeat at St. Mary's against Southampton last game week proved this point. Arsenal has scored 37 goals in 17 Premier League games at 2.18 goals per game, an impressive feat considering the standards of the Premier League. Arsenal has conceded 23 goals and 12.8 shots faced per game. Hence, this means that the Arsenal goalkeepers, Cech and Leno, have been kept busy throughout the season. 

Defensive frailties might be due to a couple of reasons, the defensive tactical ability of the manager or quality of defenders. Evidently the quality of Arsenal's defenders isn't great compared to it's rival teams. The recruitment staff at Arsenal have tried to resolve this issue by bringing in 4 new players in the summer transfer window such as Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Lucas Torriera.

Although these players have improved the quality of Arsenal's first team, a whole lot more is required if Arsenal wants to go to the next level. Konstantinos Mavropanos has been nursing an injury since the start of the season; Laurent Koscielny made his first full start in the Premier League this season against Southampton after a 7-8 month layoff due to injury; Shkodran Mustafi is out due to injury regarding his hamstring; Nacho Monreal has been in and out of the team due to injuries.


Emirates Stadium, North London, England.
Emirates Stadium, North London, England.

These things point at a difficult situation for Arsenal considering the number of games coming up in the course of the season. Sven Mislintat will be looking at alternatives and hopefully strengthening the squad to push for the top 4 positions in PL table and to win a trophy this year. Eric Bailly at Manchester United, and Fernando Calero at Real Valladolid, are on Arsenal's wishlist this January. 

Eric Bailly would instantly improve Arsenal's back line. His transition to Arsenal would be smooth as he has spent time in England and he knows the English game. Fernando Calero has been brilliant for Real Valladolid this season. Pundits are attributing Real Valladolid's defensive record to him. One of these two players will bring more solidity to the Arsenal's defense.

Bear Bryant had said that offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. Sven Mislintat and Unai Emery must try and emulate this.

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