This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking on talkSPORT, Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has urged his former side to sort out their defensive problems this summer if they have any hope of wanting to finish in the top four next season.
The Gunners conceded 51 goals in the Premier League last season, giving them the second-worst defensive record out of the top six. Club captain Laurent Koscielny’s future remains uncertain, whilst new signing William Saliba will spend the upcoming campaign back on loan at St Etienne.
As such, Parlour has expressed his concern that Unai Emery’s side are still short in defence, and that it is a major “worry” for him.
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He said, as quoted by Football.London: “The worry for me has always been the defence. We’re talking about (signing) good players but we aren’t talking about no defenders at the moment. Defenders is probably the key area where we are missing at the moment.
“We know about Koscielny’s situation, that has not been great for the club, him not going on tour. That is the area for me where they’ve got to address big time if they’re going to have any chance to get in that top four again.
“That’s what let them down in the end because the goalscoring at the other end was no problem with (Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang, (Alexandre) Lacazette, them sort of guys. It’s one of those situations where you’ve just got to wait and see what happens with the transfer window.”
Despite their much talked about problems in defence, the Gunners are reportedly pursuing a big-money deal for Lille star Nicolas Pepe. The Ivory Coast international is an in-demand winger and has attracted interest from many of European football’s biggest sides, but appears to be inching closer to a move to the Emirates.
On the face of it, the potential signing of Pepe seems like a swoop for someone that will not solve their main concern at the back. But Emery’s thinking perhaps revolves around the realisation that the Gunners’ defence needs extensive surgery that they simply can’t afford right now.
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Adding another attacking weapon to his arsenal (no pun intended) would give the Gunners some more leeway for their creaky defence; the likes of Pepe, Aubameyang and Lacazette, amongst others, will be charged with out-scoring oppositions week-in and week-out, in the simple knowledge that a clean sheet will be a rarity.
Sometimes attack really is the best form of defence, and the Gunners could perhaps replicate the type of form Liverpool showed in 2013/14, when they scored a whopping 101 goals in the league but also conceded 50, which took them to second place and an automatic Champions League spot.