Arsene Wenger has criticised Arsenal’s soft defending and their lack of conviction. But they are two weaknesses that he has proven he cannot fix.
It was a woefully poor performance from Arsenal. Entering White Hart Lane buoyed by the Manchester draws earlier in the day, Arsene Wenger and his players, you would have thought, would be desperate to win, committed to every challenge, playing with intensity and effort as they looked to haul their way back into the Champions League qualification positions and restore some pride in the North London world.
But that could not have been further from the truth. They were lacking ideas and creativity in attacking areas; they outnumbered and overrun in midfield; they were dominated in wide areas thanks to the relentless overlapping runs of the two Spurs’ full-backs; they were unaware and unintelligent in their defending, especially for the first goal.
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And it is the first goal that Wenger himself bemoaned:
“It just looked like we were not out-numbered. We had six against two or three. It was soft defending”
‘Soft defending’ is exactly what it was. No one showed any determination or conviction to challenge for the ball, two characteristics that Wenger also highlighted as absent in attacking areas:
“I felt that there is plenty of room, especially in the first-half to score goals that we didn’t use well because we played a little bit with a restricted attitude and I felt we lacked a little bit freedom to play and desire to hurt them more than what we did. We had clear-cut chances in the first-half. We didn’t take them well. Not with enough conviction and not with enough determination.”
They are fair and accurate comments. But throughout recent history, Wenger has proven that he cannot fix exactly what he bemoans. For how long have these traits – mental lapses, a lack of resilience, a lack of defensive nous, a lack of cutting edge in the final third – been key issues for this side?
And still, they remain prominent. In fact, in a run of just three Premier League wins since February 11th, they may well be more significant and plaguing issues than they ever have been. They need to be addressed if a Premier League title is ever to be a realistic goal. But is Wenger capable of addressing it?
It is a more than justified question and one that supports the growing shouts for this to be his final season at the helm. If Wenger can’t fix it, then Arsenal may have to find someone who can.