Having cogitated and deliberated following our defeat to a distinctly average Manure side at the weekend, I have come to a few conclusions as to where we need to go from here. The defensive problems were obvious but for me they were not down to the defenders, it was more a systemic problem. The team did not defend as a unit, there was no adequate communication as to who should cover for defenders when they went on attacking forays up field, there was not enough defensive work done by our midfielders and forwards as well.
Defend from the front. The best example of this are Barca, they might not be the most physical or biggest of sides but every single one of their players works like a beaver for the team in pressing and closing down the opposition, it makes it very difficult to keep the ball against them and forces errors very quickly. If one is to do this it requires a lot of fitness, effort and discipline. Everyone must work hard, players must not dive in and commit themselves to tackles that can be easily side stepped. We have had too many passengers in recent weeks. The lack of defensive work from the likes of Denilson, Cesc, Nasri and Rosicky is obvious. Players who don't give their all for the cause need rockets up their backsides and should be dropped no matter of their reputations.
Communication. How can one or two light weight players be left alone to cope with three or four marauding attackers. The second Manure and the second Everton goal were both examples of this shambolic organisation in the current Arsenal side. Maybe it's fine to leave oneself open in the 90th minute when searching desperately for an equaliser, but doing it in the first half is just plain foolish. If players go up for set pieces or corners then there must be adequate cover left at the back to cope with the potential counter attacks, this is just simple basic defending.
The right squad balance. Song is our only defensive midfielder, while Diaby is the only other midfielder we have who can defend to any degree, obviously Eastmond is a great prospect but I do not include him in this assessment of the squad. The list of attacking players we have is ridiculous: Nasri, Cesc, Denilson, Walcott, Arshavin, Rosicky, Merida, Vela, Ramsey and on and on. The balance is simply not there. All championship winning squads need the right mixture, in the past the likes of Vieira, Petit, Edu and Parlour have given us this. The transfer window is not shut and changing the squad is impossible. I hope that the summer sees a realisation from Arsene that the balance is wrong, and that some players have had their time and failed.
Tactics/4-3-3/4-4-2. The formation matters far less than the players within it. The defensive problems with our 4-3-3 of late have been down to playing five players who don't do much defensive work in the front six, this has been a mistake. The full backs have had precious little support, even the best would have trouble dealing with endless 2 on 1 situations. Maybe Arsene has become carried away with his attacking and free flowing ideology, forgetting that at the end of the day this will count for nothing if it doesn't achieve the results. Our team has become too attacking, too small, not physical enough and weak defensively. This must change.