Back then optimism was high in particular regard to the ability of the new look defence. Every pundit who is any pundit ranted and raved about the fact that after just three games of the season Arsenal had not yet conceded a goal; something they had become unfortunately well known for in the previous season.
Then when they added the gloss of goals via a 6-1 thrashing of Southampton the fact they had conceded was not considered a problem; mainly because it was the fault of an injured Wojciech Szczesny.
The man who was given all the credit for this new steely defence was Steve Bould. The former Arsenal youth coach had stepped up to take the role of assistant first team coach beside Arsene Wenger after the retirement of the long serving Pat Rice.
Bould was of course a part of the famous Arsenal defensive five along with Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams and David Seaman that proved such a potent defensive force in the 90’s. Bould was well known for organising and marshalling his defence and the collection became famous for their ability to play the offside trap. It appeared that this form of management had rubbed off on to his players over pre-season due to their stingy early results.
Fast forward to last weekend and the Arsenal defence seemed to have very little idea just what exactly the offside rule was as a staggered backline let two of the Premier League’s fastest players through on goal to seal victory for Tottenham Hotspur and potentially beat The Gunners to Champions League qualification.
So far this season Arsenal have conceded just 30 goals so in general their defensive record has certainly improved. At this point of last season the team had conceded 38 goals but when you consider seven came in one game against Manchester United once again Arsenal’s defence has been far too leaky in order to sustain a Premier League challenge.
So if the influence of Steve Bould has only made minimal improvements on the team’s defensive record where do they go from here?
The time now seems right for Arsenal to start looking for fresh talent to play in the heart of their defence because at the moment the trio of Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and the bitterly disappointing Thomas Vermaelen are simply not doing the trick.
Do you think Arsenal’s defence has improved at all from last season?
image: © wonker