Former Arsenal defender Gael Clichy believes even now that the Gunners can still “concede goals for fun” – a trait they have suffered from since Arsene Wenger’s time in charge.
Defensive issues plagued the final campaigns of Wenger’s tenure, while Arsenal also famously suffered heavy defeats at the hands of rivals Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool between 2011 and 2014.
Their 4-4 draw with Newcastle in February 2011, having been 3-0 up inside 10 minutes and 4-0 up with 22 minutes to go, is another unforgettable instance of their problems defensively.
The north Londoners became renowned for lacking a solid spine and it was an issue the legendary French manager failed to tackle in his final years at the club.
Wenger departed after back-to-back campaigns in which he failed to deliver Champions League football, with Arsenal conceding 44 goals and then 51 goals in those seasons.
And Clichy, who spent eight years at the Emirates under three-time Premier League champion Wenger, thinks being weak at the back is still a flaw of Arsenal’s.
“Even today’s team they have that quality to score four goals in 10 minutes,” he told Premier League Productions.
“Don’t ask me why Arsenal have always been able to do this but they can also even today concede goals for fun.
“This was typical Arsenal [drawing 4-4 draw with Newcastle].
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“We could go anywhere and play anyone off the park then all of a sudden we could crumble in just a few minutes.
“We were young, we had plenty of talent but people were talking about what we were missing and maybe that was a bit of experience.
“We were an amazing team but we lacked character, if you want.
“Even with a lead of three goals, we could feel the fans pushing and after the second goal I could feel that it was going to be difficult [to win].”
Speaking back in February, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta admitted he must get his side to relish the art of defending.
“We tell them they have to enjoy defending as well,” he said after a tight Europa League first-leg win over Olympiakos.
“It is a big part of the game and like tonight, if you give simple balls away, you better run back and get that ball back as quickly as possible.
“But they play with a big heart. I see a lot of big efforts that a team, instead of splitting it just joins together really quickly.
“The wide players before used to have different behaviours now they are tracking back everybody.
“I think we are doing a lot of work on that to stay as compact as possible in many situations when we don’t have the ball and yes we are pleased with that because it is a big part.”
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