Arsenal’s Biggest Defensive Worry This Season

Arsenal conceded 48 goals in the PL last season. The Chavs managed to concede only 33 goals and that is just seven more than both Pool and Citeh conceded. The season before we conceded just 39 goals so it is fair to say Arsenal have got a job to do defensively this season. In the last ten games Arsenal conceded 16 goals and we had just one clean sheet, and that is simply not good enough going forward.

Arteta chose for a new defensive set-up and of course all the players are still very young. Ramsdale, Tomiyasu and White were added to the defence and it will take time for them all to gel. We are a team in transition but there is no reason to believe Arsenal cannot make a step improvement.

Young players that are kept together are capable of making big improvements every season. I expect all the players to improve about 20-25% this season, and so this could mean that just by sheer player progress/added experience we will see an ‘automatic’ improvement: so 48 goals minus 20% = 39 ‘goals against’ by the end of the season. And then there is the addition of Zinchenko which may help us to shore up the left side significantly this season. Tavares, a raw talent if there ever was one, clearly was not ready to replace Tierney regularly and he left us exposed. Zinchenko and Tierney are a much safer bet for defensive security going forward. This should lead to a further reduction in goals conceded, say 3-4 goals less.

Our right back situation also suffered from absences by Tomiyasu, although Soares did quite a good job standing in for him imo. With Saliba back in the squad we now have the luxury of playing White at right back sometimes too, and that should give us an even better RB cover situation going forward. A back line of:

  1. RB: Tomi, White, Soares
  2. RCB: White, Saliba, Holding
  3. LCB: Gabriel, Mari, Xhaka
  4. LB: Tierney, Zinchenko

should help us make a step improvement in ‘goals conceded’. I think if Arsenal finish in the mid-30s they will have done a good job this season.

However, there is one niggle of doubt and that is the LCB position. Gabriel could get injured and he is certainly a risk for being send off. The back up, Mari, is okay but nothing more than that. Xhaka could do a job there, and maybe Arteta could do a Van Gaal-like ‘Frank Rijkaard’ on Xhaka and turn him into a very good LCB. Still, an injury to Big Gab leaves us exposed and ideally A&E will get us a nice, quality back-up for him before the TW shuts.

Greedy as I am I would also like another quality CF, but I do feel that the priority may be to get a left-footed quality LCB first….

What do you think: How can Arsenal significantly reduce the Goals Against total this season and do we need to get back up for Big Gab?

By TotalArsenal.

60 thoughts on “Arsenal’s Biggest Defensive Worry This Season

  • Some random but, related thoughts.

    I might be wrong but, I believe a lot of our goals conceded towards the end of the season came when we had key defenders injured, carrying knocks or suspended. So, I agree that area needed strengthening. Saliba’s return will help considerably.

    Rob Holding makes some interesting comments in his interview with The Athletic including, “Last season, there were only three central defenders, really,” he explains. “By the end, there was only me, Gabi and Ben (White), and we were getting thin. Ben was carrying some knocks — and I had a bit of a knock on the knee and was getting through games from the Chelsea away game — so we were fighting to get through those last couple of games.

    “But we’ve got some bodies in with Saliba back, and then Pablo [Mari] is back too, so it gives us a bit more depth if we do have a couple of injuries again.”

    Could Reuell Walters be in the PL squad this year? He’s not listed in the academy or men’s squads on the club website which is a little strange.

    It appears that Nuno has turned down loan to Marseilles so may be wanting to stay and fight for his place

    Tomi can also play CB and both he and Cedric have played LB. Saka can also cover at LB although I agree that we would all much rather he played further forward.

    If we can sell Mari we will certainly need to replace him but otherwise, we have a much stronger group of defensive players than last year.

  • Good points OX10. Rob speaks sense. I guess the LFB position is really reliant on having left-footed players with height and of course defensive discipline etc. Could Tierney be a LFB as well?

  • Uncertainty over Aaron Ramsey’s future has increased after he was left out of Juventus’ squad for the Serie A club’s pre-season tour to the United States.

    The 31-year-old Wales midfielder joined the Italians on a free transfer in 2019, with the ex-Arsenal man reported to be on £400,000 a week.

    But Ramsey spent the second half of the 2021-22 campaign on loan at Scottish side Rangers.

    He is in the final year of his lucrative contract at Juve.

    Ramsey made just five appearances for Juventus last season and has been linked with a return to former club Cardiff City, but his wages are a likely issue for any side seeking to sign him.

    Given he has suffered numerous injury problems over the past few seasons, that could also prove a stumbling block in any negotiations.

    He has been omitted from Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri’s pre-season travelling party along with Federico Chiesa, Mattia de Sciglio, Kaio Jorge, Arthur Melo, Marko Pjaca and Adrien Rabiot.

    Ramsey was already without a squad number this season, having previously had the number eight shirt, and his omission from the tour seems to be a further indicator that he is no longer seen as a part of Allegri’s plans.

    (From BBC)

  • OX10 if Arsenal were to make one more signing it would for me be a goalscoring wing forward, maybe if we play in the opposition half more often and score more goals then the defensive side of things will take care of themselves. During our run in our lack of goals left us vulnerable to even small errors and it didn’t give Arteta the breathing* space to use any of the young players we had on the bench, the margins were too narrow but taking more of our chances, killing the opposition early and playing in their half eases all those issues. Well, that’s my take on it…

  • I’m really happy to see so many young and skilled players in the 2022/23 squad – but my one fear is that we may have too many light weights who will be pushed around by the less skilled but more robust clubs, and there are plenty of those in the EPL.

  • Juventus really are the most tedious club in Serie A, not content with, via their media contacts, trying last January to unload Arthur Melo and his huge salary onto Arsenal for two years (loan) that after luring Vlahovic away, they then spent all summer trying to unsettle Gabriel and making us hilarious offers of players in exchange that they no longer want (Melo/Rabiot) and have left behind whilst they go on tour and they are still now rabbiting on about Melo joining Arsenal, give it a rest will ya…. You keep Melo ‘Old Lady’ of Torino, enjoy forking out for his wages and the wages of Ramsey and Rabiot – losers…

  • Kev I love that Ramsey and a few others are sucking cash out of Juve. They are a scummy bunch.

  • Could Pepe be the key to any more significant signings? We obviously need to move on others who are not part of Arteta’s plans, who at the moment would appear to include. Bellerin, AMN and Toreira but, none of them cost nearly as much as Pepe. Newcastle are rumoured to be considering him, That begins to make sense with the rumours surrounding Saint-Maximin.

  • On the subject, I have a view closer to that postulated by Kev: Attack is the best form of defence. I am not suggesting we don’t need an upgrade in defense but if we can torment opposition defences more and take most of our chances, it eases pressure on defenders to the point the back line starts notching up clean sheets.

    That’s the real secret of the top 2 from last season. Neither Liverpool nor City are renowned for great defending but their collective pressing and penchant for scoring first ensures they can get into the groove and pick off teams as they seek to equalise.
    So, no objections if we get in a CB, but one more reliable offensive player is going to be more relevant to any desire to keep goals conceded very low.

  • Thanks for the contribution, Eris. You have a point although I don’t agree with your estimation of Citeh and Pools defences. They are both top class imo, especially Pool’s.

    There is no doubt that more atta King threat will go some way to take the pressure off the defence and maybe that’s the way forward.

    Still, a long term injury to Big Gab would leave us in a predicament

  • Since Thierry Henry and young Cesc Fabregas was playing here, I was just enjoying watching those games, that Arsenal. And obviously I started to love this club, so I am so excited and I cannot wait to play for this amazing club.”

    Zinchenko is a Gunner and a Gooner

  • Johnno, I can’t stand Juventus, I love it when they bleed finance especially on players they’ve stole on free transfers whilst thinking they were oh so smart, ker-ching…

    Seems to be Eris a lot of chat concerning Arsenal moving for a mystery winger, could it be Sane?
    Bayern invested big bucks in keeping Gnabry and might be looking to balance the books?
    Ex Man City, knows Arteta, couldn’t settle in Manchester but should be ok in London, a go’er???

    And I still think we’ll get Tielemans, probably on deadline day…

  • Not many ideas re the questions in the post from my esteemed fellow bloggers. Ah well, we have to see what A&E will do to strengthen our defence.

  • Just glancing through the monies being spent by the clubs in La Liga (excluding Barca and Real) and in general it’s a few million here or a few million there with only Real Sociedad having laid out a few bob, some £30m on three players. Real Betis spent some £18.5 million on two forwards but it all points towards Arsenal struggling to get a fair price for Hector Bellerin, especially if he sticks to his guns regarding only moving to Spain.

  • In France it’s even worse with the exception of PSG and a little splurge by Marseilles, nobody is spending hardly anything with most players moving for a few francs or for free, it just goes to show how in England we’re protected by the TV money to a major degree.

  • T,
    Regarding the defenders, the only thing I worry about is injuries and that the backup fullbacks change the way we play. Cedric is decent, but a drop in quality from Tomi..

    if it’s White it will change our shape. Possibly the same with Zinchenko, but maybe these changes would turn out to be good for our performance. Some of this Arteta may be envisioning already.

  • strong lineups btw





  • water break
    2 minutes ago, the yank commentator went: “chelsea finally remembering what it’s like to be in the final third” – what could i possibly add to that? the lads are really impressive
    xhaka, in particular looks like a Titan among mortals
    we need to score again, though!

  • Took me 20 minutes to get a stream but great goal by Jesus, it’s a closely contested game.
    Chelsea free kick into box but well defended. (24 minutes)
    Nice pass out from Ramsdale to Zinchenko who blasted into the Pensioners half, nothing came of it, drinks break. (26mins)

  • Lost the stream. got another, up yours You Tube.
    The crowd are mostly Gooners as Chelsea are getting routinely booed, which is nice…
    Martinelli down with a knock. (32mins)

  • 2-0
    our viking skipper on the scoresheet – marti teased chelsea’s whole defense before delivering the classiest of assists, what a great job the two lads did on that one

  • Non Bon LG, thanks anyway.

    My Internet’s been playing up, maybe it was the C.I.A.

    I’ve got it back now, onto my 5th stream.

    Gotta say the American fans have been great, they even chant the songs in a North London accent 😄

  • Some changes now, Tavares on…

    Saliba has been excellent.

    Martinelli fouled, I can see some of those Chav scumbags putting it about this half. (47 mins)

  • tavares for zinchenko – the new needs a bit of time to find his feet, obviously
    azpilicueta, sarr, kovacic, alonso, pulisic are on for chelsea

  • the yank commentators are great too, they actually sound like they love football and enjoy what they’re doing
    when you’re used to the venom of french comments, that’s refreshing

  • Yellow card for a foul on Partey, the first of many I reckon.

    Alonso dive in the box, the ref didn’t buy it.
    The Chavs are targeting Tavares.
    After being pressed in our half some nice interplay gets us up the other end, Saka’s run and pass to Xhaka sees the fans favourite blast it way over the bar. (53mins)

    Heavy challenges on Xhaka and Jesus, breaks up play, Eddie coming on with Albert.

  • 6th stream, it’s not great, but our defending is great.

    This is where we need that wide attacker because bringing on Pepe now is just a waste of time…

    Saka with another after some slick approach play, great work by Xhaka and Eddie (65 mins)

  • Bukayo!!
    what a move – saka started it, and concluded it
    mendy denied marti first, then granit, but could do nothing against bukayo’s tap-in
    believe me or not, granit went all 1970 brazil in the middle of this, juggling at the edge of the box and volleying with his right foot – what a performance

  • Xhaka and Odegaard have been excellent, Turner on for Ramsdale.

    Marquinhos fouled by Alonso, yellow card for the veteran defender

  • Yellow card for Ampadu foul on Tavares, very clumsy. 76 mins)

    Pinball around Chelsea box from free kick. Granit and Martin off for Albert and Niles. (78 mins)

  • You know what, watching Gabriel is like watching Sol Campbell, solid as a rock.

    Chelsea have looked out of ideas since we got our third.
    Pepe and Marquinhos could have added a couple more. (89 mins)

  • Eddie fouled another yellow card for a clueless blue.

    What are we gonna do with this free kick, it’s in range?
    Pepe almost scored, Mendy saved.
    Great cross by Soares and Albert scores 😁

  • Lovely headed finish by Lokonga, 4-0 have a sweet look about it, full time.

    Delighted with the clean sheet, we can really take a lot from this game in terms of confidence going forward, we played like a team that is going to compete with the top two…
    So many good things to take from this game, but our defence is a rock.

  • Thanks for the live commentaries, Kev and Le Gall.
    I have only seen the highlights on the club’s website plus an extended one on YT, and read your comments, while I know these moments don’t represent the entire game, it seemed Martinelli and Xhaka were really stealing the show. (Despite many fans demands them to be playing for team B.) And the Saliba-Gabriel CB partnership already seem solid on the ground, and they are really big fellas, so I’m quite excited about them.

    Our best available line-up trashed Chelsea’s best available line-up by a convincing margin, that’s always reassuring.

  • Great comments from Gooners on each side of La Manche. I think you two would get on like a house on fire.

    Sounds like a great test and I guess the Chavs owner will get his check book out. But friendlies should not be taken too seriously, win or lose. Tge eating if tge pudding starts in two weeks time.

    Thanks for the illuminating comments chaps.

  • Just watched highlights and love the goals. Great assist by Martinelli for the Ode’s goal. Granit very present high up it seemed with some great food work too. Happy for Sambi.

    And yes the clean sheet is also promising.

  • Fine commentaries by LE GALL and Kev; didn’t get to see the game owing to the time it as aired here (Nigeria), but sounds like our boys did Chelsea dirty.

    It is only pre-season but if we can take confidence from that performance, it bodes well for the new season. The last game against Orlando kind of emphasised the gulf in quality between our “1st 11” and the second team, when we only really took control in the second half, upon the introduction of our first reamers. This is an aspect of the team Arteta has been seeking to address this summer. It will be a slow process, it would seem. The likes of Pepe, Sambi, Cedric, Tavares, Eddie…have to believe they are good enough and give quality output more often.

  • You can say that again, PB. It culminated in the presence of Rivaldo at the trophy Award. Just saw the replay of the full game.

    It was an exhilarating display by both teams with the good guys the better focused and hungry team. Chelsea couldn’t handle our press at times and our youthfulness was clearly an advantage.

    Tuchel will be banging on the owner’s door tomorrow asking for more signings, after that drubbing.

  • On individual performances, Tierney would do well to get restored to the team, on Zinchenko’s all-round steady performance. Also, I feel we may need to sign another winger to keep Saka honest. I felt he was trying too hard to live up to his billing and would hold on to the ball longer than necessary, losing it in a few cases, when there was an incisive pass on. Martinelli and Nketiah won’t be able to provide a replica of what Gabriel Jesus brings, should he be rested or injured. We do need another capable option with a similar skill-set or threat. Nit-picking, maybe but that’s how I saw it.

    Lastly, the number of times the Chavs had to foul our boys is a pointer as to how well they were outplayed. The Refs should have done a bit more to protect us.

  • I agree with your overall assessment, Eris. If we could sell Pepe for 27M and sign Gakpo for 34M we could play for #3 position (and the EL trophy) this year and maybe for silverware in 3 seasons. Even if we have to pay 12M for the upgrade that would be the catch of the transfer window, when Raphinha and Richarlison (2 high profile, but inferior players to Gakpo) went for 53M.

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