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Emery needs his own Tony Adams

OPINION: Arsenal fans may not miss George Graham’s concentration on defending, but the Gunners need some of the steel that he demanded from his title winners in 1989 and 1991

03 January, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Former Arsenal defender Tony Adams

“OUR challenge now is to improve defensively,” said Unai Emery after a Christmas without a clean sheet. The days of 1-0 to the Arsenal are long gone and hopefully the manager acts on this brainwave.

What happens to Aaron Ramsey, as sad as it sounds following his 11 years of up and down service, is of little consequence to Arsenal’s attempts at revival, in contrast to the meaningful answers that are needed in defence. Some of the defensive displays would not be acceptable in the Championship.

It remains a mystery as to how all of this is occurring when Steve Bould, who knew how to keep attackers out as a player, is still a senior figure at the club. What’s he been telling them?

While Arsene Wenger inherited the best defence in the league, Emery needs to start afresh, because Wenger has left him one of the worst defences in the league. In all those years, how many dead-cert centre-backs did Wenger sign? Sol Campbell was the only real success story, given Laurent Koscielny’s injury record and Thomas Vermaelen’s strange decline after a promising start.

Time again, Wenger signed flaky defenders. Can you think of any others? Don’t throw Senderos, Djourou and Stepanovs at me.

Emery’s acquisition of Sokratis, sadly a rather clumsy player if we are honest, is concerning, a suggestion that he may struggle to scout in the same area.

It will be sad to see Ramsey go; who wants to release a player who has twice scored you the winning goal in the FA Cup final?

It’s odd that Arsenal can’t find a space for a player who seems coveted by all of the best teams in Europe, such as Juventus and Bayern Munich. But if freeing up some cash means investing it in a defence – at last, please, we need one – then it will be worth it.

We may not miss George Graham’s concentration on defending – his brand of football was sometimes to wreck a match once Arsenal were ahead – but the Gunners need the steel that he demanded from his title winners in 1989 and 1991. Arsenal need to find a new Tony Adams, sharpish.

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