Football News

Arsenal’s “embarrassing” defence has got even worse this season, insists Shearer

By Ben Green

Published: 18:24, 2 September 2019

Former England striker Alan Shearer believes Arsenal’s defence has become even worse than last season.

Unai Emery’s maiden season in the Emirates dugout was marred by a number of frail defensive showings, as the Gunners kept just eight clean sheets and conceded 51 goals – more than Newcastle, Everton, Leicester and Wolves.

Arsenal’s defensive frailties: Five things to know…

  • Last season the likes of Cardiff City, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace kept more clean sheets than Arsenal.
  • Unai Emery’s side registered the most errors leading to goals of any Premier League side last season (12).
  • They also recorded the most errors leading to shots of any side (28).
  • Arsenal kept just one clean sheet away from home in 2018/19, the lowest number of any club.
  • However, Shearer believes they are even worse this season.

But, there have been no signs to suggest that Emery has been working on defensive solidity behind closed doors, as two costly errors allowed Tottenham to boast a two-goal lead in the North London Derby, before the Gunners eventually fought back.

A half-attempted header from Sokratis preceded Bernd Leno’s soft save to allow Son Heung-min to break the deadlock, before Granit Xhaka produced a mindless lunge on the South Korean which gave Harry Kane the chance to bury from the spot.

Arsenal secured three new defensive signings over the summer – albeit with William Saliba being sent back out on loan, while Kieran Tierney remains injured – but their vulnerabilities at the back have been laid bare once more in the 2-2 derby – but this time, it’s even worst according to Shearer.

In his column for The Sun, he wrote: “Arsenal’s defending was comical at times in the first half – it was Sunday League stuff. Sokratis didn’t need to go for the header for Christian Eriksen’s opening goal.

“Then David Luiz dived in again, gambling in the way he does all too often. And goalkeeper Bernd Leno should have done better than just palm the ball into Eriksen’s path.

“From start to finish, it was embarrassing how easy it was for Tottenham to get their two first-half goals. Yes, Spurs stuck away their chances beautifully, including Harry Kane’s spot-kick.

“But what on earth is Granit Xhaka thinking when he lunges in to give away the penalty? There has to be a moment when he thinks ‘I have to slow down here because I’m going to wipe him out’ – but he never thinks about it at all.

“If anything, Arsenal are worse now than they were last season.”

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“Pochettino will be delighted that the European transfer window”

Shearer then turned his attention to proceedings across north London, believing Spurs were also guilty of numerous defensive aberrations on Sunday, but offensively there was only one man to catch his eye.

He added: “In Christian Eriksen they had someone who could put their foot on the ball and Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino will be delighted that the European transfer window is coming to an end.

“Pochettino now has three months before the January window opens to convince Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen to sign new deals.”