A former Gunners star believes the club must sort out their defensive woes if they are to return to Europe’s elite
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Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn has urged the club to strengthen in defence ahead of the new season if the club want to return to the Champions League.
The club have signed a centre-back this summer, but have loaned 18-year-old William Saliba back to St. Etienne in France for the 2019-20 season.
Winterburn, who won three league titles in north London during a 13-year Gunners’ career, acknowledged that central defenders currently on the books might have to be moved on before his former club can find a combination that will return them to Europe’s elite.
“My worry is that if you look over the last couple of seasons the away form has been poor and the goals conceded has been 51 against both times in the league alone,” the retired left-back told 888sports.
“That tells you that something isn’t working.
“The problem they have now is that [Rob] Holding, [Callum] Chambers, [Sokratis] Papastathopoulos, [Laurent] Koscielny, [Shkodran] Mustafi and Konstantinos [Mavropanos] are all centre-halves and that is making it difficult to bring in another one because the squad in top-heavy with them.
“That makes it especially frustrating that we can’t find a partnership consistent enough to at least propel us towards a top four position.”
One of the defenders Winterburn names seems to be headed for the exit door at the Emirates.
Koscielny refused to travel with their team for the pre-season tour of the U.S., a decision which angered and confused the 55-year-old.
“I had a couple of run-ins with [former Arsenal manager] George Graham during his time there, but I never, ever refused to play in a game of football or refused to travel,” Winterburn, who now works as a pundit, added.
“[Koscielny] should have sought out a chat with the manager while they were away on tour and got that message back to the board as to why he was so unhappy with the situation.
“I think we’re all guessing why he was so upset. He may have thought there was a deal on the table and with the injuries he’s had maybe he feels like he’s put his body on the line for the club.
“It’s such a shame that it looks like ending on a sour note for Koscielny and it really shouldn’t be like that.”