Arsenal defence and Lukas Podolski. Discuss...

Posted by Andrew Mangan

Per Mertesacker Lukas Podolski celebPA PhotosPer Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski have come in for criticism this term

Although very often comment sections can turn into something of a minefield, I thought it might be interesting to try a couple of topics for discussion.

1 - Are Arsenal's defensive issues overplayed in the media?

Things to bear in mind: As I mentioned on my own blog this morning, Arsenal have conceded fewer goals than Spurs, only one more than Manchester United, and just two more than Chelsea. From a statistical point of view they are not massively worse than three of the clubs in top four (Man City have conceded just 24 goals in the league this season).

Yet the media narrative has focused on how poor Arsenal's defending is. Gary Neville's excellent analysis of it is well worth a watch, but why is there such focus when other teams concede a similar amount of goals?

Is it because of the high-profile individual errors that stand out more than 'regular' goals? But then aren't all goals preventable in some way?

We have the story about how Arsene Wenger has taken Steve Bould away from coaching the defence because he felt Bould was getting too much credit. Can anyone think of a rational, reasonable explanation as to why a football manager would make his own life more difficult and his team less effective?

Isn't the bigger issue that when it comes to the big games Arsenal are struggling to score the goals that matter?

2 - What is going on with Lukas Podolski?

My fellow ESPN blogger Sam Limbert wrote about the German last week, and raised some pertinent questions.

Why does he seem incapable of playing for 90 minutes? He's been substituted more than any Arsenal player I can ever remember.

What has he done in the last few weeks that has seen his involvement dwindle? He scored Arsenal's winner against Stoke but failed to make it onto the pitch against Sunderland and the defeat to Blackburn in the FA Cup. He scored against Bayern and was taken off, came on as a sub against Aston Villa and with Arsenal trailing in the North London derby was only introduced in the 77th minute.

He and Olivier Giroud seemed to be building a good understanding, has his recent time on the bench contributed to the Frenchman's run of 6 games without a goal? It does take time for relationships on the pitch to develop, so why when things were looking good between the two summer signings has Arsene Wenger chosen to make it more difficult for them?

Is he, after playing for so long in Germany, fatigued at having not had a winter break like they do in the Bundesliga?

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I'll do my best to respond to comments and thoughts, but let's try and keep the discussion on topic. And ignore the trolls ;)

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