• Premier League

Wenger: No more Jekyll and Hyde defending

ESPN staff
August 8, 2014
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Arsene Wenger says Arsenal can ditch their "Jekyll and Hyde" defending and finally show they are good enough to become champions.

His team spent 128 days at the top of the Premier League table last season, more than any other team, but their title bid was wrecked by heavy away defeats to their rivals.

Arsenal were mauled 6-3 at Manchester City just before Christmas and then thrashed 5-1 by Liverpool at Anfield in February. A 6-0 defeat at Chelsea the month after also soured Wenger's landmark 1,000th game in charge of the club.

"I was concerned and shocked by the number of goals that we conceded in the games against our top four rivals," Wenger said.

Arsene Wenger wore a look of dismay as Arsenal slumped to a 6-0 defeat at Chelsea last season © Getty Images

"We were Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde defensively. We had 18 cleans sheets last season but when we did not keep a clean sheet we let them score a lot.

"Overall, we were quite sound defensively so I think it was down to confidence and now we have a good opportunity to improve that.

"The real damage was done in the games at Liverpool and Chelsea. Honestly, the 6-3 game at City was not so bad because we finished with 10 men and had six or seven chances to score.

"I took a gamble to come back at 10 against 11 and we lost the game in the last 20 minutes. But when you look at the chances we missed, it was not damaging.

"We played Napoli on the Wednesday night and then Saturday morning at Manchester City. We were not outplayed by them."

Arsenal can throw down an early marker for their title ambitions when they take on champions City in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday.

The seven-point gap to City last season was the closest Arsenal had been in the title race since 2008 and Wenger feels his side's new big-spending transfer strategy has levelled the playing field.

"We have more money available to buy today than we had five years ago," he said. "Then, we lost top players without being able to buy top replacements.

"But now we can compete better for the best players on the market. We are less vulnerable for sure.

"In the last year we have bought Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez - five years ago we would have never have been able to sign them."

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