Former Gunner Sebastien Squillaci says that the way Arsene Wenger set up his teams to attack contributed to how many goals the team conceded.
The 35 year old is currently enjoying an Indian summer to his career at Bastia, having left Arsenal in 2013.
He arrived from Sevilla in 2010 but things, by his own admission, did not go well for him at the club. He barely played in his last two seasons, and he’s now shone a little bit of light on the defensive issues that the club still experience to this day.
Speaking to The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports, he said, “It’s true a lot was expected from me when I arrived. But it’s always been difficult for central defenders at Arsenal.
“You can see that from before my time and after my time. The style of play was a bit like Spain’s. It was very open, and often we found ourselves defending in the middle one on one with the opposition attackers. It was never easy. It was very attacking. But that was the club’s philosophy.
“I talked about it with coach Wenger. He told me, ‘I know it’s difficult, but I want us to play like this, I want the attacking players to have more freedom and less defensive work’.”
Some might find it easy to dismiss the comments as bitter from a player who didn’t succeed in his time at the club, but it’s interesting to hear a player talk about how difficult it was under Wenger at that time.
The Frenchman, capped 21 times by his country, has noticed a change in recent times.
“I think it’s changed in the last year,” he said. “I’ve seen matches where Arsenal have had ten men in their own half.
“That didn’t exist at my time. When I see the defensive work Giroud does… the midfielders too, I think Arsenal defend a lot more these days. And I think that’s a good thing because to win games at the highest level, to win in the Champions League, you need that.”
And he looks back on his time in North London with some regret, it being the only club where things really didn’t work for him.
“I arrived at Arsenal without a proper pre-season because my move from Sevilla happened quickly. Arsenal brought me as a third centre-back, there was an injury straight away, and I had a run of 15 or 20 games straight away.
“Despite everything, the first two of three months didn’t go too badly, then in December I wasn’t good at all, I didn’t perform well and I took a bit of a hit.
“There was a lot of intensity, arriving in England from Spain, the game’s not the same. It’s very demanding in England. My performances dipped. That’s the way things go.
“I fought all the same, I gave everything, but there were high expectations and, like I say, Arsenal conceded goals before I came, they conceded goals after I left, and they’ll concede in the future.
“I feel the criticism was a bit exaggerated, but that’s the way it is. I wasn’t good enough overall. It’s a shame, but that’s part of a career. I’d never experienced that before, I’d always been a first choice player at other clubs.”
All in all it’s a very frank, honest account of his time at the club, and the difficulties of being a defender under Arsene Wenger.