Arsenal must tighten defence says Wenger

Arsene Wenger maintains his squad is "convinced" they can last the distance in the title race next season but admits Arsenal must tighten up at the back if they are to be genuine contenders.

Only Chelsea and Manchester United have scored more Barclays Premier League goals than the Gunners.

Yet despite William Gallas and summer signing Thomas Vermaelen - who will both miss the rest of the season through injury - having settled into a decent partnership at centre-back, the 39 conceded is bettered by five out of the other top seven clubs.

With Gallas not yet having agreed a new deal, and fellow veterans Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre also out of contract in the summer, Wenger could well move to strengthen his backline with Fulham's Brede Hangeland a reported target as the Norwegian impressed in the run to the Europa League final.

But whatever the line-up next season, the Arsenal manager accepts his team must improve their collective defensive play.

"The squad is convinced we have a strong chance next year because we have room for improvement," Wenger said.

"If you assess our situation, going forwards we have been very, very efficient - our goalscoring rate is very good.

"Where we want to set ourselves a target next season is we have conceded nearly 40 goals - that is too many to win the championship and is where we want to improve."

Arsenal head to Blackburn on Monday night with little other than pride left to play for after another season which had promised so much failed to deliver.

Wenger, though, stressed there would be no thoughts of taking it easy at Ewood Park, or indeed in the final game against Fulham.

"It is important that we finish well to be faithful to what we have done during the season," stressed the Arsenal manager.

"First we need to be in the top three, then as close as possible to the other two."

Wenger maintained: "Compared to the difference which existed early on in the season last year, we have made progress.

"But we want to finish as close as possible to the team who will win the championship.

"There is still an outside chance they will drop points and that we can finish within five points of them."

Despite all his positive rhetoric, there remains a distinct sense of disappointment at what might have been.

Arsenal twice hauled themselves back into the title race after being written off, only to then be unable to produce a performance when it really mattered.

"With five games to go, we were in a very strong position," Wenger lamented.

"Then, we had disappointing results at Tottenham and at Wigan - that is unfortunately where we lost the championship.

"I believe had we won at Tottenham, then we would have been level with Chelsea today. So of course that brings immense regrets."

Wenger accepts his squad needs one or two additions during the summer, but is keen to get any business done sooner rather than later.

Arsenal are expected to confirm the arrival of Marouane Chamakh on a free transfer once the Morocco striker's contract with Bordeaux expires.

With the Gunners' goalkeeping position again coming under the spotlight this season following some inconsistent displays by both Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski, Wenger could be tempted to move for Kasper Schmeichel after the 23-year-old former Manchester City stopper was released by Notts County.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick