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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Extras
indybest
News
people
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

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?