Wenger makes the case for defence

Press Association,Paul Hirst
Sunday 23 October 2011 04:49

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed he intends to sign a defender this summer after he admitted his side's performances at the back this year have been "average".

The Gunners rounded off their Barclays Premier League campaign with a 4-0 win over Fulham on Sunday to beat rivals Tottenham into third place.

Failure in both of the domestic cup competitions and a Champions League exit to Barcelona this year means Arsenal have now gone five seasons without winning a trophy.

Wenger has highlighted his side's defensive frailties as the reason why Arsenal have come up short again this year after they conceded 41 goals in the league.

Centre half Thomas Vermaelen has been a revelation since his move from Ajax last year but lapses have cost the team dearly as their title push faded towards the end of the campaign.

Wenger now hopes to rectify that by adding a defender to his ranks with Fulham's Brede Hangeland and Senegal defender Pape Diakhate thought to be on the Frenchman's radar.

"If you divide the season into two - going forward we have done very well but defensively we have been average," said Wenger, who could also lose William Gallas on a free transfer this summer.

"When you concede 40 goals you don't win the championship and I want to rectify that.

"My transfer policy this summer will be to keep our strengths going forward, add one player, and add more defensive strength to our team."

Arsenal's hopes of a first title in six years looked to be over when they lost 3-0 at home to Chelsea in November but they recovered to claim top spot the following month.

Poor form towards the end of the campaign, including a 2-1 defeat to Spurs, ended the club's title ambitions, though.

Wenger admits losing the likes of captain Cesc Fabregas and defender Gallas towards the end of the campaign did not help, but he is hopeful the team can bounce back and win the title next year.

"When you're as close to a trophy and you don't do it, it's disappointing but overall if you look back over the season, I am proud of our attitude and spirit," the Frenchman told Arsenal TV online.

"Unfortunately we got injuries in the final sprint of the season and it was a bit too much.

"This season has shown that we have quality, spirit and we have also discovered players who have made massive improvements so there is a very strong basis to do extremely well.

"Not a lot is needed when you come as close as we did this year having lost the big games.

"I think we have a massive chance to come back and win it. Let's be consistent, come back next year and be even stronger."

Wenger highlighted Kevin Phillips' injury-time equaliser at St Andrew's in March as the point when he knew his side had lost out in the title race.

"The turning point was at Birmingham," said the 60-year-old.

"We couldn't afford to concede that late goal when we had come back into the title race."

Wenger also believes Arsenal's away form will have to improve if they are to challenge next year after the Gunners won eight of their games away from the Emirates Stadium, three fewer than United.

He said: "We had a good home season. We were disappointed to lose the two big home games against Manchester United and Chelsea but overall at home we did everything that was required of us. Away we had periods where we were strong and others when were vulnerable, especially recently."

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