Amy Lawrence says the Arsenal back four of George Graham’s era was an “iconic unit” in itself, before you even consider the rest of the team.
The Gunners’ team of that era was built from the back, with the solid defence allowing the players in front of them the freedom to express themselves offensively.
Amy Lawrence had high praise for them in a recent interview on Arsenal.com, telling the website: “The Arsenal back four was an iconic unit.
“It’s not that often in history that you get little departments in the team that become an entity in themselves. Maybe something close is the Messi, Neymar, Suarez that you had at Barcelona and everyone thinks what a powerful thing they created.
“That Arsenal back four… it was incredible to watch them in those days because you went into games thinking, ‘Well, we’re not going to lose because we’re not going to concede a goal’. That was the foundation for what became a winning team.”
At the moment, you get the opposite feeling with Arsenal. In four of the last five matches, the Gunners have conceded before scoring, with the only exception being a 0-0 draw to Red Star Belgrade.
The team are repeatedly putting themselves in the position where they have to score two or more; rather than knowing they aren’t going to concede, the assumption is that they will. Of course, it doesn’t help that the team has changed so much since the start of the season.
That iconic back four at Arsenal generally revolved around the same four or five players, but that’s been a thing of the past in 2017/18.
Arsenal have already played Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker, Sead Kolašinac, Laurent Koscielny, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Josh Dasilva and Nacho Monreal at centre-back this season, as well as Maitland-Niles in pre-season.
When you’re reaching double figures for different centre-back options by November, you’re going to struggle to create consistent partnerships. But maybe the Gunners also need to take a look at the 1989 team for a bit of defensive inspiration moving forward.