Arsenal are lucky to even be in the top seven of the Premier League with the prospect of Europa League football again next season given their appalling defensive record, according to former Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic.
Defeat to Newcastle United on Sunday means the Gunners have now lost five successive away games in the league and have not picked up three points on the road since the 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on 28th December.
Arsene Wenger’s side have also now conceded a total of 45 goals this season, 16 more than Burnley, who are two points behind them in the league, and only one fewer than 17th-placed Swansea City.
And while Vidic insisted that with a record like that Arsenal are lucky to be sixth, he did admit that they could challenge for the title if they improved and organised their backline.
“They have to learn to defend,” Vidic said on Sky Sports after the match at St James’ Park. “For me, now when Arsenal go to the pre-season they can’t think about scoring goals, they are going to think can we have a clean sheet please because that’s what they have to learn.
“To defend, that is the key if they want to challenge for the title because I think in the end they will score 70 goals in a season but they will concede 40, last two seasons they have conceded 44, 45 or 50 I think they concede.
“For a team that’s in the top six, seven to concede that many goals I think they are doing well to be in that position.
“I think communication is key, I think sometimes if you say to the player ‘I will attack the ball’ and the other says ‘I will cover’, it is simple communication. Everyone was watching what the other player is going to do, no one is saying ‘I will go forward or I will go behind’.
“It’s what I did all my career with Rio (Ferdinand), Patrice (Evra) and other players, we always had communication with each other. It’s not just ‘okay we are going to wait to see what happens’, we were communicating all the time through the game.”