Arsenal are set to travel to Belarus on Thursday night for the first leg of their Europa League knockout fixture against BATE Borisov, and Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has had some tough words to say about the Gunners’ centre-backs.
What’s the word?
An unenviable midweek trip awaits the Gunners but Unai Emery’s success in the European competition suggests he knows how to deal with the physical strain these types of tests provide.
On paper it should be a routine victory for Arsenal and that’s exactly what Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has tipped them to achieve.
Ahead of the match, Nicholas predicted a 3-1 victory for the travelling side, but he did take the opportunity to criticise the north London outfit’s defence, singling out Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi for individual criticism, as per Sky Sports.
“Unai Emery has suffered more than anybody else. He knows his defence is a car crash, but there is not a lot he can do.
“Laurent Koscielny cannot do it, Shkodran Mustafi doesn’t get what he is being taught, as well as the full-backs.”
Defensive frailties need addressing
Emery’s defensive problems should not have a huge bearing on their chances of recording victory over BATE Borisov, but they certainly need addressing if the Spaniard is serious about Arsenal’s long-term ambitions.
Mustafi has consistently proven to be one of the most underwhelming Arsenal signings in recent memory, while Koscielny is simply past his brilliant best at 33years of age.
It’s verging on hyperbolic to describe Arsenal’s defence as a ‘car crash’, but there are certainly fundamental issues which need to be addressed in order to help the Gunners re-establish themselves as a genuine title-challenger.