Though he will be doing his best to address that downturn in results, ultimately blame should not lie at interim manager Freddie Ljungberg’s feet, and the squad of players must take some responsibility. Though the Gunners defence has received much scrutiny, few bad words have been written about Bernd Leno, the man tasked with marshalling the defenders in front of him.
To avoid going nine matches without a victory for the first time since 1977, when Arsenal play Brighton and Hove Albion this evening, it is up to the German international goalkeeper to make sure his defence is organised to give himself the best chance of adding to his two clean sheets this season. Though Leno has performed admirably throughout this term, considering the mistakes players have made in front of him, he has conceded 21 goals, the same number as his opposite number Matt Ryan. Arsenal’s number one must accept some responsibility for conceding such a high frequency and address the lack of confidence in defence by leading his back four through Thursday nights fixture.
So far this campaign Leno has made 59 saves in the Premier League. Meanwhile, Dean Henderson of Sheffield United has made 37, the Blades have the second-best defensive record in the league, and it shows how much extra work Leno has to put in. Though he cannot account for teammates individual errors, Leno has to transform himself into a figure that inspires confidence in his defensive line, a level of confidence that reflects his outstanding goalkeeping abilities.
The Gunners current tally of 14 points is their lowest after 14 matches of a Premier League campaign since 1994/95, that season they finished 12th, if Arsenal are to push for the European places, Leno must step up.
He has been a glimmer of hope in a largely underwhelming season, but if Leno can organise the defence in front of him, first hand and Arsenal have a real chance of addressing the slide they currently find themselves in.