Premier League teams make little case for the defence
Published: 30.10.12 / Written by: David Gold
This season’s Premier League title may well be decided by the team with the most lethal attack, if the opening weeks are anything to go by.
Defences have been poor throughout. Arsenal had looked like they for once had a decent defence, and maybe that will return as they get players back from injury, but in recent weeks their backline has looked like it did in the old days of inconsistency and unreliability at the Emirates Stadium.
Manchester City, who last year built a Premier League title triumph on the back of a formidable defence, have been leaky and vulnerable throughout this season. Their changes in midfield, bringing in Javi Garcia and selling Nigel de Jong, have had the effect of making them more vulnerable on the break. There is more space in front of the defence for the opposition and teams are taking advantage of that. City have not yet lost a match but it is surely only a matter of time the way they are defending at present.
All of this should be quite encouraging for Manchester United, even though they have gone behind in 8 of their 12 matches so far this season. Their defence has been rather shambolic at the worst of times, teams able to pierce them with worrying regularity and ease. It is a far cry from the Nemanja Vidic/Rio Ferdinand shielded rearguard of a few years ago, who rarely gave opponents a sniff.
At least United can boast the league’s best set of attacking weapons in the final third, in the shape of Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Ferguson will take comfort in the fact that, if defences are to be all at sea this year, his team look best placed to score enough at the other end of the pitch.
Chelsea are top of the league so far, but in their big tests so far, they have conceded regularly. If Arsenal had more finishers they would have put them to the sword, whilst Tottenham found a way past the Chelsea backline without much trouble only to find that their own defence was so weak that it did not matter. In the Champions League, Chelsea were unable to keep Juventus at bay and drew 2-2 at home. Away to Shakhtar, they were a shambles, and could not live with opponents far superior to themselves.
Tottenham have much work to do if they are to mount a title challenge. They have looked good at times but seem to lack enough stability at the back, although when Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou Ekotto return they may improve. It all adds up to a season in which defences are again likely to be the weaknesses of Premier League sides. They are already showing how vulnerable they are on the European stage. But if any of the main title challengers can find some defensive solidity, that may be enough to win the title this year.