But taking a closer look at the possible theory behind The Gunners’ approach to the transfer market so far this summer, there may be a case to suggest Unai Emery has a genius plan in the works to deliver an improvement on last year’s underachievement on the relatively minute budget he has been afforded in the off-season.
No matter how much the defence progresses next year, getting the right results out of the squad will define the level of Arsenal’s success next season (with the FA yet to commission a trophy for the most-improved team).
The defence clearly isn’t everything – the best defence in the league last season finished 2nd, almost proving that winning – not defending – gets you points.
And with that at the forefront of any transfer plans for the year ahead, simply scoring more than the opponent – no matter how many Arsenal concede – could be the best route to success regardless of whether Shkodran Mustafi decides to unleash his inner Cannavaro (should it exist).
Now, supplying Arsenal’s fairly efficient attack with the added goal source of Zaha has some tangible thinking behind it, with Emery battling against time to get his Gunners project up and running over a year into the job.
It may merely be the case of Emery feeling the likelier to two scenarios being Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having a better year than the previous one, rather than Arsenal’s sub-standard defence evoking the spirit of 1991 at the click of his fingers – and aiming to supply the tools necessary to make the outcome of the former a reality next season.
In which case, Emery’s slightly unobvious approach to fixing Arsenal’s defence makes perfect sense when looking at the bigger picture.
After all, you don’t need great defences to win titles. Liverpool so nearly did conceding 50 – just one less than Arsenal last season – when they threw away the title in 2013/14. Meanwhile, Spurs conceded 19 goals in 13 Champions League games and almost won the thing.
So while suggesting Arsenal couldn’t do with better defenders may be slightly wide of the mark, there may yet be something in proposing they don’t need them for a successful campaign in 2019/20.