The Arsenal shot stopper spoke to the press on the eve of the match at Dortmund, and answered a variety of questions. The Arsenal defence has been very leaky this season, conceding goals for almost every attack by the opposition. In each of the first four games of the season, Arsenal have conceded a goal to the first shot on target. A total of six goals conceded has seen Arsenal earn just three draws, and this is in particular due to their shakiness from set pieces.
The back four are playing zonal marking, a good idea in theory but the execution is lacking to make it really effective. This was in full display in the game against Manchester City, where Arsenal conceded the second goal off a Kolarov corner due to poor marking. Demichelis was left free to head the ball in. It still feels as if the Arsenal defenders are not fully comfortable with the style of play and each other, and this is leading to otherwise avoidable mistakes.
Szczesny made it clear that the team were working on this:
We do realise that set pieces have been a weakness for us recently. We’ve conceded [a couple] of goals already and it’s very early in the season. We did very well last season on set pieces and we’re a bit disappointed. We’ve been working on it in training so hopefully we’ll put that right on Tuesday.
It’s very disappointing to lose such an important player [Debuchy]. He’s had a very strong start to the season, he’s very experienced and he’s a very solid right back so we’re disappointed to lose him but hopefully he’ll be back as soon as possible. I have no difficulty playing with any of the defenders. We try to communicate in training so I don’t think that’s too much of an issue.
He also had an opinion on the Champions League draw. Arsenal have been unlucky over the past few seasons, being handed tough draws in the round of 16. This year as well, their group is one of the more challenging ones in the draw. But Szczesny made it clear that the team was ready for the challenge ahead:
Over the last few years we’ve struggled with very tough draws in the last 16. We’ve gone up against very strong teams and we’ve struggled a little bit but hopefully we’ll get to that stage again – that’s the most important thing again, to get through the group stage. We’ve got a very tough group so it won’t be easy. I think we’ve got a really strong squad that can challenge for more trophies and more success in the Champions League this season. Hopefully that will be the case.
The last time these two teams met each other, Arsenal emerged triumphant. When asked about that game:
It was a very good game. We know how good the Dortmund team is and we came and got a very good result. We kept a clean sheet as well which was nice. So hopefully we’ll keep the same attitude and we’ll be looking to repeat that result.
With Arsenal’s defence depleting game by game, it will be a makeshift back line in front of Szczesny. A clean sheet would be a boost but not imperative, not losing the fixture is perhaps the most important thing on the agenda.
The Gunners attack should hopefully make up for the lack of consistency at the back, and hopefully their weaknesses with set pieces will be addressed in the coming days.
Big match tonight. COYG!