‘Arsenal have to make some big decisions this summer’

Arsene Wenger must make decisive moves after the end of the season

ARSENAL have now nearly conceded 40 goals in the league this season, and I think we all have to acknowledge that record is simply not good enough if you want to win the title.

As we have all seen all too frequently in recent weeks, this Arsenal team are collectively not strong enough at the back and there was more painful evidence of that in the Stoke defeat last Sunday.

So where do they go from here? There have to be changes this summer and I think there will be this time, I can see three or four players will be sold and the same amount or more will be coming in.

But what kind of players will they be? For me, they have to be different to what Arsene Wenger already has available, he has to address the problems that have seen the side falter over the last few seasons. The defence needs to be worked on and I would go right back to the basics – first and foremost what you want your defenders to do is defend.

Arsenal play lovely football and everyone needs to be comfortable on the ball in the modern game, but there has to be an emphasis on bringing in players, whether full-backs or centre-backs, who are natural defenders.

We will see a host of names mentioned between now and the start of next season, most of which will turn out to be complete speculation, but Arsenal do need to strengthen there and, like many people, I feel they need a commanding presence at the back, a real leader of the team.

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That player may already be at the club, and it will be interesting to see Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou play together in the next few weeks as they do have the makings of a decent central partnership.

It is not all about the defence though, there is a lack of mental strength throughout the squad as we have seen in recent weeks.

One story that has surfaced of late is that Pat Rice might retire at the end of the season as No2 to Arsene, and if that does happen then his successor would be a very important decision.

Pat has been at the club for ever, and was a vital link between the boss and the players when Arsene first came to the club back in 1996.

Fifteen years later and a lot of those players are now coaches themselves, and one of them, Steve Bould, is at the club with the youth set-up.

Tony Adams has done his coaching badges and has had a taste of management, and I think a lot of fans would love to see a real Arsenal man take over from Pat if he does go.

That may not be what Arsene is thinking, but I am sure any former player would jump at the chance to be involved again, and help the club back to the level where it should be, winning trophies and titles again.