Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes side must lay to rest their defensive 'ghosts'

By Jim van Wijk

Manager Arsene Wenger believes his side must lay to rest their defensive "ghosts" before they can move forward in 2015.

The Gunners begin the defence of their FA Cup crown at home to Hull tomorrow having started the new year with a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Southampton, which left them in sixth and three points off the Champions League places.

Having produced such a solid rearguard display when winning at West Ham on December 28, Arsenal were again architects of their own downfall at St Mary's with blunders from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny compounded by poor judgments from centre-backs Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.

Arsenal host Stoke on January 11, and then travel to Manchester City - by which time Wenger knows his defence must pull themselves together.

"I cannot fault the attitude of the team, but we were again haunted by the ghost of what we have seen since the start of the season," Wenger said.

"This is not the first time it has happened. We did not defend well enough in the final third, and we paid a heavy price. It is a self-inflicted defeat."

German international Lukas Podolski did not feature against the Saints because of a tight groin, according to Wenger, with Italian side Inter Milan set to step up their interest when the transfer window officially opens again.

Belfast Telegraph

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