Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny believes the talent in the Gunners squad “is as good as any in Europe”, and is concerned how that quality has not resulted in silverware.
The north London outfit have endured another hit-and-miss season, and currently sit four points adrift of the Champions League qualification places, with only the Champions League a viable option to end their seven-year trophy drought.
Szczesny understands the supporters’ desire for silverware, but did suggest that premature impatience can negatively affect the players’ performances on the pitch.
Szczesny told The Guardian: “Sometimes I look at our training sessions and think this team is as good as any in Europe. And sometimes it just doesn’t work out for us in the game.”
“People talk about pressure in football but I don’t think pressure should always affect you in a bad way. I love games under pressure. The players are impatient. We really want to win a trophy.
“The fans are understandably impatient, because we should be doing much better than we have been. It’s a very long period that we have been disappointed. Very often, when we go on the football pitch, I feel like if we don’t score four goals in the first 15 minutes people start being a little bit hesitant.
“Sometimes you hear boos in the crowd, although that’s a different story. You get that kind of atmosphere where some people feel under a little bit too much pressure. But I don’t feel pressure should paralyse you. It should make you even better if anything. It’s hard to explain.”
Arsenal have come under criticism for lapses in concentration in defence, with 27 goals conceded in just 23 goals and a number of leads being relinquished throughout the season – most recently being pegged back twice by Championship side Brighton in the FA Cup.
However Szczesny has backed his defenders and highlighted the need for other members of the squad to help out in defence – citing the recent 2-1 loss to Chelsea as an example of his back four being outnumbered for a superior attacking unit.
He continued: “Over a long time I’ve honestly had enough of people saying Arsenal’s defence is not good enough. People judge defence on the back of goals conceded but you have to have a look at the defending in general.
“If my back four are completely exposed against Chelsea – most of the time in the first half there it was four of my defenders against six Chelsea players – they were disadvantaged all the time. You have to look at the defending of the whole team, the shape of the whole team. People blame the Arsenal defenders way too much over the past couple of seasons.
“I feel for them, massively. I try to help them as much as I can. I am happy to take the blame sometimes for a goal conceded if I felt I could do better. They’ve been hammered.
“Of course sometimes people make mistakes but very often the Arsenal defenders have been criticised too much. It gets to public opinion and once people give you a label of a dodgy defender, whatever you do they look at you closely and there is always something they will find that you have done wrong. It’s quite tough.”