x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Attack the best form of defence for Arshavin

Arsenal must improve their defensive performances - and until that happens, they just have to score more goals than they let in, says Andrey Arshavin.

Andrey Arshavin, third left, trains with his Arsenal teammates yesterday. 

Glyn Kirk / AFP Photo
Andrey Arshavin, third left, trains with his Arsenal teammates yesterday. Glyn Kirk / AFP Photo

LONDON // Arsenal must improve their defensive performances - and until that happens, they just have to score more goals than they let in, says Andrey Arshavin.

The Gunners went top of the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Fulham on Saturday.

However, it was anything but a convincing rearguard display from Arsenal, who are without Thomas Vermaelen, the injured centre-back, until the New Year.

The London side have been criticised for an apparent soft backline this season, which saw them beaten in their last two Champions League away games to leave qualification for the knockout stage dependant on beating Group H whipping boys Partizan Belgrade at Emirates Stadium tonight.

Arshavin, who has six goals this season, believes the Gunners need to tighten up if they are to push on and have a successful campaign.

"We struggle all the time in defence. We have to score more than we concede. That's it," the Russian said.

"It is very frustrating. We are trying to improve, but we can't. We don't just blame our defenders. Sometimes I can't run, and let defenders cross so the forwards score a goal.

"It doesn't always depend on defenders. As a team we need to improve defensively."

Arshavin believes that while Arsenal have blown their chances of finishing top of the group to secure seeding for the knockout stage, the Gunners should not fear anybody.

"I think we have no chance of topping the group," he said. "It is disappointing, but we always knew Shakhtar and Braga were good teams, especially at home. Unfortunately they showed that against us.

"We will get a difficult draw, but Arsenal want to win the Champions League and if you want to win it you have to play the best teams, like Barcelona and Real Madrid.

"It doesn't matter if it's in the last 16, quarter-finals or semi-finals."

Arshavin was in Zurich last week for the 2018 World Cup announcement, where he helped deliver a moving speech during Russia's final presentation.

The 29-year-old can understand the disappointment of England's failure to win over Fifa's Executive Committee.

"It was predictable, you love football, I see it every day, football in England is a religion," he said.

"When I came back, Jack Wilshere said to me: 'Heh, what have you done? I dreamed to lift the trophy in front of my own supporters!'

"I can understand him, but I said 'you still have time to wait'."

Arshavin added: "It will help our country to improve, not just in terms of football. It will be perfect, believe me - if Vladimir Putin [the Russian prime minister] wants something, he does really well."

Arshavin was jeered by some Fulham supporters on Saturday.

He said: "I fully understand them, but it did not disturb me to beat their team, no problem."

The Russian - signed from Zenit St Petersburg in January 2009 - has yet to commit his long-term future to Arsenal.

"It depends how long I am going to play, if one week, yes, if five or six years, I don't know. It is difficult to say," Arshavin said.

"The English league is the best and everybody dreams to play here."

11.45pm, Aljazeera Sport +3 & +4