Arsenal were condemned to their second successive defeat in a week after losing 2-0 to Portguese kings Sporting Braga in the UEFA Champions Premier League. The defeat comes of the back of a shock 3-2 loss to fierce rivals Tottenham after dominating and leading 2-0 at half time.
In what was a scrappy, slow match that was tainted by constant fouls by a lifeless Braga outfit alongside horrific refereeing, the Gunners went from dominating Group H to be in danger of failing to qualify for the final 16 of Europe's most prestigious domestic competition.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is currently pursuing an epic quest to end a five-year trophy drought, however, with the current defence the Frenchman boasts at his disposal, it looks destined that the lack of silverware will continue for yet another season.
During the Summer Arsene Wenger vowed to implement changes into his youthful squad in hopes of reinforcing a stronger title challenge for next season.
Critics and fans alike believed the goalkeeper position was the most glaring in need of change. Since Jens Lehman's departure in 2008, the Gunners have failed to boast a quality, reliable presence between the sticks. Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski had tried gallantly and were occasionally brilliant, but both had a tendency to make vital errors on a consistent basis.
However, Wenger was unable to attract a quality keeping presence, but the Frenchman was tremendously active in terms of defensive reinforcements. So as 2010-11 commenced, all felt that once again Arsenal's keeping conundrum would be the main reason for their eventual failure.
But surprisingly, it has not been the case.
Manuel Almunia began the season in solid fashion before a persistent elbow injury has seen the Spaniard absent since September. Deputy Lukasz Fabianski has been superb in Almunia's absence, proving his capability as a dominant keeper.
The Polish shot-stopper has shown great composure and consistency since being elevated to the No. 1 role and has all but diminished Arsenal's keeping woes. Yet despite the revival of Arsenal's keepers, Wenger's defence has been the focal point of their demises this season.
The French tactician worked tirelessly during the summer on his back line. William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre, Philippe Senderos, Sol Campbell and Kerrea Gilbert were all declined for contract extension despite boasting over 700 Premier League caps.
Wenger defensive line, particularly the centre half regime, was undernourished but the Frenchman was able to secure the signings of little known Frenchman Laurent Koscienly from French outfit Lorient FC for £10 million. Whilst former Lyon defender Sebastien Squillaci arrived from Spanish giants Seville for £3.2 million.
The two centre halves joined Thomas Vermaelen, the defensive leader, and Johan Djourou, who had missed all but the final game of 2009-10, as the central defenders. Vermaelen, touted as Arsenal premier defender, suffered a persistent ankle injury in August and has failed to feature since.
Johan Djourou has easily been the most impressive of the defensive, especially as the imposing Swiss only recently returned to full fitness. However, the two summer signings have failed to impress, particularly Laurent Koscienly.
The pair partnered one another for Arsenal's shock loss to rivals Tottenham on Saturday and are one of the predominant reasons Tottehnam were able to come from 2-0 down and succeed. Squillaci has performed credibly throughout the season and in Vermaelen's absence has formed a strong partnership with Djourou, but at 30, the Frenchman lacks the speed so desperately vital in the Premier League.
Koscienly, on the other hand, has just looked frail and out of place at times. Particularly during the second half against Tottenham, the 25-year-old was caught out of position and out-muscled too easily in the air. Furthermore, the Frenchman has already conceded to red cards in his short cameo.
If even Vermaelen is to return in the coming weeks, the former Ajax captain will require at least a month to regain proper fitness levels to thrive in the Premier League. The answer is plain and simple for Wenger: Buy a quality defender in January.
But Wenger's transfer motives are often disappointing. The Frenchman has a tendency to be particularly tentative with his funds hence the rarity of big name signings. However, surely with the current defensive crisis, Wenger will realise that he has to spend.
Fortunately the 60-year-old boasts sufficient funds at his disposal and has an opportunity to attract some of the world's best centre halves.
Let's establish who they could be.