How Gunners suffer from deep defence Ron Atkinson Monday December 22, 2003 The Guardian Arsenal seem to have adopted a policy when 1-0 up of 'What we have we hold.' The trouble is they are defending so deep they invite a lot of pressure in their penalty box, and Bolton aren't the first team to benefit. Henrik Pedersen's equaliser highlighted the danger to Arsenal of continually retreating into their own area, but they should already have learned the lesson. It was similar against Leicester after they went down to 10 men, and let in a late goal there. The old Arsenal back line made a point of holding the edge of the box. This team must take that on board if they are to carry on trying to put the emphasis on retaining an advantage. That way opposition strikers have to worry about being caught offside, anything too high runs through to the keeper, and clearing headers land further from goal than the 18 yards or so which gave Pedersen his strike. Two of that famous Arsenal back five are still at the club in Martin Keown and Steve Bould, maybe they could put on some sessions. George Graham used to do that four or five times a week. Bolton played really well and deserved a point, but at 1-0 Arsenal handed them the initiative too easily. They replaced Dennis Bergkamp with Ray Parlour, leaving Thierry Henry alone up front. They'd have been better bringing on Nwankwo Kanu, who holds the ball up and relieves pressure. But they also dropped so deep that they conceded a lot of corners and allowed Bolton long throws from dangerous areas. The equaliser illustrated the problem. As soon as Emerson Thome hit the free-kick, Sol Campbell and Pascal Cygan were retreating. They invited Bolton into the box, and when Cygan could only get a weak header under pressure, Pedersen finished brilliantly. They should have held the edge of the box. Youri Djorkaeff and Kevin Davies would have been wary of running into the area in case they were offside. If Thome's free-kick had been long Jens Lehmann could have claimed it, and even a weak header by Cygan would have been harder to score from, because the ball would have landed further out.