By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger has defended his defenders in the aftermath of that midweek mayhem at Anfield.

Arsenal’s back four were criticised after relinquishing three leads during their dramatic 4-4 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday night. Rafa Benitez’s team snatched a draw in stoppage time as Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun scored two apiece to cancel out Andrey Arshavin’s quartet.

Not surprisingly, both defences came under fire after Tuesday’s game but Wenger feels that his back four have been harshly treated. He explained why at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“First of all, after every goal, there are at least five mistakes – every single goal in the season,” said Wenger.

“Secondly, I believe as well that our defenders are the only players who played Wednesday night against Villarreal, Saturday against Chelsea, Tuesday against Liverpool and so at the end of the game, we were a bit jaded physically.

“I am convinced as well that the game was played at such a high pace that it provokes mistakes. OK it’s easy to clear the ball but when they come always 100 miles an hour, it is much more difficult. I explain defensive mistakes on Tuesday night more by the pace of the game than by individual errors.”

It was put to Wenger that his team’s tendency to pass the ball out from the back invites unnecessary pressure and they should be encouraged to clear their lines more often with an emphatic ‘hoof’.

You won’t hear cries of ‘launch it’ from the Arsenal manager any time soon but Wenger has no problem with that style of defending – provided it is constructive.

"The game is made of good and bad decisions and it is sometimes good just to clear the ball,” he said. “But I still believe the basic rule is to be constructive out from the back and that’s what we try to do.

“But of course when sometimes you have to kick the ball into the stand to keep the result, I encourage the players to do it. It has to be the best decision of the time.”

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24 Apr 2009