In Brief

Mertesacker is a rhino says Arsenal keeper Szczesny's dad

Gunners defence is 'a disaster' and coaches are not helping Szczesny, claims his father

The father of under-fire Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has launched a ferocious attack on the Gunners defence and coaches, comparing Per Mertesacker to a rhinoceros and describing the back four as a "disaster".

His comments come after Szczesny was reportedly caught smoking in the showers at Southampton's ground after Arsenal's 2-0 defeat to the Saints on New Year's Day, a game in which the goalkeeper was at fault for both the goals.

It is thought that the Pole has been fined £20,000 for his misdemeanour and there have been claims that he and Arsene Wenger have had a major falling out.

Szczesny was dropped for the FA Cup third round match against Hull last weekend, although he rarely plays in domestic cup matches. But it remains to be seen if he is reinstated for the Premier League match against Stoke this week.

Against that backdrop, Szczesny's father, Maciej, was interviewed by Polish newspaper Przegladu Sportowego, reports the Daily Telegraph, and made it clear that he feels his son has been made a scapegoat for Arsenal's defensive failings.

He admitted Szczesny was at fault for the first of Southampton goals but added: "Please look at the Arsenal defence – how these guys are playing is a disaster, but for some reason, nobody pays any attention to it.

"[The central defenders] gave him zero support, and in that situation Mertesacker showed the agility of a rhinoceros.

"Someone should support him, but the coaching staff at Arsenal are not doing that, meanwhile the entire defence this season is an embarrassment."

He also dismissed the reports about smoking and a bust-up with Wenger, claiming his son was not that "dumb". However, he admitted he had not spoken to him.

The Daily Mail reports that Wenger is "growing impatient with Szczesny" but says his transfer targets this month are defenders rather than goalkeepers.

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