goonersphere logo website logo-02

Incredible Defence Keeping Arsenal Title Hopes Alive

Rightfully so, goalscorers are the players held up on a pedestal at their clubs. They are the ones who, with just one flick of their gaudy neon pink Nikes, can grab a goal that can turn a game or a season. A proven striker is elusive in the transfer market, lurking in the shadows like a predatory hobo, promising their admirers that with their addition, they too could touch glory, but only with their goals. 

The Ballon D’or winner was announced yesterday. The Top 3 were Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery. All attackers. These 3 players were rightfully lauded after yet another spectacular campaign. Where are the defenders though?  The last winner of this award that was a defender was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. Maybe however, that just means that defence isn’t forgotten about, but just underappreciated. 

I watched the match against Aston Villa on Monday night. We weren’t at our fluent best. Far from it. We did show teeth and fought through the excessive Villa backline to breach them twice. Jack is looking more like the player we know he can be, Ozil is laying on passes and coming deep to retrieve the ball, Santi and Giroud look fully fit and ready to aid our title bid, and our bench is full of attacking options that allows Arsene to swing a game if it isn’t going according to plan. there are plenty of positives.

You know what really has made a difference though? Our defence. As I was watching, our resident BFG made an imperious tackle, impeccably timed, which broke up an attack and set us on the front foot.  It really stood out to me as a real fantastic piece of defending. It was territorial. It sent out a message. It said that this was MY FUCKING ZONE, if you step inside I will hunt you down.  The real coup de gras was once I tweeted acknowledgement of this heroic action from Per, I noticed  others had given plaudits as well. I also noticed that Sky had latched onto BFG and Koscielny's flourishing partnership.  The stats they displayed were simply astounding, in the 27 matches they had played as a duo in the last two years, we had won 19 and drawn 8. 16 clean sheets were accumulated in these games as well.

Mertesacker/Koscielny partnership

Wowzers. The amazing duopoly were unbeaten. Whilst Jack and Olly grabbed the goals, the last few games have been won under a hail of high balls and Per and Kos haven’t given an inch.  Looking at how they play, it would seem that BFG is the better reader of the game, he chooses the exact moment to intercept. Kos can rectify mistakes, he can keep pace with the most fleet-footed of strikers, they both can deal with bullies, pace, aerial threats. In the last twenty minutes, they withstood a barrage. More so at St James Park. The stats and more importantly their displays tell you they can deal with it. The post-match interview with Jack Wilshere revealed a bit more, with Jack revealing that the team isn’t as nervous as previous seasons as they know they can rely on the backline to hold firm.  We’ve conceded only 19 goals in 21 Prem games, the joint best this season. How long has it been since we can shout about our defensive record? 

Our team feels different now. There is plenty of fight there, apparent if you watch Mertesackers reaction to conceding last night. Lots of clenched fists, shouting (mostly Flamini), the spirit is flowing. Whilst our need for an additional striker is self-evident with Theo out for a lengthy absence playing Monopoly with Abou on the treatment table, our backline does not need tinkering. Sagna had another amazing game last night, his stamina levels show no sign of abating. Nacho and Gibbs are equally capable of marauding forward and giving the attack another outlet but also keeping their opposite number quiet. On the bench we also have forgotten captain, Thomas Vermaelen, who has shown recently that he can slot in seamlessly when needed. We’re looking solid.

I think this team can produce the results up front thanks to the efforts of BFG, Kos, Sagna et al. A solid foundation is needed to build the best structures. It’s certainly been noticed by the fans. The tackle by BFG, the sliding tackle by Flamini, the tenacity of Kos. It’s being picked up on as it’s excellent football, it’s consistent and a marked difference to the last few years of Senderos and Squillaci. It’s like having a staple diet of Iceland buffet food and then coming home to find Nigella Lawson has moved in as your resident chef (complete with bong). We are rightfully dining on these fantastic displays. Even the pundits are picking up on it. 

I realise that this blog entry may come across a tad boring but I think our defensive merits need to be talked about.  Can we win the title though? Depends if we sign a striker………

Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

Think you know Arsenal? Test your Arsenal knowledge on our trivia page and see if you can beat the top score.

Don't forget to like us on Facebook, add us to your G+ circle and follow us on Twitter.



Featured On

FFC Blog Network Arsenal News & Transfers

Arsenal PRSS Arsenal News