What can we conclude from the last 9 games? In my opinion we can say without doubt that the defence has done some hard work on the training ground and it is a solid defence that wins games.
Look at the stats. Last 9 games – 6 goals conceded. Previous 9 games – 15 goals conceded. Our first 9 games saw us concede 17 times!
Yes, we may well score outrageous goals and huge quantities of them but it is self-evident that if we don’t concede we get at least a point. This is the SAF way, his philosophy has always been to set out a team with a solid base and allow the flair players to work from that base. George Graham was a man who fully understood this. Sure, we saw some absolutely dire football but “1-0 to the Arsenal” was a song I sung with as much gusto as “Living in a Bergkamp Wonderland,” though I remember the DB wonder goals far better than the 1-0 bores of the GG years ….. apart from that magic night in Copenhagen when the defensive genius of Graham’s management was in full flower.
What has changed? The obvious answer is the return of the full backs. Any team would struggle with 4 FB injuries, and the loss of Sagna in particular was very costly (I have to admit to having a man crush on Bacary). But how does the return of the FB’s explain our new found ability to defend set plays?
It has to come from improved organisation, and that must come from hours of practice. And who at the club knows all about defensive co-ordination? Yes, …. “he’s got no hair, but we don’t care” Steve Bould.
Could it be that Bouldy has at last got to grips with the defence or is it someone within the team? BFG or TV? Or is it having a goalkeeper who has grown into the shirt and is prepared to dominate his area?
Whatever the reason, in recent weeks we have conceded from either bad luck (loss of footing) or a momentary lack of concentration (QPR).
And can you really say which is our best back line? The only player I would say is an automatic starter is Sagna, TV and Kos could be rotated with BFG, who in my opinion is the best organiser, and the jury is out on Gibbs or Santos. Gibbs has been troubled by niggly injuries and though he is undoubtedly our future first choice LB, it is to AW’s merit that he signed Santos to nurse Gibbs through. A run of games will show what a fine player the Brazilian is.
The ankle injury to Mertescker is a cause for concern. When I first read of the Vertonghen rumors I dismissed them but two serious injuries to the same ankle could be evidence of a skeletal weakness in BFG – I sincerely hope not as he and Kos were developing a fine partnership.
Which brings us to Arsenal’s most improved player of the season. Koscielny showed glimpses of his talent last year but this year he has been fantastic. Dependable, creative, pacy, good in the air. Another Wenger gem.
After the wonderful defences marshalled by Adams and then Campbell, have we at last a back 5 we can depend upon?
Written by Big Raddy