Arsenal have certainly seen an upward trend in their defensive fortunes of late. Since the game against United, we have kept three consecutive clean sheets, and that has helped us win three games on the trot and done wonders for the confidence of the squad. And stand in Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker believes that this improvement can be traced back to one person: fellow centre back Laurent Koscielny.
The Gunners have kept clean sheets in both games that Koscielny has started since returning from the injury he sustained on international duty with France in September. Both games were tough affairs that we eventually won by a one goal margin, and they went on to show what a solid defensive dipslay can do for a team.
After Arsène Wenger praised the 29-year-old for ‘stabilising’ the back four against Southampton, Mertesacker was next to pay tribute to his defensive partner ahead of today’s clash with Stoke City.
It’s great to have him back. There’s a good partnership between us but also the team trusts him because he’s a great centre back and a great lad.
We look good at the moment but we have to continue doing well, especially in practicing and training. We compliment each other really well and you can see that, especially last season where we kept a lot of clean sheets.
We have different qualities and that fits really well together. We try to keep that and remind ourselves there is still something to improve but there’s a good partnership and that’s good for the core of the team. We think that can help everyone.
Laurent has speed and ability to build up from the back, which fits with Arsenal. Maybe I’ve got different qualities, but those qualities together make us a good partnership.
The team certainly seems more confident with Koscielny in the playing XI; he adds stability to the defence, acts as a suitable partner for Mertesacker and also provides threat from set pieces, something Arsenal have lacked all too often this season. With him in the side possession seems to be used better, attacks are more coordinated and focussed. Keeper Emiliano Martinez also went on record to say how easy it is to play behind the pair of Mertesacker and Koscielny.
The Frenchman was certainly missed during his absence, and not that he is back and the team is improving it is time to make up for the damage sustained over the past couple of months. A win against Stoke today should pick up another three points in the League, then we need to take it one game at a time until we reach our minimum objective of the Top Four.