Wojciech Szczesny has hailed the Gunners defensive solidity and has been especially impressed with the versatility and cohesion when fringe players have come in.
Poland international goalkeeper has kept 14 clean sheets for Arsenal this season but has played with a variety of combinations at the back due to injuries and suspensions.
The Gunners have been temporarily knocked off the top spot in the Premiership, however conceding just once in their last five games bodes well for their trip to Villa park on Monday night.
Defensive organization throughout the entire team hasn’t been Arsenal’s strength over the past few seasons, however Szczesny believes their shape has developed immeasurably providing the catalyst for their defensive improvement.
The Gunners number one told Sky Sport:
I prefer to play behind the same back four because we have got a very good understanding, but you have to give credit to the players that have come in.
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When everyone does as well as they have been doing recently, it really doesn’t matter.
Thomas Vermaelen has done really well when he has been in the team as have the others, like Nacho Monreal and Carl Jenkinson.
As long as the players coming in are in good shape and bring in the same principles into the game, it doesn’t make much difference. Hopefully they can maintain that form.
We have always wanted to improve because over the last few years we haven’t been the strongest in the league defensively.
Last season we improved a lot, but I think now we are showing much more consistency in our defending.
There is still room for improvement, but I have to credit the defenders and the shape of the whole team.
Arsenal’s defence appeared to take a turn in 2013, namely the Bayern Munich away leg where the emergence of the Mertesacker and Koscielny partnership was essentially cemented. But both full backs have been immense, not to mention the ability to easily rotate in Vermaelen, Monreal and Jenkinson with relative ease. The latter still has some way to go to match the others.
But it’s also been the hard work from all over the pitch that has contributed to Wenger & Steve Bould’s sides resilience. Mikel Arteta or Mathieu Flamini provide valuable shields in front of the backline while Aaron Ramsey’s work rate has been exceptional. Olivier Giroud has been brilliant at both ends of the pitch too, adding some much needed height and physicality when facing set pieces.
Szczesny has been a vital cog and has enjoyed a brilliant season so far between the sticks. The 23-year-old has made a number of high profile, match winning saves and if he can help maintain Arsenal’s defensive performances then they can regain and then maintain their top of the table spot this campaign.