The Gunners moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League table thanks to a battling 2-0 win over high flying Southampton on Saturday, with Olivier Giroud scoring a brace at Emirates Stadium and have just conceded 16 goals in 18 games, keeping three clean sheets in their last four outings.
The French manager has stated that they have improved defensively this season and feels it’s important for them to play their own game even if opponents are well organised.
Speaking to the Arsenal official website, he said:
We’re better, we have a lot more defensive maturity particularly. We have also been able to overcome more difficult times during matches.
I think we’re perhaps not playing that well because opponents are more organised against us. I think it’s important to play our game even if opponents are well-organised.
The North London club have won a couple of games this season despite having less possession than their opponents but Wenger believes those statistics are misleading. He added:
Against Southampton they had a lot of ball possession but in their own half of the field and very little in our final third, so it’s an illusion, these possession statistics.
The right balance in ball possession is progression and you can see it in Tottenham and Manchester City, where Tottenham actually had more ball possession.
In the past few seasons Arsenal’s defence has been considered the weak link, as they easily conceded goals which nullified their attacking advantage. But this season has been different for the Gunners as they have tightened up and have more cohesion. They have kept clean sheets against the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Dortmund – any defence who manage this feat deserves appreciation.
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The center-back pair of Mertesacker and Koscielny have complimented each other superbly this season which has been the most contributing factor for the new found maturity. Sagna has also been superb both defensively as well as going forward and Kieran Gibbs too is showing a lot of promise and is also one of the most improved players over last few years.
Another strong point for Arsenal is that they have one quality back up in each of these positions. Thomas Vermaelen, Carl Jenkinson and Nacho Monreal are all waiting on the bench for an opportunity to pounce, which will keep the regular players on their heels. If the defence can continue their fine form then we are not far from adding to the trophy cabinet.
Is defensive stability the reason for Arsenal’s fine form this season? Share your thoughts in the comments below.