Arsenal’s Defence Finally Stands Up To Big Test


Well, I thought I was going to be writing another article about how Arsenal have failed to wise up to the new times in the Premier League, but it seems that Wenger is out to prove the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” flat out wrong. Arsenal lined up and produced one of their most confident away performances in recent memory as they looked organised, mentally strong and confident in the approach.

Arsenal fans spent most of yesterday’s match either watching in shock that Wenger had lined up a team that was set out to defend first and attack only when possible, or watching through the gaps in their fingers as they awaited what much have seemed the inevitable collapse that would leave Arsenal clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. But when the dust settled Arsenal were leaving the home of the EPL champions with all three points and a clean sheet; something that hasn’t happened since that famous victory over Manchester United back in 2002.

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Many fans have been calling on Wenger to adjust his style of play against the other big teams in recent years due to the huge defeats we have suffered away from home, and it does seem that he seems to have finally taken that into account. Previously we have tried to take the lead too hastily away from home and as such have let ourselves get exposed at the back. Arsenal are also notorious for over-chasing a game and if they do go behind away from home it becomes a tricky business regarding getting back into the match before it gets away from them.

Arsenal fans will have been forgiven for wondering who the team facing City were, because I’ve never seen us line up in such an organised fashion.

You can see here that the back four stayed pretty much in shape, and Coquelin sat just in front. I wrote an article the other day about how Arsenal needed a big CDM, but maybe it was just fact that Flamini sits too far forward?

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The midfield also played their part in defence, tucking in a protecting where possible with Ramsey and Cazorla making sure there was no time to sit on the ball in the City midfield. And whilst it was a big change for Arsenal’s defence to be so considered, it was also Arsenal’s consideration of their defence whilst attacking that made a huge difference.

Usually when Arsenal attack, both full backs look to support the attack; but against City only one went forward each time, allowing us to manage City’s capabilities when they came forward on the break and give us time to regroup. Here is a picture that sums up why Arsenal managed to keep a clean sheet despite only managing under 35% possession

Look at that structure. 4 players in a line and everyone knows their position. That allowed Coquelin to mop up any danger that was building and, whilst he’s not the best player I’ve ever seen in that position, nullify some of the best attacking talents in Europe.

I do hope that Coquelin’s performances don’t stop us moving for a World Class, or at least European level, CDM to boost our chances going forward. This was a good performance and I do hope that Wenger learns that this is the way that Arsenal can challenge the rest of the top 4 again.

Is this the way to a title challenging future?

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Next: Does Coquelin compare with the EPL's best?