Three Components of Arsenal’s 2015 that Have Transformed the Gunners’ Season


Arsenal, which has won 16 of its last 19 games since the beginning of 2015, is a dangerous team in form. The Gunners have benefitted from the emergence of stalwart defensive mid Francis Coquelin, the revival of Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud, and more, but Arsenal’s newfound characteristics on the pitch, which can be summed up into 3 major components, are what have propelled the previously underwhelming North London club into the late EPL title conversation.

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1) The first component of Arsenal’s success is the departure from the playing style the Gunners are perhaps most famous for, what is commonly referred to as “The Arsenal Way.” In recent years, Arsenal has become famous for playing this attacking, intricate, and most importantly possession-based football where it seems as if the players try to create the most attractive goals possible by pouring men forward in attempt to break down defenses in and around their boxes. This strategy, commonly thought to be favorited by Arsene Wenger, was deployed countless times in the 2013/14 season- (remember Wilshere’s goal against Norwich?)- and though it worked well enough against lower level opposition, Arsenal was easily counter-attacked against teams like Chelsea, Liverpool, and even Everton in the latter half of last season.

Wenger and Arsenal also opted to use this strategy in the beginning of this season. With many key players like Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud (to name a few) out because of injury though, this style didn’t stand a chance. Arsenal didn’t even win 3 EPL games in a row in this campaign’s 2014, and after the New Year’s Day 0-2 loss to Southampton, it seemed as if Wenger and the Gunners were willing to change ways.

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2) Arsenal went on to win its next 3 league matches after that Southampton loss, but in 2 of those 3 the Gunners did so in an unfamiliar way. The North Londoners beat Man City and Aston Villa comfortably, shutting both teams out in games where Arsenal had less of the share of possession, an uncharacteristic attribute of many Arsenal matches and by playing in a rather uncommon counter attacking style. Moreover, the Gunners have also taken advantage of this strategy since and have, for example, beaten another big team, Manchester United, 2-1 at Old Trafford with only 41% of the possession (per

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3) The third component of Arsenal’s game that has changed this season is the team’s willingness to grind games out by playing solid defense for 90 minutes. This was lacking in the first half of this campaign (especially against Leicester, Anderlecht, Swansea, Man U, and Liverpool to point out a few instances). With recent strong defensive wins against Newcastle and Burnley, though, the Gunners seem a burdensome defensive unit.

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These 3 characteristics of Arsenal in 2015 have transformed The Gunners’ season. They’ve earned more points than any other EPL squad in the league since early January and they average more points per league game than any club in Europe excluding Barcelona (per Moreover, Arsenal has propelled itself into 2nd place in the Premier League and subsequently into, albeit far-fetched, EPL title contention. The perhaps failure-prone (especially against big teams) “Arsenal Way” isn’t being deployed as often, in place of it a useful counter-attacking strategy has been taken advantage of, and a newfound grit has shown itself on the defensive side of things in 2015 to great effect.

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