Arsenal have the second best defensive record in the Premier League this season. After a battling 0-0 draw with Manchester United on Saturday, they’ve now conceded 20 goals from their 21 matches in the competition.
Excuse me, who are you and what have you done with Arsenal Football Club?
So far this season Mikel Arteta’s side have faced Manchester City away, Liverpool away, Tottenham away, Leicester at home, Southampton twice, Everton away, Chelsea at home and the Red Devils twice.
It’s all rather bizarre. Where are the hammerings? Why is nobody guilty of shocking individual errors? How come stability is being used in the same breath as Arsenal? What is going on?
More from Pain in the Arsenal
- 3 standout players from 1-0 victory over Everton
- 3 positives & negatives from Goodison Park victory
- Arsenal vs PSV preview: Prediction, team news & lineups
- 3 talking points from Arsenal’s victory at Goodison Park
- Mikel Arteta provides Gabriel Martinelli injury update after Everton win
Mikel Arteta has helped transform Arsenal into a defensively resolute outfit
Ignoring tactical shuffles, a stronger spine and clever coaching for a moment, it’s a joy to behold. From a supporter’s point of view, forced to endure Shkodran Mustafi-inspired collapses and defensive midfielders being the most advanced point of attack, it’s perhaps the most pleasing aspect of all in this current run.
When Mikel Arteta took the job his list of priorities stretched from the Clock End to the North Bank. Ironically, that was roughly the distance between the lines that Arsenal offered up on a plate to opposition sides every fortnight.
Calamitous defenders being grossly unprotected by their assigned shield in front cooked up a melting pot of ineptitude that left a lingering sour note. Yet here we are now looking at statistically the best defence in the division behind only the league leaders.
Manchester United could, and probably should, have scored on Saturday. Edinson Cavani continued on from his PSG days in missing glorious chances against Arsenal. Fine margins. Nonetheless, watching the team shift laterally in harmony and push forward in unison epitomised the graft both players and staff have put into this season.
Lost amid wave after wave of flaccid attacking motions and static running off the ball was a solidity that’s kept Arsenal afloat this season. The run pre-Christmas was soul destroying. Amassing an embarrassing number of shots on goal and topping unwanted Premier League statistic charts clouded over a certain steel in defence. Yes Arsenal conceded goals – there is some delightful attacking talent in this league – but they weren’t being blown away.
What a difference 12 months makes. More keenly, what difference has been made in 12 months?