Improved Arsenal defense instilling newfound confidence

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on November 07, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on November 07, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) /

It’s amazing how different the feeling around Arsenal is these days compared to just three months ago. Back in August, rival fan bases were mocking the Gunners and enjoying seeing the team struggle. Now, these same adversaries have suddenly gone silent as Arteta’s side sits fifth in the table ahead of these supposed ‘title contenders’.

Of course, the season is still young and Arsenal fans know better than most not to get carried away by the team’s recent success. However, there’s a new sense of belief that I find when watching the team play. Not since the days when Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure and Lauren controlled the backline have I had such a sense of confidence that the team wasn’t going to let in silly opposition goals.

Arsenal’s summer transfer business was questioned extensively, but at the moment it looks like Edu and Arteta have recruited well. The stats tell the story.

After starting the season with a 2-0 loss to newly-promoted Brentford, the Gunners faced tough competition in Chelsea and Manchester City. At the end of August, Arsenal was bottom of the table with zero points, zero goals scored, and nine goals allowed. Pitiful doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Improved Arsenal defense instilling newfound confidence with White, Gabriel, Tomiyasu, Nuno Tavares and Ramsdale all excelling in the Premier League

No disrespect is intended but the defensive unit in these first three contests included Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, and Sead Kolasinac.

The results started to turn around once the Gunners’ addressed the team’s defensive problems. Since September, Arsenal has gone ten games unbeaten in all competitions. In the team’s eight league matches they have scored thirteen goals while conceding just four.

The new-look defensive lineup features Aaron Ramsdale in goal along with Takehiro Tomiyasu, Benjamin White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Kieran Tierney, and defensive midfielder Thomas Partey – with Tierney currently out injured, newcomer Nuno Tavares has filled in for the Scotsman brilliantly.

Finally fit and able to play regularly, are Gabriel and Partey. The duo’s outstanding play is showing what the Gunners have been missing due to the players’ extended absences last season.

Gabriel has become a vocal leader and an assured presence on the backline. The last time the 23-year-old suffered a loss in an Arsenal jersey was in April against Liverpool, some 200+ days ago. Gabriel’s work has not gone unnoticed, as he just received his first senior call-up with Brazil.

Joining the Brazilian in central midfield is White. The two have looked unbelievably solid and it’s hoped that they will form a long-term partnership at the center of Arsenal’s defense.

Based on Gabriel’s posting to Instagram, it’s apparent that the two are bonding both on and off the pitch.

Like Gabriel, Partey has an impressive record in the Gunners’ lineup: Arsenal has not lost a match when he has played since April of last season.

Meanwhile, Japanese defender Tomiyasu arrived on deadline day and has immediately become a reliable starter.

Aaron Ramsdale made his first league start in goal as Arsenal defeated Norwich 1-0. He has since taken the number one spot from Bernd Leno and is showing why he was heavily recruited by Arteta. Current clean sheet leaders in the Premier League are Edouard Mendy and Ederson with six apiece, while Ramsdale is just behind them with five despite playing two fewer games.

When left-back Tierney limped off with an ankle injury, another new recruit, Tavares, stepped up. The Portuguese defender joined Arsenal last summer from Benfica and has impressed in Tierney’s absence.

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Following Liverpool’s loss to West Ham, Arsenal now has the Premier League’s longest unbeaten run. As for those Manchester United and Tottenham fans laughing at Arsenal back in August, they’ve gone quiet. This defence is breathing new life into the team and the confidence it exudes is the like we haven’t see for a very many years.