Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger dropped his number one goalkeeper and his captain in Munich where Arsenal beat Bayern 2-0 on the night.
The Gunners impressive display at the Allianz Arena inspired the manager to keep the faith with third choice goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański and centre-back pairing Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for their trip to Swansea last weekend where they replicated the 2-0 result, keeping two clean sheets in succession.
Whilst there are those who would point to a number of costly decisions made by the Arsenal boss this season, those same people should also be the first to commend him when he gets it right – this may just be a season-defining decision made at just the right time.
Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League despite their efforts in Munich, which means they now only have the Premier League top four to chase.
Whilst that is not a trophy, despite what some people may believe, that is a feat worthy of commendation come the end of the season and, as things stand, Arsenal remain four points of Tottenham in fourth with a game in hand.
It seem, after a season of farcical, lazy and disorganized defensive displays, Arsenal have finally pulled their socks up and as the saying goes ‘better late than never.’
They still have 9 games to play and everything to play for – 27 points can be won or lost in between now and May 19th and both Tottenham and Chelsea in 3rd (by just one point) have some tricky fixtures left to play as I assessed earlier.
Whilst Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen haven’t been the worst or the only offenders with poor performances laden with individual errors, dropping the captain especially sends a message to the entire squad that sub-standard performances will not go unnoticed nor unpunished; no one’s position is safe.
This time last season Arsenal had Robin van Persie’s goals to save the day and bail them out. They can expect no such Dutch miracle this term but what they perhaps have this time is the ability to not concede goals – at least not at the rate they’ve been shipping them all season long.
Defending is just as important, if not more so perhaps, as attacking – for Arsenal it’s back to basics – if they can keep it tight at the back, they are always capable of finding goals from throughout the team.
They may have lost their main man but they have learned this season that they can survive without Robin van Persie by spreading goals throughout the team – unfortunately they had to learn the hard way that surviving would all require better defending all throughout the team.
It may yet prove to be too little too late or it could be just in the nick of time.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald