Ex Spurs apprentice: Arsenal defenders excellent but need paracetamol - why?

Laurent Koscielny

Graeme Souness has marvelled at the defensive cohesion primary centre back pair Koscielny and Mertesacker continue to enjoy at N5.

Togolese targetman Emmanuel Adebayor was near his rampaging and threatening best on Sunday, March 16 but, despite his attacking activity, the Tottenham Hotspur striker was repeatedly denied a goal by Arsenal's defence and goalkeeper, who all combined to provide a fortified rearguard during an enthralling North London derby at White Hart Lane.

While many column inches in the printed press have been dedicated to the golazo netted by Tomas Rosicky in the opening minutes, a goal manager Arsene Wenger even intimated could be within the top five he has witnessed during his illustrious and goal-happy tenure at the Emirates Stadium, two of the better performing Gunners were centre back duo Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.

Former Liverpool legend and current Sky Sports expert Graeme Souness, who won five league titles and three European Cups as a player after coming through the youth set-up and winning an FA Youth Cup with Spurs in 1970, told Sky Sports that Wenger should be extremely happy with how his team performed without the football.

"I have not seen Arsenal play like that for a while - they were on the back foot for the vast majority of the game. A stat is that they had 41% of the possession - the least they have ever had in any game and I think Wenger will be delighted with that result.

"The resilience they showed in defending their box was excellent - Mertesacker and Koscielny will need to go home with a paracetamol each tonight because they put their heads on everything," he added.

Indeed, Mertesacker won seven of his eight header attempts and completed 20 clearances, while Koscielny won 66% of his tackles, claimed three high balls, made 16 clearances and enjoyed a passing accuracy of 96%.

Souness continued: "It was an unusual performance from Arsenal but they will look to the game in midweek against Bayern Munich as being really hard both mentally and physically. I think that is why they played the way they did today. The Arsenal of the last few years, if they were not dominating the game, got beat."

Below - from top to bottom, Arsenal's four highest and lowest percentage statistics from this season…

ClubMatchMatchdayPossession
Arsenal Arsenal vs Crystal Palace 24 73%
Arsenal Sunderland vs Arsenal 04 69%
Arsenal Spurs vs Arsenal 30 41%
Arsenal Swansea vs Arsenal 06 41%

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