Arsenal were in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons this time last season when they looked like relegation candidates away from home. What’s changed and why are they looking so much better on the road
Arsene Wenger has often been heavily criticised for his transfer policy, it was the same over the summer and no doubt it will be the same in the future. However, what he did do this summer and what he deserves a lot of credit for, is keeping the back four, the very spine of his team all in one place.
Arsenal look a completely different side that lost 8-2 away to Manchester United a similar time last season and they have secured recent impressive results with a 2-0 win away at Liverpool and coming back at Manchester City to draw 1-1. Last season the side was plagued by injuries as Wenger was unable to name a consistent side. This time round it’s totally different.
Wenger has been able to rely on his big German centre back Per Mertesacker and Frenchman Laurent Koscielny (who scored the goal against Manchester City) to hold the back four together. Mertesacker in particular looks a completely different player than when he first joined the club. Maybe it’s to do with a show of faith or maybe it’s just because he’s now more used to the pace and style of English football.
Koscielny has always been a very good defender. Technically he is very good and he seems comfortable on the ball under pressure. He works well with the German because he has the pace to cover the runs of quicker attacking players while Mertesacker can make sure that the Arsenal defence doesn’t get bullied.
The difference between this side and the side that lost 8-2 to United is that Arsenal look confident. They seem to have that belief because this group of players have played together for a decent period and they have seen the fruits of their hard work. The defeat at United came when Wenger was forced to play a lot of inexperienced players who now look assured at Premier League level.
When you factor in that club captain Thomas Vermaelen is still to come back into the side, things are looking very positive for the club. Arsenal have never had a problem in an attacking sense because Wenger has always had the right idea in terms of philosophy. Arsenal bought well to cover the loss of Robin Van Persie and things are finally coming together now that the defence is starting to look watertight.
Wenger himself deserves a lot of credit because he has always defended Arsenal when it has come to poor results and scratchy periods. When people have called for him to do away with the likes of Koscielny and Mertesacker, he has stood firm and shown his belief in the players he knows can do a job for his club.
Next up for Arsenal is Chelsea at home and a slightly more comfortable setting. However, after that it’s the cauldron of West Ham United and there will be few people currently betting against the North London team to take less than six points. After all, Arsenal have the joint best defence in the league.