Arsenal’s defending has left much to be desired this season and their current position of fifth place, below London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea, reflects that.
But the Gunners started the season well and Arsenal fans were excited at the prospect of assistant manager Steve Bould’s defensive input, especially after the first five games of the season, which saw the team concede just three goals.
However, it didn’t last long before the Gunners’ defence went into a downward spiral similar to the form they showed last season.
Abou Diaby was right on the money when he pointed out that the midfielders need to do their part in defence. The back-four can’t take sole blame for the dismal defensive performances of this season and Diaby, along with his fellow midfielders, will need to step up to the plate and provide cover if Arsenal are going to compete for the top four in the run-in.
In the last two fixtures against Bayern Munich and Swansea, Arsenal managed two clean sheets in identical 2-0 victories. It seemed that something had switched in the Arsenal midfield: they had realised that they’ll have to defend as if their lives depended on it.
Mikel Arteta as well as Diaby were solid in front of the back-four and in the last clash in Wales, Swansea didn’t have one shot on target. Diaby believes that the midfield played a major part in that.
“As a team we all defend together, but as a midfield we have a big role to play,” he told Arsenal Player. “The midfield is the heart of the team and it is really important. They are the ones who defend and give the ball forward, defensively they give a good balance to the team. So it is very important to be strong in this area.
“If we want to succeed and win games, we need to be solid. We need to be together and that is what we have shown in the past two games.”
The gangly midfielder believes that Arsenal are on a good run, though, and the two clean-sheet victories will give them confidence in their nine remaining games.
“When you win, you always get a confidence boost,” Diaby added. “It was really important to win the Bayern game, against a big team.
“Unfortunately we didn't get through but we did beat them and they hadn't lost for some time at home - it was a really good performance from us.
“Following that, winning at Swansea was really good as well because every game from now until the end of the season is crucial."
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