The future’s bright at Arsenal Football Club.
Critics have been singing the praises of Arsenal’s newest signing, Mesut Ozil. Described by Jose Mourinho as the 'perfect number 10', the German added another assist to his European chart-topping tally within 12 minutes of starting in the Premier League.
Aaron Ramsey, too, has been on fire, scoring at will home and away, in England and in Europe. 6 goals in 6 games is pretty good for a centre forward, but for a central midfielder it’s pretty unbelievable.
But then again, Arsenal have always had a good attacking midfield. There as a time when you might hear Arsenal supporters claiming that their whole team was Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, and twelve year-olds.
When they were good they were very, very good, but when they were bad… well, Arsenal didn’t win anything, so it’s not really difficult to see where I’m going with that.
Over the past few seasons, actually since the end of Sol Campbell’s first stint with the Gunners, Arsenal’s defence has been a bit of a laughing stock. In Ashley Cole they had the best left-back in the world.
To some he still very much is. Gael Clichy never took up his mantle, despite a lot of faith shown in him by Arsene Wenger, and eventually left for Manchester City.
Bacary Sagna’s been an amazing player at right back, and with the right wing a place where Arsenal have been able to produce, it didn’t matter very much that his attacking prowess was less than laudable. But Arsenal’s main defensive problems were always in the centre of the back line. Until now.
In Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, Arsenal have found a partnership that is extremely good at keeping the ball away from Wojciech Szczesny’s goal.
Despite just scraping fourth, it’s easy to forget, Arsenal had the second best defensive record in the league last season. Only letting 37 goals in. Only Manchester City (34) let in fewer goals, and the champions Manchester United let in 43.
In the past 14 matches Arsenal have let in 10 goals, while Liverpool have let in 11, City have let in 13 and United have let in 14. It’s all just the beginning though. Arsenal have found a strong base in the centre of the defence, and are surrounding them with some exciting players.
When Nacho Monreal was brought in some thought it was the end of Kieran Gibbs. His form had been dropping and here was a 27-year-old Spaniard who had the experience and guile to take on the big boys.
Instead of rolling over, though, Gibbs picked up his game and has become a stand out performer.
On the right, Carl Jenkinson has improved immensely. Deciding who to pick between Sagna and Jenkinson is a headache that all Arsenal fans must want Wenger to have, because they’ve both been playing brilliantly.
It’s true that the squad is thin, and with defenders dropping like flies it’s going to be difficult for Arsenal to get through this season.
But while all of the critics and pundits are claiming Arsenal don’t have a solid defence; a look at the statistics from last season will show them they’re not entirely correct. The season started poorly, with a loss, but when everyone screamed ‘crisis!’ the Arsenal players stood up.
This year is going to be bright for the 'Gooners'. They may not be the favourites for any of the trophies, but don’t write them off just yet.
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