We know that Arsenal are top of the Premier League, as of their 2-0 home victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday. We know that Arsenal's attacking form is promising, with 47 goals from 24 games. But perhaps something we tend to forget, is the phenomenal defensive record Arsenal hold this season.

Despite their victories in the first two months of the season, Arsenal failed to keep clean sheets in six out of seven fixtures, leading to questions regarding their defensive ability.

Having conceded to Aston Villa, Fulham, Sunderland and others, it seemed Arsenal would be relying on the scoring talents of French target man Olivier Giroud, and in-form midfielder Aaron Ramsey. Since then, Arsenal have changed drastically -  now holding the most clean sheets in the Premier League (11).

So, who is responsible for such a turnaround? Tactical master Arsene Wenger? No; the defensive pair Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.

With Arsenal having signed Koscielny from French club Lorient in the 2010-11 season, later joined by Mertesacker from Werder Bremen the next season, the two did not immediately gel.

The Premier League recognised Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic as the top defensive pair at the time, perhaps shortly followed by Joleon Lescott and Belgian rock, Vincent Kompany.

However, the two Arsenal defenders seemed to have found a connection this year.

History has seen some phenomenal pairing over the years. Bayern Munich legends, Franz Beckenbauer and Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck made history in the 1970s, England's Bobby Moore and Jack Charlton conquered Germany in 1966, and in more recent years, Spanish duo Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol dominated the UEFA Champions League. 

So, I guess you're wondering where Laurent and Per fit in. I'll tell you. These two defenders are the 'perfect' pair - pocket aces if you will.

With Mertesacker's height, strength, heading skill and commanding influence, manager Arsene Wenger need not worry about Arsenal's box-defending or even attacking presence for set pieces.

Meanwhile, whilst some teams are vulnerable on the counter-attack, with Koscielny's under-appreciated speed, defensive intelligence and tackling ability, Arsenal are in safe hands.

Short of Manchester City's attacking masters, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Alvaro Negredo (whom mercilessly ravaged Arsenal's defence back in December) - Arsenal's title hopes remain firmly intact, thanks to such classy defenders. 

Yes, these two defenders can, of course, be criticised. Mertesacker is painfully slow, cumbersome, and perhaps too easily beaten by fleetfooted strikers.

Meanwhile, Koscielny makes rash tackles, gives away penalties, and frequently gets cautioned (occasionally sent off).

But, what's important to remember is not their individual imperfections, but the chemistry and link between the two.

Koscielny's pace accounts for Mertesacker's lack of. Similarly, Mertesacker's influence and fearsome voice often prevents Koscielny's unnecessary challenges. Football isn't always individual talent. Team chemistry and understand is essential for winning trophies.

Their ability to work together, and around each other is the reason for their success.

This season's new partnership clearly foreshadows a successful future for Arsenal's defence.  

Monday night's giant clash between Manchester City and Chelsea only highlighted an inconsistent City defence; an inexperienced Matija Nastasic (compared to Mertesacker's 95 caps for Germany), a short-tempered Vincent Kompany, and an ill-placed Martin Demichelis.

These three centre-backs, in various combinations, have conceded 27 goals in 24 games this season (considerably more than Everton, Arsenal and Chelsea).

Perhaps a formidable attack may not be enough to take the Premier League trophy to the Ethiad - as demonstrated by Mourinho's Chelsea. 

Koscielny and Mertesacker might not be top scorers of assisters. But, recent years have shown us the importance of a good, strong, and consistent defence -  the likes of which these two are upholding. Statistics acknowledge their hard work and results this season; perhaps you should to. 

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Topics:
#Per Mertesacker
#Laurent Koscielny
#Premier League
#Arsenal
#Football