It was with great relief that Arsenal fans saw Laurent Koscielny return to the starting line-up yesterday. We were amply rewarded when we came away from Leicester with a clean sheet after inexplicably conceding four in the opening game. The young Rob Holding was preferred as his defensive partner in preference to Calum Chambers, who just doesn’t seem to fill Wenger with confidence.
Wenger was full of praise for the defence after the game, and especially Holding. “I think he did remarkably well against top-class strikers today,” he told Arsenal.com. “For me he had an outstanding performance.
“He’s 20 years old, he’s English and it’s a great reason to be happy. As long as players don’t cost a huge amount of money, people don’t give them any qualities.
“We have to be stronger than that and just acknowledge how good he is. Koscielny added to our stability today and I’m very pleased with that. We still have to look around to strengthen our squad. Overall that’s what we tried to do.” Even if Holding has done okay, we all know he will be back on the bench as soon as Gabriel or Mustafi (haha!) are ready to take the field.
But Wenger still rued the finishing of our so-called strikers. “We still lack a little bit of decisiveness in the final third but overall it’s still a positive game. We have shown that we can respond under pressure which will be a very important quality this season.”
Hector Bellerin was also pleased with the defensive performance, but admitted that the strikers are not yet up to scratch. “The end product wasn’t good enough.” The Spaniard said. “We just need to keep going, keep playing with the same mentality we have been playing with and then hopefully we will see an improvement.
“I think there’s a lot of solidarity at the back and we got a lot of help from the midfield players because they defended well from the front. Sometimes it’s about starting from the back, having a strong team at the back and then being efficient up front. We weren’t efficient enough, but I’m sure that once we get into our rhythm, the goals will come.”
Hector was then asked if he thought things would get better for the Gunners. “Definitely.” he replied. “There’s a lot of players who have missed pre-season after coming back late from the Euros. Every single player we have can compete on the pitch. Santi started and then when Mesut came on he created a lot of chances too. That’s the same with Olivier. It’s nice to have them back and as soon as the whole team is back, the performances will get better.”
It is exceedingly obvious that Koscielny and Bellerin are going to play a big part in our season, and hopefully we will see lots more clean sheets, but will our strikers ever come good enough to catch up to the top of the table? Or will we just end up with more bore-draws?