Arsenal win against Olympiacos shows that Arsenal is mastering the art of defending

The biggest transformation under Mikel Arteta has been the defence.

Arsenal ground out their third consecutive clean sheet for the first time since April. Even more impressively, they are the first team to get a clean sheet in that stadium all season despite Tottenham and Bayern Munich visiting the Greeks in the Champions League.

This run of form is made more impressive because Arsenal was one of the teams that faced the most shots in England under Unai Emery and they struggled to keep two clean sheets in a row under the Spaniard.

Mikel Arteta has completely transformed the defence and I reckon that he has taught the whole team how to defend as one unit, in better words, from the front.

In his post-match interview, he shared some insights into how he expected his team to defend.

He asked his players to enjoy defending and praised his wingers for closing the gaps and coming back to help the defence out.

Arteta’s team is still very much a work in progress, however, I believe that the Spaniard has got Arsenal on the right track and I expect the players to only get better at defending.

With the likes of Shkodran Mustafi performing in the best form of his Arsenal career, Arteta might also save us some money next summer.

If he succeeds in getting a top-level of performance from each player then we would have less need to splash the cash when the transfer window opens again.

On top of all that William Saliba will join up with the club in summer and we have not yet seen even Cedric Soares or Pablo Mari in action.

An article by Ime


  1. Mustafi said sometimes back that he was once blamed for a loss even when he didn’t play,he’s got the best defensive stats since he came to arsenal but he’s only judged by errors only.Good stats don’t apply to Mustafi.Bottom line is our defense lacked self belief because of criticism from media and toxic fans.As they are the same players doing the job.Even luiz seems very comfortable recently though he was a target by the media.

    1. Hang on a minute PAL-Dont you feel those fans you call TOXIC had every right to be critical of the shambolic defending that was occurring every match? Or were we supposed to just sit there every week and accept it? Obviously you were happy to just put up with what was becoming a circus we had so many defenders performing like clowns every week.

      1. I agree with you. if the team is defending poorly it should be criticized. some of the goals conceded showed lack of urgency

    2. I am with you on Luiz. I haven’t seen anything up to now that shows Luiz is nothing short of a good defender. Plus I like the guy too. I have always wanted him in Arsenal shirt.

  2. Agree, his stats alongside other defenders in the prem are impressive too. Its funny how stats make the obvious look wrong.

  3. Where there is a will, there will always be a way. People who are willing to dish out criticism and are never satisfied with everything Arsenal will ALWAYS find faults (please pardon my upper case letters) .

    Whatever they do, whatever the result, no matter the effort, coach and players, it is never good enough.

    Such people are gradually becoming old-fashioned though.

    1. Ditto my reply to @Counsel-we were supposed to put up with that were we PAL? Just accept the fact that we were leaking goals against anyone and everyone? Highlighted by the THIRTYTWO ATTEMPTS ON GOAL against us at Watford? But that’s ok with you is it PAL.

      1. You have a point there. These types of fans are always just as vocal as us but when results start to go well they pretend they believed on the team from the very start.

  4. The defending has been way below par down to plain attrocious for a good decade already. Mostly down to rank bad players, particularly the CB ‘s who have been a sick joke. But the previous two managers, not counting Freddie, seemed to wring their hands and do nothing. At long last we now have a man in charge who understands the vital necessity of a proper defence and even with the current clowns in the defence he is achieving near miracles. But be in no doubt , most of the vast defensive imporovement is down to the fact they are FINALLY being properly coached and the entire team is charged with defending our goal(I do not mean parking the bus either, of course not!)


  5. Mastering the art of defending and end up lucky to not conceid own goals! A draw at most was deserved, not a win!

    2 DMs and a B2B, makes it almost 3 DMs, had us lost in middle, defending, lucky to score on counter from long ball to wing.

    And you there calling master defending team! If 8 players defend, it is no mastering but a weak defense forcing all midfields and team to cover, make sure to not get defense to have our laim defense to be at risk and mess up all game long, reducing risks!

    But no attacking play, at risk to conceid, lucky to not! 70 % of our results all season long are draws for that. Our average in EPL is 1 win, 1 lost, 4 draws, average all season long!

    Can’t believe this article!

    1. I can’t believe just how negative you are with ALL your replies PAL.
      MA4 is having to juggle a squad to play in THREE different competitions after inheriting a train wreck of a defence, a disjointed team playing with no conceivable idea of what they were supposed to do, and with no recognised full backs up until Bellerins recent from injury.
      Have you any idea it is to go away to ANY side in the knockout stages of ANY European competition? Obviously not PAL.
      We kept a clean sheet.We scored a priceless away goal.We defended better, not perfectly, but better than at any time under Emery this season, yet you feel the need to critisise this?
      Arteta was able to rest Pepe and Ceballos, give Lacazette a full game to find his scoring boots, give game time to squad players in Guendouzi and Willicock, and still see his defence, with a much critisise LDE Sokritis forced to play at RB again more confidence in being the first side to play Olympiakos at their own ground this season without conceding a goal.

      1. Phil, to be fair the results in the Europa League by Arsenal under Emery against Sevilla and Napoli away were superior performances. Napoli had beaten Liverpool if I recall correctly in the Champions League rounds. Emery also faced long term injuries to key defenders.
        The defense is improving overall however.

          1. OG- the Europa League is not the Champions League and the defending under both Wenger and Emery is the reason we are not in the top competition. And the occasional good defensive display does not paper over the true picture. Our defending this season has been as poor as I can ever remember from ANY Arsenal team I have ever seen since the early 1960’s. The fact Arteta has been able to come in and get decent performances, both individually and collectively from players who were responsible for these results says more about Arteta and his COACHING ability than it ever will about Wengers and Emery’s. He took over other people’s players who were performing like clowns and has somehow got the whole team looking more solid.The credit is Arteta’s and the shame lies solely with the Board, Wenger and Emery for allowing this to happen in the first place.
            When you employ a Managef of a football club, it helps if they are able to actually coach and train the players don’t you think?

    2. Even the best team can suck in if mother luck is not on their . Game soccer is combination of mastery of the the game , good players or whatever if luck is still not on your side you’ll still lose. Not withstanding the defense of Arsenal is shambolic which make Emery no brainer. If he had made defense priority as in the attack and midfield he concentrated on Arsenal would not be where it is now.

  6. We have improved yes, are we mastering defending? No.

    Against Olympiacos and Newcastle we were a bit ragged at the back and have ridden our luck in the first portions of the game. Still a hell of a long way to go before we are masters of defending.

    1. Yes Sir Will, well said. All the negatives and overly positives written above do not include realism. We were actually lucky not to concede against Olympiacos. Leno would not have saved the shot that hit the bottom of the post had it been 3 inches to the left, and we allowed them far too many other opportunities as well. Improved, yes, masterful, not yet.

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