Can we now start praising Arsenal’s improving defence?

A lot has been made about the Arsenal defence and its inability to keep a clean sheet on the road in the Premier League and the stats certainly confirm that we have allowed at least one goal in every single away game this season, however, while you cannot ignore the stats, you cannot ignore how the defence is improving massively.

We have now gone three games without conceding a goal, against Man Utd, Rennes and Newcastle, and over our last eight games in all competitions we have kept five clean sheets.

OK, all were at home but even so, a clean sheet is a clean sheet, and when they start to happen on a regular basis that is a sign of improvement, and remember, that sequence includes a Man Utd side that put three past PSG in Paris.

Now, I will not pretend that our defence is rock solid, it clearly is not, but the constant negativity is painting a false picture. It is as if we have a Huddersfield type of defence when we simply do not, we have conceded just five more than Tottenham and Chelsea and four less than Man Utd, yet you never hear anywhere near as much about their respective defences in comparison to ours.

We actually have the fifth best defensive record in the Premier League and the third best goal difference and to put that into further perspective, we have conceded three goals less than our opponents on Sunday, Everton and scored 20 goals more, not so bad when you look at the bigger picture.

In conclusion, I accept that we have not had the best season defensively, but we are improving significantly and our record is not as bad when you compare it to our nearest top four rivals or opponents on Sunday.


  1. Going to be an interesting game on Sunday… their home form has been somewhat hit & miss all season, although they played very well against Chelsea. Our away form Is…. well I don’t need to explain that do I?!! I just hope we won’t be wearing that green kit ?
    Playing at Goodison always makes me think of that Arteta OG ? COYG

    Yes I agree our defence has improved recently & Leno has been spot on ? Be nice if Koscielny is back

  2. Great article to certain extent, if the so called pundits haven’t seen any good in us, how about us the gunners? the more positive we are better for the team in general.
    3rd in the league
    Europa league winners
    #COYG we can do it.

    1. Yes, good observation by Admin/ the author

      The fact that we have only condeded three goals less than Everton should make Emery approach the match cautiously

      The three-CB setup has improve the defense stability and hopefully it can also nullify Everton’s wingers/ wide forwards. Arsenal need to be prepared against Mina, Tosun, Keane, Zouma and Calvert-Lewin in set-pieces as well

    1. Why do you care if Southampton wins?!?

      Personally I only care about 14.05 kick off on Sunday… Kosc needs to be back and hope Ramsey is fit to play as well!

      Need those 3 points!

            1. I’m with you Sue-Why would we want those scousers to win the league? As much as I detest everything about Citeh and they are without doubt a Plastic Club with loads of money,I would have them win the Premiership over Liveepool every day of the week.

  3. Pat, I applaud your real perspective on pointing out our clearly improving defence – though improving from a from a low start point – and I I wiil shortly be submitting an article which I hope you may choose, on the important subject of fan PERSPECTIVE , which helps erase bitterness and esp between fans of rival clubs.
    IMO our defence is still, as a whole, peopled by mainly sub standard defenders – as against players who are playing in nominally defensive positions but are more suited as offensive players. Naturally, most will understand I refer primarily to Kolas, Bellerin and AM-N in this last comment.

    I am of the school of thought which believes that defenders defend, midfielders both defend and create and attackers attack. That is of course oversimplified for effect but is largely true. In our famous back four/ five from GG’ s time , whose careers were extended and fitness improved by Wenger, their enormous success as a defence was because they defended. They gave the ball to such as Viera, Dennis, Pires and other talented midfielders to create and score goals and they themselves CONCENTRATED on keeping clean sheets. Hence “1-0 to the Arsenal was born”! Can anyone in truth gainsay this fact? I say not in truth they cannot.

    Our problem today and for many years past is that those great players AND great defenders of Wengers glory period have long departed and been, in the main, replaced by players far inferior, across the whole team and squad. THAT IS NOT TO SAY WE DO NOT HAVE GOOD PLAYERS NOW; CLEARLY WE DO BUT THE OVERALL GAP IS MASSIVE, BY COMPARISON. And particularly so in defence! So then, let our defenders defend and keep men behind the ball, let the best creative players create, which though unreliable , is BY FAR AND AWAY OZIL and let the scorers score. Too simplistic for some perhaps , BUT far greater football sages than any of us have said, over many decades, that football at its best is a simple game, overcomplicated by some who fail to recognise that fact.

    1. It is hard to re-invent the wheel, but modifications can make said wheel more reliable and trustworthy.

      So it is with football and the different style of play, tactics and the role of players themselves.

      The Arsenal, from my time supporting them in the 50’s, was always considered a defensive team.
      The comparision with our noisy neighbours was always that they played attractive, attacking football, while we grinded out results.

      Bertie Mee was the first manager who managed to get The Arsenal playing both attacking and defensive football and that resulted in the club’s first ever double.
      He broke that squad up too early and we lost the “attacking” side of our play.

      George Graham was the next managerwho brought success back to the club and his insistence on his defence being a solid unit, saw the creation of “1-0 to The Arsenal” that Jon has alluded to.
      It wasn’t exciting football to watch if you were a neutral fan, but we didn’t care one bit.
      The anthem became as famous as any other club’s song and we still delight in singing it today.

      Then we had the Arsene Wenger era and what football we saw his team produce.
      Players were expected, and did by the way, play in different positions.
      There was no rigidity in the Invincible team, it was just accepted that we would attack and score goals as a team, defend as a team and The Arsenal were, rightly, acclaimed as the very best in the PL.
      I should also add, with a better defensive record than GG’s famous four.

      I know see Unai Emery using the same tactics with his players, not only those he inherited, but those he has brought in.
      I know understand what he was trying to achieve during our middle of the season letdown.
      He needs/wants to find out what every individual player has in his locker and doesn’t put them into a box marked defender, midfielder or attacker.
      I believe that Ozil has never been questioned as Unai has done to him in the short eight months together regarding teamwork and the results speak for themselves.
      AMN probably never dreamed he would be such a success at RB etc etc.

      The game, like the wheel, has most certainly evolved for the better and we have had visionary managers who evolved with the times.
      There is no question that any team needs a solid defence, but that doesn’t mean four players who don’t contribute elsewhere on the park.

      The final point to justify my thoughts is “THAT” Tony Adams goal against everton.
      A through pass to a defender who ran nearly the length of the pitch to score a wonderful goal, while outpacing the opponents defenders.
      Never would have happened under GG, Tony would have been marshalling the defence!!!

      That’s where I see the difference with GG versus UE and AW…one was a regimented style, never to be challenged, successful but predictable and boring…while the other is a style that challenges players to express their god given abilities to play the game of football all over the park, successful, unpredictable and exciting
      Just watch City or Barca and see what I mean, UE has the same idea and let’s hope kronkie gives him the means to achieve it.

      1. How much do you think TV has affected the need to play entertaining football?

        I remember as a kid, living up in Birmingham, the only time I could see Arsenal was MotD… and even then it was limited as my dad dislikes football.

        I grew up reading about Arsenal and it is different to now where I will not miss a game, I can’t recall the last game I missed… I always watch us and I want to be entertained when doing so.

        With so much money in TV and getting the viewers… I do think football has more of a demand to entertain now which… I do not know what it was like I was a kid, all I had was papers and occasional highlights 🙁

        As you have more experience than me Ken, what’s your view on this? (you kinda point out how football has evolved and I guess this is part of the parcel)
        Also to you as well Jon.

        1. That sounds like the perfect subject for an article me old mucker. Get everyone involved…

          1. I might have to over the next week, it would provide an insight to how perspective has changed for the fan, maybe get some younger fans giving their view along with the mature fans informing us younger pups of what it was like.

            Need Jon and Ken to give me a little history lesson from the fans view 😛

        2. Midkemma, the game has evolved in every aspect since I was a kid.

          The pitches, the ball, the kit, the grounds, the entrance fee, the days experience (food and beverages available), players wages, foreign players, referees, saturday football, fa cup draws and replays, expectations (as a gooner!) style of play, tactics, in fact everything except the size of the goals and pitch markings.

          Highbury was one of the smallest pitches in the country that hosted top football, the players were approachable before and after matches and rival fans stood together, wearing their clubs colours and enjoying the occasion.

          There were pink and blue saturday afternoon and evening papers, giving half time and full time results and Sports Report on the BBC was the “must” programme for any football fan to listen too.
          It was exciting times Midkemma, because one didn’t have scores given seconds after they happened and the pressure of not knowing was electric.

          Just a flavour of what I grew up with and how The Arsenal was able to become part of my everyday life.

          Now to your question regarding TV money.
          It has been slow but insidious change in my opinion, that really saw the momentum increase when sky and BT got involved.
          The enormous amount of money involved and accepted has ensured that these two companies, sky in particular, have demanded and obtained so many changes off the field (kick off times, days played, replays, etc) ably assisted by our own FA and EUFA, with no consideration to the fans whatsoever.

          There have also been good advances because of these companies, such as VAR, tv replays and involvement of players and managers in interviews after the game.

          However, the need to be successful has seen some really negative points arrive in our game, such as diving, time wasting and clubs paying ridiculous transfer fees and players wages.

          There is no doubt that english football has advanced because of this money and that has made clubs like ours an attractive cash cow for the likes of kronkie.
          I never dreamt that my club would be totally owned by one person, let alone an American.

          The entertainement value was also something that wasn’t considered by fans in my opinion.
          As I said earlier, singing 1-0 to The Arsenal was our anthem and we loved it, still do and couldn’t care less about anyone else.

          But with the advent of media coverage, it meant that one’s club needed to be seen in a different light, especially when we began seeing european clubs playing the kind of football never seen at club level here.

          That’s when the overseas players began to arrive to enrich our game, made possible by the money being received.
          Not all were superior, but it changed the face of our football forever.

          Entertainement and success were the key word now and sky would only pick those clubs that gave that combination on a regular basis.
          Utd were featured more times than the rest of the league at one time, causing huge huge negative reactions from their fans and the other clubs.
          During the early AW years, our club was given world wide coverage, due to the style of football and results, something that promoted and propelled The Arsenal into the name it has today.

          I hope this has given you an insight regarding my opinion into the changes that tv money has made to the game (some excellent…some detrimental).
          Apologies for the long winded reply, but I hope it makes some kind of sense!!!

          1. It was a good read, cheers Ken 🙂
            I like a good detailed ‘long winded’ reply, it helps to try and see it from your perspective and that’s what I asked for 😛

            From time to time I’ve looked at how things have changed in general and have a vague idea of things but it doesn’t give the mindset of fans, with the internet now, it is a lot easier to find information about modern football than the evolution of how it got to where it is.

            We got articles staying online for long periods of time, with how tech is progressing, storage of articles isn’t a problem and we have a lot of them since the internet became a general thing. Can’t find a fraction of them for times prior to the net.

            I take it for granted but occasionally I marvel at how privileged we are with being able to find so much at the click of a button, more so when it becomes difficult to find information due to it being before everything was posted on facebook… lol.

            1. That’s very true regarding the internet and one of my favourite debators is Durand.
              He thoroughly explores before he produces facts and I clearly remember one debate that saw me having to go back time and time again to counteract some of his valid points with what, I thought, were mine.
              Especially usefull when you get to my age and the memory starts to play tricks!!!

              Really hope you have time to put together an article

      2. A most interesting and instructive read Ken and mostly of interest to the younger fans on here than we oldies who well know all this already. Whilst I cannot possible disagre on your general review I still think that a watertight defence full of specialist defenders, a la Liverpool’s current one is ALWAYS of vital importance. a I also think that almost all todays top teams give insufficient emphasis to the art of true defence, Klopp being one of a very few notable exceptions. Emery, had he any real money would certainly do likewise and is doing, as best he can with the peanuts allowed to him by Scrooge. Yes GG ‘s early and late teams were boring but 1989-92 were anything but. What was actually BORING about someof his teams wedas NOT the defenders but the awful and stagnant midfield with such dross as Hillier, Jensen, Morrow, Selley, McGoldrick and other sub par players. I suggest that it is , in the main, the true midfilders who give style and artistry OR lack of it, rather than defenders whose main job is to defend. And I for one, have NEVER found top defenders remotely boring. Quite the reverse. Much of the “1-0 to the Arsenal ” and “boring, boring Arsenal” used by OUR fans became ironic when the Rocky , Thomas, Smith, halcyon days were banging in the goals aplenty whilst we were still tight at the back. I have always thought and very much still do that a proper balance between attack and defence is of vital importance IF you truly want to title challenge. I feel Wenger lost that vital defensive focus for many of his latter years and hence most of our former differences on him.

  4. No one can deny our defense improvements,one thing that annoyed me was people writing off koss,befire us injury he was in the french team,of course the first few games he played after hi injury weren’t his best but look at him now,retired from international football look at him,also I,d like to give a shout out to our medical team,except long absentees we look In good shape injured players not being rushed,coming back faster from injuries,COYG!!

  5. I have praised Emery coaching and this is another example of how his coaching was needed, we needed someone who would teach defenders what is it to defend… Also a GK coach that would coach rather than say silly things like “Player X will shoot in the opposite direction” and no real… coaching!

    I also have to point out that Emery is more likely to keep a clean sheet when he plays to dominate the game, to win it and attack like champions. When he sets us up to defend then we can not keep a clean sheet, I think the recent results are evidence that Arsenal are more likely to keep a clean sheet if we go with the intention to attack and win it.

    1. Whilst I basically agree and esp on Emery whom I rave about as a manager and coach, it must be said that Wengers later period was often ” send both full backs way upfield together chasing goals and forget about a solid defence”, hence so many away stuffings. You must ALWAYS keep enough men behind the ball at all times and WENGER SO OFTEN FAILED TO COACH THIS VITAL NEED. In the main it is a prime reason ,among others too, WHY he was forced out, I would suggest to all on here.

      1. Jon, how about the saying “The best form of defence is attack?”

        Once again, your suggestion that Arsene Wenger was “forced out” is just a personal opinion and goes against the account given by no less than Per Mertesacker our club captain.
        Whilst not wanting or needing to bring up old arguments, I do wish you would take into account the actual report of what happened from the horses mouth so to speak!!!
        If one day, Arsene writes his memoirs and Per’s account proves to be wrong and yours correct, rest assured I will apologise, but until then, why not trust in the account of the BFG?
        Unless,of course, you have better sources than Per himself?

      2. ” send both full backs way upfield together chasing goals and forget about a solid defence”

        I feel it is a bit harsh on Wenger saying this, Emery does it and you praise him, the main difference between them (in regards to fullbacks attacking) is that Emery likes a DM who can slot in the back, allowing the CBs to play wider.

        I seen many people wish that Wenger would deploy a DM and and IMO this is the key to allowing fullbacks to act as wingers. Gilberto allowed Cole and Lauren to attack like wingers when we had the ball.

        IMO, Wengers failings was trusting poor coaches and not accepting that we needed a true DM to help Ramsey flourish in CM. Wenger had this obsession about complete CMs who could attack and defend which became worse over time. IMO those was his failings, considering we needed to coach players to become complete CM… those problems fed of each other to spiral out of control.

  6. The apparent improvement in our defence can be attributed to the work Emery has done on the training ground to get his midfielders and attackers to win back the ball after we have lost possession.All our players, including Ozil are working really hard off the ball to deprive the opposition time to create chances.On a number of occasions against Newcastle a “swarm” of Arsenal players surrounded the opposition player with the ball and quickly regained possession.Man City like Barca in their pomp are adept at this and we have improved in this area during the past 2months.Unfortunately there comes a time when our centre backs are left in one against one situations and where they have to make critical decisions when it comes to playing the offside trap for example.This is when Mustafi,Socratis and Monreal are really vulnerable particularly as they simply do not have the pace to get themselves out of trouble.In essence they are not top quality defenders and , regrettab!y I suspect they will be found out during the course of the next few weeks.I sincerely hope I am proved wrong on this occasion.

    1. This “nest of disturbed wasps” type of our regaining possession is perhaps the most thrilling and total change from the previous manager to now. It boils down to motivation, professionalism, and proper and regular defensive / regaining possession coaching, so often absent in Wengers latter years.

      1. Yet in Arsene’s latter years, (unless you are talking about his final year?) we won fa cups finished in the top four and qualified for the CL…or have you conveniently forgotten that Jon?

        Stop trying to re-write actual history with your negative view of the man, how do you think he achieved the above without motivation, professionalism, coaching etc?
        Just by luck or more by judgement?

        Please just get off your hobby horse, the man has been gone for nearly a year and you have so much more to offer than to attack a man who can’t even answer you back!!

        I sincerely hope that we don’t fall out again, but i can’t let you keep on doing this without challenging you and it gets soooo boring.
        Everyone else seems to have moved on, why not join the UE revolution?

        1. I think and jon need to straighten this out like gentlemen.Fists??
          Keep going gentlemen(almost wrote lads but feared the rebuttal) this is entertaining

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