Has Arsenal’s defence finally turned the corner?

Is Leno finally coming into his own or is it a case of not being tested?

Two games and two clean sheets for the Arsenal defence and for Bernd Leno seems like an achievement, right?

But as Arsenal fans we shouldn’t be happy that we have two clean sheets in a row, this should be the norm for us, where we are getting clean sheets week in week out.

However, I am pleased that we have got two clean sheets. Not only for the defence that has been chopped and changed more than my hair during this lockdown, but for Leno himself.

We need our defence to be full of confidence, but if that won’t always be the case then we need to be sure that we can rely on our goalkeeper to make the stops and keep us in the game when the going gets tough.

It has not been an easy season for our back line and goalkeeper, but what I like to see is consistency and that for Leno is beginning to happen it seems.

Yes, we have played against Sheffield United, a team that sits bottom of the Premier Leagu,e and barring a miracle from them and a demise from the teams above them, look likely to play their football in the Championship next season, but we also played against Slavia Prague, a strong team who have managed to see off the likes of Rangers and Leicester City in previous rounds of the Europa League.

So yes, it is safe to say Leno wasn’t really tested against Sheffield, but he was tested slightly against Prague yet the defence and Leno both stood firm, and that is the sort of confidence we need moving forward.

I say that now, then we will go and concede on the weekend, as is the nature of the beautiful game we call football.

But as I have said previously, if we concede so be it, as long as we manage to score enough at the other end to walk away with wins then what does it really matter?


Shenel Osman


  1. Two games against Championship quality sides and we assume what exactly?
    That all of a sudden Arteta has found a way to coach a defence?
    I prefer to note the 14 game run previous to the Sheffield United game where we couldn’t keep a clean sheet. Let’s see where we are at the end of April before even thinking our defending is improving

    1. Well said Phil, i thought this article was a joke but I think Shenel is being serious.

    2. Phil, consistency in selection over a few games to build combination and communication would surely help.

      1. OG- of course it would. But Arteta just cannot resist changing things
        Wenger always put a run together over the last part of a season. Why? He kept a more settled side. Simple
        But obviously not for Arteta

        1. Yes Phil, usually after the title was done and dusted, the pressure was off and a last minute run for a Champions League place was all to play for. Apart from his last 2 seasons, Wenger got the team right in the run end to the end of the season.

          1. As I often say OG- I was one of Wengers biggest critics from at least 2012 and probably before, and felt even then he needed to go, but he knew his best team, and as soon as we went out of cup competitions he tried to keep a settled side and every year we seemed to make up ground on teams above us.

  2. Our defense has been benefitting from Arteta’s new strategy and the current attacker line-up, so it’d have less pressure in the next few matches. But we’ll have a defending problem again, once the other managers figure out our current tactic and when Lacazette, Smith-Rowe or Saka gets injured

    Our attackers’ abilities to keep the ball is very important to avoid the opposition’s counter-attacks

    1. I don’t think our defence is all that great what some ppl have been making out to be from start of season. Holding is slow and not a ball playing defender, he looks good against small teams like salvia Prague but do you think he could play against teams in champions League? He will be eaten up alive. Also Tierney is good but not world class again as some fans think but he is on right path and if he keeps it up, he will become world class LB but not at the moment while he is very good going forward but he struggles against pacy and talented wingers. Last thing we can do as fans is to blow him into something which he is not and then he doesn’t see his shortcomings to work on. Luiz is a spent force, I really hope we get Saliba back. Him and Gabi should be the current partnership at back and for future. Both strong, quick and good anticipator of ball. Gabi needs to be a bit more calm and rush less into challenges which will come quick by playing time and experience. We need to target a RB and a backup LB for Tierney. A near future of Saliba, Gabi, Tierney and a quality RB is bright news for Arsenal.

      1. The defenders played well because of Arteta’s excellent positional play

        About Tierney and Bellerin, I always see them as our true wingers. They tend to run forward and cross, after our wide attackers open the space for them

        Tierney got skinned by Salah and Traore, because he focused on attacking and he was usually in the opposition’s half. But we’ll need an attacking fullback like him, after the oppositions figure out our current strategy

  3. We’ve stopped worrying about the defense since Arteta came in, as it’s been the best we’ve seen in over a decade. It’s always been at the other end that we struggle, although that has been slowly improving.

    1. @TMJW- so now we have stopped worrying about the defence have we? This same defence that you have continually spouted which was fixed by Arteta? The same defence that just went FOURTEEN GAMES without keeping a clean sheet? Next you will be saying Arteta has now shown how he has improved us as an attacking side simply because we scored against a Championship side and an over performing Cech team whose league is ranked 15th by UEFA.
      I see very little improvement anywhere. But will concede this novice has made us consistently inconsistent

      1. you keep banging out about that 14 game run, did you even watch those games? I think 7 or 8 of goals conceded were individual errors. I am talking about our defending in general, from a tactical perspective.

        Seeing as you are adamant our defense has NOT improved under Arteta, see if you can answer this simple question then.

        Would prefer to go back to our defending under Wenger or Emery? We were better defensively under both of them according to you, so which one is it?

        1. Ok- so now individual errors don’t count? Is that right?
          Referee I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make that mistake.
          Ok – as you didn’t mean it I will rule it out
          As I said PAL- your a MUG

          1. TMJW- I just saw the question
            My answer?
            I want a coach that can build a defence. That’s not just a 3/4/5 or whatever formation
            It’s a TEAM that offers a defensive structure throughout as well as being creative in attack
            And your mixing me up with someone else PAL if you think at any time in Emery’s reign or Wengers last decade I was anything other than critical of them both

          2. It like saying that all the goals conceded while Wenger was in charge was all his fault but no individual errors from players ,like when Lehman got sent off in the CL final let me guess that was wengers fault ,you can’t have one rule for one boss and change them for another ,at the end of the day the buck stops with the manager .

          3. Phil you’re refusing to answer a simple question. Something I have noticed you do with others who as well.

            You, not me, you are the one that keeps saying we have NOT improved defensively under Arteta.

            Explain to me how our defending was better under Wenger and Emery? This is a great question for you, because I have opened myself up to completely debunked by you…

          4. @ Dan Kit

            It’s interesting you say the buck stops with the manager, so why wasn’t that the case with Wenger then?

          5. To quote Dan,

            “you can’t have one rule for one boss and change them for another”

            TMJW you are an intelligent person I believe so to stoop so low in making ridiculous excuses in defending undefendable is rather pathetic would you say?

            The table don’t lie pal. You can talk and talk till the end of days but that won’t change the table.

            Everything bad that happens on the pitch is player’s fault. You and some keep clinging on this player’s faults narrative is pretty ridiculous and comical to be honest.

            If that ridiculous and comical logic was true no manager or coach would ever get fired, ever!

          6. Whats worse HH, is those that defend Wenger’s last 14 years in the league, last 7/8 years in Europe, 9 years straight without a trophy, Now that truly is pathetic!

            It’s bizarre that for some, Arteta should have gone after one year, yet Wenger was let off the hook for that many years? Wenger had credit in the bank, but not 14 years worth of credit.

            Its funny how you say the table doesn’t lie, so what about the league table for Wenger’s final 14 years. Was that in any way acceptable?

          7. Tmjw

            If Wenger’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th (5th and 6th once each) was not acceptable why in the world should 10th be acceptable then?

            Strange way of judging managers. Very strange indeed.

    2. Are you kidding or what? Wolves home and away, Aston villa home and away, Burnley, Liverpool home and away, Man city, Even Slavia Prague and Olypimcos scored against our improved defense…. we had 14 games without a clean sheet.. Are you sure you’re watching our games?

    3. TMJW, I am almost always on your side, as I am with the defence issue too. We have the 5th best statistical Prem games defence, though lying 9th.

      I’d say we have a far sturdier defence these days than the days of Muffitup Mustafi, Wrestler Sokratis and when the third of the three clowns, Luiz, is absent too.

      I disagree with those who say he is our best defender. I think him far too error prone and prone to sloppiness, though in SOME GAMES he is excellent. Not reliable enough, for my mind.

      1. Luiz the defensive clown .
        Not more than 5 days ago you said he should be Captain .
        MR bandwagon stikes again ,the only clown I’m seeing is you buddy .

      2. Cheers Jon, strange how others preferred our defending under our previous managers, where we had the ability to get absolutely hammered at any given moment.

        I think in just two games under Emery, against weak opposition in Southampton and Watford, we gave up something like 50 shots at our goal!!!! Under Wenger, you’re talking more rugby scorelines at times. 5-1 three times in a row against the same team, and conceding almost double figures in just ONE GAME against your bitter rivals was beyond a joke!

        1. That’s 4 games in 22 years mate ,every team under goes thrashings ,I’ve just put up some stats below ,take a read ,but I’m sure your bend them to suit you’re own post

          1. There’s way more examples than just four games, as you should well know being an Arsenal fan. I am not cherry picking, just giving you the overall facts with fantastic examples.

            Year, after year, after year, it’s our defending that would always be the main talking point during Wenger’s last 10 years or so. No good CBs, literally no DM at all, how teams could easily walk through our midfield, etc. Surely you don’t deny that?

        2. Tmjw,

          Those who defend the great Arsene have something to base that defense on. The glory decade, the one and only invincibles, the countless champions league qualifications, financial stability, the endless FA Cup victories (the most successful team and manager in the one of the best competitions in the world), just to name a few.

          Your passionate defense of Arteta is based on what? 8th place and 10th place finish?

          There is no football justification for this passionate defense. None whatsoever unless it is (and I suspect it is) for personal reasons.

          1. HH- he is trying to justify Arteta yet continually contradicts himself. Nobody seriously agreed Wenger was way past his sell by date. He was failing, and was sacked. Emery promised us improvement. He failed to deliver. He was sacked. Arteta has taken a squad of players that should easily be getting a top six finish. Yet where are we?
            TMJW is very quick to bring up comparisons with Emery and especially Wenger, but forgetting the simple fact. We are in the PRESENT and not the PAST. We currently lie in NINTH POSITION. Wenger was sacked because he could not stop the decline he had us in, finishing SIXTH. He failed, he was SACKED. Emery got us to FIFTH. He was seen to be failing, and was SACKED. Arteta has seen us play football so dire and timid at times that it’s been an embarrassment. We have only been creative since he changed tactics and introduced ESR and Odegard into the team, yet hav3 hardly been prolific. And the myth he has improved us defensively is just that, as the statistics prove.
            Arteta has no choice but to either win the Europa Cup, or get a 7th place league finish to keep his job. In reality his expectations should be both. Even if he turns things round, is he really capable of leading this club forward? From what he has shown so far, I don’t believe he is

          2. Agreed Phil. Arteta’s performance and capabilities have nothing to do with Wenger who left three years ago. To blame Arteta’s failings and lack of ideas on Wenger is too far stretched.

            Since Arteta has failed to justify Tmjw backing with acceptable results so far, he has left him with only three free get out of jail cards: blame it on the players, blame it on Wenger and if people don’t buy those two then blame anything else be it VAR, ballboys, fans, pundits, China, officials, UEFA or anything someone can think of. Anything or anyone but Arteta.

    4. TMJ, you my friend are far away from reality. Any one who compared Arteta to Wenger and thinks Arteta is better or done more is out of his mind. There is no comparison, comparison can only be made when Arteta has even achieved half what Wenger achieved. Wenger’s worst team preformed better than Arteta’s current team. Also what defence are you on about, go and look at the stats then come back and talk.

      1. When did I ever say Arteta has done more than Wenger? Literally have never said that. Apologize for your fake news! Do you work for CNN by any chance?

  4. I remember another manager we had that liked to cut and change the lineup constantly, tinkering with formations, players, and tactics.

    How did that work out?

    Another manager we had picked his best 11 and formation, and went about forcing his style of play on the opposition.

    One played to our strengths forcing opponents to adjust. Other 2 managers don’t play to our strengths, tinker, and act like “chameleons” as one called it.

    Which one of the three brought us glory, prestige, and 20 years in CL?

    1. And 13 years without a PL trophy while we watched United, Chelsea, Man City and Leicester win the PL and watched United, Chelsea, Liverpool win CL

          1. Frankly it’s unfair to put the 8th position squarely on Arteta. Emery had killed that season already

      1. At least we watched them from 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions.

        We are still watching them now but from which position?

      1. Honestly which hasn’t dealt with injuries? I’m only saying one of the 3 came with a clear vision and style of play.

        One had a clear philosophy and way they wanted to play. The team embodied the manager and style.

        His last 10 years were lean I don’t argue that. Just seems he got blamed for Kronke’s shortcomings, whereas now another is getting a clear pass.

        Perhaps he should have done more regarding Dein’s dismissal and an owner without ambition.

        His time was up, but club failed to prepare with management, with succeeding managers, transfers, contracts, it goes on.

        Not good enough all around at the club, from anyone. Pleased about last 2 games, but poor season, poor results, poor management from owner and manager. Standards matter

  5. Speaking of defense,

    Our 2 youth CBs both made goal line clearances. McGuinness and Ballard were highly rated for their performances this afternoon.

    If these lads can manage League One at 20/21-years old, they can definitely step up to Championship next year.

  6. Wengers last 6 seasons
    2012/13goals scored 72 goals conceded 37
    2013/14 GS 69 GC 41
    2014/15 GS 71 GC 36
    2015/16 GS 65 GC 36
    2016/17 GS 77 GC 44
    2017/18 GS 74 GC 51
    2018/19 GS 73 GC 51 – Emery
    2019/20 GS 56 GC 48- Emery – Arteta
    2020/21 GS 43 GC 35 – Arteta 7 games to play

    Wengers worst season out the six
    1.95 GS per game 1.34 GC per game

    Artetas first season
    1.39 GS per game 1.17 GC per game -still 7 games to play

    Wengers best season
    1.87 GS per game 0.95 GC per game

    So if what we are ment to believe that Arteta as done better than wengers last 10 seasons I would love the proof I really would .
    You keep saying Arteta as made us better defensively but i can’t see it as shown by the facts provided ,even wengers last and probably worse season here there isnt much between them .
    Now please tells us again how we are better defensively now under Arteta ,over to you TMjWTGY

      1. You’re forgetting some key facts Dan.

        1 – EVERY player was a Wenger signing!! In many cases, Wenger was working with some of the players for years! Arteta has only been at the club 15 months, and inherited the worst defending (from Emery) we have ever seen (although not the worst score lines, those were under Wenger).
        Arteta has been working with so many players that are not his, and some of them were shocking!

        2 – As I have already mentioned, under Wenger, we had the ability to get absolutely torn to shreds. That is barely happened Arteta, which is even more impressive given what he inherited.

        3 – Stats can be very misleading. Under Wenger, when the pressure was on, our defense would always crumble, even if it doesn’t mean conceding a lot. Hence our horrific 14 year run in the league, and last 7/8 years in Europe. Using you eyes, you can clearly see that’s not the case under Arteta. There’s been the odd game when we’ve looked poor at the back, but on the whole, and more importantly, we’re defending so much better as a team. Not just the defenders. We don’t give away as many clear cut chances as we used to.

        1. You’re point 1
          You said we are now defensively better than wengers last 10 years .
          Now your saying that these are not Artetas players ,so you now agree that we are not better going by the true facts I provided about Wenger ?
          I’m confused are we better like you said or now are you saying we are not because these are not Artetas player .
          You can’t keep changing the rules to suit your Agenda.

          1. Dan, it seems that different standards are used when it comes to judging MA’s performance. They use silly excuses to defend MA, but use the same excuses to vilify AW and UE. They want to have it both ways and are not ashamed of it

          2. You’re missing my point completely, so to simplify: Under Wenger realistic fans like myself knew we couldn’t do anything in league and in Europe, because we did not defend as a team (Wenger consistently proved us right), under Arteta we defend far far better as a team, thus giving us a better base to work from. Which would also explain Artetas very good record so far against the top 6.

            Every transfer window we would question why Wenger would always ignore defense, yet in such a short time, Arteta has already addressed our weakest area very well with the likes of Gabriel, Mari, Partey, and we’re seeing the best from Holding and Chambers as well.

            I’ll ask you the simple question that Phil wouldn’t answer, would you prefer we were defending like we were under Wenger instead? Seeing as you say it is better.

    1. Aah facts and stats, the banes of TMJW existence. After Wenger’s departure our goals scored have gone down and goals conceded have gone up.

  7. So another stat as you said most was individual errors that have cost us

    Wenger errors leading to goals
    2012/13 – 14
    2013/14- 10
    2014/15- 8
    2015/16- 5
    2016/17- 5
    2017/18- 15

    Artetas season Errors leading to goals

    2019/20 5 – half a season
    220/21 4 – but with 7 games to go

    So 2 of wengers seasons were 3 times as many individual errors not his defensive set up which is the excuse you keep using for Arteta.
    These are not Cherry picked stats these are confirmed facts ,now I could have done the last 10 years but would have taken me ages so I think the last 6 will do as you keep going on about how we got worse and worse under him .
    So like I said if you are going to use the individual errors excuse just look at wengers compared

    1. I don’t think individual errors decide if you have a sorted defence or not. Defending is a sum of many parts that lead to goals conceded or not.

      1. I’m just quoting what JWTMANHR keeps preaching about individual errors Reggie as you can see Wenger had a lot more so I don’t get the excuse at all .
        I wanted him gone 2014 myself so I’m not by any means defending him but I can’t stand the cringe excuses some are coming up to defend Arteta .

        1. Yes Dan individual errors lead to goals and a good defence and player makes less but i do get what you are saying.

    1. Once again TMJW, your personal attacks against AW have no foundation whatsoever – yet you keep on making these accusations that, as Dan kit has done and when looked at properly, have no substance whatsoever.

      I note that you now say that we had rugby scorelines against us under Wenger…. and then quote 5-1 as an example!!!

      Such over exaggeration makes your claims ludicrous and that is why supporters go out of their way to prove you wrong….like losing count of how many times we threw away CL away ties.
      What was it… SIX, but you lost count and yet you can remember nine years without a trophy as clear as day!!!

      Let me remind you, that it was you and your buddy Jon Fox, who were telling the rest of us how wrong we were about Emery and he would be our saviour – yet here you are doing exactly the same to him as you do with Wenger – rewriting history to suit your argument.

      You also try to demean fans by asking them if they actually watch our games, when/if they question your outrageous claims.
      So WHAT games in the CL did you watch, when you couldn’t count past SIX in eight seasons?
      WHAT games did you watch, when Arteta was taught how to be humiliated under Wenger?
      WHAT games have you watched this season, apart from the last two games, when you felt our defence have improved, including our “wonderful” home record of defeats that are, indeed a record on their OWN under Arteta?

      I would love to believe that our defence has finally turned the corner… and can produce stats that, at the very least, can equal the home records of our “failed” previous defences.

      1. Ken1945, the thing is when they cannot defend MA’s record on its own they bring up wengers record, and not the full record but the cherry picked ones. Their argument always falls apart whenever you look at the stats and the records.

  8. @Ken45BC- you and I have rarely agreed on anything Wenger related, but for @TMJW to now attempt to bypass the Arteta failings with Wengers really only highlights just how desperate he has become to justify the totally embarrassing comments he has previously posted. Now I see he isn’t too concerned about the teams defending, as we score more. Which obviously we don’t. We might be scoring more than we did earlier this season, but that’s the issue. We simply were not scoring enough earlier in the season. Which is why we lost games. We were not scoring AND not defending properly. Individual mistakes? Well @Dan Kit has shown with his FACTUAL RECORDS that Arteta’s are way less than Wengers.
    What excuse will he come up epsith next do you think? We wear the wrong coloured red shirts? The grass is too green? The ball is too round? Dont be surprised as anything is likely to be given as an excuse. The facts speak for themselves. If he bothered looking at these he might just save himself the continual embarrassment he brings on himself

    1. Agree 100% with all you say regarding TMJW Phil and Beastmode.

      If only he would/could back up his claims with facts!!!

  9. I agreed.
    The reason why we lose so many games is that we do not score enough. Conceding 35/45/65/75 does not matter to me as long as we score enough to win the match.
    This year, it seems we tried to concede less by defending our goals. But, 38 goal concede is enough to get 0 points, mathematically.

  10. It’s so humorous to see people arguing over shades of grey…it’s clear that during the latter part of Wenger’s reign we didn’t properly address our defensive deficiencies…minus Kos and a brief period with Vermaelen, we never had a proper CB tandem…as for our DM position, only Coq showed us a brief glimpse at what had been standard fare during our heydays with Vieira and company

    as the years wore on there were times where the numbers would mistakenly suggest this was an actual strength of the squad, like with Per and Kos, but everyone and their brother knew this was an incredibly fraudulent take, as we always looked susceptible whenever the stakes were raised and/or the game was on the line…I dare anyone to try and convince me otherwise…I can still so vividly remember how ridiculously fragile we were right after scoring, on set pieces(goddam zonal marking) and immediately following halftime

    under Emery, we were constantly exposed by the fact that he was determined to press high and play out from the back, at times, without the requisite personnel…you’re always going to concede a high shot total whenever you present a team with opportunities to attack with numbers…likewise there were still several carryover defending halfwits from the Wenger era, which simply made matters worse…much like under Wenger, rarely if ever did I feel confident in their ability to defend as a group whenever any opposing squad made a concerted push, especially in the latter stages of a match

    as for during Arteta’s tenure, the only functional difference has been the amount of players who are constantly committed to the defensive side of the ball, which logically has negatively impacted our offensive production…of course, based on that fact alone we should be a better defensive squad, but this hasn’t always been the case…from an “eye test” perspective I feel fractionally more confident that we won’t concede in the same manner as under the two previous regimes, but that doesn’t mean we should be considered a stout group by any stretch…not until our manager adopts the same aggressive tactics we displayed in our last two matches, against top clubs, will we ever fully comprehend our true defensive strengths and frailties…considering our negative tactics, I just wish Arteta had used this season to better develop our more youthful defending prospects, as they wouldn’t be so frequently exposed

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