The Reasons behind Arsenal’s MASSIVE improvement

Less possession, more clean sheets, more goals, what changed? by KM‏

So a lot was said about Arsenal in the last two weeks. After a bad start to the season and the New Year, we’re having the absolute best part of our season. We won away at Man City by outsmarting them, we’ve gotten 3 wins in a row for the first time this season, and we survived the FA cup giant killing.

What changed really? Well Mertesacker came out and said the players sat down, talked about the problems with not defending and we can see the results. Player talks are something we underestimate. Liverpool did a talk of reviving their Season and they’ve also picked up their form. It’s really good to see the players caring for the game and not just their salary.

Questions as to whether it should be the manager that’s doing this, when things go bad. But hey, 8 million a year don’t cover this part, do they? Anyway my point is we are playing to our strengths and it’s paying out. The players have realized we cannot dominate every game the way Barca did, but they know they are good players. And adjusting our style a bit makes a huge difference.

Another interesting thing. We gave up the possession. Against Stoke, Man City and Villa we had some of the lowest possession stats over the past 5 years and we played some of the best games I’ve seen for a while. Our midfielders use their great ability with the ball for setting up lightning counters that shock opponents. We look a bit like the Dortmund that won two tittles on the trot.

Another change in our midfield was Coquelin who’s been immense. Finally someone who’s caring about the defensive part of our game. Ramsey has also moved back to his regular (NOT Beckham) position. He’s neither the defensive midfielder, nor is he the number 10, but he’s the balancing point and the fans love a player doing his defensive duties as much as the players who score.

Our wingers have also started to give their support to the full backs. And the full backs have really improved. Nacho Monreal silently shoved Gibbs on the bench and I’d pick the Spaniard all day long. Yes he’s not that attacking minded, but when it comes to defending there’s only one left back I’d pick. And Bellerin? Super fast and calm. What a performance from that lad in recent times.

And finally, David Ospina. His collection of the ball has impressed me. Something Szczesny has been missing for all his game time. He made 2 saves vs Villa, one at 1-0 and one at 5-0, which tells you something about how much a clean sheet means and that his concentration levels were high throughout the whole game.

So all and all, we’ve started to do things right. Question is how far will we take it? I hope we don’t fall back to the all out forward approach. We have a very good squad that when set up correctly can be up there challenging the very best. Our next game needs no introduction. They are on a good run as well, but we have the better squad. We’ve played some pretty wild games against Spurs lately. A win would set us up with a very good chance to finish in the top four having played most of our opponents away.

Have a great week!


Tags Bellerin Coquelin Monreal


  1. The turning point was the return of the defenders from injury. We already knew we were a good team from last year and we knew we should be better because we got Sanchez. But Wenger never bought a defender in summer and that cost the team dearly.

    1. no, its not just that. we used to play a high line. now we sit back and are compact. the high line does not go well with Mertesacker and it does not go well with fullbacks that bomb forward. plus it does not go well with MF and forwards that dont do defensive duties.

      1. Look at the games after the first day of the year. You will see a more defensive approach to the game. The opposite of the attacking flank is always staying a bit behind. This is providing extra cover when we are caught on the break. This is one of the reasons Mertesacker intercepts so easily because opposition is already worn out from the first contact after they cross the midfield. Secondly, Coquelin is so disciplined defensively that he barely goes above the middle third (same as Arteta was doing). Last but not least, defensive work done by Giroud and Sanchez helps our midfield and ultimately our defense to regain positions and brace for the charge. And yes, Ospina is just inspiring confidence, not sure why Szceszny never had this attribute. Is probably his arrogant attitude after games where he did not had anything to contribute, no idea. A bit of humble pie will probably make him regain his head because he does have reflexes.

      2. It’s all down to the injuries that has made the team different Only 1 striker,midfield was weak full backs weak,defence did not have same 4,full backs playing out of position, then in a 3 month time the youngster matured Bellerin,Coquelin then Kosheney comes back Monreal learning from his time in defence now a great full back now Ozil Rosicky Walcott playing and can last 90min the list just keeps getting better. But!!!! It will all go to waist if we don’t beat Spurs. CB

  2. That’s the thing..

    We are currently on a great run, doing great after adopting a different style.

    When you find a winning formula, you want to stick with it. I hope this continues, and that the boss won’t just wake up someday and be like ”we are beginning to lose too much possession these days. I don’t like this”……………… And then we revert to ‘type’.

    That’d be the most annonying thing.

    For now we are in form, on a great run and long may it continue. COYG

    1. yes, lets not change it. however, in the past AW has done baffling things that just nobody thought would work so I try to gird myself to not be amazed. The real risk, I think, is that one game we’re going to be cruising & confident and will revert to type (get caught with too many players ahead of the ball). Avoiding that is going to be the hardest thing. but if we can avoid it, we’ll do well. our attack can take care of itself. its the defensive discipline that goes missing from time to time.

      1. Don’t want to cast any negatives but why has it taken so long for the penny to drop. Every great team begins by bringing together a powerful mean defense which includes strong midfield cover , also putting players in their best positions. In fact this was Wengers own blueprint when he first arrived. He decided to change that and it has simply not worked. Now he has almost stumbled back to type more by accident than design. I believe there are a few more steps to make.I wouldn’t keep Mertesacker in that side and I would add someone like Wanyama or Sissoko for pure power in midfield. Let,s hope we roast the Spuds at the weekend.

        1. I don’t think it has taken that long. It was just last year that we were battered beyond recognition and thats why the penny has dropped. Yes previous years we didn’t win all the big games but they were close. I think previous years we were not just good enough and lacked confidence, so thats totally different esp when we were losing our best players for fun. Its as simple as that. I know people will point to 8-2 with ManU but then I can also point to the 6-1 in 2001 (Yes before the invincibles it happened at old trafford). We had a weaker team due to injuries back then as well. Last year we were good enough but tactics were wrong, we had no pace due to injuries and were even harder to overturn because the opposition scored first in all the big games which meant we had to chase the games and were battered. Even the ManU game this year. Game was great and we should have won if we took our chances (First goal effect) until they scored a lucky goal and we were chasing the game and susceptible to the counter. We just have to make sure we Score first at white fart lane or it could be a very long day for us. But im very confident we will overturn them.

        2. Also Wanyama and Sissoko might be big and strong but I for one do not believe its the Size that matters….Check out coquelin, he ain’t no HULK but he probably has more fight than the guys u have mentioned. The is a saying that its not the size of the dog that matters but the fight in the dog. Coq is the MAN and it ain’t no accident mate.

  3. The players are playing really well. The spurs game is now very very important. They are also in a good form. The PL is now so tight that a single loss can change the whole equation. Man City was on a good run and were level on points with Chelsea , but they lost against us and thus Chelsea gain are favorites. Man U we in a good run but the home loss against Southampton changed everything. Southampton also were on a great run beating us and then Man U and were on course for top 4 but their loss last week again changed every equation.
    Hence every game is important and specially the spurs game as it is 6 pointer.
    If we loose then we will fall back a lot.
    But if we win then we have good leap against Spurs and we will also have favorable matches.
    If we beat spurs , this will really really make us the most inform team of the PL.
    Common Arsenal lets do it. Lets beat them

  4. vs spuds: don’t concede in 1st 20mins like we used to. be compact. score on the counter. everyone has to defend. if sanchez plays, he’ll score. there’s quite a good probability that we can win.

  5. 11 long frustrating seasons .
    Promises in the summer from players
    and management alike, fans hoping the
    corner is turned the EPL finally ours again.
    By the Spring excuses and condemnation
    and the cycle begins again and again and again.
    Are we any closer to winning the League? Really?
    I don’t know I just don’t know.

    1. Who said we are close winning the league? I think the mentality of the fans should change just like the one of the players : we should talk only the next game and see where that goes. Dreaming about the trophies when you don’t have the resources other teams have is a bit hazardous (pun intended). Just take one game at the time (it sounds cliche but this is really the way of going forward for us) and lets discuss at the end of the season.

  6. We become a better team from day 1 that Kosielny came back, other defenders got confidence I.e per. And then our defense gave us flat form.

  7. I think there’s 3 major points that have been key to our evolution these past weeks.

    1. Team shape with the ball: our FB’s aren’t ahead of the ball now with our wide guys lined up across the opponents 18 yard box. Means we’re not easy to catch on the break, and it gives our attackers space to move. We’re smarter, more patient, and less exposed which actually gives our attack confidence to play knowing we are in control.

    2. Mobile DM: Coquelin has been terrific, ‘dirty work’, ‘ugly side’, ‘does the work unfashionable stuff’, he is displaying exactly what is required for a DM. His constant protection of Kos and Per is a joy to behold vs Flamini’s awful wandering, finger pointing shitshow. Credit to the lad for seeing what we need and doing his all to fill it, be it a tackle, a foul, a rollicking, or an extra body coming across to help his fb’s.

    3. Solid foundation at GK: Ospina has plenty to prove, I’m not jumping the gun. However he has come in and immediately displayed traits that Szczes doesn’t yet possess (good distribution, supreme concentration, and obvious clear organization), which has helped in making us a visibly calmer, more assured back 5 unit. Plus the Ooooooospina thing is more reason for fans to get vocal. Long may it continue.

  8. After watching the replays, I recalled the commentator mentioning that Arsenal played a counter attacking football and I have to agree. On the AV match, we had 48% possession, incredibly odd for a 5-0 scoreline.

    I realize players were not closing down as usual, instead defenders and midfielders were ALLOWING aston villa to attack. It was a very defensive approach to the match and Wenger is brilliant knowing that Aston Villa has failed to score in a number of match (low confident players). Our tactic was simple, let them attack, sit back and relax and when defenders intercepts, make a high tempo play with our winger. Textbook counter attacking football.

    I believe with our current crop of defenders, we could use this tactic against bigger/lower class teams. The key is defending together, and making sure our wingers and strikers finish their shots off well.

  9. Wenger finally learnt how to swallow the pride of playing Arsenal brand against Big teams and play defensively for a change. Took him 10 years to realize this with 8-2, 6-0,6-3 thrashings included. Well better late then never. Future looks better. Next season we must be challenging for the PL title.

  10. It feels odd not seeing us complain on this site about one thing or another. But that just means our Gunners our playing well.

  11. The thing is, according to papers our season crumbles during February. Last year we lost 5-1 to Liverpool, drew 0-0 at home to ManU and went out of the CL after a 2-0 loss to Brayen. So our CL and PL hopes were all but dashed.

    But this year it’s different, we are peaking at the right time. Players arr coming to form. We have a better draw in the CL for once.

    Let’s shatter this February bullsh*t by smashing spud first.

    On 7th Feb all chicken items/edibles are on the house. Feel free to munch away which ever chicken food you want. Oh but only after the Tottenham Hotspur game.

  12. It ain’t the first time were reverting to such an approach.2013-14 at the beginning was a similar kind of play since beatibayern

    I think we should credit the manager because he’s stuck to his guns.he tried the 4-1-4-1 at the beginning and we were shit.but He kept on trying and it looks better now.

    As opposed to the picture the article is trying to portray,I don’t believe the manager did nothing in this renaissance.we gotta be fair.yes The players sat down and talked.but Couldn’t that be because thefelt that they were letting the manager down ?

    Also, in coq we can now trust someone who ain’t arteta to do a job in there..

    I’m not so worried of reverting to free flowing football.especially when we completely have a team on the back foot.


  13. 1. Szczesny out of goal. Ospina in goal.

    2. Coquelin finding form.

    3. Bellerin finding form.

    4. No hgh line anymore.

    This is the difference.

    Add the form of Sanchez, Cazorla and the improved over all game of Giroud to this.

    Ramsey finding his goal per game form from last season would make everything mentioned above => fool proof.

    Negativity to watch out for is Walcott. He is not in form, he is rusty, does not have familiarity with Sanchez, Bellerin, Coquelin, he will potentially drag down the form of the others.

    1. I liked your post till you spoiled it with the ‘negativity’ part…..Walcott is a little rusty I agree, so would you be if you had been out for so long…..BUT he has scored 2 goals and each game he plays he is getting sharper…..give Theo time, I love to see him play, the air of excitement at the ground when we gets the ball is great. I do believe Theo will be great for us , especially when he and Ozil are on together. They could be a world class partnership if they fulfill their promise

  14. To me a few things..
    1. The formation, stay compact and stop worrying about dominating possession attitude.

    2. Players hard working attitude, they are more hard working, no more passengers in the team, everyone is helping out defensively and offensively if necessary. For example Giroud is more defensive again, he is always in the centre circle when we are defending, he even track back to our penalty box.

    3. The Coq, Cazorla and Ramsey in midfield, The Coq has been amazing and loves to shield. Cazorla has absolutely changed his game, I think Sanchez hard working attitude has rubbed off him in a big way, Santi has turner into a CM beast, he is so disciplined, tackles, tracks back, calms our midfield, he has let Ramsey be the more attacking of the the 2. So Cazorla turning into somewhat CM has been big.

    4. Ooooospina. He seems to be more calmer and commanding.

  15. I still like Rambo putting the ball in the net to be honest. Still get this unbalanced look in midfield. But you no what I love my arsenal no matter what and sing no matter what. COYG

  16. I disagree with the negative comment about Theo. I would love to see him used centrally for lightning fast counters.

  17. Agree with a lot said above
    – great to have Kos back, Per now more in command
    – Ospina is a calming and competent influence too
    – Monreal deserves a big pat-on-the-back for his many roles and Bellerin is developing fast
    – Le Coq has been great at DM with Santi and Rambo taking the creative and b-to-b roles (and the Ox too before injury)
    – Giroud is back and scoring goals

    …but one of the big impacts has been how midfield and forwards have been following Alexis’ great example of commitment and chasing back. This has had a big impact on the overall defensive strength of the team, especially where the full backs have been better supported.

    Saturday’s game is BIG, but the boys can deliver if they deliver a Man City perfoermance

  18. This weekend could be massive for us

    Beat Spurs !!

    then Liverpool have game tonight so possibly be a little tired for their Derby with Everton !!

    Man U have tricky game at W.ham ( come on JENKS !!!!!! )

    then byt the time that Liverpool v Spurs on Tuesday we could be even happier than we all feel now###


  19. Agree with all points except Monreal over Gibbs.

    Gibbs was our most consistent player until the recent injury. Was at times our absolute best player while the rest of the team was playing shite! (Anderlecht ring a bell?) Get him back in the squad asap.

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