Having averaged more than one goal conceded per game (1.35) in his tenure as Arsenal manager, Unai Emery certainly had trouble trying to ensure the Gunners looked defensively solid.
If there were thoughts the former PSG boss could come in and bring some organisation and resilience to the north London side after replacing Arsene Wenger, then it sadly did not prove to be the case.
During the first 13 top-flight matches this season under Emery, Arsenal let in a total of 218 shots on goal, at an average of 16.7 per game. 73 of those attempts were on target, at an average of 5.6 per game.
So when Mikel Arteta replaced the Spaniard as the club’s permanent head coach, the defence understandably was always going to be a priority. When you’ve got someone like last season’s Golden Boot winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front, making sure the back-line is tight and secure is always a good place to start – and to the Gunners boss’ credit, he has done exactly that.
Arsenal have conceded just seven goals in seven league games under Arteta, with clean sheets against the likes of Burnley away and Manchester United at home. And when looking at the underlying numbers, it is easy to see why they have made some major strides forward defensively.
Compared to Emery’s time this season, the Gunners have conceded just 87 total shots at an average of 12.42 per game, whilst only 29 of them have been on target – an average of 4.14 per game. The north Londoners are ensuring Bernd Leno has far less to do now, and that is making life a whole lot easier. It’s quite the damning statement that an Arsenal player is second on the list for most saves made by a Premier League goalkeeper this season, with 93.
Whilst wins have been hard to come by for Arteta – he still only has one win in the Premier League – he has at least ensured the Gunners are now no longer soft touches in defence. And that should be applauded big-time.