This season Arsenal have looked a far better side than the one that finished third in the Premier League last season. They currently sit third, two points off leaders Leicester, and with only two matches against the top four left to play, the Gunners could be the ones to beat.
A lot has been said about how good players, like Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud have been, as well as the purchase of Petr Cech from Chelsea. But one of the areas not given enough praise is the defence. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have been solid
The addition of Cech has made a huge difference, but for both defenders to have such an established professional behind them it must make a difference to know they can have freedom to roam. Last season the goalkeeping position was one of trouble, with Sczezesny and Ospina failing to keep level headed in goal.
Sczezesny in particular was so inconsistent that Wenger dropped him halfway through the season for Ospina, emphasising the problems that Arsenal were having last term. For Koscielny, he needs to be able to get forward and can be effective. He has started to establish himself not only as one of the best centre backs in the Premier League, but one of France’s best.
However, last season he could not fully focus or attack as much as he wanted, due to Mertesacker having a lack of pace and Sczezesny being a liability between the sticks. If a defender cannot fully focus or be able to push up-field because the keeper struggles to save basic shots, then it effects their game.
Before January last year, Arsenal just had Mertesacker, Koscielny and Chambers to fill in the position. Monreal and Debuchy occasionally had to deputise, but without strength in depth of centre-backs, Arsenal looked weak. But Wenger bought Brazilian Gabriel in the transfer window, and he has helped to fill in this position.
Depending on the opposition, Wenger has regularly been able to call upon Gabriel to fill in for Mertesacker to provide that extra bit of pace, and has provided the passion that Arsenal fans love to see.
It is not just in the centre of defence where the side have benefited from. Bellerin has emerged at right back, with the youngster performing so well that Debuchy has been pushed out from the side. On the left, Gibbs has been dropped for Monreal who has, like Bellerin, emerged as a consistent figure in the Arsenal defence.
Arsenals’s wing-backs have provided more than just defensive play, helping to push Arsenal on the attack, and even getting amongst the goals.
Should Arsenal win the league this season, it will not only be down to the good attackers, but also a solid defence.
With Wenger not panic buying and purchasing new defenders, the faith has paid off in his current players who have performed.
A new goalie has been the best purchase of the season, and helped to provide consistency to two of the league’s best centre-backs.