Since Arsene dropped his captain and first choice goalkeeper to the bench, after the painful and costly loss against you know who, Arsenal conceded just five goals in ten games: 0.5 goals per game.
Vermaelen has started just one game out of those ten (against Norwich) but Szczesny was reintroduced to the first team against Everton, after which he started in all games again (five in total). Koscielny basically took his chance with both his floppy ears and never looked back. Fabianski did well in his five consecutive games, conceding just three goals. But then he got injured, apparently, and his last chance to claim the nr.1 goalkeeper position at Arsenal went up in smoke.
We will have to see what will happen with Fabianski and Vermaelen this summer, but I reckon not many of us are expecting them to be here come September. I hope the Lion of Flanders will stay and fight for his position, but for Fabianski it would no doubt be best to find himself a team where he will be regarded as the nr.1 goalkeeper.
Nine games of (new) partnership between Koz and Mertesacker are not really enough to make a strong claim about the long term viability of it, but with conceding just four goals in all games, including Bayern, MU, Swansea and West Brom away, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.
Of course we should take into account the additional support our defence has had in those last ten games, by both playing Arteta and Ramsey in a more conservative and deeper set-up in midfield and by clipping the wings of our full backs to some extent. But the German and Frenchman have formed a great partnership that deserves credit.
For me, despite Fabianski doing well too in his games, both Koz and BFG are not complete without Szczesny behind them. This is a very promising triangle in the heart of our defence and I am starting to feel very positive about it going forward. Somehow, these three get the best out of each other, and the whole is a lot greater than the sum of its parts.
Szczesny is an extrovert and ‘confidence-player’, who imposes himself on his opponents. He also has great technical ability, but his cocky-nature can get him into trouble which sometimes leads to poor and costly mistakes.
Mertesacker is an imposing figure and a natural organiser; he has great overview, and is a fine reader of the game. He is also calm under pressure and deals well with personal mistakes and set-backs for the team. However, we also know he is not the fastest and gets beaten in one-on-one situations at times.
Koscielny is very energetic and athletic, a great tackler and strong in the air. He reads the game, and positions himself, very well. But, his over-exuberance makes him prone to the odd mistake which sometimes leads to costly (own) goals against us.
However, Koz has hardly made any mistakes recently and the same goes for Mertesacker and Szczesny. There seems to be a growing a fine understanding between the Frenchman, the Pole and the German and they are compensating for each other weaknesses to a large extent.
Mertesacker’s organisational skills and natural calm seem to help Koz and Szczesny with balancing their energy levels, composure and decision making. Koz and Szczesny’s speed of thinking and ability to act quickly and decisively are covering well for the BFG’s slowness in turning and vulnerability of being left in a one-on-one with fast and agile attackers.
The three of them are bit by bit forming an almost impenetrable triangle and it also looks like the FB’s are both benefiting from this, as well as adding further value to our solidness at the back.
Sagna and Mertesacker work well together, but I have also noticed how Jenkinson and Mertesacker form a fine partnership on the right side of our defence – both compensating for each other’s weaknesses (inexperience and positioning in case of Jenkinson).
Koz and Gibbs are also starting to gel and support each other better and the same goes for Koz and Nacho. Although, the latter partnership is still more of a work in progress.
All in all, there are some really positive signs with regards to our defensive solidity and although it is still early days, I reckon this is an area Wenger and Bould do not have to worry about too much this summer (except for adding some strength in depth in case Vermaelen does not stay).
But would you agree with that?
Written by: TotalArsenal.