According to most observers of Arsenal in recent seasons, defensive frailties have been at the heart of the Gunners failure to qualify for the Champions League. The claim has also rung true at times for Unai Emery’s team this season, especially on their travels.
There is no doubt that the team from north London need defensive reinforcements in the summer. However, the fact team have shown defensive improvement of late is encouraging.
A good recent defensive record
The Gunners recent record of conceding just once in seven games in all competitions is an impressive record for any team. For a team notoriously fragile in defence, it is even more credible.
Six clean sheets in seven matches is not what we have come to expect of Arsenal in recent years. The Gunners have certainly produced better defensive result even if the defensive performances have not always been convincing.
Koscielny a key figure
For many veteran French centre-back Laurent Koscielny has been Arsenal’s best defender for a long time. His absence shows when he is not in the Gunners backline. Koscielny is such a key figure in the Arsenal backline.
However, the 33-year-old has been dogged by injuries in recent seasons, not least the injury he picked up a year ago against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-finals. The problem has sidelined Koscielny for much of this season.
Since his return, though, he has shown his quality. The fact he has returned to such a high level of performance after such a terrible injury is a testament his strength of mind and character. Many thought he may not again after picking up that awful injury.
One other factor that suits Koscielny is that Arsenal are playing with three centre-backs. This means there is less pressure on him to do everything, as he has often had to cover for his central defensive partner in the past.
Defensive improvement can help Arsenal to success
Good teams tend to be built on solid defensive foundations. Arsenal have been superb going forward at times in recent seasons. However, their defensive displays have not matched their attacking prowess.
If Emery can recruit a top-quality centre-back this summer, then it could make the world of difference for the Gunners in the coming seasons. The Spaniard has done a good job so far in north London.
Despite the Gunners recent defensive improvement, fixing the backline could well prove to be the key to turning Arsenal into a real force once again.
Is Unai Emery on the way to solving Arsenal’s defensive problems?