Arsenal’s Brilliant Defence is a Throwback to the Invincibles Era

Arsenal drew goalless with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday. They then beat Luton Town 2-0 to go to the top of the table. They are now in the second position with 68 points from 30 matches. The Gunners trail Liverpool by two points with eight games left to play.

They are still ahead of the Cityzens, just like they were for the majority of last season, only to be pipped at the post in the end. Mikel Arteta will be hoping that something similar does not happen this time around, as it will mean yet another heartbreak for the Gunners’ supporters.

Arsenal’s Defence has Performed Exceptionally Well

Arsenal took four points off both Liverpool and Manchester City over two legs, which is extremely creditable, to say the least. They kept a clean sheet against the Cityzens in both of their matches in the Premier League this season.
Not many teams come out of the Etihad Stadium without conceding a goal and Mikel Arteta’s men have done just that. Still, it was a match that Pep Guardiola’s side dominated by having 73% ball-possession.
However, they managed to have only a solitary shot on target, mainly thanks to some desperate but confident defending by the Gunners throughout the match. To halt City’s attacking unit, which is among the best in the world, is no mean feat. Very few teams actually have the ability to maintain the low-block for that long against Manchester City. Manchester United tried that in their last match, but ended up conceding three goals.
Arsenal has conceded the fewest goals (24) among all the teams in the Premier League this season. It has been made possible by their exceptional defence.
The Gunners have shuffled Oleksandr Zinchenko, Jakub Kiwior and Takehiro Tomiyasu as their left-back. However, the other three spots in their back-four have been more or less constant. Ben White, Gabriel and William Saliba have all come up with exceptional performances match after match.
Gabriel and Saliba, Arsenal’s centre-back pairing, have rendered Erling Haaland, the league’s top-scorer, ineffective in both their matches against Manchester City. Both of them are big and strong, quick with their tackles and very good in the air.

The Gunners’ Defence Reminds One of the Invincibles

It is sort of a throwback to the Invincibles era under Arsene Wenger. Lauren, Kolo Touré, Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole formed one of the strongest backlines that helped the Gunners finished the 2003/04 Premier League season without losing a match and also winning the title.
The same backline helped Arsenal reach the UEFA Champions League final with a great defensive record. Backed by a wonderful goalkeeper in Jens Lehmann and quality defensive midfielders like Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva, the Gunners played counter-attacking football with blistering pace at times, involving their pacey wingers, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg.
Their current lot also have holding midfielders like Declan Rice and Jorginho and also quality wingers like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. However, more than anything else, it is their water-tight defence that reminds one of Wenger’s champion team. It remains to be seen whether they are able to match their predecessors by winning the league title this time around.

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