Writer: Brice Coffer
Date:Thursday February 3 2011
Much has been made of supposed fragility of the Arsenal's defence this season, but this preconceived "truth" that resonates throughout the English media is not nearly as factual as the football Gods of TalkSport would like you to believe. This prevarication originates from statistics of seasons passed. In the 2009-10 Premier League season, Arsenal finished 11 points behind winners Chelsea, conceding 9 more goals in the process. The year before that, Arsenal were 18 points and 13 goals against behind champions United. In fact, over the past 5 seasons (yes, the same 5 seasons that we haven't won a trophy in) the eventual champions have also had the best goals against record 60% of the time. However, what does any of that have to do with the 2010-2011 season? Nothing.
Perhaps if Arsenal had a media darling like John Terry or a Nemanja Vidic playing centre half then we would have a better defence. Hold on, you say Manchester United and Chelsea have only given up 1 and 2 more goals than Arsenal respectfully? That can't be true. Andy Durham wouldn't allow it.
United: 24 played, 54 pts, 54 scored, 22 conceded
Arsenal: 24 played, 49 pts, 50 scored, 23 conceded
Man C: 25 played, 46 pts, 39 scored, 22 conceded
Chelsea: 24 played, 44 pts, 46 scored, 21 conceded
As you can see, when it comes to defence it's all pretty tight in the top four.
During the month of January, Arsenal played four league matches and gave up a grand total of zero goals. February would have started in the same vein if not for a dubious Evertonian goal, but that's neither here nor there. Even without first choice defender Thomas Vermaelen for the vast majority of the season, Arsenal's defence has been solid. Not enough praise can go out to Song, Sagna, Clichy, Djourou, and Koscielny. Actually, the whole team deserves immense credit because Clichy wouldn't be doing so well without the tracking back of Nasri or Sagna without Walcott.
Arsenal aren't the 'lilywhites' of yesteryears. Just ask Sir Alex:
"Other managers and coaches tell me the present Arsenal side are one of the toughest in the Premier League and the most physical since the days of Martin Keown. They play nice football and weave some intricate patterns but there is an edge through their team that also accounts for their presence as title challengers this season. His boys are not the lilywhites portrayed by their admirers.
While Fergie's troops have the best odds of lifting the league trophy once again come May, Arsenal's newly found backbone means Fabregas and co will be there till the end. United have the tougher remaining schedule, but whether or not they'll drop points and whether Arsenal can capitalise remains to be seen. Though, as Tim said in his Everton Match Report, it's nights like Tuesday that make us supporters believe this team has something special.
Date:Thursday February 3 2011
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