Posted on Monday, 27th August 2012 by Rob Fisher
It should surely be music to our ears to hear the chants, so long forgotten, of ‘boring, boring Arsenal’. Yet here we are, second game into the new season, without a goal…against us! Let’s forget about the front line for several minutes.
Last season we shipped 49 goals. Yet two games, against two teams who have a lot of big physical players and plenty of presence in the air, and we haven’t conceded a thing. That really is cause to celebrate.
Steve Bould should be heartily congratulated for the job he has clearly done so far. Against Stoke the back four were magnificent. Per ‘The Mert’ Mertesacker, who didn’t get much playing time during the Euros, looks a transformed player: confident, always aware of his position on the pitch, and clearly ready to mix it up with Crouch.
Thomas Vermaelen was rock solid and, as always, a dominant presence radiating leadership at the back.
The choice of full-backs was interesting, but worked so well. Kieran Gibbs had a
great game, flying forward, brimming with self belief, while Carl Jenkinson (has anyone ever seen him smile?) doesn’t get the recognition he deserves: great pace, and once he calms down, a superb crosser of the ball.
Individually, they were brilliant, fulfilled their roles and closed down the Stoke offence.
But where it really matters is how they functioned as a unit, and this is where Bould’s influence can be clearly seen. They played together, always talking to each other, always aware of where they were positioned in relation to each other and, as a unit, they acted as a smothering force the likes of which we haven’t seen for a very long time. I’d almost say they were imperious at times. It’s early days yet, but these are good omens for the rest of the season. The Arsenal teams of old were built on a solid defensive unit, and more often than not, edged games 1-0 as a result, picking up a lot of points along the way.
It very much looks as if Bould has brought that rock solid mentality and self belief back into the squad. It was a joy to watch them play and once the new front line beds in, I really do think we have the prospect of an amazing season ahead.
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