Monday, 2 December 2013

Man of the match Szczesny reveals the secret to our defensive consistency

Morning Gooners.

After a great win in Wales, we'd done our job in taking three points off an opponent and were able to sit back and watch how our title rivals were going to get on. And I think his weekend can be seen as a turning point in the race for the Championship.

It showed us something that perhaps we all expected. It's going to be us, Chelsea and Manchester City who are going to be fighting it out until May to win the Premier League. Fourth placed Liverpool lost and are now level on points with fifth placed Everton. Newcastle must be getting altitude sickness up in sixth place. While Southampton have had two defeats in London within a week. Mid-table Manchester United are nine points behind us and ninth placed Tottenham are trailing us by ten points.

The result at the KC Stadium probably was the most important one for us. It showed us there can be no complacency on Wednesday when we face Steve Bruce's side. However the visitors away form is woeful. Just one Premier League win on the road this season and that came at Newcastle in September.

I was impressed with our showing on Saturday. I thought as a team we played the game well. For me anyone of a host of players could have taken the man of the match award. Aaron Ramsey has picked up a lot of the plaudits because of his two goals, Mesut Ozil's two assists played a huge part in our win but for me Wojciech Szczesny's save early in the second half when we were 1-0 up ensured we took all three points back to north London.

Szczesny has been in fine form this season and he has stepped up to be the keeper many thought he could be. I've never been his biggest fan. But credit where it's due, he's turned my opinion of him round. I'm firmly of the belief we've got the best goalkeeper in the Premier League at Arsenal.

He's cut out the stupid mistakes and his concentration levels have gone up. He doesn't seem to be wanting to force his involvement into the game anymore by making rash decisions. And his all round performance has ensured he's kept clean sheets in six out of his last seven games.

The Poland international is of the opinion that the defence he's playing behind have played their part in ensuring we conceded only once in November.

He told the official website

"I have been working hard myself but the defence have helped me massively. It is smashing to play behind the same back four every week.  
"You don’t know how important that is. 
"Yes I am keeping clean sheets but I have not had many saves to make."
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have provided the basis for us to build our title challenge. But Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs have played their part too. We certainly appear to be playing more as a team this season and the midfield is certainly playing its part in ensuring we don't get caught out on the break.

I bemoaned earlier in the season that we weren't keeping clean sheets. That's because all strong title winning teams concede fewer goals that their rivals in general. But having just conceded one set piece goal in six games in November with some tricky opponents isn't bad at all.

So we're back in action again on Wednesday night. Let's hope we can take our November form into December. We've got some tricky games, but winning these matches can certainly ensure we show those Match of the Day pundits we are title contenders, not that I care what they think about us. I'd rather we let our football do the talking.

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