Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Mertesacker should take defensive plaudits - Wenger to go all out for Draxler

Morning Gooners.

I think many of us knew the statistic about our results when Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny completed 90 minutes together before Sky showed it on Monday night. But it is always worth repeating because it is so extraordinary.

PLAYED 28
WON 20
DRAWN 8
LOST 0
CLEAN SHEETS 16

It really is a remarkable combination which has put us in the box seat at the top of the Premier League this season and for all our fantastic attacking play at times, it is our defensive stability which has won us games. Being able to see out the final 15 minutes at Villa Park on Monday playing with 10 men behind the ball has shown how far we've come.

We currently sit on top of the table for the best defense in the Premier League having conceded 19 goals from our 21 games. If you take out the results against Villa at home and Manchester City away where we conceded nine goals, we've conceded 10 goals from 19 games, which I find truly remarkable.

I'd like to put all the plaudits for our mean defence at Per Mertesacker's door. But that would be unfair on the other players in the team, because they all have their part to play in making sure we have done as well as we have so far. Plus Wojciech Szczesny has certainly stepped up this season.

And the midfield have worked a lot harder to ensure that we don't allow shots on goal. Attack has really become our first line of defence.

The change in mentality of Arsene Wenger as well has ensured we aren't over exposed at the back. In past seasons when we've been in a winning position, the manager would put on another attacking player in an attempt to increase the score. That's gone out the window and usually this season the first change the Frenchman will make is a defensive one or a like for like swap.

Some readers complained at the start of the season that I was being too precious about ensuring we kept clean sheets. But it's defenses which win you titles. In recent seasons the team with the best defensive record come May pick up the title. And that's why I want to see us concede as few goals as possible.

We know that Arsene Wenger sides can produce fantastic attacking football. But with the loss of Theo Walcott for the remainder of the season there is a hole now left in our team. Although the England international has only started nine games of his 13 league appearances for us this season, we do look a different team without him.

The manager has 17 league games remaining. An FA Cup clash against Coventry City and a last 16 tie in the Champions League with Bayern Munich to worry about. If we are going to bring someone in this transfer window then we'll probably only need them to contribute for 15 games.

I am of the opinion there is no point in signing a player who won't be part of the manager's long term plans. If we are going to bring someone in, I'd rather go all out to sign a player the manager really wants.

The Daily Mirror reports a deal Julian Draxler could be done this month but it is more likely to be completed come the summer. I think if the manager has identified the 20-year-old as someone who could come in an have an immediate impact on our title challenge, then the should do everything in its power to bring him to north London as soon as possible.

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