This season and generally under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal are known for their creative football and their attacking players taking center stage. However, like in previous seasons, how far this team goes and whether or not they win a championship depends on how well Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker do at the center of this defense.
There’s more to defense than just the centre backs: Wojciech Szczesny becoming someone that it’ not laughable to talk about him as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League has a lot to do with the team conceding only 21 goals this season, second-best defense in the NFL.
There’s a good situation at right back with Bacary Sagna, who is performing very well despite the injuries, his age and not getting the contract he wants. It’s still early to say it, but Arsenal might regret letting the Frenchman slip away for nothing at the end of the season, as Carl Jenkinson might not be ready (or ever be ready) to fill that spot.
On the left side things are a bit more competitive: Nacho Monreal is probably a better defender than Kieran Gibbs, but Arsenal, a team without natural wingers at the moment, especially on the left, need someone who can attack, and in that Gibbs is the much better option for Wenger to go with.
Playing in their 4-2-3-1, having such a solid back four makes it a lot easier for someone like Mikel Arteta, usually in that central midfield duo, to play in a more advanced role than usual. Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain might fill that role very well as well, providing other traits that come in handy and is probably a bigger attacking threat than Arteta at the moment, but the general idea is easy to grasp: Arsenal are in a better situation than they’ve been before.
What about the losses? Arsenal did concede six goals against Manchester City, but Koscielny left the match early with an injury that day, before we even get into the offside calls and other officiating mistakes. At Manchester United, another Arsenal loss, Per Mertesacker didn’t play. See a pattern emerging?
It’s going to be a tough February and especially the next two weeks for the Gunners: Liverpool away in the league, at home in the cup, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. It’s not going to define their season, but it’ll be a couple of weeks that might finally suggest if this team is going to finally win some titles this season or is this going to be just another ordinary season with the usual failures to finish the job.