Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny talks up the Gunners great defence - 'it's a very good understanding we have'

Gunners boast the meanest defence in the Premier League this season

Despite their old reputation as being rather flaky fragile artists, the foundation of this Arsenal side, and of their three-front challenge this season, is the best defence in England.

Arsenal kept their 11th league clean sheet of the season on Sunday, with the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace which moved them back to the top of the Premier League. No-one has more than them – West Ham also have 11 – and it is the clear sign of a settled serious side.

Wojciech Szczesny, naturally, has been a huge part of that. Since Wenger dropped him nearly a year ago, he has been exceptional, cutting out the errors that had leaked into his game last season. The young goalkeeper is delighted with how few goals Arsenal are conceding.

“Our defensive record, especially at home has been fantastic,” Szczesny said on Sunday night. “We know if we keep clean sheets we have got every chance of winning the game so that’s been the case. I think it is 11 games at home we have kept 10 clean sheets. You can see it’s massive for us.”

This improvement has grown out of last season. Last March, Arsene Wenger realised that his best centre-back pairing was Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, leaving captain Thomas Vermaelen on the bench. Those two have been exceptional this season, as individuals and as a pair. Mertesacker has started 32 of Arsenal’s 38 games this season, Koscielny 31.

“It is hard to tell, but we have been together for much longer,” Szczesny explained of their improved form. “We understand each other’s game now. We have had a more settled back four. Sometimes we rotate the full-backs, but in general we stay with the same defence. We understand each other’s games, we read the game of each other, it’s a very good understanding we have.”

Arsenal have started with Bacary Sagna and Nacho Monreal either side of Koscielny and Mertesacker in their last five league games, in which they have conceded just three goals. All season, they average 0.88 goals conceded per league game, their best record for six years.

“We realise if you want to win the championship then you have to be solid defensively and that is the most important thing,” said Szczesny. “We know that clean sheets gives you the best platform to go and win games. If we can keep a few more until the end of the season then we can get our rewards.”

Arsenal’s next test is at Liverpool on Saturday. Arsenal are the only team to stop a Liverpool team containing Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez from scoring in the league this season, beating them 2-0 in November, but Szczesny knows how difficult it will be.

“They have been fantastic, their goal-scoring record speaks for itself, they're great players. We managed to keep a clean sheet against them at home and we'll try to do exactly the same thing away from home and hope for a result.”

Arsenal will be able to call again on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored twice against Palace on Sunday. “It is fantastic to see him back after a long-term injury,” Szczesny said. “He can go past players, he can score and if he keeps producing performances like this he will be very important for us.”

 

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'