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
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Life & Style
Wasp factory: 1.3 million examples of the Vespa scooter have been sold in the last decade
motoringIconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act