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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea