I’m sure that you, just like I am, have been shocked and impressed by Arsenal’s defensive displays so far this campaign.
This time last season, we’d just been humiliated 8-2 at Old Trafford, had already conceded 10 goals in the Premier League, and we looked a million miles away from even finishing in the top four.
It’s amazing what a difference a year makes in football.
Or should I say, it’s amazing what a difference Steve Bould makes to Arsenal?
The Gunners legend came in, like many expected, during the summer to replace Pat Rice as the side’s assistant coach and the transformation has been unbelievable.
Granted we signed Per Mertesacker, an experienced international centre-back from Germany. Granted Laurent Koscielny found his feet in the Premier League. Granted Thomas Vermaelen returned from injury and Sebastien Squillaci has been nowhere near it. But Bould has come in and seemingly taught the team how to defend like the champions of the past.
Having been mocked all last year for having a shoddy defence, Arsenal are now the only team in the top four divisions of English football who are yet to concede a goal, and that is a feat that we can be proud of.
What makes the achievement even more impressive is that the players that have been making up this defence aren’t even first-choice players.
Vito Mannone and Carl Jenkinson in particular, are two who seem to have come on leaps and bounds under the guidance of Bould, and both seem to have grown that all important confidence to complement their ability.
The players certainly seem to love him too.
The captain, Vermaelen, said:
“Steve is really good to work with, especially for defenders as he has been a defender himself.
“He knows what it is all about and gives us a lot of tips. He works a lot on the shape of the team and that is very important, so I am very happy he came to work with the first team.”
Wojciech Szczesny is also a fan of the former Gunner’s centre-back:
“We have a new assistant manager in Steve Bould and he has been doing a lot of defensive work on the training pitch.
“So far I believe this has been very good, so hopefully we will concede less as well, which is my personal hope anyway.”
Carl Jenkinson was another player to have some nice things to say about the assistant coach:
“Steve [Bould] has come in and he’s been there and done it. He’s always there giving us advice and tips, and we’ve had a long pre-season to work together and get our shape right.”
It does make you wonder what Arsene Wenger and co have been doing for the past number of years though; is Steve Bould really that amazing or were the players just not taught right?
Anyhow, whatever has gone has been marvellous and with Southampton at home being the next Premier League fixture, here’s to another clean sheet we hope.