Cech, Koscielny and Coquelin – the defensive spine which makes our team great rather than good
Arsenal with an effective defensive spine? Surely not. No – they have all those pretty technical midfielders, but when it comes to seeing games out they crack under the pressure.
As an Arsenal fan I must have heard this said to me more times than I care to recall; the sad truth was that deep down I agreed with the statement.Too many times did our lack of defensive discipline cost us. The Monaco game at the Emirates is one that springs to mind – I still shudder when images of our defenders flying up the pitch enter my mind…
Unless you possess an attacking trio of the Messi, Suarez and Neymar calibre then a defensive spine is absolutely crucial if a club is to achieve any success. I’m sorry to say that unfortunately Arsenal don’t have forwards of that standard (but then again nobody does, so yes we need a spine if we are to be successful).
Finally, Arsenal fans, it seems as if we may have found ours: defensive leaders who could propel our club to greater glories than just the F.A. Cup.
Oh Petr, our new scrum-cap wearing Messiah, how I used to hate how good you were when you were plying your trade in that dreaded blue shirt. Now you belong to us.
Cech’s importance to this new Arsenal spine for me is the most vital, a composed custodian and a leader from the penalty box who orchestrates the rest of the team. During the Community Shield it is fair to say that everything in Cech’s performance was routine. Chelsea struggled to register shots on target, which meant he was able to add another clean sheet to his impeccable record.
Nevertheless, in my eyes, I could see a serious change in how Arsenal operated defensively. There seemed to be a confidence which I have not seen present in an Arsenal back line since – dare I say it – the famous English back five, which had David Seaman.
A team of true quality, which is able to compete with the best, stems from a keeper who is capable of winning games and having an influence on those in front of him. Cech is crucial to our success. It is just that simple.
In my short life span I am struggling to think of a defender who has improved as much as Koscielny. That debut red card at Anfield is but a distant memory; long gone seem the days of erratic challenging caused by a general lack of discipline. What we have now in our ranks at the Emirates is arguably the Premier League’s most complete and adaptable defender. So crucial has he become to Arsenal that the thought of an injury layoff gives me sleepless nights. He has the pace, intelligence, positional sense, passing range and ability to carry the ball forward with quality, which makes him the complete player.
During the Community Shield it was obvious that Koscielny has become the leader in the defence: the one who gets the troops in formation and positions himself impeccably to nullify opposition attacks. Mertesacker is unable to lead by example (unlike Koscielny in my eyes) and while our Big F**king German may wear the Captain’s armband, the real captain is the man standing next to him.
Every spine in every great team has had a centre half whom strikers across the world dread having to face – little did we know we had one all along… it’s just taken him a few years to prove it.
It seemed so ridiculous that for some time Arsenal effectively neglected the importance of the defensive midfielder. It was all well and good having our little creative technicians weaving their magic elsewhere on the pitch, but everyone knew they needed someone to do their dirty work.
All these years we had one lurking on the peripheries of our squad, we just didn’t notice it. All it took was an inevitable injury crisis, which saw Wenger recall someone many thought to be a failed youth prospect back from a loan spell at lowly Charlton Athletic.No one expected what was to follow from Le Coq, it seemed that during his time at Charlton someone injected him with ‘Vieira potion’ and now he has become the DM all of us rely on.
Coquelin’s performances have elevated Arsenal to a different level in my opinion, he has allowed players like Ozil and Cazorla to flourish while he bombards around the pitch intercepting our opposition like it’s going out of fashion.
It was a similar case at Wembley as time after time, Le Coq broke up play in the middle of the park – frustrating Maureen’s men, and of course the ‘Special One’ himself.
His distribution may not be up to the standard required at times, although I am not sure it is actually so bad but this is something which can be worked on. For now just let him be the ‘police officer’ we need and play one of the most crucial roles on the field.
The three roles these players perform on a football pitch are such crucial components if you are to produce an effective footballing machine capable of conquering the elite. For too long we tinkered with ineffective and lacklustre players in these positions, and what happened? We were prone to regular thrashings by the top sides, and conceding a wide variety of cheap goals – there are simply too many to choose from to provide an example.
It didn’t matter that our awesome attacking threat was there because it was essentially rendered useless since the job couldn’t be performed correctly at the other end. At last we seem to have the solution to what was a serious issue, a spine with quality which will support the rest of the team, and turn us into one of the most effective units in the division.
It has taken a while, Arsenal fans – and it has been a long, hard journey of nail-biting defensive performances – but we made it.