Arsenal showed their strength in defense by coming away with yet another clean sheet in the FA Cup third-round match against their fierce rival, Tottenham Hotspur. Tim Sherwood’s in-form strikers Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado could not muster anything that tested Gunners Lukasz Fabianski, who made a brilliant one-on-one save in the first half against Christian Eriksen.
Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker were rock solid again as the Gunners negotiated a rejuvenated Tottenham side with much ease. Barring the aberration at Manchester City, where as many as six goals found their way into Arsenal’s net, the Gunners’ defensive organization has been at its best and most consistent this season. Mertesacker and Koscielny have given the team a new solidarity and toughness at the back — a factor that was sorely missed earlier.
Vermaelen’s professionalism while he faced a lack of regular first-team action has also been a key factor to the team’s form. The club captain has stayed fit and ready for whenever Arsene Wenger has called upon him. His brilliant tackle in the FA Cup match against Tottenham to deny Soldado just after being outwitted was a key play that kept the momentum in Arsenal’s favor, only for an unfortunate knock to the knee to prematurely end the game for him.
With Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal making forward runs frequently, there has been an added impetus on the team’s central defenders to hold the fort at bay. The good work needs to continue for the rest of the season to keep Arsenal firmly in the middle of the title race with the other big guns in the Premier League.
There was much clamoring at the beginning of the season for the addition of a new center-back, but Wenger’s trust and tactics have proved superior again to the team’s benefit and have led Arsenal to the top of the table.