Arsenal get back to winning ways with surprising defensive resolve

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-1 22:53:15

Arsenal were on the brink just a week ago after a horrible three-game sequence, but the club put an end to that last week, largely thanks to some fine defensive displays.

After a torrid three-game sequence in which it gave up a three-goal lead in the Champions League against Anderlecht to draw 3-3, and then lost two straight Premiership games, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger faced intense criticism to resign from fans. This continued at West Brom when some Arsenal fans unfurled a banner urging him to quit.

The Gunners beat West Brom in a workmanlike ­manner 1-0, while earlier last week, they defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the Champions League to maintain their streak of reaching the knockout ­stages, now at 15 years. Arsenal made it look easy, controlling the midfield and harrying forward without problems.

Surprisingly, the defense was solid throughout, with no disastrous moments. Credit must also go to third-string keeper Damien Martinez who started those two games.

If this is what it takes to win, then so be it. Arsenal should take tight wins over winning prettily and losing ­entertainingly, especially with their injury crisis and defensive frailties. The latter was highlighted during their bad run, with shouts for better defensive players intensifying and Wenger has said he will definitely buy a new player in the January transfer window.

Yet, there is room for optimism. Centerback Laurent Koscielny returned to action against West Brom. Striker ­Olivier Giroud is back, having returned in the loss to Manchester United where he scored a fantastic goal at the end.

Giroud's return allows for an enticing attacking trident with Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez that will hopefully be more fruitful than it was in the West Brom game.

Arsenal's newfound resilience faces a stern test on Wednesday when they take on Southampton, who have a lot to prove.

The Saints have surprised many by climbing into the top four. However, in their biggest test so far, they were decisively outplayed in a 3-0 loss to Manchester City Sunday. Southampton's next game after Arsenal is against Manchester United so by then, the Saints will show if their top-four status is for real.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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