Steve Bould is shaping Arsenal’s future
Organisation and discipline are not words that have been associated with Arsenal in the past few seasons but things are starting to change.
The team we now see before us are a completely different proposition to the one we saw crumble on the opening day against Aston Villa.
Mesut Özil’s arrival has been highlighted as the catalyst behind the impressive start to the season and while the silky German has galvanised the team I think there is more to it.
The whole team has developed a shape and desire that is making them very hard to beat and I believe that is down to Steve Bould.
Let’s not forget this is the same team who were hapless for so much of the last season until March when they went on an impressive run to secure a top-four spot on the final day.
Bould is old-school when it comes to the art of defending which means you play as a unit and not a bunch of individuals which has been the case with Arsenal in recent seasons.
Everyone has heard the story of George Graham making the famous back four train with an imaginary rope binding them together to instil the discipline that made them the country’s best.
And while Bould may not have gone to those lengths to improve the current defence, he has certainly made his mark.
Arsenal have conceded five goals in as many home league games and three of those came against Villa on the opening day.
The same amount of goals has been conceded in the six games away from the Emirates and is it this solid base that has propelled Arsenal to the top of the table.
The beginning of November saw Arsenal play Liverpool, Dortmund and Manchester United, the latter two away from home, in consecutive games and Arsenal conceded one goal and collected six points.
Per Mertesacker was a colossus in his homeland against Dortmund and played a massive part in shutting out a team who has failed to score only once in their last 60 home games.
Mertesacker is the leader of the pack and you would have to think that Bould see’s something of himself in the towering German.
The BFG is not blessed with pace but has a brilliant ability to read the game and therefore can compensate by getting into a position early where he will not be exposed.
His partnership at the heart of the defence with Laurent Koscielny has been solid ever since they were paired together in the win against Bayern Munich in March which started the ‘revolution’.
Whilst the back four have been impressive, we should not forget the impact that Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta have had in the midfield, providing a shield for the back four.
The defensive shield is something Arsenal fans have been crying out for since the departure, ironically, of Flamini who has returned to complete his “unfinished business” with the club.
Olivier Giroud has also been a terrific first-line of defence for the team with his tireless running and closing down of opposition defenders.
This season is promising much and while Wenger gets all the plaudits from fans and media, let’s not forgets the one with no hair on the bench beside him.