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Arsenal star reflects on recent form and pays tribute to defence

Wojciech Szczesny. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Wojciech Szczesny. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
7:00 AM

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has attributed his recent good form in goal to the defenders in front of him.

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The Gunners only conceded one goal in the month of November and that came against Manchester United when the squad was affected by illness – unsettling the back four that has predominantly comprised of Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, who played his 100th game for the north Londoners on Saturday at Cardiff, and Kieran Gibbs.

Last season, injury and inconsistent form led to the defence being shuffled around with official captain Thomas Vermaelen losing his place in the side and the Belgian’s only Premier League start came at Old Trafford when the German was ill.

And Szczesny, who kept his 50th Arsenal clean sheet in 125 games in Saturday’s 3-0 win, admitted the settled side has made his life easier and moved the credit away from himself to the defence.

“I don’t know [the secret behind my recent form],” the 23-year-old said.

“I’ve been working hard and the defence have helped me massively. They’ve been fantastic.

“It’s much easier to play behind the same back four every single week.

“You don’t realise how important that is until you get to play with the same four defenders every week.

“Have I been in good form? I’ve kept clean sheets but I haven’t had many saves to make so I think there are other players who should be getting more credit for that.”

While much attention has been, rightly, focused on the sensational form of Aaron Ramsey as well as Mesut Ozil’s adaptation to English football, the performances of Mertesacker and Koscielny have gone under the radar slightly.

Szczesny believes that they are just as deserving of individual accolades as the likes of the Welshman.

He added: “At the end of the month, if one of them doesn’t get nominated to be player of the month I’d be amazed.

“We conceded one goal in November. They’ve been fantastic and great [against Cardiff] as well. Playing behind those two is just a pleasure for me.”

Arsenal head into December topping the table – a fact that will surprise many people who predicted the worst for the Gunners after their 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day.

And Szczesny knows that the league position doesn’t matter until after 38 games have been played in May.

“We’re in a position that we’d like to be in [and we want to stay there] for as long as we can,” he explained.

“It doesn’t matter where we are at the moment. It only matters where we are in May. If we keep going like this we’ll be there at the top in May.

“We still have a lot of work to do and tough games to win. There’s no point putting pressure on ourselves.

“We want to enjoy every single game. That’s what we have been doing and it’s bringing the best out of us so our attitude doesn’t change.”

Arsenal’s next test is when they face Everton on Saturday. Last season the Gunners drew 0-0 at the Emirates and 1-1 at Goodison Park – Theo Walcott’s first minute opener was cancelled out by Marouane Fellaini.

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