All Guns Blazing: Arsenal defensive duo deserve plaudits after Villa victory

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker celebrates after the final whistle

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker celebrates after the final whistle - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Gunners fan Raj Mahil looks at the January window and the fixtures ahead

As if more evidence were needed, Arsenal yet again demonstrated their ability to win when playing poorly, via Monday’s 2-1 victory at Villa.Though 2013 included many attractive attacking moves, the defining feature of last year was resilience in beating the ‘smaller’ sides. So far, 2014 seems to be more of the same – and as fans, we love it.

Recent years have seen countless free-flowing performances, camped out in the opposition area for 89 minutes; only to concede from a set-piece or counter-attack.

On one European night, Arsene Wenger aptly described Barcelona as having “sterile domination” – truth is, that applied to us domestically. Now, we’re both clinical and defensively sound.

The Per Mertesacker-Laurent Koscielny partnership is finally receiving the praise it deserves, with their unbeaten record (when both playing the entire game) spanning two years.

The only slight worry from Villa was the over-indulgence at times. After going ahead, the team looked to take it easy, with sloppy passes and poor decision-making, stemming from trying to create a highlight-reel move.

Off-field, transfers (as ever) are the big talking point. Especially in the wake of Theo Walcott’s long-term injury, a new striker is vital.

Most Read

Even prior to the devastating prognosis of the England international, I firmly believed we needed a signing. Some think being top means there’s no need to strengthen, but in fact this is exactly the time to add cover and competition.

In 2008, Wenger passed up on bringing Nicolas Anelka back to north London (and showing him the training ground he paid for). Eduardo had his leg broken at St Andrews, Robin van Persie and Tomas Rosicky were injured (shocking, I know) and we ultimately finished third.

Chelsea subsequently snapped up the French striker, who aided them to a Stamford Bridge victory to leapfrog Arsenal. Incidentally, our (potentially title deciding) trip there this season will be played six years to the day since that encounter.

With or without any incomings, the Gunners are currently in the midst of an extremely favourable fixture run. From Boxing Day until a tough mid-February, Arsenal need to have 21 points in their sights. Fulham, Southampton and Palace remain, in our pursuit of seven straight wins and a shot at the Premier League trophy.