Defence best form of attack for Arsenal as they aim for clean-sheet record

Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro (left) after the FA Women's Super League match at Meadow Park, Boreha

Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro (left) after the FA Women's Super League match at Meadow Park, Borehamwood. Picture date: Wednesday April 28, 2021. - Credit: PA

Arsenal keep their eight consecutive clean-sheet following the 2-0 win over West Ham as the Gunners tightened their grip on third and the final Champions League spot.

A key success in their recent run of form is the defence and how consistent they have been performing. 

There is a phrase in football that says defence is the best form of attack something that the Gunners have stuck with as they haven't conceded since February 10 in a defeat to Chelsea. 

Joe Montemurro said: "It’s pleasing because of the manner in which we are doing it, we’re not giving away a lot of opportunities. I can only remember one header in the second half where we got caught at the back post which was their best chance.

"Going back three, four, five games now I can’t really remember teams opening us up.

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"The defence get a lot of credit, but the work rate and balance of our midfield and the positioning of our forwards is very important too and I’m very proud of the collective to be able to achieve this."

What makes the achievement even more impressive is that they have done it with injuries with Leah Williamson and Jennifer Beattie missing several key games due to injury and Lia Wälti and Lotte Wubben-Moy pairing one another.

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The clean-sheet against the Hammers means that if Arsenal fail to concede against Everton on Sunday they will set a new Women's Super League record of eight consecutive league clean-sheets.

Joe Montemurro also likes to rotate his goalkeepers in the form of Lydia Williams and Manuela Zinsberger and that could somewhat disrupt the defence but for the Gunners it's worked well. 

Zinsberger is a better keeper with her feet while Williams is regarded as the better shot stopper so when Arsenal try to overload and play through teams Zinsberger starts while Williams starts against teams who are more direct. 

Williamson and Wubben-Moy have developed a good partnership and both have very intelligent footballing brains with their positional sense and Williamson shows immense leadership for being just 24 years of age. 

The full-backs also have a good awareness of when to go forward and when to defend with Katie McCabe being a key player this season with her ability to break out with the ball and start counter attacks. 

Against West Ham on Wednesday Noelle Maritz showed her quality and put in arguably her best performance in an Arsenal shirt playing a key part in both goals as well as keeping the clean-sheet. 

The Swiss International was used to overload the Hammers down the flank as she created space with her movement pulling the West Ham defence out allowing the attacking players to move into the vacant areas. 

Leonie Maier and Anna Patten have also played a major part in the recent defensive good run with Maier rotating between right and left back as she has showed all her experience. 

Arsenal are now over 720 minutes without conceding a goal an incredible feat for what is such a young defence and they aren't even conceding that many chances in the process with the confidence they are playing with. 

Montemurro played with a 4-4-1-1 against the Hammers with West Ham being well organised and hard to break down this allowed the midfield to press taking pressure off the defence so they also need to take credit for the fine record. 

The Arsenal defence can also press quite high and put the opposition under pressure with Williamson able to play through the opposition with her passing range and that allows her to break the lines and create openings for the attacks. 

Arsenal have a very young defence but they have all played beyond their years showing calm heads in high pressure situations to give the Gunners the advantage in qualifying for the Champions League. 

The Gunners like to play a possession based game but when teams have been able to turn over the ball Montemurro's troops haven't cracked this is due to the organisation and just how resolute they have been. 

It shows a bullish nature in terms of the defensive structure and with such a young back-line it only bodes well for the future. 

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