Arsenal Depot

A depository for musings on Arsenal FC

Arsenal’s Invicibles The Best, Defensive Lessons To Be Learnt

Good morning readers.

I intended to start Arsenal’s season review from today. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite got the time to gather the facts and figures required for such an analysis. And as I didn’t want to serve you half-baked theories, the review posts are going to be slightly delayed.

Talking of figures, I read a post yesterday by 7amkickoff which presents some surprising stats for the season just ended. For example, did you know that Emmanuel Adebayor has the highest number of offsides against him and tops the league in lost possession? It’s packed with stuff like that and makes for an enjoyable read.

Robin van Persie is expected to start contract talks within a few hours. While there are enough indications to suggest he will stay, a quick decision would settle the anxiety felt by fans and help Arsene Wenger plan other acquisitions.

My personal feeling is that if a decision is forthcoming within the next two days, it can only be a positive one. Because if there are issues, monetary or otherwise, it’s too close to the Euros now to expect a resolution before RvP leaves to join up with the Dutch team. Which means we’ll have to endure around two months of speculation on the Dutchman’s future – and the longer it carries on, the more suspect his stay at the Emirates will become.

Arsenal’s 2003/04 Invincibles were crowned the best team in the Premier League’s 20 Seasons Awards list.  Deservedly so, of course. While other teams have scored more goals or secured more points during a season, remaining unbeaten over 38 games is a remarkable achievement, and arguably one that will never be matched again – especially when you consider the standards of defending displayed by all the top teams this season.

Without doubt, the Invincibles’ achievement was built on defensive solidity – which is an obvious statement to make for a team that was unbeaten the entire season. But it was not only at the back, where the impressive Campbell, Toure, Cole and Lauren shielded Lehmann in goal. We also had the commanding presence of Gilberto Silva and the power of Patrick Vieira in the centre of midfield. Backed up by two hardworking wingers in Robert Pires and Fredrik Ljungberg, the team looked unbreakable all over the pitch.

A quick comparison of the league tables show that we actually scored one goal more this season than in 2003/04 (74 v 73). At the other end, we conceded nearly double the goals we did then (49 this season compared to 26 in 03/04). While defensive standards have dropped all around in the past couple of seasons, it again proves the theory that successful teams are built around a solid defensive foundation – we’ve got a lot of work to do to sort our current problems in that department.

If you’d like to indulge in comparing and choosing an eleven from two of Arsenal’s best teams, read Dave Seager’s piece from yesterday on the Battle of the Invincibles.

It’s a rather short post today, other matters press. Will try to start the review articles from tomorrow. Bye now.

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