While much of Arsenal’s recent good run can be put down to goals scored, regardless of how late they’ve been, last night’s 1-0 win over Everton was borne out of an excellent defensive display.
The back four and the team as a whole defended cohesively and intelligently, meaning the home side could not capitalise on the amount of possession they had, and Vermaelen’s goal made it a 1-0 double over the Toffees this season.
“We were resilient, focused and with a great desire to defend,” said the boss. “Our defence played very well tonight. I felt it was a bit psychological – we refused to play because we just wanted to keep the score.
“We showed a side of us that usually people don’t know. It was the only way to get a result tonight. It was good to know that we can do that as well. We didn’t panic, we did well on crosses which is usually not our strong point. We didn’t panic and that is good for us.”
And while many were less than optimistic about this team at various points this season, Arsene says he always felt we had the quality to turn things around.
“I was always optimistic, because if you look at our results from October onwards we only had one bad spell when we lost three times on the trot because we had no full backs. The attitude of the team was always good, so I felt we could bounce back.
“We needed to be strong because we were under a lot of pressure and we will need that until the end of the season. Where we come from, we know what suffering means because in some press conferences I had to answer ‘are you playing not to go down’.”
With the Gunners now in third place, there’s a different kind of pressure on us. Playing catch up is one thing, keeping our noses ahead of Chelsea and Sp*rs will be tough and the boss knows there’s a lot of work still to do.
“We know we have a difficult battle in front of us,” he said. “We want to keep going. We must keep our humility and focus and fight for each other.”