There was a time this season when the only way an Arsenal fan would see a clean sheet was by visiting their local laundromat.

We couldn’t defend, our goalkeeper was under constant bombardment, and we allowed so many chances to the opposition that conceding was basically inevitable.

Now, after three games in a row without letting in a goal, we can see that there’s been a real  improvement, and boss Mikel Arteta puts it down to ensuring that his players do their defensive work regardless of where they’re playing on the pitch.

As we’ve often said, defending isn’t just for the back four, and the benefits of that were obvious last night as we put ourselves into a good position ahead of next week’s second leg with a 1-0 win over Olympiacos in the Europa League.

Speaking afterwards, Arteta praised the improvement and the commitment of his players to that part of the game.

“I was telling them that they have to enjoy defending as well, it is a big part of the game and like tonight, if you give simple balls away, you better run back and get that ball back as quick as possible,” he said.

“They played with a big heart, I saw a lot of big effort and instead of splitting it joins together really quickly. The wide players before used to have different behaviours, now they are tracking back everybody.

“I think we are doing a lot of work to try to stay as compact as possible in many situations when we don’t have it, and I am pleased with that because it is big part.”

The manager was also pleased with how his team coped with the atmosphere inside the Karaiskakis Stadium where Olympiacos had only lost once this season – a Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

“It’s an incredible atmosphere,” he said. “We have a fantastic atmosphere in the UK but this is at least as good or even better than many stadiums.

“It does affect you, yes. When the crowd generates energy, football is about emotion and that transmits to the players. You have to build with that.

“It’s not easy for opponents.”

Read today’s Arseblog: Olympiacos 0-1 Arsenal: Saka makes it happen for Laca

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Runcorn Gooner

The way Arteta seems to have regenerated Luiz and Mustafi is nothing short of incredible. Still work to do on Lacazette despite the 2 goals.

The Arsenal

The idea of the two of them together filled us all with fear. Yet here we are with 3 clean sheets in a row. Have to admire Mustafi’s mentality at the moment. And Xhaxa.

Runzac

Defending is down to all of the players to put their shift in. It´s down to the manager to put out a plan that works for the team. When it all clicks together we get clean sheets. No miracles or unbelievable improvements

Dave

When’s the last time we had 3 clean sheets in a row?

C.B.

Under George Graham (or at least if feels like that…).

Dave

Potentially 15/16 when Cech won the Golden Glove?

Dave

I can’t find a chronological list of Arsenal results to check – it’s all sorted by competition.

C.B.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/scores-fixtures/2019-03

10, 14 March 2019
1 April 2019

You can judge if this is an April Fool’s joke…

Cliff Bastin

We achieved it at the time, as a joke.

Dave

Hopefully this run isn’t another false dawn. Notably we lost 1-0 to Everton following those 3…

Con

Who would have thought Arteta is the second coming of George Graham… and the weird thing is… we’re all enjoying it.

onenil

One nil to the Arsenal!

C.B.

Would love it to carry on against Everton (especially as I have tickets) but it’ll be tougher against them.

COYR!

Dave

Swear we always batter them at home

Three Steps Sideways

Mostly. The last three home games in the league against them we’ve won all three, scoring ten goals. The flipside is that the last two games we’ve played them in the league (both away from home), we havn’t scored and have come away with one point. Given their current form, it’s going to a tasty fixture.

Juan Cornetto

I’m going to be there too! Haven’t been to game for over a year so I’m champing at the bit!

xjert02

We are travelling, too. Excited!

Joseph Kawooya

I like how Arteta does the Arsene Wenger thing of staying calm and tucked almost anything happening on the pitch.

Trust in the system, process and belief in your work plus players….

Snc

Arteta first 11 games… 6 clean sheets. Emery last 11 games… 0 clean sheets. I guess emery is uncoachable, not the players.

Modha

The way Arteta talks really excites me. He expects more from the players, he communicates with crystal clarity, and I’m genuinely excited with what he can do when he has an entire squad of people who buy into his philosophy.

Dave

He is god

Giuseppe Hovno

feels like the beginning of something special

Santori

So its not a coincidence? I thought Mustafi and Luiz were just being lucky…:)

Santori

Arteta’s attention to detail at the back paying dividend. Correctly, this has been our principal problem. Impressed he has been able to turn around existing assets. Granit and Torreira have been more solid in midfield (even if balance still not entirely found and issues persist) Granit in particular with tweaking able to dictate game more dropping left and affording Saka opportunity to push forward into his natural position. But his defensive side was already showing improvement under Emery before crowd agitated him to go on unnecessary strike. There was a good player there many were too clueless or bias against… Read more »

Joey Deacon

Can’t believe I’ve busted upvoted a Santori post!!!

Joey Deacon

*upvoted*