Best in Europe’ – Thierry Henry and Jamie Carragher agree on Mikel Arteta Arsenal transformation

Arsenal news as the Gunners continue to impress onlookers with solid defence as well as in form frontline

Both Thierry Henry and Jamie Carragher have been thoroughly impressed with the way that Mikel Arteta has adapted his Arsenal side from last season. With the Gunners once more fighting for the title as the final stretch of the campaign comes into view, the team has a different approach to playing 12 months on.

As well as coming into their own in front of goal since the winter break – 25 goals in six matches, all wins, has catapulted them back into the conversation alongside Manchester City and Liverpool. It has been a strong defensive structure that has led to added resolve. With the league’s most stringent backline after 26 games heading into the away trip to Sheffield United, it has been a transformation away from a side that conceded goals in spells during the last push at the end of the 2022/23 campaign.

For Carragher, it has come as a surprise. “At times, at the start of the season, I doubted whether Arsenal could win the league because of the lack of goals,” he said prior to kick-off at Bramall Lane. “Yes, they have started scoring goals, but if you have a problem scoring to that, another solution to that is to be better defensively, and that is what they are.

“I think right now, when I watch Arsenal, I think they are the best team defensively, not just in this country, but in Europe right now. You look at the three teams in Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal, you see the jump [in xG goal difference] from Aston Villa, who are having a brilliant season. That shows the quality by the three teams who are fighting for this title.

This is an indicator basically when you think of Manchester City over the last few years have been top of that, and the reason they have been top of that is because they go and win the league because they are the best team defensively and going forward. For Arsenal to be there right now shows they have got a great chance of winning the title.”

Henry, analysing his former side, is in agreement. “The way we [Arsenal] put pressure, the way we don’t concede, and the way we defend as a team,” he picked out as vital elements to the current success.

People were talking about us needing a striker, I was very loud on that we needed to put the ball in the back of the net, but you kind of doubted a tiny bit as an Arsenal fan because of what happened because the two teams they are chasing have been there and done it. The way we are playing right now is outstanding.”

Henry added: “I just think the story at that point was we all know the set-pieces kept them in the title race at the beginning and not conceding, we all know that and the front three were not scoring enough goals, but we were creating chances.

Arteta’s men are now at the top of the xGA table (with a lower figure being better), and by quite a distance too. Having now added the goals at the other end in a series of scintillating and clinical displays, any side in Europe is up against it to match the same solidity

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