Bernd Leno thinks Arsenal just need to start taking their chances, arguing the defensive improvement is clear to see under Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal drew 0-0 with Burnley over the weekend, raising some questions about their progress under Mikel Arteta. Though it was another clean sheet in the bag for Bernd Leno and co., it’s four draws in four games in the Premier League.
Speaking about Arsenal’s recent performances, Leno argues the team just need to start taking their chances.
“I think we have chances in every game and we just have to take these chances,” Leno said. “We had chances to score maybe two or three goals against Burnley.”
Despite the lack of a clear upturn in results, Leno thinks the team are playing better, particularly when it comes to working together defensively.
“I think everything is still further along,” Leno continued. “We are playing well, we have a good mentality and now we have a little bit more time to work in training.
“Of course, we need to score more goals because defensively we are doing very well. Offensively I think we can score more goals, but we are on the right path.
“I think first of all it’s not just the defenders. You can see every player – even the strikers and wingers – are defending very well.
“I think there is a mentality that everyone defends and we are defensively playing much better than before. Unfortunately, we didn’t score.”
Are Arsenal on the right track?
Despite the draws, I think it’s fairly easy to argue they are. For a start, the focus on the four Premier League draws ignores the two good wins in the FA Cup in that same period. Plus the win against Manchester United directly prior.
Then there’s the fact Arsenal have played three games against big-six opposition under Arteta already. They also had to play out two matches with 10 men and failed to get big decisions like Jorginho’s red card for Chelsea and the Pepe penalty against Sheffield United.
Add in injuries to Tierney, Kolasinac and Saka to decimate the left-back position. Chambers picking up an ACL injury as he was hitting form. Lacazette’s complete inability to find his goalscoring boots. Aubameyang’s suspension. Luiz’s red card.
Just as importantly, making Arsenal more difficult to beat was rightly the first priority for Arteta. Of course, we want exciting football, but to have any chance at winning the Europa League the team have to be stronger at the back.
Last season’s run was deceptive. If Arsenal lose the first leg to the likes of BATE Borisov and Rennes this time around, go behind against a Valencia equivalent and concede four ‘big chances’ against a team like Napoli, I guarantee we won’t even have the chance to get thrashed by Chelsea’s replacement in the final.
These European ties are much more often about grinding out results. Even a couple of draws can be enough to progress if you grab an away goal.
It’s not what we want, necessarily, but it’s a safer bet than the basketball matches we saw at the start of 2019/20.