Michael Owen firmly believes that Arsenal are no longer a “soft touch” after seeing them battle their way to another win against Aston Villa at the weekend.
Mikel Arteta’s side had to fight for the three points on Saturday after the home side came on strong in the closing stages of the match at Villa Park, and Owen feels they are now a very tough nut to crack:
“They grind teams into submission. They defend well. They are rugged. They can 1-0. They aren’t the soft touch that they were not so long ago. It has taken a lot for me to be able to say that because there has been a lot of false dawns over the last decade or so with Arsenal. But I genuinely believe they are made of sterner stuff nowadays. It’s exciting times to be an Arsenal fan now because there is a lot of potential there.”
The Gunners have conceded 31 goals in 28 matches this season but, when you factor in that nine of those came in the opening three fixtures, you can see how much they have tightened up defensively.
Tremendous credit has to go to the centre-back partnership of Gabriel and Ben White, but also to players like Thomas Partey in midfield, as well as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli on the wings, who are willing to track back.
It really has been a team effort and, while there is certainly a lot of improvement required in the final third of the pitch, Arsenal have given themselves a strong platform to build from heading forward.