Tony Adams explains reason for Arsenal’s defensive improvement

Tony Adams says Arsenal's defensive stability came as the result of "familiarity" between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny

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Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny Photo: Back Page Images

Tony Adams believes Arsenal’s defensive stability towards the end of last season came as the result of “familiarity” between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

The Gunners won eight of their last 10 Premier League games last season to pip north London rivals Tottenham to a fourth-place finish, keeping five clean sheets in the process.

And former Arsenal captain Adams believes that a regular run in the first team allowed Koscielny and Mertesacker to form a solid defensive partnership during the 2012-13 run-in.

“You need to play with your mate on a regular basis to gain confidence and I think that really worked for Arsenal defensively,” Adams told Arsenal’s website.

“Arsene Wenger left that alone and they gained confidence. It’s the fact that they play regularly with each other that they’ve learnt [about] each other’s game.

“I used to play with Steve Bould. We used to play zonal defence. Steve was a zonal defender and he knew how that system worked. Playing with Martin Keown was different. He was a man-to-man marker and when I used to play with Martin, I used to play differently alongside him.

“To keep changing that scenario is very difficult. If I was playing with Bouldy one week and then Martin the next, it would have been very difficult for me to go from one to the other.

“I think that’s what really helped Koscielny and Mertesacker – that they got to know each other’s game.

“For me, Mertesacker is a zonal defender and Koscielny is a man-to-man marker. They got to know each other’s game because they played with each other week in, week out.”

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