Mikel Arteta has praised his Arsenal side for defending from the front and highlighted the improvement as a reason behind an upturn in results.
The Gunners lost their first three Premier League games of the campaign but since returning following the international break have secured back-to-back 1-0 victories. While the wins over Norwich and Burnley were narrow ones, Arteta has been impressed with how his forwards have taken on roles to help the team across the pitch.
“It’s the whole unit that has to be compact, that has to stay compact at all times,” he said.
“The only way to do it is when the ball is moving, that everybody is moving. If somebody starts to work, if the distances get split and the unit starts to break, there is nothing.
“There is a lot of coaching now going on around the team. Young players are starting to talk and communicate, and that facilitates a lot of things in the defensive phase.”
Arteta is likely to make some changes for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup third-round clash at home to AFC Wimbledon.
Arsenal saw off West Brom 6-0 in the last round, with a string of first-team regulars included as they worked their way back to match fitness.
Leaders developing at Arsenal
Martin Odegaard was one of those to start at the Hawthorns and the summer signing also hit the winner at Burnley with a fine first-half free-kick.
“I think we are building some leadership in the group,” Arteta replied when asked if the 22-year-old Norway playmaker is leading by example.
“It’s a really young group, with a lot of players under 23. Martin is the captain of the national team and Sambi (Lokonga) was the captain at Anderlecht.
“Martin has this capacity to do that with his talent, taking the ball in moments where others probably refuse to, but as well with his attitude, his rhythm and the way he presses and puts people under pressure.
“He’s probably the first to do (the pressing from the front). I was also really impressed with (Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang as well – I think his rhythm and high pressing was fantastic.
“It was a real commitment and purpose because you can go to try and win the ball or put pressure. But you can tell when you are really doing it or when you’ve been told to do it.
“There was a big meaning behind it and when you go to places like that (Burnley), when you are having difficult moments and you want to start to get results, I think you have to go to those basics and have every single player do that.”