Wojciech Szczesny says defensive stability has been a huge factor in his consistency between the sticks this year and says he’s matured in the way he analyses his game.
The Pole kept 16 clean sheets in 37 league appearances this season, enough to secure him a share of the Golden Glove award with Chelsea’s Petr Cech, and cut a comparatively impressive figure even on the days when Arsenal got spanked by their title rivals.
“It’s been massive. It’s made it so much easier. Over the last two or three seasons, we had to deal with a lot of injuries at the back and the defence rotating pretty much every single game.
“There was a time when we had no full-backs available at all, so we had four centre-backs playing. It was difficult.
“This year, Kieran [Gibbs] and Nacho [Monreal] have rotated a little bit, but usually it’s been the same back four. I think when you play with the same defence you sort of understand each other’s body language and you read off each other, and it’s much much better.
“Plus it’s not only the fact that it’s been a settled back four, but also a very good one—especially Per [Mertesacker] and Laurent [Koscielny] in the middle. They’ve been rock-solid defensively—as good as any centre-backs in the league this year.”
Szczesny also admitted that in years gone by he may have been blinded by his own arrogance when it came to assessing his game.
“There’s plenty of things I can improve. If you asked me three or four years ago I would have told you I was pretty much faultless and there wasn’t a lot I could improve.
“I think the maturity and experience of playing the game makes you realise you improve in every single game, and I know I can improve every aspect of my game.
“I’ve managed to add a level of consistency to my game this season—even if I had an off-game, it was only ever for one game. For example, I concede five but then I get back to my clean sheets—that’s been positive.
“Then I had a period of a few weeks of playing not so well, but I want to improve everything: shot-stopping, distribution, taking crosses. Every single aspect.”
Good stuff from our No.1 who, without grabbing the headlines, would be an outside shout for player of the season this year. Do go and read the rest of the interview it’s a very good read, especially his warm words for friend Lukasz Fabianski.