Cardiff have become the latest in a long line of high profile teams to have their fortress penetrated at the hands of Arsenal. Dortmund, Swansea, Marseille have all been beaten by Arsenal on their own patch since the form changing game at the Allianz arena last year. However why have Arsenal been so good away from home since that awe inspiring night against Bayern Munich?
The magnitude of the win against Bayern Munich cannot be understated. The boost it has given Arsenal is reflected in the results since then having won 24, drawing 3 and only losing 4. Bayern have not lost in the Champions league since that fixture and have continued to dominate the Bundesliga. With rumours circulating about the possibility of signing Robert Lewandowski, Bayern are odds on favourites to retain their Champions league crown. By managing to overcome them last season without the influential Mesut Özil all the players gained an immense amount of confidence that they can beat the best in their own back yard.
The days of open football, when Arsenal are away from home, with all midfield players bombing forward with a complete disregard for defending are gone. The introduction of Steve Bould has added a resilience not only in the defence but has given a real back bone to the heart of Arsenal’s midfield. Arteta has learned to adapt his game to sit just in front of the back four and offer a screen in front of it. He has not always been known for this part of the game but his experience at the tender age of 31 has put him in good stead to adapt his positional sense. His experience of the game always allows him to rein in the more attack minded midfield players who play alongside him. Per Mertesacker is also a natural born leader who has helped to organise when the going gets tough away from home. His leadership qualities have been shown as he was rewarded with the captaincy of Germany against England last month in the recent friendly. By restricting the amount of players that go forward Arsenal have become harder to break down and therefore harder to beat. The quality the Arsenal midfielders possess have allowed them to keep the ball when Arsenal have their backs to the wall in a tricky away fixture and offer relief to the back four.
The signings Arsene Wenger made in the summer have also had a profound effect on everyone involved with Arsenal Football Club. The magic of Mesut Özil seems to have rubbed off on Aaron Ramsey who has become Arsenal’s star man with 13 goals already to his name, with no sign of stopping any time soon. Flamini has added a resilience and has slotted alongside Arteta to form a solid base at the heart of midfield which is particularly useful away from home.
With any great run, especially away from home, a good deal of luck is needed. With decisions going their way and teams not always finishing off their chances, Arsenal have certainly had times when they have ridden their luck. Luck is a factor needed in all successful teams but it is often said that you make your own luck and Arsenal are certainly doing that at the moment. If they maintain this form away from home and continue to make the Emirates a fortress this could be the year the trophy drought finally ends.