Like many others, Fernando Torres has been impressed by our early season defensive form, and believes retention of possession has been an important reason for our strong start.
We have conceded just twice in our opening five Barclays Premier League matches, both goals in the first half against Reading at Stamford Bridge last month, and will be looking to continue the run against in-form Arsenal this lunchtime, who scored six last time they were at home in the league against Southampton.
If that is to happen, we may need to see a typically energetic display from Torres, who acts as the first line of defence when attacks break down.
‘The team is defending as well as we did last season, but the difference is that we have the ball for longer, so we are not conceding chances for the other team to score. Maybe this is the main reason for it,’ the striker said when considering the tight start.
‘We all get back quickly to our positions, but this doesn’t have to happen very often. I didn’t check the possession stats we have had in these games, but I am sure it shows we are keeping the ball. For me the best way to defend is to have the ball – if you have the ball the other team cannot attack.’
This afternoon, he anticipates we will need to retain the ball well to avoid long periods working to get it back.
‘It could be key to have possession. We know Arsenal, especially playing at home, are going to keep possession and possibly create some chances, but we have been working this week to work against that, and the key can be for us to win the ball back and try to counter-attack quickly,’ Torres said.
‘It’s important that we use the ball effectively and find spaces. We have players who can find spaces and can counter-attack well. Attacking against Arsenal it is important to find the last pass, and we have confidence we can do this.
‘The Emirates has a big pitch, and attacking we can try to exploit these spaces, and when we defend we have to be as narrow as possible. These games can be decided by small details and that level of concentration will be key.’
We have not won in N5 on our last two visits, the most recent being in November 2009 when two Didier Drogba goals and a Thomas Vermaelen own goal gave us a 3-0 win. If we achieve another shutout today, there is every chance we will be bringing three points back to the Bridge.