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Arsenal can lay down a marker


Adams praises Koscielny-Mertesacker

Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams believes Arsene Wenger may have unlocked the secret to defensive success after settling on a stable central-defensive pairing towards the end of last season.

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The partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker at the heart of the Arsenal back line was crucial in a series of solid defensive displays that guided the Gunners back into the Champions League for a 16th successive season.

That partnership saw club captain Thomas Vermaelen consigned to the bench for all but one of Arsenal's final ten league games of the season, and they conceded only four goals in those nine games.

Now Adams, who has been a critic of Arsene Wenger's defensive set-up in recent years, hopes his former boss appreciates the need for continuity in the back line.

"It's the only position where you need familiarity," Adams told the Arsenal website. "You need to play with your mate on a regular basis to gain confidence and I think that really worked for Arsenal defensively.

"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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