By Chris Harris
Arsenal's defensive improvement could hold the key to their hopes of silverware, according to Laurent Koscielny.
Arsène Wenger's side have tightened up considerably since the turn of the year, conceding just five goals in ten fixtures - including that highly-debatable strike against Everton on Tuesday night.
That compares very favourably to November, for example, when Arsenal shipped 11 goals in eight games. Koscielny has been a virtual ever-present in the past month and he thinks that the Everton game is a perfect example of the team's increasing resilience.
"We showed great character," said Koscielny. "Maybe if it was a game at the start of the season we would not have won it. For the last two months we can see that we have a great team spirit, we are all together, we are pulling the same way and that is why we won.
"For the last two months the team has been much more consistent on every level - defending together, attacking together. At the start of the season we were doing that but maybe not for the full 90 minutes.
"Now we have learned to do that, we have a great team spirit and we are together from start to finish. That is making the difference.
"You can see in the last few games that we are defending much better - there have been a lot of clean sheets. We have got four great central defenders. Squillaci is going to come back soon, hopefully Thomas Vermaelen as well, and we have showed we can defend well together. That is why the boss is keeping faith with us and hasn't brought in another centre back."
It's no coincidence that Arsenal's defensive improvement has coincided with Koscielny's personal step-up after he took time to find his feet following his summer move from Lorient.
"It's true that in the last two months I have felt much better in my game, I have improved a lot," he said.
"It was not easy for me to arrive here, I needed some time to adjust to the rhythm and the pace of the game which is different to France. But now I feel better, I feel stronger and I feel like a better player than I was when I arrived. We are getting stronger as a unit and maybe that is why I feel stronger as well."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 2 Feb 2011