By Nick Ames

Aaron Ramsey believes that an increased sense of defensive responsibility in Arsenal’s midfielders is paying dividends.

The Gunners have shown a fairly compact shape this term as the team look to improve their ‘goals against’ record - and, as the recent draws at Aston Villa and Everton helped demonstrate, their work is having come effect.

“As a team we needed to defend better and I think that in periods of this season we’ve done it," Ramsey told the Official Matchday Programme. "We’ve kept a few clean sheets, and I know that in certain games we haven’t been as fluid going forward as we’d like, but I think we’ve been quite solid as a unit and are starting to express ourselves more too.

“The Aston Villa game last weekend is a good example - last year we may have conceded a goal there and gone home without anything, but we were solid defensively and perhaps it could have gone our way.”

While Ramsey can feel Arsenal pushing on, it has been a more difficult time at international level. This week saw the first anniversary of Wales manager Gary Speed’s tragic death, and the midfielder admits that he and his team-mates have found things tough since then.

“It’s been hard for us," he said. "We were playing ever so well, and the team looked as if it would do some good things - we thought we had a genuine chance. Obviously something unexpected and tragic happened, and it was difficult for all the players.

“It takes time to overcome something like that, and I don’t think we’ve recovered from it. We’re not playing in the way we used to and have suffered as a result. As soon as you win games you seem to gain that extra yard, and things appear to happen naturally - hopefully we’ll get that back soon.”

You can read the full interview with Aaron in the matchday programme for the Swansea match. Click here to subscribe

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Copyright 2014 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 30 Nov 2012