By Declan Taylor

Arsène Wenger believes that Bacary Sagna has played a key role in Arsenal’s recent defensive improvement.

The Gunners’ backline was uncharacteristically leaky earlier on in the season, shipping three goals at Manchester City and four against Sunday’s opponents Tottenham. As a result, Arsenal’s goals-against tally is just six shy of last season’s total and they have already conceded as many goals at Emirates Stadium as they did in 2007/08.

However, massive strides have been made since the turn of the year. Arsenal have only conceded three in their last six outings and just two in their last five Premier League games.

Wenger believes that, despite his penchant for getting forward, Sagna has been integral to a more collective “caution” in defence helping Arsenal to stem the flow of goals conceded.

“I believe Sagna has had a very good season,” said the manager at Friday’s pre-match press conference. “At one stage we had conceded too many goals, so we encouraged our defenders to be a bit more cautious.

“A defender does not like to concede goals. When you do and do not win, they become a bit more apprehensive to go forward.

Bacary Sagna is a very reliable defender - and if you look at the goals we concede he is one who is the least involved in making mistakes.”

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7 Feb 2009