Yes, it’s only one game. Yes, it was against Fulham.

But Mikel Arteta improved Arsenal so much defensively without his favoured personnel last season and then watched his side take another leap forward in terms of solidity on Saturday.

A back three of Rob Holding, new-boy Gabriel and Kieran Tierney looked assured in possession during the 3-0 win at Craven Cottage.

Fulham v Arsenal - Premier League
(Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Central defensive issues have plagued Arsenal since the closing years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.

They cannot be fixed with recruitment alone, but Arteta has already shown enough reasons to be optimistic about his ability to coach improvement from his defenders.

Now he has Gabriel, and William Saliba still to come in, Arsenal may finally be in the process of forming a solid backline.

(CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

There will be sterner tests ahead. But Arsenal have already beaten all of last season’s top four under Arteta.


He has shown himself capable of devising a counter-attacking gameplan on those occasions, but does not compromise on playing out from the back.

Now he has the quality of defender in possession to do so even more effectively.

Plenty of sides do it but often leave you wondering why they insist on going short every time.

With Arsenal, the risk is generally worth the reward, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal on Saturday a perfect example of the Gunners drawing opponents up the pitch before exploiting the space in behind.

Whisper it, but Arsenal may finally be building a backline which is fit for purpose.

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