Wenger hails Gunners resilient defence

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels his side's defensive mean streak has been key to their long-overdue sustained assault on the Barclays Premier League title.

Lukas Podolski of Arsenal (L) celebrates with Theo

The Gunners head to Liverpool for Saturday's lunchtime kick off looking to maintain a two-point lead at the top of the table over both Manchester City and third-placed Chelsea following the 1-0 Monday night victory for Jose Mourinho's team at the Etihad Stadium.

The clean sheet recorded in the win over Crystal Palace was Arsenal's seventh from 10 matches.

Indeed, since leaking six at City on December 14, the Gunners rearguard has been breached just four times.

Much of that has been down to a settled defensive line and the growing central partnership between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, with Arsenal having not lost a game which both men have completed since the end of January 2012.

Wenger is in no doubt such consistency has allowed his team to raise their all-round performances levels this season.

"We have more defensive stability, that is for sure. I think that is the main difference is there," Wenger said.

"We could always score goals, we could always master the domination of the game.

"Now, if you look purely at the numbers, our defensive record is much more stable.

"It is certainly vitally important, especially going into the big games."

Despite all of the pundits believing Wenger's squad would come off the rails sooner or later, Arsenal remain just ahead of their big-spending rivals.

"I must say that some people are very patient with us because they expect us to fall apart since August," the Gunners boss noted.

Nevertheless, Wenger feels his team can lay down a significant marker with victory at Anfield, to begin a run of fixtures which could well define their season.

"It would be a strong message, but we will have now to give a strong message out in every single game," he said.

"That is what it is all about because as soon as you don't win a big game, people say 'oh, can they do it?'"

Wenger added: "We have a confidence that we can deal with it, but of course we have to convince some sceptic people and it is a good moment to do it."

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