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Bernd Leno makes case for defence after Arsenal keep Manchester United at bay

The Gunners goalkeeper pulled off a fine save to deny Fred in the first half of the stalemate.

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Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno blocks a shot (Sean Botterill/PA)

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno blocks a shot (Sean Botterill/PA)

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno blocks a shot (Sean Botterill/PA)

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno believes a change in mentality has led to the club vastly improving their defensive record.

The Gunners held Manchester United to a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening to extend their unbeaten Premier League run to seven games.

Only table-topping Manchester City can boast a more watertight defence this season, conceding just 13 goals compared to Arsenal’s 20.

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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford battles for the ball with Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and goalkeeper Bernd Leno (Andy Rain/PA)

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford battles for the ball with Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and goalkeeper Bernd Leno (Andy Rain/PA)

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford battles for the ball with Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and goalkeeper Bernd Leno (Andy Rain/PA)

Leno has also kept five clean sheets in the last seven – with the likes of David Luiz, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes and Pablo Mari impressing in front of the Germany goalkeeper of late.

Last season, Burnley were the only side in the top 10 to ship more goals than the 48 conceded by Arsenal and Leno was clear why he feels the change has happened.

“I think our mentality,” he replied when asked what has been key to the turnaround.

“Because everybody is defending, even the striker is sometimes defending in the box and then you can see the difference.

“It is much harder to score goals against us and even to create clear chances.

“For me, of course, as a goalkeeper it is always better to have a clean sheet but I think to be a successful team the defence is the most important thing.”

Leno made a fine save to deny Fred in the first half of the stalemate after the Brazil midfielder curled in a shot from the edge of the box.

He said: “I think it was a perfect for TV fingertip save!

“It was very important, I’m not sure if the ball is going in or not but as a goalkeeper you just dive and I think it was a very spectacular save and a very important save.

“So I am happy that I kept the team in the game and I think in general we showed a great defensive performance and that is why we have the clean sheet.”

While Arsenal extend their run of good form, United fell further behind neighbours Manchester City at the top of the table.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left bemoaning profligate finishing from his forwards having made five changes from the shock home defeat by bottom club Sheffield United three days earlier.

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta fist bump (Alastair Grant/PA)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta fist bump (Alastair Grant/PA)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta fist bump (Alastair Grant/PA)

The Red Devils set a club record as the point at Arsenal means they have gone 18 away games without defeat – but their home form has been the issue this season and their next three fixtures are all at Old Trafford.

Everton visit in the league next weekend before an FA Cup fifth-round tie against West Ham but it is out-of-form Southampton next up on Tuesday night.

Saints have won just one of their last eight but David De Gea wants to see an improvement from the United forwards if they are to avoid any further let-downs.

“We felt disappointed in the dressing room,” the goalkeeper told manutd.com after the Arsenal game

“We feel we missed a chance to beat Arsenal. I think we did enough, we created enough chances to win.

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David De Gea kept Arsenal out (Alastair Grant/PA)

David De Gea kept Arsenal out (Alastair Grant/PA)

David De Gea kept Arsenal out (Alastair Grant/PA)

“We had our good chances as well, but we did enough to win today. If we want to win, we have to score the chances.

“We have to be ready for the next one – it’s a big one again – and try to score the chances we missed.

“Games are coming quick, many, many games. It’s a big one against Southampton. They’re a good team, so it’s going to be a good fight.”

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