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Are we more defensively secure now?

Many supporters feel that we have carried a degree of defensive frailty for some time. The absence of a central defender that fits the oft quoted image of someone 'big and ugly` (for some reason it is always necessary to be ugly as well as big) to deal with high balls and the alleged incompatibility of Toure and Gallas are cited as causes for concern. These concerns have been heightened by the lack of a specialist defensive midfielder.

During the summer Wenger said that he needed to do something defensively and while it is far too early in the season to be saying too much he clearly thinks that we have improved. He tells the club`s website "We have defended very well. It has not been noticed yet but we`ve only conceded those two goals from two corners. In open play we are quite solid. That, for me, is a good response and a good explanation for the team attitude in the squad."

So far this season we have not conceded in open play. In nine competitive games we have conceded 2 goals from corners plus a questionable penalty against Kiev.

It is a curious fact that the best defensive records are held by those who attack the most hence our home record defensively was only bettered by ManU last season. Away from home we didn`t fare as well. Clearly the pattern of the games away from home are different but Wenger is keen not to forsake attack for defence if he can help it.

"What makes me happy at the moment is that we have a good combination of defensive balance and offensive efficiency," said Arsene. "Sometimes when you work on defending better you lose a number of goals.

"But at the moment we are combining the two and it means when everyone puts the effort in we still can be very dangerous going forward."

Arsene`s comments suggest that he has worked on defending better this season. It is too early to claim it has been a success and even though we haven`t conceded in open play there have been times when we have come mighty close to it. In any game the weakest opponents will still have opportunities but if we can maintain our current improvement then perhaps some of the defensive concerns many have will be allayed. At the same time Wenger will have proved that you can defend without big ugly central defenders or hard tackling ball winning midfielders and that good defending can indeed take more subtle forms.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday September 25 2008

Time: 4:06PM

Your Comments

Good article. I saw that piece on the official site and what struck me was the phrase "defensive balance and offensive efficiency." For the first, I have my doubts -- however, for the second, what I've noticed lately is that we have become more efficient. Goodplaya coined the wonderful term "de-hlebbing" to describe what's been going on with the team, no more cutbacks, Theo playing more direct, etc. The midfield is a different animal and it's fascinating to watch.
jaelle
i stil cnt vouch for our current defensive partnership of gallas and kolo
gunnerchi
yea finish school i graduated in WengerStyles today now i can stay up all night to watch my beautiful soccer...ill miss that modern history teacher that think livo is good, but ill pay him a visit after after arsenal win the league and the champions league @ the end of the season...WengerStyles
fellow
Although Gallas and Toure still scare me as a partnership sometimes, they are beginning to gel a bit. I also think Djourou and Song can both fill in admirably. The Gaffer is right, we don't NEED any more help defensively, though cover is always nice. I could see Silvestre fitting in well with Gallas at the back sometimes and using Toure in the DCM role.
brewtowngunner
"de-hlebbing"...lol..i love that one. I cant say we have been tested much anyways.
number14
BTgunner..take it from me, we are never going to see Toure in the DCM role.
number14
It still worries me when it comes to set plays. What's it going to be like when we play Stoke, and Rory Delap's throws? That game could be 5-4!
navydave
Yeah love that "de-hlebbing" bit lol! I'm still not sure about our defence, reserve judgment until we face tough, attacking teams.
GoonerLou
There's no doubt ever since AW changed his mind about a centre back that he's had a plan and the more defensive play employed by Cesc seems to hint at that. However, as much as we deride it with our sparkling brand of football, teams still like to play high balls and we don't have a defender who can cope with it. It is incredibly significant that the goals conceded have been from corners, the penalty in Kyiv came as a result of an aerial ball. Teams know where our weaknesses are and they are targetting them effectively.
Little Dutch
The official site just put up an announcement that Clichy and Silvestre are available for Hull and that Song faces a fitness test for the game (he was injured in the CC). Check out this terrific article praising AW: http://www.football365.com/story/0,17033,8689_4189551,00.html . Also, check out this hilarious video, couldn't help but remind me of Arsene's dressing room (tho AW's approach isn't quite the same): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7vRWOZpkdE&eurl=http://www.theoffside.com/
jaelle
@fellow: Huh? Congratulations on finishing school! Wenger Style! (?!) I admire your optimism. I'm gunning for the league personally, anything else is a sweet, sweet bonus. I'd say our defensive solidity has come more from the team gelling better and thus defending better as a unit. However, as pointed out in the article, we have had a fair few hairy moments already. We'll get a better idea of our defensive solidarity after christmas
Gunnerman
BTW, check out our gruelling upcoming schedule (after the Sunderland away game and the subsequent int'l break): Everton at home, Fenerbache away, West Ham away, Spurs at home all in 11 days to finish October. Then we play every midweek (except for 2 ) until Christmas. In November we're at Man City away & Chelsea away, Aston Villa and MU at home – all top 8 teams.
jaelle
On the picture - Congrats to Manuel for being quietly good and generally solid - I think his presence and emerging confidence could also be a factor. If I had a massive, scary, stark raving lunatic of a German screaming at me all day I'd be more nervous than anything else...!
Gunnerman
we don't need Cesc to change his game for the sake of a better defensive display by the team. Arsene has to play this one intelligently & keep interchanging between Gallas, Toure & Silvestre. Silves is not really tall or physically imposing, but he has better than Toure & Gallas at long balls, and that is why it is vital that we rotating between these three guys in the centre of the defence to last the entire season. some might say he has lost a bit of pace now, but playing alongside Gallas or Toure who are super quick won't be a problem for him. just let Cesc do his own thing & let the defence do theirs..
luckys_10
and what is the status on Nasri's injury? it's very strange the injury update given by the boss on arsenal.com. he mentions clichy, silves, song, walcott, van persie, but there is no update on Nasri. do any of yu have any update on samir. i'm getting a bit worried with these internationals curse striking us again..
luckys_10
Luckys I'm not sure about rotating the back 4. We won things in the years when our first-choice back 4 played together most of the time (Amos had posted some stats to prove that point in the forums before). So I'd like them to be as stable as possible. Especially Clichy and Sagna, I just pray they stay healthy!
GoonerLou
ya Lou but in most of those seasons, we never really did anything in Europe. this time Europe is our priority in equal with the league. yu ask the team what they would prefer to win the most, the league or the cl, and they'd say both. and the game has changed over the last few years. it's more physically demanding, injuries are more frequent than what they used to be. we suffered last season because some of our players were literally burnt out, Toure being a prime example. rotation should not be just for the sake of it, but should be calculated keeping the balance of the team in mind. there is no way we will win the league & the cl if the players including the defence aren't kept fresh..
luckys_10
Better finishers than those at Blackburn and Bolton would have probably cost the defence more goals, so its a bit early to talk about defensive solidity. Personally, I still see defensive weaknesses and the stats are a bit flattering, to be honest.
prits
i dont really rate our defence atm, maybe when we play a top 8team we shld have a beta idea of our defensive levels
gunnerchi
yo yo wogone! u no that shud kolo and willy make that click that we will be reppin the best back 4 in the league ... sagna and clichy are bangin ... they will do as they are told ... shud kolo and willy connect on one anothers levels then we will have the best back four in our league .... djorou is a buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzin playa too ... he will fit in anywhere that AW tells him too ... i really am confident in the back four .... shud the fowards knock the goals away .... infact if the fowards dont we will draft caaaaarloooos in and he will score goals .... FACT ! i really am confident that we can win the league this year !
Achilles
So far up to date we have not played a good attacking team or against good finishers and we do that's when we'll leak goals ( hope not thou) .I think is going to come down to us running up the score line on our opponents most of the time to win, and i dont think we can keep it up like that.
Youngest in Charge
**when
Youngest in Charge
Will judge the defence once we've dealt with a load of longballs over the top at SB after going one nil up. Think there's some misplaced optimism going on here and i can't help but think we're papering over cracks. The win at Blackburn's a prime example, we should've been 2-0 down under 10mins.
shewore
Ladies and gentlemen, Bottenham Hotspur's current conundrum is probably just about being overshadowed by Newcastle as the true comedy club of England. But Bottenham will not let it lie, they will not be outdone as the biggest joke in football, they cannot stand by and watch Newcastle take their rightful crown. So step forward Didier Zokora http://www.football365.com/story/0,17033,8652_4193542,00.html
Little Dutch
oh *****, what is wrong with these spuddies. why are they so deluded. but i'll give Zokora the benefit of the doubt here LD. what he actually meant was they are aiming to qualify for the Championship. the interviewer must have misquoted him lol, and with 33 games left, they are right on course for it..
luckys_10
I still we seems shakly at the back, I still find myself not really wanting to watch when a corner or free-kick comes into our box.
hackneyval
lol isn't Zokora following his manager's example then? It's only last week that Ramos said "why not" to the Top 4 question. :D
GoonerLou
To lol the Spanish way: jajajajjajajajajjajajajajajajjaja!
GoonerLou
I'd say we have been lucky to have the defensive record he have so far. Teams have managed to create chances, and teams who are able to take their chances will punish us, there's no doubt in my mind about it. However, if our offense is as good as it gets, then it means teams have much less opportunity to score against us, and that will be our salvation. But let's not get deceived by how we've appeared frail at the back. And I hate it when Arsene Who? says these sorts of things; if you and I can observe and feel insecure at the back, then so can Who?.
De-Hlebbing? Nice one. Is that with a double "B" or a single "B"? I always like to get my spelling right whenever I can, you know?
Gaga
I've just seen that the waffer cup is being renamed "The Europa League". Should make the spuds feel much better.
Gaga
I love Spohn
WhiteHartYido
Spohn is my best friend... i love her
problem
I wouldn't get too excited yet. Arsenal haven't played any "good" teams yet. Bolton, Blackburn (not as good as they were), West Brom, Fulham and Newcastle. Yes they got a draw at OT but what everyone needs to understand was that we had about 7 players missing and we kept losing more as the game went on. So until you play the tougher teams, can't really judge your defense yet.
ForeverUnited
What a comprehensive way to answer the question raised in this article !! Terrible defending against Hull to lose 3 pts.
prits
I did wonder whether this was tempting providence a little too much. In the end though the primary weakness is on set plays. That was our downfall at Fulham and cost us a goal at Bolton too.
Amos.
 

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