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Don't blame the defence....

Don't blame the defence....

As we agonise in trying to find rational explanations for irrational events as in the apparent claim that two ricocheted goals conceded means that we lack fighting spirit - or more bizarrely our play is so predictable that teams know how to play against us as though they deliberately plan to score from ricochets - we invariably end up looking at our shortcomings from the wrong end. Much credence has been given to a statistic that we have apparently conceded more goals from set pieces than some others have. I`m not sure of the makeup of the stat, presumably it includes the 6 penalties we`ve given away, but if true it means that we`ve conceded fewer goals from open play than the average which is a defensive strength I would imagine?

Doubtless, though we accept that keepers must find it difficult to read the flight of the ball from 25 or 30 yards but not apparently outfield players from corners or free kicks, there are improvements that can and must be made in the art of defending that hasn`t really been the main reason we have fallen short in the title challenge this season.

Defensively our poorest performances have come away from home. We`ve shipped more goals away from home than any other team in the top four and pretty close to the average number of away goals conceded for the whole league. Yet we lead the away league by a healthy margin by virtue of the goals we`ve scored which is almost double the average number of goals scored in the premier league this season away from home.

By contrast our home form has been better defensively having conceded only one goal more than those around us with the exception of ManU who have conceded 2 less than we have. Defensively we have performed far better at home conceding far fewer than the league average for home goals conceded but we`ve scored at a rate only slightly above the home average and some way behind those above us in the home league table in which we currently sit fourth, behind Liverpool and slightly ahead of City who have a home game in hand over us. Even Bolton has scored more home goals and partly thanks to the weekend`s failure Stoke are just a goal off our total for the season so far.

The conclusion then that our attack has failed us as much as if not more than our defense has this season is a compelling one. Relevant though it is, instead of getting too exercised about our defensive failures, the questions we need to be addressing should focus as much on the relative shortfall in our creative play at home.

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Date:Monday May 9 2011
Time: 12:25PM


Good article and pretty balanced, the same as our criticism needs to be. It's a team effort and we failed as a team yesterday. All three goals were defensive lapses. Djourou lost his man at the corner, Sagna inexplicably wandered off and let Pennant drive towards goal (the shot may have been deflected, but Sagna shouldn't have let him get that far) and Djourou's "clearance" for the third was .... well .... don't really need to put a label on it. Howver before all that happened I commented that I've not seen an Arsenal side lack creativity like that in a long long time, completely devoid of ideas. And just another reason why those say our performance against United shows we don't needs Cesc .... well those performances have been few and far between, yesterday showed exactly why we need to keep him!
09/05/2011 12:56:00
Utter garbage Amos!!! You can't conceed 39 goals from 36 games and say the defence is not to be blamed. If you want to compare something then you should look at the fact that we have scored 69 goals (second in the league) and yet our goal difference is 3rd and better than City by 9 goal for 4th (even though we have scored 15 goals more than them). Goals will dry up every now and then, but please remember this if they dont score we wont lose....
09/05/2011 12:59:00
It's both our defence and our attack that's let us down. The more important question is: what is it about our defence and attack that lets us down? Is it the formation? Is it inadequate defensive organisation? Is it the elaborate over-passing game we employ? Is it individuals? The one thing that strikes whenever I see Man Utd is their is a simplicity and penetration to their play. They really go for the jugular and are a very aggresive, dangerous side (with lots of character). Reminds me of what we used to be like under the best Wenger teams (who employed a fluid 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1).
09/05/2011 13:03:00
Good summary Amos. Highlights that there are problems at both ends of the pitch that need addressing. We had 74% possession of the ball against Stoke yet were comprehensively beaten without any foul play or bad refs decisions. We are so easy to play against its frightening, you have to ask questions of the manager when no marks like Pulis, Bruce and Keane are out thinking him and he has no response but to bring on Bendtner as a winger.
09/05/2011 13:13:00
I think they use the wide areas far better than us GV. You wont see a better chalk on your boots wing display than the one Valencia gave yesterday, they really stretch the pitch giving Rooney the space to come deep, Hernandez then plays on the last man which stretches the pitch length ways creating more space.
09/05/2011 13:20:00
Iceman - agreed. There's also a willingness to score the 'simple' goal, i.e. good wing play (at pace), then a decent cross and a couple of quality players in the box to put the ball in. It's not rocket science what Man Utd do. They just do it better than most and are nearly always able to deliver when the occasion asks. Arsene really looks completely lost on the bench nowadays, his whole demeanour is one of a man whose belief has been drained out of him.
09/05/2011 13:32:00
If we were so easy to play against we'd be in a relegation battle. Let's keep it in proportion. It would help to read the article before jumping in Villa. Two thirds of our defensive failures have come away from home yet we'll top the league on away form - and on relative goal difference. Our defensive performance at home this season compares favourably with our peers but our attack doesn't - and home is where our goal difference is relatively poorest despite a comparable home defensive record. It's true that if they don't score we don't lose but we don't win unless we score - and it's not winning, not not losing that the disaffected are complaining about.
09/05/2011 13:36:00
Which shows how ****** our home form has been then Amos.
09/05/2011 13:40:00
The simple fact is that there is no team in the league better at squandering clear-cut chances than Arsenal. For a team that prides itself on brilliant attacking football, we are lousy at actually putting the ball in the net. Fabregas - lousy. Walcott - inconsistent. Even RVP, for all his goal, should have had more given the chances he gets. For all the concerns about the defensive coaching, Wenger does not prize clinical finishing. That he bought Chamakh (the complete striker, aside from... striking) speaks volumes.
09/05/2011 13:45:00
That's what I said LG - but not ****** defensively. Why do ManU feel so much more confident at OT than they do away? Is there something about OT that inspires or encourages their team more there than there is at the Emirates? Or is it just our pattern of play at home? A lack of creativity perhaps?
09/05/2011 13:46:00
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