Arsene Must Sign… A Proper Defense Coach

Most people want Arsene to sign a striker and/or a goal keeper while some want a defensive midfielder. I don’t deny the fact that any or all of these signings would strengthen the squad. Well, that’s the whole point to signing players anyway. Having said that, in my opinion, the most important signing would be a defense coach.

I know that we have people like Pat Rice and Boro Primorac on the coaching staff but I am not sure what their exact roles are and how much time we spend on defensive training. In the recent past we have lost quite a few big games and have looked really hopeless in some of them. While people have their favorites, I don’t think changing one or two players is going to make a big difference in these kind of games.

There are several basic problems with our team

  • Too many players, including some defenders, are really poor at tackling. In other words, the opponents can skip past them with ease.
  • Most of our wide players and full backs don’t really know how to block a cross (Just see how many of our crosses are blocked by the first man and compare it with how many we block)
  • I haven’t seen many of our defenders throwing themselves in front of an attacker to make a block.
  • Too many of our defensive headers are weak and fall in the danger area
  • Our defenders are not very good at attacking the balls in the box and put too much responsibility on the goalkeeper. (See the number of balls we put into the United box and how many times did Van Der Saar have to come for them, even from corners and set-pieces?)
  • Too many of our clearances are scuffed and cause further defensive problems
  • Hardly any of our defenders can win a one on one with an on rushing attacker
  • Our players switch off at critical defensive moments
  • Most of our defensive players don’t know how to commit professional fouls or fouls that break up play to snuff out chances of counter attacks
  • Attackers can easily receive the ball and hold it in and around our penalty box
  • Too many of our players shirk responsibility. When we have two or three players closing down an opponent with the ball, each player waits for someone else to put the tackle in

Don’t get me wrong, even if the list is long, I am not saying our players are no good. Most of them are top quality and we are so high up in the league in spite of these problems only because our players have great ability while in possession of the ball.

Unfortunately, those qualities are not enough to win the big games. We need a stable defense in these games because the opposition has a lot of quality in attack with some clinical finishers. A lot of these issues are also the reason why our goalkeepers struggle a lot.

I am not saying that Almunia is a great keeper. At the same time I don’t buy the theory that all three of our keepers are no good. So when all three of them struggle, one must ask why.

Let me give a few examples,

  • At Old Trafford, Rooney won a penalty against Almunia and most people put the blame on the keeper. In my opinion the problem was with Gallas who had a two yard head start on Shrek and still couldn’t get a tackle in. The tackle was there and often in the past Toure used to make these tackles but Gallas never tried and put the onus on the keeper. To me Gallas shirks responsibility quite often and the keeper ends up in trouble.
  • Similarly, look at the first and second goal against Chelsea. Both the balls came in quite close to our central defenders and they couldn’t clear them. In fact, Vermaelen put one in. I don’t see such balls going past Terry or Ferdinand.
  • The second goal from Rooney this Sunday should have been blocked by Vermaelen. So often we see the likes of Carvalho and Terry flying in to block a goal bound shot. How many times have we seen our defenders do that? (I am not defending Denilson or the other problems that led to this particular goal, but once all that had gone wrong the last defender had to do better)

I can go on and on with examples where our defenders get it wrong. The point is not that they are not good players and these are, in themselves, not really big errors. But when you put them all together they cause a lot of problems.

I am convinced that any goalkeeper who plays for this Arsenal team will struggle simply because there are too many small, small weaknesses in our defensive game. Unfortunately, once a player struggles and makes some mistakes his confidence is affected and it’s a dangerous negative spiral.

Arsene has to really focus on these issues in training and if necessary get a specialist coach to sort these issues out. We might not be able to change this in time for the next match but we desperately need a long term solution if we are to consistently challenge at the top level.

32 Responses to Arsene Must Sign… A Proper Defense Coach

  1. VINIE says:


    • desigunner says:

      I would love to see whether you can achieve “success” with your campaign or not. Will you sack yourself if you are unsuccessful? Got any timelines for this?

  2. 0.9 Calibre says:

    @ Vinie: I hope your opinion that Arsene must be ousted is not based on the fact that he is not a good manager (cos that would be incredibly stupid!), imo you think he has to go out for not splashing the cash… Well the way I see it Arsene works on a very simple philosophy, that is to spend within his means and when the need arises.. And he definitely spends.. but he knows that spending 20-30 mil on player is a huge financial commitment and should such a player fail then the coffers of Arsenal unlike chelsea’s cant take it.. Mindless spending has pushed the biggest clubs like Manchester utd and Liverpool into pits of huge debts and its very unlikely they’ll recover anytime soon in the present economic climate.. Having said that I dont mean that we have to be contended with what we have but be grateful for what the Man has done to the club.. Its easy for a fan to say “40 mil? just move for Villa”, but it has enormous consequences and like Arsene just said quality isnt easily available..

    @ Desi: A comprehensive list.. but I have to say that our defensive coach may not be totally at fault.. for years now Arsenal have been at the receiving end of very unfair treatment from the referees.. Yes Vermaelen can lunge just like Terry (infact he used to when he was at Ajax) but come to think of it the players are just humans and when they are constantly bullied on the field by referees then its hard for them to commit the fouls even if they train for it.. Its been Six years since Viera left the EPl but he remains the top red card recipient in the EPL so far.. Ofcourse, I understand there is a “way” to tackle and commit professional fouls, but if the referee steps into the pitch with the sole aim of screwing us then he can see the “malice” in each and every one of our tackles.. Unlike cricket (where you can even challenge decisions these days) you cant go for replays in football… Damn those refs always bullying us..

    • hmm... says:


      • 0.9 Calibre says:

        Who blamed who? I was just stating out a fact thats been going on for a while.. when both of us are entitled to an opinion what makes me alone pathetic???

    • desigunner says:

      I’m sorry if I gave the impression that our defense coach is at fault. My point was that we should really focus on hard defensive training and the coaches right now might not be doing that. Referee’s have their own agenda but if we look at the way Gallas escaped punishment against Bolton or Silvestre challenge against Stoke that didn’t lead to a penalty, there are chances that our players can get away with it if the know how to do it.

  3. Jetto says:

    I dont know if you are playing football or not, but some of the problems you define not really true.My position is defender and for the penalty Almunia conceded at Odd Trafford, is his mistake, Gallas is delaying Rooney, close him down, he cant shoot from that position and that will give time to other defenders to cover back, but he rushed out and it cost the penalty. In my opinion, Almunia is the weakest link right now, he lack of concenteration and cost us the game like against Everton, Chelsea, and Man utd recently

    • desigunner says:

      I used to play as a striker and on the left wing. If I found a defender who was not interested in tackling I would have been delighted.

      If Almunia hadn’t rushed out Rooney would have slotted it home quite easily. From a strikers point of view, I would be really happy to play against Gallas instead of someone like Terry or Ferdinand.

  4. Beaver says:

    Vinnie I have seen your name spreading **** on Arsenal Opinion. Hears my advice for you, FIND ANOTHER CLUB TO WINGE ABOUT. Then, once you have been told you are an unwanted ‘supporter’ by each team in the prem could you please find a large bridge to jump off? Thanks

  5. Jack Staniforth says:

    I played football as a full back years ago in England and ,because of my two sons involvement, I coached rugby here in Australia. Now it`s easy to sit in front of my computer twelve thousand miles away and make comments not having the faintest idea of the coaching set up at Colney.However, I know from experience that, be it football or rugby ,you start with the defence and Desi certainly seems to know what he`s talking about. We are suspect in defence and especially in set pieces. The keeper is put under un necessary pressure by indecision among the defence who at times trip over each other a bit like we did as schoolboys. So, there is a case, and a good one, to appoint a top class defensive coach ,I thoroughly agree.

  6. Godhelpus says:

    The problem with Arsene is that he is too stubborn to accept he’s made a mistake. Before anyone starts giving me abuse let me make my position clear. I DO NOT want to see Arsene sacked. I think he’s a terrific manager and have got nothing but respect for him but he must change his ways. It’s been five years of project youth and were still in the same position as when we started it. If we made

  7. James says:

    Good article. We haven’t been able to defend since george grahams defenders left. Personally, i’d loose the wing backs who can’t tackle or head the ball, move our short centre backs to full back, verm left and gallas right, and get two big classic central defenders in. Upson and hangerland would do. Lee dixon constantly sits on match of the day, and points out our tactical naivity in defence. Why not get him in as a defensive coach? Lets be honest. I love wenger, and appreciate that he’s reveloutionised our club, and that we wouldn’t be the club that we are without him, but for all his talent at finding and developing youngsters, he’s got next to zero tactical knowledge, and only knows one way to play. For on the pitch tactical ability, wenger isn’t in the same league as the likes of morinho and hiddink.

    • desigunner says:

      While I wouldn’t say he has “zero tactical knowledge”, I do agree with you that Le Boss is not in the same league tactically as the likes of Hiddink or Mourinho.

  8. oz_gooner says:

    I totally agree james.. We have the likes of lee dixon and Tony Adams that would fit in perfectly as defence coaches.. why dont we use them ??

    Stubborness ? ego ? what is it with wenger.. why doesnt he want to bring back some of the legends that made the club so famous..

    Arsene is not bigger than the club..but the board make him feel as if he is so..especially with the amount of money he has saved the club and their asses as well..

  9. Maddy says:

    Ignore Vinie man, he’s been going about like a mare in heat on All Arsenal forums about how AW ought to be sacked. Oh and the next site you pick to spread your filth, Vinie, approximately 1/8th of an inch to the left of your A key is something that is called a Caps Lock. So take your left pinkie out of wherever it is and press it. If i have to read nonsense, atleast give it to me properly punctuated, spelt and NOT all in Caps. Sheesh.

    Thank god for everyone else here. Sack AW indeed. After all he’s done for the club. Am i devastated? Sure I am. How can i not be? Where was Vinie in ’03-’04? Breaking out the Champagne I’m sure. Heh he’s going to go on a crusade to oust AW. He might just make it to the N5 before he’s trampled on.

    Whatever happens, In AW i trust. And that’s how it ought to be.

    Oh and if you disagree with me, which you have EVERY right in doing (except Vinie you twat) by all means state your piece. I love a good debate 🙂

  10. oguntona says:

    sacking venger is not d problem but d board should mandate him on silverware.keep d faith.

  11. Gareth says:

    Some fair points there but I think on top of all that we need a higher workrate. All of these problems have carried over from last season, but at the start of this season that didn’t matter as every player on the pitch had a high workrate and pressured the ball high up the pitch.

    A word for Vermaelen too, he had just ran the entire length of the pitch from their penalty area to mark Park, which for me is the only reason he couldn’t throw himself in front of the ball. It’s not easy to sprint the entire length of a football pitch (something Terry and Carvalho don’t/can’t do) before making a goalsaving block. On top of that, the fact Rooney took the shot first time with no touch left him a few yards away.

    Other than that though, I think you have summed up our problems quite well.

    I remember people complaining that Nasri didn’t track back while playing centre mid last season which cost us a goal against Chelsea. It seems no matter who we play there, Rosicky, Nasri, Denilson, Diaby (though he does seem to be the best) none of them track back, which would point maybe to Wenger’s tactics rather than the players choosing not to.

    Hopefully he can sort it out by Sunday and we can claw our way back into the title race.

    • desigunner says:

      I did feel that our work rate was not good enough but I find it hard to believe that Wenger would accept a poor work rate from his team, especially given the statistics that he always has. My guess is that the problem must be more complex than that.

      Vermaelen did run the whole length of the pitch and I might be considered harsh to use that example. The point however is that our defenders don’t use their bodies for the last ditch block.

  12. es says:

    Remember, that underpinning almost all our opinions is a complete and utter lack of knowledge regarding what we’re talking about. I freely admit I know nothing about the actual skill sets of any of our players.

    Sure, I see things from match-to-match, but nothing to take me beyond the half-informed judgements I instinctively make.

    Give me a season behind-the-scenes at Colney … give me access to the dressing room, the boardroom, give me a complete set of coaching badges, give me the dossiers on all the world’s upcoming/available players and the time to digest them … maybe things would be different.

    Of course being deficient in these areas won’t stop me from wanting Nasri on the right and Rosicky on the left, but that want won’t have any rational basis.

    In the end it’s make-believe to think otherwise.

    Despite all this, nice article. See what I mean.

    • desigunner says:

      I see your point and tend to agree with it. That is the reason I have a great deal of faith in Arsene.

      Having said that, I won’t agree that we have “no rational basis.” Some of the observations that most fans make and those that are repeated over and over can not be ignored for a lack of detail.

      For instance, you don’t need all the details in the world to know that Torres is a top striker. It’s not make-believe, it’s a fact.

      The boundary between make-believe and fact can get blurred and in times of great emotion we as fans can tend to be error prone. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to the manager and the players because of this understanding.

  13. hmm... says:

    spot on…

  14. frank says:

    1) Do we need an all out striker?yes.Did we have money to buy?Yes.Did we buy?no.Hope is not a strategy…yu cant hope that bendtner will deliver for us when there’s a definitive action yu could take to mitigate the circumstances we find ourselves in.Thats why wenger is being castigated!!!!the youth policy is fantastic,and its working!but please reinforce when there’s need to.Denilson will never be a good player in the premier league,simple.
    2)Galas,galas,galas…….you are not a striker!!!If you re-live the third goal,Galas passed the ball to a midfielder and ran to the Man-u D to score!Ridiculous
    3)you are a good coach Wenger,so good that we expect a trophy/win every time arsenal plays.Certainly we dont expect a 3-0 mauling like we got this weekend!!!!!!!and the 4-0 mauling we predict next weekend!
    ………..oooooooooooooooooh am so sad!!!
    4)If its broken,fix it….clearly,arsenal is broken.We are at the same level as aston villa,everton and trhe spuds……………thats why we keep fighting for position three and four….

  15. mario india gooner says:

    tony adams is our man if wer lukin for a defence coach……

  16. JOHN says:


  17. gooner ji says:

    We were pathetic in defense. I think Gallas didnt do well. Once in attack he never tracks back. The third goal is a good example of that. I think Denilson is the one responsible for the second goal as Vermaelen was tracking the guy who was on the left, while Denilson was just ball watching.
    I think the moaners are really enjoying the moment. It seems as if they were hoping for this to happen.

    Desi your point towards crosses is very important because we are really weak in defending crosses.
    I hope we may see some more defensive discipline from now on as our coaching team must be scrutinizing the defeat minutely.

  18. bobbygee says:

    You are so right. It takes practice to work on these skills. Learning how to tackle and block shots is learned and taught. It takes a toughness to block a shot. You have to use your entire body. The defensive break down begins with player mis matches and switches. It takes studying game film after the match and then working on these dificient areas. Well put

  19. […] a lone striker. Overall there are quite a few problems with our defense, as I had mentioned in yesterday’s post, so even in good games we tend to concede a goal or two but in most cases we manage to out score […]

  20. […] this article I talked about our need for a defense coach and serious defensive training. I continue to insist on […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s