Arsenal’s Defence Is Actually Much Better This Season!

All of last season and even at the end of the summer transfer window I was one of the few who maintained that Arsenal didn’t need a new Keeper. Almost halfway through the season many fans have come to accept this while some still go on about a Keeper signing with complete disregard to facts and what actually happens on the pitch.

The main argument in my support of the Keepers was that the defence in front of them is not very good and our custodians have to come for pretty much every ball that’s put in our box. With the signings of Squillaci and Koscielny, and the return to fitness of Johan Djourou, coupled with a clear tactical shift, this has changed.

We can see that most of the balls put in our box are dealt with by the defenders and not the Keeper. If you don’t readily recall this I encourage you to watch the away games at Blackburn and Sunderland once again.

As a direct result, Fabianski has been able to focus on his positioning and making saves. There is much less pressure on him and he has undoubtedly won the team a few points so far this season. Based on what I’ve seen Van der Saar and Reina have both made a lot more errors than the Arsenal Keepers.

The key points to note are – the goalkeeper has been performing at a high level and the defenders are taking a lot more responsibility.

To me, Squillaci, Koscielny, and Djourou are a marked improvement on Gallas, Silvestre, and Campbell. By the end of November last year, Arsenal had conceded 18 goals after 13 games. This year we have conceded 18 after 16. In the same period in 2009 Arsenal had conceded 19 after 15.

In contrast, Chelsea had conceded 6 and United 10 at the end of Nov 2009 and last season their numbers were 8 and 13 respectively. Both those teams have conceded more this season and given the way the results have been I’m inclined to believe the league is much harder and more competitive this season.

With that in mind, the marginal improvement by Arsenal over the last two seasons seems a lot more significant.

Having said that, I do agree that Arsenal look shaky at times and there is a ‘feeling’ of vulnerability. A great deal of this comes from the constant noises in the media and from the Misery Brigade. Part of it also comes from the horrible atmosphere at the Emirates. But we cannot deny the team has given up on leads in a very soft manner on more than one occasion thereby contributing to this feeling.

There has been criticism of the Arsenal defence right from the time the signings were made and even before they were given a chance to play and show what they can do. Subsequently, every minor error has been magnified and often blame is attached just for the sake of it with utter disregard to the facts. For instance, how can anyone blame the central defenders for the first two goals conceded against the Tiny Totts?

Anyway, right now I don’t want to dwell on this sinister anti-Arsenal campaign. As I acknowledged, Arsenal have contributed to this feeling with some asinine mistakes. But the defenders are not the real culprits here.

As I did while talking about the Goalkeepers last year, I’m going to shift the blame one line forward.

This season we have seen Song play a different role. The Cameroonian has been more a box-to-box player rather than a defensive midfielder. While I like this transformation and believe that it will be extremely beneficial in the long run, in the short term it has left Arsenal exposed and vulnerable.

Yes, we do have an additional midfielder covering when Song moves forward. Most often that has been Wilshere or Denilson. Unfortunately, neither of them has the physical abilities or the sheer endeavour of Alex Song. As a result there have been times when the midfield cover for the defence has not been very good. Let’s look at the following image for the goal scored by Partizan at the Emirates.

As we can see, there is a huge hole between the midfield and the defence. This happens quite often because Song is still learning his role and the second midfielder doesn’t do the job well enough. Arsenal have 4 players around the ball but the man on the ball has three simple passes available to him. None of the midfielders or wide attackers are marking a man, closing a player down, or blocking a passing channel.

Now this sounds awful but it is not. It happens when a tactical change is a work in progress. For the purpose of discussion it is very easy to say Arsenal should play a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-1-1 or anything of the sort. It doesn’t mean much. A manager cannot just say some numbers to his players and hope that everything will work out.

In order to create or modify a tactical system a lot of work has to be done on the training ground and we also need actual games to see how it works. Football is such a dynamic game that every situation cannot be predicted. Obviously, when we have the Songinho transformation in progress and add the Van Persie midfield role to it without having much time to train on that, there will be some chaos. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. We have to do it, that’s the only way to learn and to get better. But we also have to be prepared for some chaos on the pitch.

Needless to say, we cannot do this in big games and I’ve no doubt we won’t do it. If you cast your mind back to the Chelsea game, Arsenal played a very different style in that one. The midfield was much closer to the defence and the defence didn’t look vulnerable at all. This is also the reason Wenger said we should not transpose games and that different games have different shapes.

Based on this I’d say it is a real strength that we can actually try all these changes in such a game and still come away with a good result albeit with some nervous moments.

Right now Arsenal are dealing with a number of issues. The central defenders are new to the club and league and haven’t had a run of games in a partnership. The best defensive midfielder we have is undergoing a transformation. We have constant changes to the starting line-up.

All these put together make the defence look much vulnerable than it is. I’ve no doubt technically this defence is better than the one we had last season. As long as we don’t repeat stupid mistakes there is a good chance we will have real proof at the end of the season.

72 Responses to Arsenal’s Defence Is Actually Much Better This Season!

  1. Stian from Norway says:

    Spot on m8! agree… Also if we had 60 000 liverpoolish support i dont think we would have lost 3 home games this season. Not many places in England you get boooed from your own croud, but the Emirates will boo you. Dont underastimate the 12th man

  2. Terry White says:

    Good analysis.Not mentioned is the Diaby effect, which role effectively Song is taking. With Diaby (and Fabregas)playing, Song can revert to his protective midfield role

  3. golds73 says:

    Excellent analysis!

    Any new system with players playing in unfamiliar roles needs time to function well. Arsene has been experimenting Rvp’s new role in the Carling Cup and in the Champions League, and the team hasn’t looked so fluid in these games.

    But as you mentioned, Arsenal deployed a much better organised system when we played Chelsea earlier. Even though we lost the match, that was a game in which we didn’t look as shaky as in recent matches.

    Hope Arsene uses the right personnel and tactical system come Monday.

  4. slugboy says:

    nice article.

    Song is a real box to box midfielder and should be allowed do this. All the CM’s should be capable of hanging back and defending, like he can. The specialist DM is a limitation on a team.

    • desigunner says:

      I guess that’s the state Arsene wants to achieve. Song, Diaby, Cesc, Wilshere and perhaps in future Ramsey will all be able to move forward or stay back as needed.

  5. faiz says:

    fantastic blog mate…. I enjoy reading your every piece… Always informative, entertaining and positive. Keep up the good work.

  6. Ole Gunner says:

    Two problems that led to the goal were;

    1. Not squeezing play well enough. As you can see it’s 4 players around 3 Partizan players without cutting out the passing angles. To start with Nasri’s positioning was ridiculous. It had nothing to do with positioning because…
    2. You can’t expect a defensive midfielder to just sit in front of the centre backs no matter what. Nobody at all does that. Not even Makelele Mr. 3rd Centreback.

    Further observation: Koscielny’s reading of the game here was diabolical. Terrible. Squillaci’s response to Koscielny’s lockup was just as bad. It should never have been a dangerous situation.

    Kos should have read the pass and closed down quicker if he so wished. Otherwise he could have just closed down shooting angles.

    • desigunner says:

      In the image above we can clearly see Koscielny marking the striker. Then when he saw a man free in so much space he had to leave the striker and go forward. In effect, one defender having to think about two attackers. This was similar to the Clichy situation in the first goal for Villa. This should never happen.

      The attacker in the hole made a run from much wider on our left and covered about 5-10 yards to get into this position. If we had a DM closer to the defence, not necessarily in a fixed position but within five yards or so of the central defenders, he would have read this run and either intercepted the pass or made a challenge leaving Koscielny free to deal with the striker. In that case the problems with Squillaci and Koscielny getting stretched and out of position would not happen.

      One image cannot explain these things and I didn’t want to dissect one example so I didn’t go into all this in the post. But if you see from the start of the move, Denilson is just ambling around the halfway line and never gets closer to the defence. Song chases the ball and roams around casually without sensing danger.

      Ideally I’d have preferred Nasri and RvP closer to the two men on the left of the image, only Sagna in front of the man on the ball, Song in place of Denilson preventing a square ball/run and Denilson in the gaping hole that I’ve identified. This would make the defence look much more solid.

      Bottom line – subtle changes in defensive positions taken up by the front 6 can help the defence look much stronger.

      • santori says:

        I thought Squillaci could have done better. He went oneway thereby allowing Cleo time and pace to shoot. should have just stood in front of the striker and allowed Koscielny to track the other player.

  7. Zgunner says:

    No only to I find this blog more constructive and positive through the great analysis… but it is comforting to see more comments from other Arsenal fans that like myself can see the light in our team. I’m so tired of bitter fans.

  8. Phil23 says:

    Good article that points out some obvious facts which are constantly ignored by most people. We are reaping the rewards of Arsenes astute signings and faith in ridiculed/under rated players such as Fabianski and Djourou. Gallas leaving has had an amazing affect to the communication of our back line. This can still improve a lot but considering the full backs (who rarely communicate with each other) are the only ones to have played regularly together this is a highly under rated achievement. Our formation change is also a huge factor to our defence. As good as Song was, when he is the only defensive midfielder he can be by passed easily rendering his tackling ability useless. Imo we have found our optimum formation and have gotten rid of most of the dead weight in the squad. Our attack is more potent than ever, our defence is looking very strong. We are always going to have dodgy situations as we are an attack minded team. That is Arsenal and thats the way it should be. Over time our defence will improve even more as our defenders and keeper spend more time together, players age (where a huge amount of growth will come from), The team is completely familiar with their roles individually and collectively, the midfield keeps even more possession than currently, the attack scores even more goals meaning less pressure on the defence. Completely agree about the embarrassing support at the Emirates. It is for that very reason that when I travel to England I will mostly go to the away games rather than the home as our away support is amazing. (That and the price/availability of tickets to the Emirates)

    • desigunner says:

      When we put everything together it’s not difficult to see why Arsene keeps harping on the importance of keeping the squad together. Sometimes I feel the likes of Flamini, Hleb, and Abebayor betrayed the club/team and if they’d stayed true to the spirit of the squad the results would have been even better.

  9. Claver says:

    Good job,

    It’s good to read some positive news about Arsenal and Arsene. Arsene gets little credit, whilst managers like Ferguson, Mourinho and Redknapp who stood by and watched their clubs load on massive debts are lauded.

    The 11yrs we have enjoyed in consecutive appearances must be celebrated. What? No banner at the Emirates?
    We mustn’t behave like spoilt brats.

    • desigunner says:

      Wenger will get the credit he deserves only after his retirement. Right now many don’t realize the level he is at.

  10. eirik says:

    Van Persie should have gotten 3 assists at wigan and had that creative spark, but he didnt do that agianst partizan.

    I think Wilshere was a key man at Wigan because he has got a great ability to find the man behind the striker. His quick runs forward found van persie when he put Vela through with backheel.

    The goal from Bendtner was also similar where Wilshere found Van Persie where he was allowed space.

    Van Persie was didnt receive that space he gets from Jack against Partizan. Thats why nothing really worked offensively. But i dont think he is right man to be behind the main striker because of is positioning and for being so one-footed. But I am really exited about the Wilshere – Fabregas because of Wilsheres ability to find him and create space for him. Fabregas has not been properly fit when he has played with Wilshere, but when he was fit like in the Braga game, wilshere found him on several occasions and the Arshavin goal was a perfect example!

    A trademark arsenal move could be

    Wilshere – Fabregas – Nasri – GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL!!!!!

    • desigunner says:

      Wilshere and Cesc can become unplayable in the middle but for that Fabregas will have to stay at Arsenal for a couple of seasons more. I hope that happens.

  11. Jacques says:


    Fantastic post, my favorite of your’s so far. It IS very nice to see some rational supporters of the team.

    Anyways, I’ve got nothing to add to that great post.

  12. mushkalje says:

    me like it !!
    but i think the whole songinho thingy is gonna work much better when u have diaby on the pitch , with diaby and song they r both good physically , defensively , and they can attack 😀 !! any ways i’m sure in time we’ll c the positives of the new song , just hope we don’t lose too many point’s in the process ..!!

    • desigunner says:

      I think sometime in the middle of last season we did see the Cesc-Song-Diaby trio in midfield and they did really well. Diaby is a little frustrating at times but there is no doubt he can, on his day, be fascinating to watch.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Cant wait to see RVP against Man U and Chelsea. We have been missing class up front against the good sides and im dying to see what our front line is capable of doing… To be the best you have to beat the best. Fingers crossed and hoping for an onslaught against Man U so that we go back to the Emirates against Chelsea and sing out “Theres only one team in London” LOL CUMMON ARSENAL!!!

  14. Ardian says:

    Spot on! I consider you mate as one of a rare expert Arsenal blogger s, who really sees the game and is not biased from pure statistical data s (clean sheets, shots etc etc) Keep your good work. I personally enjoy reading your articles…

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I try to approach the analysis as a student of the game and with a view to learning more rather than with a know-it-all approach that we sometimes see on the internet. And who can be a better teacher than the Professor himself! 🙂

  15. g dawg says:

    finally someone who talks sense

  16. santori says:

    We are getting better. That said, as wenger says more room for improvement yet.

    I hope we get our movement sorted out sooner than later.

    Once RVP gets used to the other players (vice versa), that attaking second line will be especially lethal on account that all 3 players could switch across the line (be it Nasri, RVp, or AA)

    • desigunner says:

      If these players stick together they will keep on improving for all of this season and at least one more before they hit their peak. There would be no limit on what they can achieve together if that happens.

  17. Ajinkya says:

    Our defence requires more communication. One of the center backs must lead. You saw Campbell doing that against spurs last season. That is what we lack the most. An inspirational leader who can fire the players so that they can fight, a guy who can shout his head off, the real hero of the team, often confused with anyone who scores more goals. I do not see much talking going on.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m not sure we need constant talking. It seems important when the team is under pressure or someone makes a fatal mistake.

  18. Snir Geuli says:

    Desi, I liked your blog but after this analysis I absolutely love it. It makes me happy to see that someone actually realizes what I’ve been saying all along (that Gallas is a shit defender and Squillaci, Koscielny and Djourou are doing good, and that Song’s rampage forward is good).

    I am sure Song bombing forward is good for the team because of the fact that one of the other 2 midfielders can cover and the fact that Song is in the box he isn’t taken as seriously as AA, Nasri, Chamakh, Cesc, RvP etc’. therefore he gets to great positions.

    This is extremely important when we try to break down defenses! And make no mistake about it, we ARE having troubles to break down defenses at times.

    • desigunner says:

      I guess Arsene is working towards a balance between flexibility and shape, creativity and solidity. Song can contribute to all of it depending on the situation because of his talent and energy levels. I often feel at the end of games Song looks like he is ready for another one then and there whilst most others understandably look a bit tired.

  19. Ajinkya says:

    Please see this. Elsewhere this video was titled,’William Gallas 300(movie) speech’.

  20. Giddy says:

    spot on mate! and also a top notch post.

  21. Ajinkya says:

    How come howard webb referees every crucial manu game?

  22. Joseph says:

    Marvellous post Desi…

  23. Pkay says:

    Great post! Spot on.

  24. Joseph says:

    Can anyone explain how Diaby will improve our team?

  25. Henry XIV says:

    When we defend, we get close to the man with the ball, we commit players to him but WE DON’T CLOSE THEM DOWN. That opens up spaces for the opposition to exploit. We are sooooooo far away from the pressing game our high line demands, in fact we are doing the opposite and making ourselves vulnerable to long balls hoofed forward by playing a high line without cutting the supply!And that’s one reason the opposition can score against us at their first attempt (Fulham, Belgrade)

    We must press harder, WE MUST PRESS HARDER. Not pretend we are pressing but actually race up to the guy with the ball ,and make him pass the ball sideways or backwards , not leave them time and space to pick their pass!!! This is really important!

    One last thing, Diaby can be used in certain circumstances, but why do we need him with Wilshere performing so well? And Ramsey is coming back too. My point is, I feel that he disrupts the flow of our attacks because he holds up the ball so well. That is all good if we want to shut up shop and close the game down, but not when we’re going forward or are chasing a game because DIABY SLOWS US DOWN!
    Diaby is very well suited to France style, and he was their best player during the world cup, but France don’t play with the same style and tempo as we do!

    More important though is my point about our weak pressing game, which produces nothing and actually give opponents time and space to pick a pass which is often resulting in a goal from the first shot on goal.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree about pressing but it seems harder in the English league which is physically a lot more demanding. And lets not forget what Farca do right now has taken years to perfect and they’re the only team that can do it successfully.

      Diaby has so far had good days and bad ones. When he had a run of games last season he was quite good. I would not generalize that Diaby slows us down. He seems to be the one who can speed it up as well when he starts galloping forward with purpose.

  26. claverc says:

    @’Henry XIV’

    Why do we need Diaby with Wilshere performing so well?

    Diaby slows us down?

    You know, l never understand so-called supporters who like to demonize their own players. What’s in it for you?

    Weak pressing game? So the weak team is at the top? Then what are the others?

    France don’t play with the same style as we do?
    – Scotland don’t play with the same style as Man U?!!

    What planet are you on my friend? This is football!!! Take your stinking nationalism elsewhere.

    • Henry XIV says:

      “demonize”? “stinking nationalism”? Do you have an actual point to make about this debate, or are you just happy with ad-hominems and personal attacks on me?

  27. Finnish Hit says:

    Ah, bugger. Can’t really add much to the intelligence-respecting comments above. 🙂

    Being one of the rationality brigade myself your blog is a pleasure to read. I really hope the misery folks and the blame-it-always-on-someone-people stay out of this blog.

    There is a really big playground for them elsewhere.

    Cool heads and big hearts are always great combinations. Sometimes emotions take control of everyone – think of Arséne! – but the best learners and teachers always return to thinking.

    • desigunner says:

      I guess if we completely eliminate emotions there will be no joy in watching, analyzing, or discussing the games 🙂

  28. claverc says:

    @ Joseph

    We all hope that Wilshere will mature into a powerful midfielder.

    At the moment he isn’t. Diaby is. Diaby provides ball retention abilities that only Nasri, VP, Song, Rosicky and Fabregas have.

    Looking at their ages tells you something. Is this important? Ask Xavi, Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Lahm, Bergkamp(sp), Henry, Zidane, Vieira, Seedorf…I could go on here. To get the ball off of them you’d have to foul them.

    At the moment, Wilshere doesn’t have that. If he plays the Arsenal way, he will get it. Don’t underestimate Wenger.

    • desigunner says:

      Without trying to belittle the undoubtedly talented Wilshere, I must say it is a little amusing how he gets better comments and ratings even when he doesn’t do all that well.

      He is 18 and still learning. Soon enough he will be phenomenal but many people talk about his performances as near perfect even now.

      Could it be that since the English press don’t criticize him at all and hype him at every opportunity, the others who are vicious about some players are afraid of putting forward a different opinion?

  29. Honest Bill says:

    Hi. been reading this blog for a while now, and i have to say it’s usually top work. I like the fact that you try to look at the games objectively and analytically. Keep it up and i’m sure you will have a decent and active platform for discussion here.

    With regards to the debate above. I do agree that Diaby slows play down. He loses focus sometimes and falls back on his technical ability (which we can all agree is at a very high level)

    I feel his head is not always in the game. This is natural for a young player (we must acknowledge his stunted development) and i see no reason why he can’t rectify this and go on to be a great player. He certainly has the raw talent there

    • desigunner says:

      Doesn’t Diaby seem like a momentum player? I mean he needs a few games to find top form and then he can really push forward. Whenever I’ve seen him play in patches, his performances seem to be, um, patchy.

  30. Kushagra India says:

    Well Done you go from strength to strength I hope the same can be said of Diaby who seems to have stagnated

  31. Honest Bill says:

    Kushagra India/

    Be fair to him, he hasn’t exactly had the opportunity to flourish has he? Any player with an injury record like his will stagnate.

  32. Joe says:

    Great post. More people should read this. You’ve really outdone yourself here!

  33. em says:

    Good job again desi.fabregas has called on the team to make a statement of intent by winning at old trafford.this team has the ability to do that.the travellin fans will be a factor.can’t wait to watch nasri decimate loud mouthed Evra.go gunners

  34. Kushagra India says:

    we are on course to conceding exactly the same number of goals as the last season, or even ‘bettering’ that record, no?

    this season: played 16, conceded 18, avg. 1.125 goals per game

    last season: played 38, conceded 41, avg. 1.079 goals per game

    • desigunner says:

      Could be. I’m hoping we will get better stability as the players play together and we get the balance right. Right now the defence as a whole isn’t perfect and will not win us the big titles. Even Arsene acknowledges we need to improve and that says a lot.

  35. Kushagra India says:

    Honest Bill
    yes mate he has plenty of talent but what good is it for us if he is decimated by injuries and importantly he is nearing 25.In future I sincerely hope he overcomes injuries

  36. Confidentgoner says:

    Good analysis. There are reasons for having that space. The defense moving far away from the mid shoiws the DM is absent or is not well schooled. It also shows the 2 CBs and Full backs should have moved up, leaving one less striker to deal with.

    Its also correct that we don’t press hard enough eg like Barca, we allowed that guy too much space to play with the ball. Barcelona will not give you that space and time in their half. They’d choke you. I think the problem is that

    a) our players are not drilled to press

    b) Players do not have the stamina to press hard

    c) We do not spread the game well enough.

    d) The lead CB, should dictate the line for the back 4. Against Barca, at home, Verm went up and the others just sat at the back allowing Ibra to slot home. If thry had gone up with Verm and closed the gap, Ibra would have been caught offside

    • desigunner says:

      I think Arsene would not accept players who are less fit compared to the top players at the other teams i.e. in terms of stamina.

      Having initially had similar thoughts to the ones you’ve suggested I tried to think of other possibilities. To me it seems the English game is a lot more physical (many players have talked about the difference with other leagues) and it’s a lot more end-to-end because of the long balls. This means the players have to spend their energies in running up and down a lot more and are always struggling with knocks and bruises. These things make constant and completely coordinated pressing extremely difficult. I’ve love to see Farca play in the premiership for one whole season.

      And as I said above, the kind of perfect pressing that we see from Farca is incredibly rare in the world of football. Surely it takes a long time to develop that?

  37. Henry XIV says:

    I agree with all the points you make BAR “d”. Thing is, for those two goals, SONG was the CB after Gallas had been injured, and Vermaelen+Song obviously aren’t used to be paired in central defence.
    But more importantly, I think Vermaelen had made the same mistake for each goal, he went and challenged for the ball (against Messi, whom we didn’t see much that night), missed the ball, and Song didn’t track Ibra’s run, allowing him to get into two good scoring chances which he converted.

    Maybe the point you could make about those two goals, and which is in accordance with the topic here is that we gave the passer too much time and space on the ball, and he just went for the long ball over the top to pick up Ibra. Had we closed down well on him, the pass would have been harder to make!

    I agree on your other points though, I just hope you won’t get labeled a “stinking nationalist” from “another world” who “demonizes” our players after you made constructive criticism 😉

    • claverc says:

      @Henry XIV

      Nothing personal, but just to say; I think that Desi is trying to provide construct-ive (well thought out) critic- ism (critique).

      Not all of us have the time or ability to construct an analysis like Desi is doing here. So we appreciate what he’s doing.

      Diaby wasn’t in the game which Desi is discussing, so how does it follow that you want to count his negatives? Why not reflect on the fact that we are winning when we play poorly?

      So here’s my task for you Henry XIV. Think of all the positive aspects of Diaby’s game (Remember the goal against Liverpool?) and then think of how we all used to laugh when Bendtner’s name was announced. Then think of the 12 goals Bendtner scored for us last season.

      Bendtner and Crouch, if you want to compare, scored roughly the same number of goals last season, all competitions. Crouch is 29yrs old, Bendtner is 22yrs old. Why is it Rotten-ham fans sing Crouch’s name yet we groan when Bendtner’s name is called up?

      Now, I certainly think that it’s possible for Diaby to score more goals than Bendtner.

      • Henry XIV says:

        I never mentioned bendtner in my posts, but I DID mention Diaby and what he can bring to us when we want to slow down the tempo a bit and close the game down.
        Maybe you get the impression that I am too negative, but I’m not. It’s just that, like you mentioned, we all don’t have have the time or the eloquence that desi has, and as a result, when commenting on a blog post mentioning defensive errors, I feel it is only normal that I delved deeper into those or at least offer my opinion on the issue.

        I never said that Diaby wasn’t a good player, and I didn’t even mention Bendtner either, and just because I didn’t remind my fellow gooners that we are top of the league doesnt mean I’m unhappy about it…

        If you want my opinion on the overall picture (and I’m not really sure you do, but I could be wrong), I could detail it on another thread, because it would be off-topic here.

        It would be better for the debate to relax a little bit I think, and not assault each other with ad-hominems and name-caling.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree the Song+Vermaelen combination was not perfect and understandably so. I also have a feeling that Arsenal were tactically closing Messi down when he moved into space so that he couldn’t receive the ball and turn. Guardiola and his staff probably noted these two points and created the strategy of playing the ball into that space behind Vermaelen.

      Song could have done better I guess and we should have closed down the man on the ball much better, but at such times I feel we should also give a lot of credit to the opposition for quick thinking.

  38. kloney says:

    Gr8 post desi.I believe in this team like you do.

  39. […] Arsenal’s Defence Is Actually Much Better This Season! All of last season and even at the end of the summer transfer window I was one of the few who maintained that Arsenal […] […]

  40. putra says:

    good job for you !

  41. desigunner says:

    Thank you all for the fantastic feedback. I do hope we continue to develop a thoughtful, respectful, and passionate discussion platform here so that we can criticize without it being a sin and we can support without being called stupid.

  42. claverc says:

    It’s possible to think that Koscielny was at the root of the problem. His reactions were a bit slow. If you watch closely, when the pass is played past Song, Koscielny reacts poorly, then instead of anticipating the movements of the opposition attacker (i.e there is only one way the attacker is going to run) he is caught out by the attacker’s turn of pace.

    This leaves Squillaci with two attackers to defend, Sagna is too far, Eboue is being kept busy. So Squillaci anticipates a pass from Cleo to the oncoming attacker, so he backs off…this gives Cleo enough space to take a shot.

    But, again… wind back to just before the pass. You ask yourself, if there is enough defensive cover, Song, Sagna, Denilson why on earth is the pass allowed to go through?

    A quick word from Song to Sagna would have helped Sagna close down the marker without worrying about the space behind him.

    But, my conclusion is that Sagna, as the right back, must hold his hand up.

    As a right back he is defending a right-footed midfielder Sasa Illic. So why not force Illic along the sideline? Why does Sagna allow the midfielder to turn to his right foot and waltz around? Why not show him to his weaker foot?

    • desigunner says:

      I agree Koscielny was a bit slow to react. But the players and coaches must ask themselves why does a central defender, who is already marking a striker, have to come out into the hole to deal with the run of another attacker?

      I guess that was also the cause of the hesitation for Koscielny the second time around because he knew the striker was his man. Should he go back or should he follow the run? It takes a split second but that’s enough when the game is played at this speed.

      I strongly believe it is imperative for the front players to make the job of defenders pretty straight forward. But Arsenal seem to have a habit of putting defenders in tricky situations like having to pick between two attackers or something like that.

      Another issue I felt was that Song and Sagna were both a bit casual because they were so close together and the attacker didn’t have anywhere to go. Neither of them really tried to close the ball down probably assuming that the pass will have to go backwards. It is just that fraction of intensity or concentration that can make a big difference.

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