Of Man City, Shots From Distance, Crosses, And Defending

In India, particularly in the north, there is a saying, “sher kabhi ghaas nahin khaata hai”. A loose literal translation would be, a lion (no matter how starved he might be) doesn’t eat grass. For a football hungry person like me a weekend disrupted by weather spells disaster when the Arsenal game is postponed. Not having the makeup of a lion I ended up paying close attention to a game like Man City V Everton. Luckily for people like me that game was enjoyable in many ways including the result.

While Everton did get a win with some dogged, desperate defending, I was quite impressed with the way Man City played as well. So far this season Mancini’s men have not looked like a team capable of creating many chances but this game was different. According to the stats on Guardian Chalkboards the Moneybags had 34 shots on goal. They cannot be faulted for not trying their luck but it does give us an interesting discussion point.

There are times when pundits, bloggers, and commentators on the internet criticize Arsenal for not shooting enough. I did discuss this with some facts and snapshots in this article earlier in October. There are many who feel Arsenal can win some difficult games if they took more shots. I don’t completely agree with that opinion even though I agree Arsenal should do better with their shooting.

Against Everton, City had a total of 34 shots and if you have seen the game you’ll not be surprised when I mention that more than half, 19, came from outside the box. Those who’ve seen the game will also have noted that most of these were blocked and others were off target. Out of the 19 shots from outside the box only two forced a save from Howard and only one looked really threatening, the shot by Tevez in injury time.

The following image created using Guardian Chalkboards shows the shots on target (blue), shots off target (red), and shots blocked (grey).

City put the visitors under siege for large parts of the game. That’s not difficult to understand because Mancini’s side were two down before twenty minutes were up. They had to go all out for the win.

Ironically, despite so many shots from outside the box, the only goal that City managed to score came from a clever dummy by Silva as he shaped to shoot but slid the ball through to Barry who in turn passed it to Yaya Toure. The Ivoirian’s cross was deflected in. Steve McManaman in the commentary box acknowledged that he was about to say that was one pass too many!

Sometimes Arsenal keep passing the ball and don’t attempt as many shots as City did. I can understand why people might be frustrated by that especially if the result is a defeat like the one against Newcastle. But the key point here is that shooting from distance, while it adds to the pressure, doesn’t really guarantee anything as we saw from this game. On another day City might have won a penalty and they did score via a deflection but these are low percentage outcomes.

I don’t argue the fact that Arsenal can improve their shooting, players like Arshavin are performing way below their own standards in this regard, but the assumption that more shooting will result in more goals and improved results seems irrational.

Now let’s look at the Crosses put in by City. The hosts attempted 33 crosses but only 5 were successful! The contrast is really stark in the following image (created Guardian Chalkbaords).

It would be the understatement of the century to say City have spent a fortune on buying players. They also have plenty of players who can cross the ball well. But when a team parks the bus and gets the basics right, crossing is often exposed as an extremely low efficiency approach. I’d rather see one good through-ball rather than ten hopeful crosses.

I don’t really mind criticism for poor shooting (something Arsenal have been guilty of off late) or wayward crosses. These are important skills and are helpful in scoring goals. But it’s extremely disappointing to see opinions that say Gunners (Clichy, Sagna, Rosicky, and others) are useless because they can’t cross or don’t shoot from distance. That level of extremism is daft.

Worst of all is the naïveté on display when people claim Arsenal will start winning titles if they buy players who can shoot from distance or can put in better crosses. It can never be that simple and this game is not a solitary example. If you look at games in which Chelsea have struggled this season, crosses or shots from distance haven’t bailed them out of trouble.

Finally, I wanted to touch upon Man City’s defending. They have an excellent defensive record this season that is bettered only be Chelsea. They also have big, strong, physical defenders and generally look quite solid at the back. Yet they conceded two soft goals against Everton. Looking at those goals again one observation was that the defenders didn’t have much support from the midfield which allowed Everton players more space and time in the box.

For the second goal, Everton certainly deserve credit and it can be argued that Zabaleta being off the pitch affected the balance, but on the whole if you look at the way they’ve been playing over the season, it’s not difficult to see their midfield plays a critical role in creating an appearance of solidity in their defence. That is one area where Arsenal must improve.


48 Responses to Of Man City, Shots From Distance, Crosses, And Defending

  1. goldsoundz says:

    I generally agree with a fair number of points you make in your blog, but the past week has raised some eyebrows. Arsenal clearly has a problem with shooting… and it has nothing to do with shooting from distance as your Man City argument attempts. Our players attempt to play an extra pass when they have open shots from either inside the box or on the edge of the box.

    Your statement the other day regarding Vermaelen as being no better than any of our currently fit CBs, was just… wow.

    • desigunner says:

      Well, you have to give actual evidence to back your claims. Just repeating a myth is not good enough for me.

      So far, Arsenal have 222 shots on goal with 106 on target leading to 34 goals. Chelsea have 238 shots with 109 on target and 31 goals. No one else has over 100 shots on target.

      As I showed in the earlier post (link in the article), there are occasions when fans think a shot is on but it isn’t. So just because a lot of people “feel” Arsenal don’t shoot enough, it doesn’t become a valid argument.

      Chamakh is one player who needs to improve his shooting but that’s more about finding a balance between being selfish as a striker and being a team player.

      About Vermaelen we will just have to see when he comes back. I feel a lot of people have forgotten the mistakes he made. Hopefully, he will prove me wrong but I’ve a feeling people who expect Arsenal’s defence to suddenly improve when Vermaelen returns will be in for a surprise. I say that because a lot of Arsenal’s current defensive problems are down to a lack of support from midfield and wide players and not due to defenders being poor.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Vermaelen is a bad defender. I’m saying our present central defenders are at least as good as far as defending goes (Vermaelen is much better in terms of attacking contribution). I did a specific article explaining that so won’t get into it again.

      • German gooner says:

        Agree with you on both points and more! Individually we are on par with any team if not better(just look at the bench)! But collectively we struggle sometimes! If a team parks their bus in front of goal we tend to loose a bit of sharpness n sometimes even get caught on the counter. I think we are a team that’s missing a bit of confidence! It will change! Arsene is a brilliant manager and he will get it right!

      • goldsoundz says:

        Meh. Statistics don’t tell the whole story. As Gooners we all know about the statistic that Spurs supporters and everybody else throws in our face. No trophies in 5+ seasons. If you can use statistics to prove Denilson is a top player, you can do anything with them.

  2. Honest Bill says:

    As for the shooting from distance. I appreciate what you’re saying, but I confess i do often find myself getting angry with some player’s reluctance to shoot from good, albeit far out positions.

    One thing that comes of this is we help opposing team’s defenders. They don’t have to guess at all what we intend to do. when we are struggling, we revert into this default setting, or as Wenger calls it “with the handbrake on” where we lack ideas beyond playing an intricate little through ball into the box. It becomes too predictable and the defenders are ready for it.

    A good example of how long range shooting can help is in your own description of the Man City goal. He might well have shot as far as the defense were concerned. If they were being bombarded with long range shots as the chalkboard suggests, then of course a defender rushes out to close Silva down, he’d have to. Against Arsenal however, when we are in ‘handbrake’ mode, defenders know we aren’t a massive threat from out there and will be wiser to look for some tight attacking inside their own penalty area.

    I do confess however, that there is a happy medium to be struck. You can’t just have a go from anywhere without any thought or you just end up giving away possession an awful lot with nothing to show for it. And i’m sure we can all agree that the last thing we want is for Arsenal to be without possession too much. My heart couldn’t take it.

    Let’s not forget though, that you are far, far, far likelier to score a goal if you have a shot. Sounds awfully simple and absurd for me to be saying it, but it does need to be remembered and reiterated sometimes. Why complicate such as simple thing as scoring a goal? And players can perfect their techniques in long range shooting so as to maximise efficiency. it is possible to score quite regularly from those ranges.

    Or at least enough to make teams know they need to send a defender out to close you down.. et voila space in the box for an intricate through ball.

    But essentially i agree with you. Nobody wants to see poor long shots for the sake of it. Peopl would just like to see some more of these

    well it would be nice haha. Good post by the way.

    • desigunner says:

      I have the same feeling at times and I’m sure many others get frustrated when players don’t shoot when it seems to us, from afar, that a shot was on. Interestingly though, we tend to forget times when players shoot and it doesn’t result in anything. Could this be the reason such a myth has been built up?

      Arsenal are consistently amongst the top teams in terms of shots on goal, shots on target, and goals scored. That means we do enough in most games.

      Last season Arsenal were top even in terms of scoring from outside the box and based on a comment in that earlier post, last season we had the highest number of goals from outside the box in the last 10 years. This season players have tried but it’s not been working for them. Obviously, it would make sense to reduce these shots if it’s not working.

      In some games when the team struggles, fans seem to assume that by shooting from distance that problem would be solved when there is no actual evidence to back this claim. And as this post showed, it’s quite possible that shooting from distance doesn’t always serve the purpose.

      I’m not against better shooting or taking more shots per se. Who doesn’t want more goals and by extension more shots?! But simply saying shooting more often and from distance is a solution of some sort doesn’t make much sense to me.

      I’m against this assumption that shooting more often and from distance is guaranteed to change some losses/draws into wins. If we have to keep things simple we can just say create good chances and take them!

      I think we agree that a balance has to be struck but who decides what that balance is?

  3. K-TR7 says:

    Vermaelen is abit overrated imo…

  4. goldsoundz says:

    I don’t think Vermaelen is overrated at all. His partnership with Gallas was better than any central pairing we have had this year. The problem is he and Gallas were too similiar in their approach to defending and that caused us some problems. Partner Vermaelen with a more complementary player and he would really blossom. The rumor of the day is Chris Samba, and I think the chances of him coming to the club are zero- but he would probably make an excellent partner for Vermaelen. Great backlines are all about the sum of the parts. Rio Ferdinand is about as overrated a player as you can get, but when he is next to Vidic it just works really well.

  5. Honest Bill says:

    I think Vermaelen is one of the best ‘young’ defenders ot there and will only improve. He has good physical play, aggression, aerial ability, spirit, hunger, humility, technique, brains, positioning

    and probably more qualities that i’m overlooking. Sure he can improve and he does make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean he is overrated. He is rated for a very good reason, because he is a very good player.

    All of that without even mentioning that he’s a genuine goal threat too. Goals win games.

    • goldsoundz says:

      absolutely bang on

      • Honest Bill says:

        Thanks mate. I just saw your comment and i agree with you that although an old standard, the centre half partnership does need some sort of balance for a perfect equilibrium to establish itself at the back. It doesn’t have to be little and large as some suggest. It has to be an aggressive defender alongside a more conservative and cautious player.

        Vermaelen’s doggedness and aggression are, in my opinion, his greatest assets so partner him alongside Squillaci and i think they might get a good rhythm going on.

  6. K-TR7 says:

    I was just kidding people.vermaelen is a superb defender.he is the complete package as you say.our attack has also suffered from his absence due to his ability to build up play from the back.he had 100% success rate in the first 2 games.he is to us what pique is to barca.if there is one criticism i have is how easily false 9s like messi/rooney easily drew him out of position last season which cost us dearly.again you could say the midfield could have done better but you get my drift.

    • Honest Bill says:

      Yes you’re spot on. As i said in my previous post, his aggressive nature which i consider to be his greatest asett, can also be his undoing on occasion. I think all young defenders are guilty of this. You need to be proactive sometimes, but other times call for just dropping off and out-manoeuvring somebody.

      Experience will afford him the foresight to act accordingly as it does with all the best and most intelligent players.

  7. Eja says:

    To tell u the truth, our biggest problem is midfield. Song is too attack minded to play dm for an attack minded team like arsenal. He also concedes too many fouls for a good dm.
    Wilshere has no drop of presence in midfield. Short, weak and poor defensively. Fabregas dreams of barca evn while playin for us.
    Nasri and especially arshavin dont help out enough defensively.
    Simple tip: lose the ball, fall behind it, mark, retrieve, start your attack.

  8. ARSENAL LEGEND says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE STATS OF RUBBISH DENILSON.

    Lets transfer our superstar flop DENILSON.

  9. Jack Straw says:

    Great article. Refreshing to get a new perspective, backed by stats, instead of rehashing old cliches. I think I rate TV a bit more than you, but totally agree that all defensive problems will not be solved with his return.

  10. simms21 says:

    Last year we players from the middle field like Ramsey, Denilson, and Diaby scoring goals from distance we are missing that midfield threat. Earlier this season we have been surviving off of goals from Chamakh, Nasri, and Walcott if others don’t start contributing we’ll start to have problems soon.

  11. MSL says:

    Well, choosing one match to prove a point about shooting is not very convincing. Everton had parked the bus well and its hard to break any defense that is that determined and organized. Lack of one more creative influence around the box was very visible. Having the ball around the box and no one to thread it through forced Citeh to shoot. Even then City put Balotelli through- twice. First time Howard came out to save and another time Balotelli just slipped.

    Arsenal are the opposite. They try to thread it through instead of taking a shot which might work better. Its frustrating when they look for a killer pass instead of testing the keeper. This makes the oppositions defense’s work easier as they Arsenal will not take a shot unless they are very sure.
    We might have taken a lot of shots but it could be a lot more is the argument. Calling it a myth is not correct, IMHO. I wish I had enough time to pull back those clips when we should have shot instead of passing it, one can find plenty. Whether Chelsea had 200 or a billion shots doesn’t matter because we are talking only about Arsenal’s decision making around the box not relative to anyone else.

    I agree that shooting always is not wise but passing it when you have more than half-a-chance is not very smart either. The complaint is Arsenal don’t take these chances. I concur.

    • desigunner says:

      Actually one match is more than enough if the point is that shooting more does not guarantee a change of fortunes because if shooting more did guarantee a change of fortunes every single example would have to be consistent with that.

      And I’d love to know how many managers feel defending against Arsenal is easier. From what I recall many say defending against Arsenal is toughest.

      The number of shots Chelsea have had are very important because over large periods these things balance out. The passing stats for both teams are pretty close, the possession stats would be pretty close, goals scored, shots, etc are all very close. So if anyone wants to insist that Arsenal should shoot more they have to come up with a well structured argument.

      “I just feel there are occasions when Arsenal could have taken a shot but didn’t” is not an argument. It’s just an opinion based on a vague feeling or collection of feelings over time. It could be influenced by a number of factors like frustration, disappointment, etc.

      For instance, if at the end of a game the result is not good and one can recall an incident when a shot was on but wasn’t taken, it will have a strong presence in the mind. But in the same game players might have taken shots on three half chances which didn’t lead to anything. Those events are often forgotten. There are so many events in a football game, how many can you remember? That’s the reason statistical analysis is relevant even if it’s not comprehensive. It also allows us to set benchmarks and bring some perspective to the analysis.

      It doesn’t matter which team we analyze, sometimes players will shoot when they should have passed and sometimes they will pass when they should have shot. That’s just a split second decision gone wrong but it happens to all the teams especially big ones simply because players are humans and can make mistakes.

      Unless someone comes up with a valid statistical analysis showing otherwise, I’ll consider this a huge myth against Arsenal which gets highlighted every once in a while when a player gets it wrong and that ends up strengthening the myth.

      • MSL says:

        I don’t think the problem is as bad as some say but the decision making and risk taking need to get better. Again, the argument is purely Arsenal based for me and not relative. Even if you look at it relative to Chelsea we have dust since 2005. Chelsea have different apporach and we have our own which is why comparing stats like shots on goal etc are not so valid. Jose’s Inter didnt create many chances but converted well. So, when comparing shots we must also normalize it with approaches of the teams etc. The point is are we getting the maximum benefit from our efforts and possession? I don’t think so. Calling everybody’s opinion myths and pigeon holing it with common misconceptions is rather condescending. I agree I have no stats but its a hunch commonly shared amongst fans. There has to be some validity to it.

        In my argument, I said the two good chances City created were through good passes and not shots implying that we need a mix of both shooting and splitting passes. Shots are important to keep pressure up and keep the defense guessing. There is a difference between calling Arsenal easy to defend and saying we make it easier for the defenses by not mixing it up enough.

        I will try to go back and see where I felt Arsenal should have shot but it will always be a subjective argument.

  12. Kushagra India says:

    Its okay to look at the stats but most of these shots have come against the likes of Blackpool and in matches when we were having our sway .In big matches I don’t remember when was the last time we scored our stats are horrible against the big teams .These matches are decided on finite details and our inefficient shooting really comes to the fore same with our crossing .Nani’s goal came from a cross although a deflected one they make their luck always !!.Scholes goal against Barca is an prime example.We sometimes become to monotonous and able defenses easily cope with that .Stats don’t always speak the truth mate,its how you put it.

    • desigunner says:

      You’ve a valid observation about Arsenal’s lack of scoring in the big games. But could it be down to a lack of balance between attack and defence and some excellent organization and defending by the opposition?

      Have you actually checked the stats of the number of crosses or shots from distance Arsenal attempted in the big games and the number that have been successful?

      If one says that Arsenal have to do better and score more in the big games it’d be a valid point and no one can argue against that. But how is that linked to more hopeful shooting and crosses? Arshavin took a lot of shots against Chelsea and United but it didn’t result in anything. Sagna put in some crosses but it didn’t lead to anything either.

      After that the discussion moves on to the quality of crosses, attacking crosses, getting men into the box and other issues like being more clinical and so on. But that’s like saying Arsenal have to find a better way to attack and not a simple point of having more crosses or shots. A lot of different issues get mixed up when we start having such a vague generalized argument.

  13. Ajinkya says:

    Why me? Examinations have just ended. i have all the time in the world, no longer watching matches with muting, and damn, there’s no football.
    Nevertheless, i agree with your opinion on Vermaelen. But actually he is different in a way that he makes his presence felt, by going forward, shooting etc. That is why, maybe, he seems to be ‘better’. But comparisons based on technical qualities of a center-back shows him to be no different than Koscielny. Though i am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to Squillaci. i haven’t seen him do anything worth highlighting, he’s new. But you cannot make any excuses either.
    Regarding the midfield, we are playing on two second choice players, Wilshere as a holding player, and Rosicky as an attacking central midfielder. He is originally meant to play there, but he isn’t up to the mark because he hasn’t had many consecutive starts. Arshavin is another problem, neither attacking well, nor covering Clichy. All sorts of problems on the left. Desi, you have pointed out already, that we defend very well on the right. True, nobody ever comes in from the right, manu included. Maybe, everyone knows that the left side is weak, and we are not addressing the issue, so it becomes a fool-proof move to enter from there.
    Must deal with the problem quickly. Diaby is fit now and should be sorting the mess on the left side out. He is a good player, but low on confidence, because he does not get to play much.
    Hope we pull off something really significant against chelsea, AND, it does NOT snow.

  14. Kushagra India says:

    Why my commented was not posted anyways I again reiterate statistics is not the benchmark against big teams where we haven’t won since RVP’s double whammy masterclass finishing made us winners against Chelsea.In my opinion we never replaced Henry

  15. Kushagra India says:

    • desigunner says:

      I can give you plenty of examples when Arsenal players have shot from outside and missed. Or I could show a clip of Cesc scoring from outside the box against Milan and some other clips like Arshavin against United last season or against Liverpool in that game. What does any of it prove? nothing.

      There are times when people shoot from outside and score. On other occasions they miss. It’s pointless to think about one or two goals, they don’t prove anything.

      United and Chelsea put 10 men behind the ball when Arsenal come forward. Did Barca have 10 men behind in that goal? Everton had 10 men behind the ball and that game showed what happens when you keep shooting in such cases.

      Against United Arshavin got two or three half chances and he tried shooting. It didn’t work for him. That happens. If one had connected well it would have been a goal. That doesn’t mean he should start shooting all the time and give possession away.

  16. Kushagra India says:

    I hope he remains fit and firing for the big one

  17. Kushagra India says:

    “We know Arsenal and we know that if you don’t let them breathe, which is what the coach said before the match, then it becomes hard for them, especially at Old Trafford.”—Evra
    Because we don’t create enough against big teams

  18. Kushagra India says:

    “Arsenal enjoyed a lot of possession but only had one chance.”–Evra
    or either you have Barca type of players and pressing system which we unfortunately don’t have so we need to mix it up.

    • desigunner says:

      Basically United didn’t give Arsenal players time and space on the ball in the attacking areas. I think that is what Evra meant by not allowing them to breathe. And when that happens it’s very difficult to create chances for any team. Simply shooting or crossing won’t solve the issue. We’d need much better movement, faster passing, and stuff like that.

  19. Kushagra India says:

    Desi
    agree on the above point to generalize it I would say we are less efficient in the final third and against manure our off the ball movement was also very poor .Arshavin’s long range shooting has been below par he himself has admitted that.

    • desigunner says:

      I think Chelsea and United have figured out how to read our off the ball movement and how to close down our passing in the attacking areas. Also agree about Arshavin and the quality of off the ball movement. Also in this particular game Cesc and RvP didn’t do much. There were a number of other issues.

      My point is simply by shooting more or crossing more it won’t change a thing. For these games Arsene has to go back to the drawing board or chalkboard as it’s called 🙂

  20. Kushagra India says:

    Desi
    to elaborate I would say we need to be a bit more direct as teams stifle the midfield.That’s why he plays the likes of Park against us.Chamakh’s goal against Wolves springs to mind,I would like to see more of that from the Arsenal especially when Chamakh is lethal in air

    • desigunner says:

      I agree that we need to be more direct and we should mix it up a bit more. I’m not arguing against this.

      But it’s not easy and not as simple as shooting more or crossing more. This post is simply about the demands for more shots, especially from outside the box. Against United we had more shots from outside than from inside (haven’t checked this just based on a hunch) and it didn’t really trouble them. Similarly, even they had more shots from outside and it was easy for Szczesny for most parts.

      I don’t deny that in the big games Arsenal need to find something extra and I think that will come only when the best players are on the pitch.

  21. Kushagra India says:

    “Against United Arshavin got two or three half chances and he tried shooting. It didn’t work for him. That happens. If one had connected well it would have been a goal. That doesn’t mean he should start shooting all the time and give possession away”.
    Desi
    thats the point we need to mix it up

  22. Kushagra India says:

    Anyways nice debating with you keep up the good work hope we sneak a win against Chelsea as it is becoming a great mental block as Fabregas himself has said…

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah that mental block is a big issue. Hopefully we will have our best players on the pitch and they will deliver.

      Sorry about these moderation issues. I’m trying some settings because there are one or two tiny totspud trolls who waste everyone’s time with a lot of pointless rants.

  23. Kushagra India says:

    last but not the least Baines fine cross caused the confusion for their second goal . Clichy does deserve some criticism

    • desigunner says:

      You mean Everton’s second goal? Didn’t Baines score the second ? I think it was the first one for which the deep cross stretched the defence. But the key point was that they had a man at the back to retrieve that deep cross, something Arsenal don’t always have, which would make a deep cross look like a complete waste.

  24. Dark Prince says:

    I disagree on your point about crosses. Each team is different in its tactics. Tevez is not as good at heading as Chamakh. Infact Chamakh’s main USP is the fact that his headers are dangerous. How much ever crosses City players make to Tevez will not be coverted as much as the number of crosses converted my Chamakh. Also, whats the use of playin the best heading striker in the world if you dont put good crosses to him. Thats is where i think Clichy and Sagna have been a problem. Its not just the fact that their crosses mostly never go past the 1st defender, but also giving away crosses so many times have resulted in teams getting lots of counter attacking chances. Also on the other hand, Chamakh is lackin confidence in shooting with his feet. He even tries to head a ball which is of waist height.

    • desigunner says:

      Well City had plenty of bodies in the box including the likes of Yaya Toure, Barry, and others. So it wasn’t that Tevez was the only target for crosses. That seems like an oversimplification.

      Chamakh has never been a great goalscorer. At Bordeaux, if I’m not mistaken, he averaged a goal in 3.5/4 games. So while heading might be his biggest strength Arsenal cannot really play to that strength and hope for one goal in four games.

      Saying that Chamakh is good in the air so we need more crosses is an unfair simplification.I’ve seen some good crosses by Sagna that didn’t result in a goal because Chamakh wasn’t in the right place!

      I agree about crosses leading to counter attacks but that’s more of a systemic problem and not just down to the full backs. Most of the times Arsenal don’t have a man at the back post so the options for the full backs are very limited.

  25. afrogoon says:

    The problem is not whether we should cross more or shoot more.If we do what we do as best as we can, a la barca, players will be presented with goals on the platter.The point is when our game is off, we do not create enough because our movement is poor.This results in large chunks of possession in the middle of the park where we cannot affect the opposing team.The players try and hold unto the ball probing waiting for a chance but if the movement of team mates are not right, chances are at a minimum. Shooting at this stage becomes a game of chance since the opponents are well organized in their own third.We should work on players being sharp for the game always.Barca after all are the best side in the world,non??There is no shame in trying to mimmick their style of play as it is the most effective as they have shown over the past couple of years.Barca do not need a plan B so i don’t see why we need one.

    The stats you have shown show we do shoot a lot more than we are given credit for.Hearing the same thing over and over again from the media does condition our minds to certain ‘facts’.

  26. Miranda says:

    Did anyone else watch the Bergkamp video on arseblog yesterday? I did but stopped halfway through because it depressed me too much. Would our current players have scored from those chances? We just don’t have a striker that good any more.

    A lot is made of our supposedly awful defence but it hasn’t always been defensive errors that have cost us over the past two-three seasons. Our inability to score when faced with an even half-competent defence has been just as crucial. Oh for another Bergkamp and Henry.

  27. Honest Bill says:

    I agree, that it isn’t the case that we don’t shoot enough, it is that we don’t take the right shots.

    Of course this does not apply to every game, but our decision making is definitely something which can be improved. And i believe that Arsenal’s only problem is psychological

    Against Manchester united it was clear that our players were afraid, they were too tense and too nervous. This inhhibits creativity. Wenger knows the power of confidence. He has based his entire system on that principle. It is built to give talented players a platform from which to create

    It is very nearly impossible to defend aganst a team of players who are talented, creative, and confident. Wenger is well aware that confidence is the only thing lacking, and he knows well that these media propagated myths that you keep pointing out, are compounding the problem.

    Yhis is important though, as this is where we need to be getting the basics right, which to be fair, for the most part, we do. However we do still make the odd silly mistake.

    In a player with low confidence’s mind, small mistakes become amplified and doubt takes a firm hold. Through minimising these mistakes, you begin to gradually build a foundation of confidence, then (not coincidentally) you start to do more things right which in turn builds more confidence… etc etc

    That’s why i thought we were much better against Man Utd than we have been. We were more cautious and if not for a lucky bounce, we would have gotten a point at old Trafford, and everyone would have said it was a pretty good result.

    Maybe Nani wan’t picked up earlier, maybe Clichy showed him too much of the inside, maybe Park wasn’t marked, and maybe Szczesny was off his line

    Eliminate even 50% of our mistakes, and that goal doesn’t happen. the other 50% then cease even to exist as they go by largely unnoticed and are not damaging to a player’s psychological. This breeds a culture of confidence throughout everybody at the club, from players right through to coaching staff, and pretty soon the fetters are off and players are maximising their potential and exceeding even their own expectations. Just as our teams that won the premier league did

    • desigunner says:

      Completely agree with your observations.

      In this post I was just touching upon the calls for more shots and more crosses. But on a wider level, I agree Arsenal have room for development and confidence will play a key part in better or poorer performances.

      • Shashi says:

        I agree with your overall thesis but I don’t see any inherent contradiction between the myth/observation that Arsenal play an ‘extra’ pass when a shot would do, and the fact that Arsenal take the most number of shots. You point out correctly that this is a only a feeling and so it’s subject to emotions and selective memories of fans but even neutral commentators on various networks sigh or vocalize when they get a similar feeling and you never hear the same observations with other teams (not as often). Again, this could merely be the product of the myth being perpetuated that even commentators have picked up on it but there could be truth to it too.

        On a related note though, I was wondering why Squillachi’s instinctive response in the Partizan goal was to drop-off to try and cover the attacker in front, exactly the same as Clichy’s response against Villa. It’s worth speculating that their responses are perhaps shaped by what they face in training everyday. We know for a fact that Wenger encourages a player to pick out a player in a theoretically better position even if they have a shot on. Perhaps, our defenders reacted based on what they would expect in an Arsenal attack which would have been to pick out the player that’s free. Maybe this is what a lot of fan’s a complaining about. I am not, because I like the Wenger way.

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