Reading The Game Part I: Defending Is Significantly Easier Than Attacking

Imagine how your reaction would be if a cricket match ended with one team scoring 6 runs against the other’s total of 8. How about a basketball game with a 3-1 final score? 150-148 runs over nine innings in baseball?

We expect certain types of scores in various sports. Results like those mentioned above would cause serious seismic activity in the world of professional sports. In fact, it seems safe to say it just won’t happen because these are completely against the nature of each sport.

In the same way, we have come to accept football as a low scoring game. An average of around 3 goals a game through a league season or any major tournament would be considered pretty good. 10-8 is the kind of scoreline one would see in friendly games where no one really cares about the results and anything in the high two digits is practically unthinkable.

Being low scoring is the inherent nature of the game and most of it comes from the rules. Now, I like it this way and I’m not saying it needs to change. But as fans and people who have a lot vested in the game (in an emotional and financial sense) we need to really understand this so that it is deeply imbued in any analysis we make of players, game situations, tactics, results, etc.
At this point, if you fully understand just how much easier defending is compared to attacking, skip straight down to the section titled “Why this matters”. If not, ponder on the reasoning presented next.

Let’s start with a very simple but extremely important question – How often does a team try to attack and how often does it succeed?

Before going forward we need to be completely clear about a couple of points –
1) I’m talking about defending being much, much easier than attacking but not saying that defending is easy in itself. You and I could form a team and keep clean sheets on the way to major trophies if defending were easy, per se. Ensuring the ball stays out of the net is very hard work and demands qualities like discipline, concentration, determination, physical strength, and intelligence to name a few. This is strictly a comparative discussion and at no point should we lose sight of that.
2) There are certain specific moments in the game when defending is indeed harder than attacking. For instance, a penalty results in a goal more often than it is saved. But these are isolated and comparatively rare cases, and are often a result of one or more avoidable mistakes so we can ignore them from this discussion.

With that in mind, let’s come back to the question at hand. Obviously, every time someone takes a shot at goal they are trying to attack.

Last season Manchester City scored 102 League goals from 673 shots for a conversion rate of just over 15 percent. Liverpool got 101 from 651 at a marginally better success rate. I don’t want to spend time compiling data for all the clubs but my past experience crunching such data suggests that between 15-20 percent is about the average range for a team’s chance conversion rate. Sometimes it’s a little higher but very rarely does it cross 25 percent.

One of the excellent graphs in this phenomenal article on Messi tells us that of the 866 players who’ve played over 50 games in the last few years, only two have a conversion rate greater than 25 percent. And these are players with a low volume of shots taken. Messi is around 22 and Ronaldo is below 15 percent. It seems the numbers are relatively consistent whether we are looking at individual players or teams in general.

Let’s say on an average 20 percent of the shots go in across the board (Various leagues, international competitions, etc.). It’s hard to be exact about this number but a little variance won’t matter too much as you’ll soon see.

If 1 in 5 attempts to attack are successful, we can also say 4 in 5 attempts to defend are successful. That’s a huge difference right there. A crude but not entirely incorrect way to look at this would be that defending is four times as successful as attacking, ergo that much more easier.

Someone might argue, at this juncture, that a lot of those shots don’t even hit the target. Could this be a case of bad attacking rather than defending being easier?

Imagine for a moment that an average Premier League player is alone on the pitch with no constraints of time and space. Would he miss an unobstructed, ‘Keeper-less net from the kind of locations most of the shots are actually taken? The biggest factor in shooting inefficiency is not the player’s own quality but the fact that he is being closed down by the opponents, has very little time in which to react, and has to find a way to beat a goalkeeper in the net.

Even the absolute best players around the world only complete around 1 in 2 of the so-called gilt-edged chances and less than 1 out of 4 regular chances. This has less to do with them being rubbish and more to do with the difficult nature of scoring. Commentary like, “He’d have scored that 9 times out of 10”, does not help because it’s hardly ever backed up by facts.

This is also linked to the aforementioned case of penalties being harder to defend. Many of the variables affecting the striker adversely are taken out of the equation when a penalty is taken.

Once you move beyond the highlights and start observing the details that are edited out to pack in all the excitement in a short period of time, it’ll become clear that missed shots are not as much a case of bad attacking (although in some individual instances they are and can be very frustrating) as they are an indication of defence having a negative influence on the efficiency of attack in one way or another. It is important to remember that I’m not saying there isn’t a difference between quality of individual attackers or the offensive potential of various teams. The point is that even the absolute best have fairly modest conversion rates and the others are only worse.

Moving on, let’s consider other indicators of a team trying to attack. Do you think a player crosses the ball to admire the flight of the ball across the face of goal? There are 20-25 crosses per game on average in the Premier League. Usually, less than 5 are successful. That’s another 15-20 attempts to attack that are unsuccessful. They don’t even lead to a shot.

How about through-balls that are intercepted or run out of play? What about unsuccessful dribbles?

If we pause and think about it, almost every clearance, tackle, interception, foul, or the ball going out of play, result in an attack being thwarted. Sometimes we tend to think of attacks only when the ball is in the final third. That’s not completely correct.

A team could be consolidating its position at the back so that it’s players can get into a position to attack after they’ve retreated deep to defend. Or they could be in the build-up phase in the midfield and trying to unlock the oppositions organization. These are not obvious moments of attack but they are part of the attacking process. Any event that breaks this process means the defence has won a minor battle and one attack is blunted.

Let’s say a team takes 15 shots and scores 3 goals for a 20 percent success rate. Now we add in say 10 fouls, 12 interceptions, 18 tackles, and 35 clearances by the opposition (again I’m relying on past experience to think the numbers should be close to the averages). We’d have 3 goals in 90 attempts for a success rate of about 3.33 percent. And we haven’t even counted the ball going out of play.

I believe it’s safe to say that most teams are successful with 1-5 percent of their attacks. Some might have even less success but very few will be higher.

As far as I’m concerned, this should no longer be a topic of debate but really the first rule of football – Defending is much, much, much easier than attacking.

Why This Matters

Managers and analysts at the top of the game understand this unwritten law instinctively. It’s one of the fundamental reasons defensive players cost so much less than attackers. This will never change. To me, 30 million spent on a pure defender is about as sensible at 100 million spent on a striker. It also makes the fee paid for David Luiz the most senseless transfer amount ever, but I should control my tendency to digress.

If you’re an Arsene Wenger fan, think of the effort he put in to keep Fabregas or even RvP at the club, and contrast that with the ease with which he sold someone like Song even though the Cameroonian came up with some assists in the season before he was let go. Players who can consistently make decisive contributions in the attacking third are very hard to find. Defensive players can be replaced by others more easily or by tweaks to the system of play.

Defending is about redundancy over and above anything else. There are at least three lines of defence in any team. And if they do their job well , often players from one line get a time to join the others and redouble the redundancy. That means you can make mistakes and get away with it. It happens all the time.

Attack, on the other hand, is all about precision. Everything must fall into place for the ball to go into the net. And each attack has multiple points of failure. That’s why it can be broken up in different areas of the pitch.

Usually, there are multiple defensive mistakes when a goal is scored. Some of those are forced by the quality of the attack while others are entirely avoidable.

Granted, there are times when a goal seems to materialize completely out of luck. But once you develop the habit of looking past individual instances onto the broader patterns, the battle between defence and attack becomes apparent and you start to see probabilities instead of luck.

There was a phase in the recent past when it seemed that Arsenal played really well in game but the opponents had one or two good moments and scored a freakish goal which cost the Gunners valuable points. In the early days, I used to think it was just dumb luck. But as it happened over and over, a closer analysis revealed deeper issues in the Arsenal defence. It had to do with shape, choices, concentration, and other important details. Having worked on that over the last couple of seasons, Arsenal have been able to cut down on many of those freakish goals that they conceded.

The second vital reason to understand this unstated law is that it helps one assess the quality of defending and attacking much better. If we know that the game is stacked in favour of the defence, a clean sheet can then be seen in a different light. In other words, a clean sheet, in itself, should never be seen as a sign of great defending.

In my opinion, there are two fundamental ways to defend-
1) Control the ball
2) Control the space

The great Barcelona side of recent years did both and exceptionally. They didn’t have particularly great defensive players but by reducing the number of times the ball got to their defensive third and the number of opponents who could get there in a staggering manner, they created a very strong defensive system. This, of course, is the best form of play and, quite naturally, the hardest to execute.

The second way is to control the ball but a little bit inside your own half. A little compromise is made in terms of control of space. Even then, pick and choose the moments to attack carefully and your defence will be fairly safe. Most of the top teams do this. You’ll notice in such performances that the goalkeeper is almost a spectator.

The third way is to let the opposition have more of the ball, if necessary, but to defend with great energy and cohesion around the centre line. A compromise is made on possession but greater counter-attacking threat is available, which can, in turn, deter the opponent from pushing numbers forward.

Then the team could drop deeper, midway through their own half or on the edge of their box. This is the approach most of the smaller teams use.

The worst case scenario is a parked bus with almost all the players in and around one’s own penalty box.

In a given game, any of these methods could be successful. That is why I said a clean sheet, or even a result, should not be used to judge the quality of defending.

Short term success is achievable through various means. A relegation candidate could beat one of the other top sides with a parked bus and a smash-and-grab at the other end. But in the long run they won’t win much that way.

Similarly, teams like Inter Milan could even park the bus all the way to the Champions League trophy. What happens after that? They’re now playing play-offs for the Europa League. Chelsea were in the Europa League soon after their Champions League triumph. These teams cannot build a legacy like Barcelona did or find the kind of consistency we’ve seen from Bayern.

Don’t get me wrong, the point is not to say that every team should try and play like Barcelona or Bayern. That’d be incredibly daft. Each team has different types of players, different circumstances, varying managerial capabilities, and so on. And each has to find its own unique solutions.

The understanding of the ease of defence and related issues discussed above is more for analytical purposes. Various questions need to be answered when we watch a team like Inter Milan win the Champions League or a relegation candidate scalp a title contender in the league. For instance, how repeatable is that performance?

A lot of people get so caught up in the result that many superlative narratives of heroism are built around the result. These are useless. They take focus away from the specifics, which can help us understand the game better as well as hinder any preparation one could make for future games.

The best managers know how to step away from the result and look at the game but very few people who write or talk about the game get this.

The problem is not limited to developing an understanding of any team’s qualities. Narratives develop around individual players too and many myths are created.

Sticking with the Inter Milan example for continuity, do you recall Julio Cesar being hailed as the world’s best goalkeeper and Maicon as the best right back? What happened to them when Mourinho and that solid defensive system went away?

The general narrative shifts to form. “He’s lost form”, they say. That’s total nonsense. The reality is that the guy had very specific skills that shone in a given approach and it led to excellent results. The moment that approach was gone the players lost their magic and became ordinary.

This happens in the case of many defenders and goalkeepers who look good in a tight, deep-lying, defence. But they don’t quite succeed when the organization of the team changes or they transfer to a different club where the requirements are not suited to their qualities. The reverse can also happen. Pique, for instance, is a much better defender in the central third of the pitch than he is in his own box.

Remember the big, strong defender Arsenal desperately needed? Chris Samba was the answer at one time. What happened to him after he moved away from the parked bus of Blackburn Rovers?

The performance of Chelsea’s defenders has been fascinating to watch as their managers and tactics have changed. Did you see how many of them struggled when playing a high line? John Terry became a joke for a while. Now he’s supposedly regained form. Not a coincidence that Mourinho is back at the club.

We must also understand that defence is always the work of the collective. Organization, coordination, communication, tactical intelligence, and practice are the key to building that redundancy so vital to a consistently strong defence.

Unfortunately, the limited nature of stats available and the general idea that defenders and goalkeepers are responsible for defending has led to common acceptance of a fallacy, but it’s crucial that we realize-
Goalkeepers do not keep clean sheets. Back Fours do no keep clean sheets. Only the whole team can keep a clean sheet.

Look at the number of defenders Liverpool has bought in recent years. Has it really made their defence better? In contrast, Arsenal’s defensive improvement over the last couple of years has mostly been related to structural solidity and the work done on the training ground.

Of course, quality of players matters to an extent. But it’s imperative that people don’t get caught up in that alone. In order to break out of that habit we need to start seeing defence for what it is and focus on the specifics.

One example of looking at relevant details is the role of the so-called DM. Most of the top teams have strong defences because they minimize the action in front of their goals. This is done by controlling the ball and for that they need a deep-lying midfielder who is extremely intelligent at recycling possession. A lot of the passes that seem meaningless and frustrating to the casual observer are actually very good tactical choices that keep the defence safe.

In many of the games where Arsenal suffered heavy defeats, one of the primary causes could be traced back to Cazorla, or Chambelain, or Özil, or someone else losing the ball cheaply in midfield just in front of the exposed defence. This happens very rarely when Arteta is in those areas but others also need to take up responsibility for shielding the ball because the midfielders have to rotate and interchange positions at times.

The whole idea that a mythical, superman of a DM would somehow jump in a break play up after a terrible loss of possession is ludicrous. Just look at the big defeats suffered by Spurs last season and the physical qualities of their midfielders. Capoue, Paulinho, Dembele, and Sandro all fit the profile of the kind of player some Arsenal fan’s have been demanding. Indeed, Capoue and Paulinho were both quite in demand as far as certain Gooner circles were concerned. It didn’t work for them at Spurs and there is no reason to believe they’d have done much better at Arsenal. That’s because the problem is not one that can be solved primarily by physical qualities but is more tactical in nature.

The Purpose Of This Reading The Game Series

This is not an article on Arsenal’s defence or defensive midfield issues so I’m going to stop now and let you ponder on the points made above. It is very important that you don’t get caught up in examples but just use them to understand the broader points made for that is the purpose of this article.

For a long time now I’ve been meaning to write a series of articles on various aspects of the game to describe how I see football. It’s not complete, it’s not perfect, but I’m hopeful it’ll help some readers observe more from the same 90 minutes of action that they see.

My hope is to create a thread that connects the philosophy of managers, general principles and tactics in football, and the impact of qualities of individual players, so that we can better understand what we see on the pitch.

In the future I want to write about the importance of off-the-ball movement, the physics and maths of football (space, time, angles), impact of our own limitations, and other such topics. In a way, this series is anti-reductionism. The articles will be long and detailed as this one is (although this is much shorter than it would have been if I’d gone into compiling data and dug up more examples for each point), but the points are fairly straightforward once you see them.

It is crucial that you don’t reflexively respond with dismissive oversimplifications. For example, someone might say, “Yeah, that’s all well and good but in the end it’s all about balance.” Such a sentence would be completely accurate and utterly useless because it doesn’t help us understand the specifics of the game that matter.

Also remember that in football everything is interconnected. Some of the examples above are very selectively presented to illustrate a point. For instance, teams often use more than one way of defending from the classification given above. I did not go into that because this isn’t an article on how a team should or can defend. It can come later once the basic building blocks are in place and beyond dispute.

Please let me know if such a series is of interest to you. Since the readers of the blog have varying levels of knowledge and interests, such articles take up a lot of my time because it’s hard to figure out the level of detail I need to go into. I have to decide whether it’s worth putting in that time to develop this series. All thoughtful comments, critical or encouraging, are most welcome.

61 Responses to Reading The Game Part I: Defending Is Significantly Easier Than Attacking

  1. Humphrey says:

    Great really did open my eyes on defending

  2. kinasuki says:

    So very very interested.. Do continue please.

  3. Sunandan says:

    this is an excellent article! I’ve always loved reading your analysis….it’s always very insightful and thought provoking…after reading your match reports I realize just how much I miss even if I have watched the entire game…reading your articles has really helped develop my Football brain…please do go ahead with the plan you have….would love to read anything you have to write about the game…..

  4. uzo says:

    Very thorough and educating article. I always enjoy your articles because of the analytical method and your in depth knowledge of the game. Thumbs up! I hope to read more articles such as this.

  5. Shubham says:

    Interesting one Desi..Keep these coming.

  6. goosebump says:

    Excellent article!! Waiting for more..

  7. arayans says:

    from someone who’s just begun understanding things like off-the-ball runs and movement and pressing, etc:
    1. do write 🙂
    2. you could go into more detail if you wanted to!

  8. Anoop Sugur says:

    Excellent read and very helpful, please continue the series and do not hesitate to go in depth. I believe most of your readers are tuned to that. Keep it going

  9. jenikcarl says:

    Definitely interested in understanding the game better. The articles on Arsenal tactics have been very good. Articles explaining the reasoning behind the tactics should be a good read as well. Thanks.

  10. JGunner says:

    There are a few more aspects/trends to defending than you have captured at this stage.

    For better reading of the game, specifically re the defensive tactics employed by tactically astute teams, I recommend:

    Unfortunately in German, some posts have translated though, e.g.

  11. Olasunkanmi Wusu says:

    Desi, I had always have this belief that all modern day coaches need someone like you in his board-room as a technical adviser. Your insightful reading and analysis of modern football is a very important tool for the game lovers. This piece in particular like evryother of ur write-ups is spot on. I’m sure most readers hav more to learn than to criticise. God bless your wisdom.

  12. Tony911 says:

    Weldone Desi….Weldone. I have never had an opportunity to read your article and didn’t do so. Very educative!
    I have always been of the opinion that the way our front players shield and keep possession when we’re in transition helps our defending tremendously.
    Hope we have a tremendous 2014/15 season ahead. Thanks Desi.

  13. mareers says:

    Very insightful post. There are a few hanging threads also that you have left for a later day. Will be good to take those also to completion, of course at a later point in time.

    But right now, I want to thank you for the level of depth in your posts – especially considering this is not your full time job!

  14. Andre Kelley says:

    Excellent read, please continue!

  15. Redcore says:

    Fabulous Article Desi. I understand the monstrous effort that it would take to write an article of this quality so, thanks a lot.

    I already understand the game better than the average commentator these days thanks to great bloggers like you and would love to read about how someone like you ‘sees’ the game..

  16. Alex says:

    This is a masterful article Desi. Its deeply insightful from a tactical viewpoint and yet explains the dynamics involved in simple terms. It also offers an insight into how a manager like AW would view our performances. Kudos to you and looking forward to the next article in the series. Cheers.

  17. Stan The Man says:

    Very interesting, detailed and eye-opening, although , I must confess, I found it hard to follow your point sometimes. I’ll certainly love to continue reading the follow-up in the series. I can identify with some of the views and find others really enlightening. Good post overall.

  18. redanddread says:

    Was initially intimidated by the articles length but found it be an absorbing read. Well done.

  19. deji ajayi says:

    Interesting read i must say very analytical as usual. I was expecting to read your thought on the community shield match though. More from you, please.

  20. Right Cross says:

    Excellent work Desi,

    Looking forward to the ongoing series of articles on the art/science of football.
    This type of article is wonderful to read. Intelligent and analytical football articles are very rare.


  21. footballingbrain says:

    Excellent article, you should 100% continue, modern blogs too concerned with brevity. Few people doing in depth, theoretical articles with the clarity and knowledge you do, so please continue with this series.

  22. Mayank Narula says:

    Please continue with ur planned analysis. Your defensive MF example shows why players like busquets, Xabi and Arteta are so successful in their roles despite being antithesis of perfect EPL MF.

  23. Mark says:

    Please keep on doing such artikles, it helps me to understand the game much beter.

  24. Chennai gooner says:

    Please keep on doing such articles

  25. pieman says:

    Peerless, DG, just peerless. Liked the ‘redundancy’ analogy and the tactics vs midfield destroyer discssion, especially.

  26. timo says:

    Preach on, preacher!!

  27. Induct says:

    I really enjoyed the write up Desi. And looking forward to the ones you promised. Kudos

  28. Induct says:

    I really enjoyed the write up Desi. And looking forward to the ones you promised. Kudos…

  29. @deuce_kidd says:

    Great insight especially on the DM issue- us getting a good DM won’t make much difference unless we resolve the tactical issue. Would love to see the article on movement(might show diff btw a giroud & a costa.) One of the best articles have read this year….

  30. Great read!!….interested in more insightful articles.

  31. Since 66 says:

    Ditto on all previous comments

  32. jcloud says:

    Amazing read! Absolutely looking forward to more of the same. I noticed in your analysis over the years how important Arteta was for defensive stability of the team. You once again pointed that out. On more than one occasion you mentioned that you are not a fan of Szczesny. I would love hear more on why you think so. Thanks again!

  33. Gautam Agrawal says:

    Among the best football articles I have read in the last 3-4 years. Eager to read more of these.

  34. Tan Yih Yoong says:

    good point. I had enjoy reading your article for around 1 year.
    Looking for more.

  35. mickydidit89 says:


    This is the first time in five years I’ve commented on another site, but wanted to say what a terrific read that was. Thank you very much.

  36. Excellent. I’d really like to read your ‘digression’ into the David Luiz transfer

  37. aizedlittlemozart says:

    beautiful, just absolutely beautiful & worth every minute I put into it

  38. Mubaraq says:

    This is an excellent read. My knowledge of how the game is prepared has increased significantly. Keep em coming sir.

  39. Lennart says:

    Top notch work, Desi. You are the best! Keep it up.

  40. Dozie says:

    great piece quite educative… more of such

  41. Ibukunoluwa says:

    Great read & so much insight about attacking & defending. Keep it up & looking forward to more from you

  42. busayo says:

    SUPERIOR ARGUMENT… Those were the two words on my mind while i read this amazing piece… This is quite educative. First of all, i must commend the effort, resources and time you put in to every write up. (I have NEVER read a poor piece on your blog) thank you for the sacrifice.

    The 2nd thing on my mind as i read through was… “What in God’s name is this guy’s profession?” (I’d really like to know) bcos IMO, You should be working for AFC.. analysing our matches and opponents.

    Thirdly… You will never see Desi get involved with transfer rumours on twitter or make a daft comment during or after a match… Now i know why.. he simply sees more than most people and does not react “emotionally”.

    Finally Desi, i want to say thank you for this blog.. please keep writing all you have in mind to write… many of us out here are looking forward to reading and learning from them.

    God Bless You.

  43. Fahri Azzat says:

    Please continue to write as you do so eloquently and educate us about the game. I think you are one of the most sound and sensible writers of football on the web and I think it so fortunate that we enjoy the same team – Arsenal! I always enjoy your analysis of the games and the players, and very excited about the prospect of you writing more generally about the game. Thank you and please keep up the excellent work.

  44. Jibbs says:


    Lovely article as always. Shedding so much light on parts of the beautiful game others just skip over. I’m all for more .

  45. Shane says:

    it is absolutely worth putting in the time to develop this series. thank you so much desigunner. please please continue the great work! 🙂 – Shane from Singapore (avid Arsenal fan)

  46. dkgooner says:

    Thanks Desi. Very well written and thought-provoking article. I’ve often thought before how much easier it is for defenders. All they have to do is get part of their body in the way or make sure they are in control of the area of the pitch around the goal they are defending. An attacker meanwhile has to direct the ball into a confined space, guarded by a goalkeeper.
    Anyway, keep up the good work.

  47. MGK says:

    Wow. Bravo. I look forward to reading more. Excellent work.

  48. GoGunners says:

    great article
    it certainly explained why arsene is not so much into the search for a hypothetical super man of a dm…

  49. GoGunners says:

    great article
    it certainly explained why arsene is not so much into the search for a hypothetical super man of a dm…
    continue such articles as sometimes when manager say that x player played brilliantly I kinda fell lik he is drunk…

  50. Ashis says:

    Thank you

  51. Ikram says:

    Hey man. Great article!
    Always enjoy your writings buts its my first time commenting.
    I do have some questions that i would really like to be answered, whenever you get a chance.
    1) whats the difference between Pat Rice (when he was an Assistant) and Wenger? (I mean what does actually Pat Rice do when Wenger prepares the team, establish the tactics, takes the training etc)
    2) What was stopping Pat Rice from packing his bags and leaving for a big pay cheque if a “better company comes calling” i-e Barcelona, Real Madrid.

    What i am trying to understand is that, he knows everything about Wenger, what he does, how he does it, what is his vision so why cannot he think to himself and says i should be a manger of a football club. Moreover, is Wenger a man with just a vision, how did he got a job on the basis of just his vision and what is his vision precisely? i know its beautiful football but what is beautiful football?
    Your answers would be greatly appreciated.
    By the way, any one reading. i just started following Arsenal from 2011-12 and I admire Wenger. The man and The manager. So these questions should not be taken out of context.

  52. Mickey Finn says:

    Excellent stuff, as usual. Pleasekeep ’em coming.

  53. Achilles says:

    Great article Desi.
    been reading football/arsenal blogs now for over 8 years, I have stopped reading many but i still read yours. I have learned much about the hidden aspects of the game by reading your blog which have made me a better fan, and of course better at predicting football games.
    i sometimes think you are the assistant wenger needs. but just like i have learnt from you, it is never that straight forward.
    please do continue to write stuffs like this because i for one will always appreciate it.

  54. Damzbaba says:

    Keep them coming Desi.. Insightful stuff

  55. […] time to share their feedback, and such an overwhelmingly positive one at that, on my article about defending being significantly easier than attacking. Such articles get notably fewer visitors but as long as I know so many people find it useful, I […]

  56. jatinbaveja says:

    Hey DG, Pls continue with this series. would love to read this.

    Jatin (@jatinbaveja)

  57. 256Nate says:

    Thanks Desi as always. Its amazing the details we miss out and the generalisations we have about something we profess so much love for. This will be very educational for me so do go right ahead. Will curiously wait for the next one

  58. Shaqz Amwaah says:

    this is a very insightful piece. keep up the good job. I’m a loyal reader of your articles. all the way from Kenya. #truegunner

  59. […] This game can be a classic case study for what I’d said should be the first law of football – Defending is significantly easier than attacking. […]

  60. Gerry says:

    Desi – I did say I would get around to reading this post …

    It was well worth my effort. Great stuff.

  61. antriksh7 says:

    Well there is a fundamental flaw in the assumption on which this article is based , the game being high or low scoring has nothing to do with the degree of difficulty for a particlar set of players .. It is probably the crudest indicator that one can use to judge the difficulty of defending or attacking .. Just to cover the whole length of the pitch up and down you need a substantial amount of time .. And football lasts 1/8th the duration of a cricket game . + you don’t get 4 or 6 goals if you take the shot from a long distance
    Also fewer chances to score doesn’t mean its tougher or easier . A bowler in cricket only succeeds 1 or 2 times in 60 attempts to take a wicket but that doesn’t mean its tougher than batting . if you are playing on a green wicket these ratios although relatively lower will still be high but bowlers will have an advantage over the batsmen .. In that context bowling becomes easier even though these the success rate in attempts for a bowler to be successful will still be lower than that of a batsman
    And i will tell you why a striker is costlier than a defender , its because if you defend well you can only draw the game and if you score you win.So strikers help the achieve the basic objective of the game.
    And Degree of difficulty never means that you get paid more . A soldier’s job is much more tough than that of a Financial advisor but whose job is valued more ?

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