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Untold Defenders: how well did we do?

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The season begins: here’s the widest coverage of Arsenal imaginable: see the end of the article for details of how Untold is evolving…

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Untold Defenders: how well did we do?

By Arvind

A few weeks back I had decided I would start off a small project for this season where I would subjectively analyze whatever games I could see live here in India. To just make it easier for myself and to see if what I am doing makes sense – I am starting off with only our defense..because that is our well known so called Achilles heel. If that works and I am able to capture data well, I might extend it to other parts of the team as well.

I’m well aware that this will be a work in progress for this season, but in keeping with the “long term strategy” of the club, I’ll try and have this ready next season. I plan to have 1 sheet for the team that starts the game and 1 sheet for all the substitutes. So that’s 2 sheets per game. The parameters used obviously will be the same.

So with all that in mind I gave it a spin against Newcastle and tried to make it as accurate as possible while watching the game at the same time. There was some really interesting things I found out. But hey, let me show you what I’ve done so far.

I have 5 tables per game (more if a defender or keeper is substituted) – but it will be 5 this game as nothing of that sort happened.

Player Name Sczesczny
Set Piece catching NA
Set Piece punching 2 – 2
Long range shots 01/01/11
Reaction Saves NA
Near Post coverage 1 – 1
Ball distribution 2 – 2
Goal kicks 2 – 3
Box coverage 7 – 7
Player Name Gibbs
Recovery Pace to get back into position NA
Interceptions all over the respective wing; the further up the better 5 – 6
Width while attacking 2 – 3
Kick starting a counter attack 1 – 2
Tackling 0 – 2
Beaten down the wing 0 – 4
Crossing 1 – 3
Player Name Sagna
Recovery Pace to get back into position NA
Interceptions all over the respective wing; the further up the better 1 – 2
Width while attacking 5 – 5
Kick starting a counter attack 1 – 1
Tackling 1 – 1
Beaten down the wing 0 – 1
Crossing 0 – 3
Player Name Vermalean
Set piece clearances NA
Second ball anticipation NA
Dealing with the long ball over the top 1 – 5
Intercepting crosses/through balls Open Play 4 – 4
Tackling 4 – 4(Y)
Goal Scoring from set pieces 0 – 5
Player Name Koscielny
Set piece clearances NA
Second ball anticipation NA
Dealing with the long ball over the top 3 – 8
Intercepting crosses/through balls Open Play 10 – 10
Tackling 3 – 3
Goal Scoring from set pieces 0 – 5

Now, I would like to think a lot of those figures are very self explanatory and they are my own take on what I saw. I could have missed a few(doing this first time live ;)) but I would say its 80%+ accurate according to me. I hope this improves as I go on.

Now what do these tables show me? Lets take each player one by one:

Sczesczny: Had a fantastic game and dominated the box, thus making things easier for his defense. He miskicked just once with the ball going out of play, otherwise he was top class.

Gibbs: Has a high interception rate as you would expect any Arsenal player to have and did reasonably well going forward as well. The worrying thing for me from this game was that he got skinned on the outside 4 times; by this I mean the attacker was able to cross or make a pass inwards by getting the better of Gibbs. Yes we did not get punished but that’s an area he;d do well to work on.

Sagna: Bacary had a very solid game but his crosses often hit the first man. The figures show that and while he was often available for a pass, deep in the offensive third the crossing wasn’t great.

Vermalean: TV had a great game defensively and intercepted and tackled very well. He picked up a yellow card for a tackle which was a foul but which was essential. He didn’t win many long balls from goal kicks though. I couldn’t look at the second ball very carefully as it was getting a little too much for me..maybe next time I’ll look at that because that’s what we do base our game on. We won 5 corners but TV5 could not get on the end of any of them. Obviously that has a lot to do with the delivery as well.

Koscielny: Had an awesome game IMO and didn’t put a foot wrong with his interceptions and tackling. Like TV5 he too missed a lot of long balls but again, maybe we’ve been told to not focus on winning them but the second ball instead. Like TV he also did not get on the end of any corners.

Phew!! I was stressed out at the end of the game btw but I quite enjoyed doing this. I hope to improve on my accuracy and track any other defensive parameters that may be important..next time round. What do you think?

Also, if anyone knows a way to get more live games or full replays (no piracy please) in India – please let me know. Arsenal TV any good for this?

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Elsewhere on Untold Today…

Untold Ref Review: Stoke Chelsea

Untold Injury Index

Joel Campbell, seven players and a new academy.

(And don’t forget there’s an Untold article in the club programme tonight – and for every Arsenal game with the series “Arsenal Uncovered”)

25 comments to Untold Defenders: how well did we do?

  • Mahesh

    Arvind, you can get a year long Red membership on Arsenal.com for 39 pounds. This will also give you access to all the content (including full match recordings) on player.arsenal.com. It certainly includes all EPL games. However, I am not sure about the Champions League games.
    The recordings are generally available on player.arsenal.com by morning following the game.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Wow, Arvind a great first attempt I would say.

    If you can afford Arsenal player it is the best option I think as they do show complete games available from the next day.

    I got Arsenal playe for a birthday present from my children a couple of years ago. Maybe drop a hint somewhere… 😉

  • Gunzblazin

    Thats some really good analyzing, keep it up m8, if our defence can stay solid and gibbs starts to defend better than were good to go, its only matter of time scoring goals as we have so many attacking options, i guess its creativity we need now since fabregas has departed and left a big hole in the midle of the field, rosicky is slowly getting back to his best but hes still not sharp enough. UP GUNNERS

  • Dark Prince

    Obviously these stats, if taken by naked eye in a live match, u’ll miss out on many things, and hence would be inaccurate. I suggest, u take help from opta…. They are pretty good at such things…

  • Bongo

    Great work, I love this kind of stats collecting. I know this may seem like more work (as it is) but for set plays it is the entire team that defends perhaps you could make a note of our non-defenders clearing too, see who is good at it. I saw Van Persie make one or two clearances against Newcastle in set pieces. Even if you just noted that it was a non-defender ND clearance from a corner or free kick.

  • @Dark Prince – Please can you buy Arvind a subscription to the Opta data sets (and me one while you are at it)… otherwise please can you stop being such a contrary tosser and give some credit where it’s due?

    @Arvind – Thanks for a great article, good read!

  • lukeboss

    sir, you are great.

  • In. Gu.

    Mahesh,

    Interesting analysis. Hope you can gather lot of data and experience and share further insights about our much-maligned defence.

    And I think if the current trend continues, there will be more indian arsenal fans than english ones 🙂

  • Chowdhury

    Well done Arvind.

  • Notoverthehill

    Arvind, thank you for attemtping something positive! It is too easy to find fault in any new enterprise, as Dark Prince has attempted.

    Congratulations and continue the good work. Anything that stops the anti-Arsenal supporters and their witterings is to be encouraged.

    You have my support.

  • Jerom J.

    Nice one Arvind, really well done for your 1st try, and yes Arsenal TV has replays for every match for the past couple of years, so you could always recheck after the match. Though I’d say it’ll be better to enjoy the match, and just write down notes when needed, and do a full blown analysis later on.

  • sahil

    Brilliant attempt Arvind

  • Naren

    Arvind,
    Interesting article…will be looking forward to more.
    Usually, all the Arsenal matches are aired live and when not, definitely there will be an airing of the full replay in midweek. Keep an eye on the TV listings.

  • Mahesh

    @In Gu – Your compliments should be directed to Arvind. I am nothing but a mere reader!

  • I have enjoyed your thoughtful postings on other topics and appreciate your willingness to step up and take on a project like this one. It is a great contribution. Would many of the other fans do something so positive.

    Perhaps Tony and Walter can set up a donation icon on the website.

  • steww

    Great article, very well done. Shame the usual idiot tries to set fire to whatever anyone constructive has made.
    I’d like to echo your comment on Kos, man of the match for me. Playing alongside Vermaelen obviously suits him.

  • Gord

    Hello Arvind.

    In the thread where Walter was calling for additional people to help evaluate refereeing, I put a link to an article for free software to help in the video analysis of sports. It is nominally meant for Linux (it is built on Mono, that Linux version of C#). If you run M$ or Mac, I would imagine there might be similar software out there. But this was a thesis project of an engineer.

  • Arvind

    @All: Thank You so much for your encouragement! I hope to do an even better job than I did. If things go well and this project works out well, and its less stressful 😉 I will try and extend this all over the pitch..but that’ll be really tough 🙂

    @Mahesh,Walter,Jerom,Naren: I will try and see if I can get Arsenal TV. Thank You.

    @Bongo: Good point. Although its really hard to pick that up real time. I’ll try 🙂

    @In.Gu: Hey..its a global community 🙂 but yes I’m so glad there are so many more Indian posters now..and on Untold and not on the AAA sites.

    @Cyberian: I’m glad you like my posts. ThankYou

    @DarkPrince: Yes..indeed it is hard doing it live and I did miss things :). The other problem is watching the game twice which is tough from a time as well as ‘Dunno if it is live’ perspective. I’m trying to keep it simple though for starters..so Opta etc..later man.

    I’m really kicked about Untold’s work overall though.. I think we can become the best ‘non official’ website out there. Do think on what all each one of you can do and lets try and make a difference.

  • Arvind

    @Gord: I use Ubuntu all the time. I’m not an M$ guy although I’m more tolerant to Microsoft these days than when I was younger ;). Do you mind posting the link out here again..I’d love to see if there’s something that can make my job easier. Thanks!

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    @Arvind,

    Well done. You can nab most of Opta’s data from the Guardian’s chalkboards BTW.

  • rusty

    @Arvind
    Great start! Looking forward to this becoming a feature.

    Just one question — how do you determine the numerator and denominator for Width While Attacking for our fullbacks? Is it overlapping runs?

    And on the goals from set pieces for our CBs, would it be possible to only count the corners that the player was in a position to try for? I know Kos had that one where he went up against Krul and it had to be cleared off the line, which seems pretty successful for a corner even if we didn’t score.

  • Arvind

    Thanks Woolwich. I will keep that in mind.

    @Rusty: Yes primarily that or when a player inside is in a congested area and needs an outlet which isn’t that crowded and passes it wide. You’re right about the Kos corner – I will edit it in my stats here ..thanks.

  • Kentetsu

    Great article. I think we had a good defensive performance against Newcastle and your analysis shows it. The main weakness we seem to have – if you want to base that on one game – is that we are easy to beat down the wing. Keep the analyses coming, Arvind.

  • Gord

    @Arvind

    Here is most of my previous posting on that software. I’me a Debian person.

    > But today I seen an announcement of a software package that is designed to help people review sports matches. It is called LongoMatch, is nominally something which is built on top of the “Mono” framework (which is an implementation or approximation of C#).

    The creator is Spanish, and some of the examples in the article I seen involve Barcelona players. This package is the result of the author’s work in engineering, and a link to his thesis is present (he went to university in Italy). There are various other links in the article to the software, and to other documentation (some in other languages).

    http://linuxaria.com/article/longomatch-sports-video-analysis?lang=en

    Oh, it is free software – free as in free beer and free speech.

  • Arvind

    Neat stuff. Thanks Gord.