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Has the cure caused a new problem?

By Walter Broeckx

If you go back one season we can all remember how the shouts was: we concede too many goals. We let in 47 goals. 7 teams did better than Arsenal.  Shame on Arsenal. Shame on Wenger. We can never win anything like that. Something had to be done about it.

But on the other hand we scored 74 goals and that was the third best in the league. And it was the position in the league we had. We scored a lot of goals and had a few spectacular games.

We had a goal difference in total of +25. A big gap with the two Manchester teams but in line with the team in 4th place.

According to the supporters something had to be done about it. So we had to work on our defensive game.  And to do something about  this we brought in Bould.

And now we do seem to have a good defence. Well in fact we have the best defence of the whole PL.  We have let in 8 goals in 10 games. If we would continue like this we would concede around 30 goals this season. Only one team did better in the last season. That was the champion Manchester City with 29 goals.

So shouldn’t we all be jumping up and down full of joy: you see we have improved our defensive record! Now who will we credit with this? Wenger? Nooooo, will the anti-Wenger boys shout. Bould? Yeeaahhhh will the anti-Wenger boys shout. You see they will say I have said it all along. Wenger cannot build a defence.

But as any other coin an improved defence also have a other side….the attack.  Because unlike last season when we scored a lot of goals we now score a bit less. Last season average was 1.95 goals. This season we average 1.5 goals.  Last season we had an average of 2 goals after 10 games.

And this is where the question comes back about whom we should give credit. Wenger? Bould?

If we give credit to Bould for an improved defence the consequence would be that we have to blame… Bould for not scoring more goals.

Now I am not blaming the person Bould or so but am just pointing out the fact that every coin has two sides. And an improved defence means that the whole defence is better. And that even with a few injuries along the road. Even with Santos playing left back a few games.  A result we have seen is that Vermaelen who scored a few goals each season suddenly stays back for 88 minutes as before he joined in the attack more often.

His run forwards sometimes have been leaving gaps and making us vulnerable on the counter attack. But he also scored a few goals with his forward runs. Per doesn’t have such a problem as he is a 100% pure defender who only comes up with dead balls.  But could it be that his forward runs are somehow missed up front?

Could it also be that in the new system we play our forwards are more focussed on defending and thus being not sharp enough  when attacking the other goal.  Because overall you could say that the defensive shape of Arsenal has improved a lot (last season we conceded 21 goals after 10 games) but as a result we score less.

Of course we miss two players from last season. Van Persie and Song. One whom we should have sold 3 seasons ago according to the ever critical followers of Arsenal and one who shouldn’t have been in an Arsenal shirt ever. Song is that person.

And what was the critics about Song? Yes that as a defensive midfielder he ran forward too much.  So he was considered responsible for us letting in too many goals… but on the other hand… he created a few goals himself. So another example of a player who attacked more and thus made us score more goals but also let more in.

Ah but RVP is gone some will say and yes of course we lost a great finisher. But most of his goals were down to Arsenal attacking on the flanks and delivering the ball in the middle and he could finish the move. But now we even struggle to get the chances.

So the pattern is becoming a bit clear. We defend better but…at the end of the day it is getting us nowhere.  And as a result we concede less but we also score  fewer  goals. I remember the seasons before (you know the conceding more goals seasons) when we scored a lot more and had more reason to enjoy the matches with free flowing and attacking football with the risk of running against a counter and conceding a goal.  Now our strikers are half defenders and we score less goals.

The seasons before we just attacked from the start of the game (or tried to as it didn’t work out all the time of course) but now we play a more cautious game.

Maybe this is all a transition period where we have to find a new balance between defending and attacking. Maybe when we get our more fast wingers back and can play them on both flanks our attack will flourish again like it did last season.

But for now it looks as if the cry for more defensive stability is only hurting us going forward with all the players maybe too much aware of their defensive duties?

So has the cure to what seemed to be a problem caused itself a new problem?

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20 comments to Has the cure caused a new problem?

  • avatar Marc B

    The problem is not that we are defending better and therefore attacking less and scoring less. The problem is that we are lacking a clinical finisher. If we defended like this with RvP in the team, we could be candidates. You simply need to take your chances.

  • avatar lopez

    I think Vermaelen has been terrible this season and Santos has not been great either…that means that we defo need better back up defenders. Koscienly had to replace Vermaelen on the centre last night against Schalka…if Arsenal keeps defending like that we won’t win or do any better next season. This january we need to sell Chamackh and maybe with some of that money we can buy a decent defender

  • avatar davi

    Marc – not really. We didn’t really make any chances against Utd or Norwich, and these were the worst performances of the season. Our form dropped after the international break, and the players who were really failing to deliver were the wingers, and the loss of Gibbs really hurt us also.
    It’s more complicated than that as well because the Norwich goal, for example, resulted from a complete lack of closing down in the centre – which is something we were brilliant at before the international break, but the reason we haven’t been scoring much recently is that we haven’t really been making chances, not because we’ve been particularly wasteful when presented with the chance. I don’t think anyone would deny that RVP is better at finding space than Giroud, and could contribute more to making chances in that respect, but Giroud really hasn’t had very good service, particularly since the international break. The number of completely wasted crossing opportunities is frankly embarrassing.

  • avatar jayjay

    Ohh!!! yes!!!! you are right something is really not well here. A flashback when we were scoring like no one’s business and Wenger advocated for an extra point for scoring more goals in a match!!!! hahahahah those were the days BUT back to our current team seem to be very volatile in any department at the moment. Defense apart from conceding less looks jittery almost every time an attack is launched. In the middle of the park the sudden twist and turn from defensive to offensive is no longer there. Those defense splitting passes from Cesc, Song are no longer there. There attacking zeal from our left and right backs has since been freezed let alone when Santos is in for Gibbs. The attacking pairs seem to be all wondering whats the best way to play upfront for Arsenal. A lot needs to be done.

  • avatar Mandy Dodd

    Think we are just going through a period of building and adjustment. Heard a German journalist saying Poldi finds it difficult to play where he does…and that his defensive duties are sapping his energy. Although he does look far more comfortable with Gibbs, who has become one of our key players. Also, Sagna is not long back, and does not yet have the engine of Jenkinson. Wenger did say in the summer it would take the new players time to adjust to fitness levels required for our game. I also think Santi and even Arteta have looked a bit tired recently. Wenger does not tend to buy too many EPL ready players, the merits of this or otherwise are for another debate but it does mean a settling in period, and I am convinced we are experiencing nothing more, apart from our usual injury list and loss of world class players. Teams are not built overnight, even with Citys wealth. A developing team or layer will always experience a few setbacks and plateaus, but hopefully, the trend is will soon be upwards with this team, and whatever does or does not happen in Jan.

  • avatar Pius ogola

    All Credit due to Bouldy.

  • avatar ozed

    I agree completely with you Davi. Also we seem to be missing out something when we attempt to compare RVP with Giroud, no doubt RVP would appear to be a more efficient finisher. However i would argue that Giroud also brings a number of other things to the party that RVP didn’t have e.g. strength in holding up the ball, aerial ability etc. and all this while he is still settling down. People forget that even Drogba took a full season to settle in.

    Sadly people like Mac B above state their ill in formed views like its the gospel, making one wonder whether they watch our games at all.

    Thanks for your detailed analysis.

  • avatar nicky

    @Davi,
    Well said. This isn’t a team which has become bad overnight.
    All that’s needed is a return of confidence which will happen when one or two key players return from sick leave.
    I still feel that Diaby has an important role to play in this season’s campaign.
    We haven’t yet seen the best of our summer newbies (give them time). They have a new country, club, league and colleagues to get used to.
    Keep the faith.

  • avatar bjtgooner

    With all the changes to the team we cannot be in anything other than a period of adjustment – further, with many injuries in the squad we are not always able to field our strongest team or even rotate to keep players fresh.

    Despite what the doom & gloom depressive sewer rats would have us believe, we have an excellent squad – what they need is a settled run to allow players to get through the adjustment phase and then we should see the quality come through.

  • So big question when Mr W goes will you Untold people still
    surport Arsenal or will you move on ?

  • avatar Fred

    Anyone watching the Man U game? Total fix as usual. Braga should have had 6 penalties already and Man U should have had EIGHT players sent off – no exaggeration. When is something going to be done about this corruption?? I’m literally shaking with rage as I type this. :x

  • avatar Adam

    @Fred I can’t pull myself away from the Celtic game, but im intrigued might watch the second half.

  • avatar Adam

    There you go Fred.

  • avatar Mandy Dodd

    How many pens is that for uTd this year? Looked to me like Rooney made the most of it….as of course English players do not dive. Even had a floodlight failure to halt bragas momentum!

  • I for one would prefer a solid defence as those are the foundations we can build on. There is nothing worse than playing lovely football and loosing by some slopply goal.

  • avatar Pat

    It is interesting that Arsene Wenger has also said regretfully that we are not scoring as many goals.
    Hopefully everybody is right and it is just a period of adjustment.
    I would hate it if we lost our fun flowing football.

  • avatar bob

    Pat,
    Yes, regretfully we are not scoring as many goals, and of those few, many were scored by Theo Walcott, an emerging major star, who we do not spend on for any number of top secret hush hush reasons. If he leaves, it’s AFC bean counters 3, AFC fans 0.

  • avatar rupert cook

    The defence is better, what’s the problem? Ok we have conceded four goals in our last two games but it has improved, slightly.

    Now all we have to do is get the strikers scoring. Walcott seems the most adept at doing that so he should be picked to start every game. Until we sell him anyway.

  • avatar jaroda

    Let’s face it we have 15 goals. 6 of those from the Southampton match.
    That leaves 9 goals from the other 9 games. The maths is quite easy on that one.
    1 goal a game does not bode well and means you’re gonna have to defend very well if you want to take anything from the game.
    We have a strike force and a defensive unit both operating with paper thin confidence and a squad once again battered by injuries.
    We need a performance and we need it now.

  • As you have rightly pointed out in your post. We need to strike a balance between attacking well and still retaining a very strong defence line. The pressure on our new signings are too enormous and is not really helping them.