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August 2021

Arsenal Liverpool. The story for the defence

by Arvind

I somehow missed the time of the game and tuned into it 15 minutes late only to see Koscielny hobble off with a terrible looking injury. Hope its good news.

We lost the game though with a desperately unlucky goal, I thought. Not counting the second goal as that was always coming 1-0 down and being vulnerable on the break.

The defender tables (15 minutes onwards (I’m sorry)) are here. I however thought Emmanuel Frimpong deserves a word for a quite stunning 70 minutes before he was rather harshly(Walter?) sent off for a second yellow. Till then he held his own in our midfield and was driving things offensively and defensively in a way I have not seen any Arsenal player(not even Song) do in the last 3 or 4 years [Yes Diaby did it at times..but really not too many times]. I’m sure the manager will have a kind word for him in the dressing room while telling him to also be careful next time.

Back on topic, let us look at Untold Defenders for Game 2. Here are the tables:

Player Name [Keeper] Sczesczny
Catching 1 — 2
Punching 1 — 1
Long range shots 2 — 2
Reaction Saves NA
Near Post coverage NA
Ball distribution 2 — 2
Goal kicks 1 — 4
Box coverage 6 — 7

Right so this table tells us Liverpool did not shoot much from inside the box for one. He loses 1 point for catching as he luckily palmed over a shot from the left side which went over the far corner. There is some improvement that is needed on his goal kicks as well. But by and large I thought he had a great game and is a wonderful calming aggressive (2 contradictory words in the same line but that’s how it is :)) presence in the box. He will only get better. I just wish our supporters believe in every young player the way they do with the young Pole.

Player Name [LB] Sagna
Recovery Pace to get back into position 0 — 2
Interceptions all over the respective wing; the further up the better 4 — 4
Width while attacking 3 — 3
Kick starting a counter attack 1 — 1
Tackling 3 — 3
Beaten down the wing 1 — 3
Crossing 1 — 1

Bacary had to play left back today due to a huge number of injuries to players everywhere and did well. The numbers show he couldn’t get back twice in time, but that does not tell the full story. Both these were very late on and when we were looking for a goal and down to 10 men. But yes, the second goal was on his side which was vacant. He intercepted multiple times and helped Jenkinson out once with a great intercept in the box. He won 3 crucial tackles (contact tackles) but had a bad moment (Ancelotti anyone?) when he seemed to juggle the ball towards his goal and then tried to clear, failing to do so. It didn’t cost us though. He was beaten twice down the wing where a pass or a cross came in as well from his side..but the team overall took care that this didn’t result in a goal. Offensively his crossing can improve, that has dropped a bit over time.

Player Name [RB] Jenkinson
Recovery Pace to get back into position 3 — 3
Interceptions all over the respective wing; the further up the better NA
Width while attacking 2 — 2
Kick starting a counter attack NA
Tackling NA
Beaten down the wing 0 — 5
Crossing 3 — 5

Talk of a baptism by fire for the young RB. He showed good energy and recovery pace to get back after he was caught upfield. He didn’t read the game that well as is seen with no interceptions, which is strange for an Arsenal defender, it will come with time. He got forward to be available for a pass during an attack. He was beaten multiple times on the wing though and his fellow defenders had to cover up for him. He had a tough time IMO but will learn from this and improve.

Player Name [RCB] Vermalean
Set piece clearances 3 — 3
Second ball anticipation NA
Dealing with the long ball over the top 4 — 4
Intercepting crosses/through balls Open Play 5 — 5
Tackling 2 — 2
Goal Scoring from set pieces 0 — 5

TV5 is an absolute freak. He played at RCB today and not LCB (Can someone explain if this makes a difference? I’ve always wondered about this). He won almost everything in the air against Andy Caroll and I laughed out loud when Caroll didn’t even jump up for a header at the end of the first half. I think we have addressed our defensive issues to a degree, although its too early to say this. His tackling also was immaculate and excellently timed, getting him out of tough situations twice in the box. He ensured Miquel wasn’t exposed too much as well. A close second to Frimpong for MOTM for me.

Player Name [LCB] Miquel
Set piece clearances NA
Second ball anticipation NA
Dealing with the long ball over the top 2 — 3
Intercepting crosses/through balls Open Play 2 — 4
Tackling 0 — 1
Goal Scoring from set pieces 0 — 5

The kid was a little nervous frankly but passed it around well. He won 2 out of 3 long balls and had a 50% rate of interception. But with TV being so dominant he hardly had to do anything more than what he did. He needs game time though and is a very similar player to Koscielny, albeit much rawer. He missed a tackle that he could have made and overall had an averageish game IMO.

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Overall? The goal was offside as well as it turns out. And its desperately unlucky. Its easy to say – “He should have put it out for the corner” . He wasn’t under pressure and had time, so the downfield punt is fine. Ramsey in the way and Scszenzy off his line is a combination you rarely see. Not blaming anyone. Defensively, overall thought we were good..offensively we need a spark.

25 comments to Arsenal Liverpool. The story for the defence

  • Bergkamp's The Man

    Good summary and the stas add a bit of dimension to my perceptions. I’m very happy with Sagna/Jenkinson at RB.

    Kos and Vermaelen is as strong a duo as any other CB partnership in the league (Djourou, Miquel, Bartley all have future first team potential). Squillacci makes me quiver and for that reason alone, I agree we need one more CB to cover. However, Dann and Jagielka are likely to sit on the bench behind Kos and TV.

    We also need a new LB and I’d be happy with Baines who’d challenge Gibbs for a start and the England berth and add some dead ball options as well.

  • bob

    I think the “they’ll have to sit on the bench” thing needs some degree of re-examination. imo, it’s been evident since at least last January’s transfer window that this team needs quality depth in defense, because the injuries continue to happen in droves – as was blatantly apparent in January and continues to be this summer. How to keep the boys happy? With enough promised rotation in advance (and to the player and the player’s agent), that we will have a 1A and 1B rotating defense that will keep everyone involved enough, suppress individual ego trips for the good of the team, and offer up good players for the inevitable spate of injuries (as when it rains it pours), and – with any luck – further CL competition after Wednesday, as we hopefully remain in pursuit of other yes, trophies.

  • Henry Hawk

    Defensively we played very well. Offensively, not so much.

    The article on the dispute between Wenger and the Board was such a relief. Now we know Arsene has not lost the plot. It is an interferring, out of touch Board that is the problem.


  • seagoon

    Not only was the first goal unlucky but it was 100% offside leading up to it. But yeah despite the disapointment of our midfield (Frimpong excepted) and attack, i was quite impressed with the back 4. Miguel looks pretty good too.

  • Chowdhury

    @Henry Hawk –> Which article are you referring to? Do you mind sharing it with us?

  • jax

    Could you please explain your stats as I don’t understand them. e.g. what does Miquel: tackling 0-1 or goalscoring from set pieces 0-5 mean? None of it makes any sense to me. I can see that he didn’t make any tackles or score any goals which explains the two 0s, but what does the 1 & 5 represent?

  • bjtgooner

    @ Chowdhury. This might be the link in question. i found it last night.

  • walter

    Arvind, thanks you once again.
    I really like this.

    Just imagine how our season would have turned out if Vermaelen would have been fit all season…
    The statistics of Vermaelen are really amazing I think.

    He really is a hard battler and a fighter.
    And to think that in fact he really is a very nice guy when you meet him. If you talk with him he looks to be someone who doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. But he sure is a legend in the making for Arsenal.
    Saying it again we would have won something with him fit…

  • Dale


    I just read that article and it really explains a lot (if true obviously) of Wenger’s obvious visible signs of stress he’s shown over the past few weeks. I hope the conflict can be resolved soon.

  • ak47

    thanx btj, if thats true im now even more worried, wednesday cant come fast enough.

  • Interesting link. With stuff referring to unnamed “sources” I’m usually wary, unless it’s a highly reputable site, like Bloomberg or the like. When I see two or three spelling mistakes, I start to think the site is a little amateurish, and I can’t really see such a site having such explosive insider information personally.

  • bjtgooner

    Now for the really good news; the Mail reports the we have Webb at Old Trafford!

  • bob

    bjtgooner, Dogface,
    Isn’t it odd that it’s known now that Webb is supposedly the ref right now, because they didn’t announce ref’s before game time, or very close to it, if I correctly remember the immediate run-up to Liverpool match last Saturday.

  • bjtgooner

    @ bob

    Yes, it is a change of pattern. Is it an attempt by Riley & co to demoralise us further, before Wednesday’s game, or would that be too subtle for them?

  • bob

    If this really is a change of pattern, it seems blatantly unsubtle of them to announce their assignment of Don Fergus’ ref of choice, the Webbmeister, as lord high executioner. Its really mafia style gesture, like (in the Godfather) putting a horse’s head in the intended victim’s bed. Back to back losses to Udinese and ManUre would be very hard to rally back from. Then again, even that would depend on the impact of any signings on the team’s morale. There really is a Wenger Watch going on in the media and it does seem like Arsene/Arsenal’s real enemies are circling like vultures.

  • addi

    I’m a bit confused by some of this.

    For example, Szczesny:

    Ball distribution 2 — 2
    Goal kicks 1 — 4

    Here’s a link to a chalkboard of Opta’s stats for Wojciech’s distribution on Saturday (courtesy of the Guardian Chalkboards):

    As you can see, you’re figures don’t really tell the whole story.

    At the end of this section you say, ‘this table tells us Liverpool did not shoot much from inside the box for one.’ Which again isn’t strictly true (although to be honest I’m not really sure how you came to that conclusion from your own stats anyway).

    Here we have the map of Liverpool’s shooting:

    7 shots inside our area, does that qualify as ‘not much?’ I suppose the answer’s largely relative. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure Arsene will want to limit Udinese to less than the 4 shots on target, 1 off the woodwork and 1 goal that Liverpool generated from inside our area (not to mention the forced own goal).

    Please don’t take this as some kind of scathing criticism. I’m in favour of any kind of objective analysis, I’m simply unsure of from where (some of) your figures are derived.

    On the whole, I must say that I agree with your assessment that our makeshift back four (and TV5 in particular) defended very well.

    I believe the sending off and simultaneous introduction of Suarez and Meireles would have put the final nail in the coffin of defensive outfits far more ‘highly rated’ than our own.

  • insideright

    Re the effect of playing at LCB or RCB – it makes the most difference when it comes to distributing the ball out of defence which is much easier if the player is on the correct side for his foot preference. It’s also vital in the modern game to tackle with the foot that is furthest away from the player that you’re tackling. That way you reduce the chance of making contact with the player before the ball and thus avoiding conceding a foul. Almost invariably these days (Walter?) refs give a foul if you tackle with the foot nearest the man in possession.

  • WalterBroeckx

    correct. when you tackle with the foot furthest away you have more chance to just tackle the ball without touching the player.
    When you tackle with your foot closest to the player the chance of your leg hitting the other player is much bigger and when you touch him it is a foul.
    Mind you it is not forbidden by the law and if you can tackle the ball with the foot closest to the opponent without touching him there is no foul.

  • Arvind

    @Addi: Thanks for your comment. You’re dead right – my stats and numbers are not the ‘whole’ deal. For that we do have plenty of other sources.

    What I am trying to do (and it does need some work) is to look at it subjectively and see how much of a threat there was to the 5 defenders(keeper included) and how well they coped with it. Its more targeted at how well an individual reacted to an opportunity(offensive or defensive).

    So anything that is absolutely routine, where there was no other choice at all for the player in question, or anyone could have done – I am not even counting that. I want to see and judge for myself at the end of the season after 38 such posts on how each player has performed when truly confronted with a problem..a genuine problem.

    So anything that Scsz has had hit straight at him or rolled to him or was a really easy save doesn’t get counted. The woodwork shot was from the right side if I remember correctly but it was the outside of the post which no one had to react to as it turned out so I didn’t count it. Goal 1 for me was fluky .. I wont blame Miquel and Goal 2 came from the vacant LB position so Sagna got points docked there.

    So in conclusion…yes I am aware my numbers will not be accurate, but they’re not meant to be. They’re more an analysis as I see the game. I do think it has its benefits if combined with the exact figures. Do you think that sounds logical?

    @insideright, Walter: Thank You. That clears things somewhat, although I think a CB does have more space to work with than a fullback and can adjust better. Hence the original question. A left sided full back on the right or viceversa would be severely handicapped on his weak side, a CB has a little more room to work with though..IMO anyway.

  • Arvind

    @jax: The figures on the right signify the total number of opportunities he potentially had.

  • Micko

    Re: Webb reffing the match at the weekend – I notice the odds on a Manu home win against Arsenal have come in from 4/7 to 1/2 since yesterday. Is this anything to do with Webb being awarded the match on Sunday ?
    I’d say that the odds will probably come in further before the weekend as well.

  • addi

    That certainly clears up some of my confusion.

    I think analysing the game in this way could be both more and less valuable than a more objective review (of Opta’s stats for example).

    More valuable in that you will generate a permanent record of a players ‘clutch’ performance, how each individual performed when the team was really relying on him to make a difference. In some ways you should also end up with a more accurate view of how a player performed his duties (you will be more able to assign blame for mistakes in positioning etc).

    Less so, in that its subjective nature might make the work less useful for others. Their opinions on what constitutes a routine save for the goalkeeper for example, might vary. They may also disagree on who was to blame in a given situation. For example, it could be argued that as the build up to Liverpool’s second came from a throw in on their right flank it was Sagna’s responsibility to be on that touchline – personally I’d be tempted to blame a combination of Miguel being dragged inside by the movement of Suarez and Lansbury not tracking the run of Meireles – but that’s neither here nor there of course.

    Overall it’s certainly a worthwhile endeavour so I wish you all the best with it. I may even pop by to chime in again if I feel you’re being especially harsh on anyone 😉

  • Arvind

    Oh absolutely… it is subjective..that is and is not a problem..if you know what I mean. But its ok.. its just a different way to attack a problem and its good fun = worth doing 🙂

    Do drop by anytime and pick holes..most welcome 🙂

  • John

    I think we need good competition Kozzer and Vermanlen have been really excellent so far but we need people pushing them each nd evey game and the player who is playing the best stays in the team.

    Example look at Utd last night I actually thought Spurs might get something silly me 🙁 but I was impressed at how Jones and Smalling (even last season) stepped in and performed when Vidic and Ferdinand are injury.

    Yes they cost money but they are real quality players and have many years ahead of them.

    The real problem why our season imploded last year was a lack of competition within the squad if someone is not playing well you dropped them and make the work hard to get back in, not give them big wages for half hearted efforts. When our backup players were given games in the 1st team they didnt play well maybe cos they are not good enough and yes I’m talking about Eboune, Alumnia, Denilson, Sqaullaci, Vela, Bendther, Chamakh (2nd half) these players did ot repay the manager believe and are so bad we are having trouble getting rid of them.

    So we have talented individual surrounded by a much of pay ceck wasters thats not winning anything!

  • Macca

    Frimpong unlucky to be sent off? Did you actually see what he did?! The Liverpool player was very lucky not to be seriously injured. A reckless offence rightly punished.