Do we need for a defensive coach, or not?


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By Walter Broeckx

We know that one of the things that some part of the fans throw at Wenger is the fact that he can’t organise a defence. And that he is stubborn. And then they come up with the fact that he needs to get a defensive coach. Because of his stubbornness he doesn’t change things around and this is something that will never change and we are doomed for ever. Now I am not against a defensive coach but do we really need one?

And I think of last season people where screaming and shivering whenever we conceded a corner or an indirect free kick. Because we couldn’t defend them. Hence the need for a real specialist defensive coach.

Therefore I have tried to look at how we conceded our goals this season.  We have played 13 competitive games so far, so we should be able to get a feel of the numbers.

So I tried to put them in a table and I made a few categories in different ways we can concede goals. The goal in open play. The direct free kick goal which we have conceded a few this season. The penalties we got against us. And then also our Achilles heel from last season: defending the high ball on indirect free kicks and crosses. And I took the numbers for each competition we have played in so far in games where it mattered.

Goals against open play direct free kick penalty indirect free kick corner
EPL Liverpool * MU MU Blackburn **
Liverpool MU
MU Sunderland
Blackburn *
Blackburn **
Total 12 3 1 1
% 70,59% 17,65% 5,88% 5,88% 0,00%
CL Udinese Dortmund Olympiakos
Total 1 1 1
% 33,33% 0,00% 0,00% 33,33% 33,33%
Carling Cup Shrewsbury
Total 1
% 100,00% 0,00% 0,00% 0,00% 0,00%
Total 14 3 1 1 1
% 70,00% 15,00% 5,00% 5,00% 5,00%
* = offside goal
**=own goal
***= handball goal

A first point to mention is that from the 17 goals we have conceded there are 3 that shouldn’t have counted. Two offside goals and one handball goal. That is 17% of the total goals against.

Not a figure to be happy with. But  nothing can be done to correct “mistakes” from the refs of their assistants. But as they have been counted I have taken them in the total numbers.

Another striking point is that oh my god we did conceded an extraordinary number of beautiful goals. As an Arsenal supporter they cut me like a knife but as someone who can admire a well taken shot flying in the top corner, I must say that some goals where just unstoppable.

The third and this time a  real striking point is the fact that in the PL we conceded no goals so far on corners. And that we only conceded 1 goal from an indirect free kick taken from the goal line. And even then the opposition didn’t score but we scored an own goal when the ball hit a knee from one of our players.

Last season our players and our coaching staff (a euphemism to not say Wenger) got all the dirty talk from some part of the fans that we couldn’t defend them. Okay, fair enough I would say but if it hadn’t been for a very stupid own goal we wouldn’t have conceded one goal from such a game situation so far in the PL. In fact we only conceded from a short taken corner in the CL when the whole team fell asleep and didn’t expect it to be taken like that. You just don’t see a corner taken short a lot in the EPL so I think it is down to not being used to it.

But from the “normal”  corner we didn’t concede a goal in the EPL so far this season. So it seems that even without the “so much needed” defensive coach we seemed to manage to turn a few things around. And even our “stubborn” manager was flexible enough to change something and looking at the numbers it seems to work so far.

So maybe with all the people who are saying that they are shaking on their knees whenever we get a corner against us: maybe it is time to relax a bit more because so far the numbers suggest that we are rather doing fine when defending corners this season.

And as we have rather a high number of injuries (Vermaelen out a few weeks, now Sagna out for many months)  and combine this with the fact that we have a few new players coming in from other countries and 2 young but promising players at right and left back I think the number of conceded goals will go down. The players need the time to get used to each other and to form partnerships. And I think they can only get better during the season.

Oh and according to our statistics last season we conceded around 30% of our goals on those that we could not defend. And this season this number is down to only 2 goals or 10% in all competitions and this includes an own goal. Not that bad for a team in desperate need for a defensive coach to organize us on dead balls.

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16 Replies to “Do we need for a defensive coach, or not?”

  1. An admittedly small sample size but it does seem that we turned the corner, went down the hall and turned yet another corner instead, to mix so many metaphors that Jamie Redknapp’s head would *literally* explode.
    Others have commented that we ditched our aggressive Barcelona-esque pressing from the very front this season. I suggest this is irritatingly for two reasons:
    1. Effective aggressive pressing from the forwards compresses space in the final third. We don’t have Messi as our false nine, we have van Persie. Given even a little space our forward line can wreak havoc with their pace allied to accurate passing, so drawing the opposition up the pitch plays into our hands.
    2. We don’t have Messi leading our pressing, we have van Persie. For all his qualities, he’s not as suited to being the first man to the ball carrier, in the way that Theo for instance is. Theo on the other hand can’t do what RvP can do in terms of linking play (though every year he gets better).

    In essence, I’m not sure what a defensive coach would offer, except in drilling the team at set-pieces, which they seem to be improving on anyway.

  2. Coach or no extra defensive coach, a fully fit Vermaelen will help us no end, cannot wait to see him with Per

  3. Must say that after signing my shirt last summer when I met Vermaelen in Belgium and what I considered to be his most important signature; I now will settle for second place and consider his signature on the new contract as the most important one. 😉

  4. Happy days, that will lift the team, along with his return.
    He will massively help out with our defensive issues.
    Now over to you Robin……..

  5. Walter, 100% correct in principle, but as a detail, the offside goal we conceded against Blackburn was from a corner. We allowed the ball to go past the far post and they thumped it back into the mix.

  6. From the last Annual Accounts, the Training Staff has been increased from 42 to 47. One of the increases as a coach is a former goalkeeper, mainly for the juniors. The rest of the increase may be down to schoolboy signings.

    Walter you should have pointed out from the start that Wenger, Primorac, Rice, Bancroft and Bould were all former defensive players! Too many cooks comes to mind. Last season neither the Reserves or the U18s were too hot defensively.

    Last season of course Vermaelen missed the greater part of the season and Gibbs very injury prone. The start of this season of course has meant that Vermaelen, Wilshere and now Sagna out through injury and of course Clichy, Fabregas, Nasri and Eboué have left. Do not count Diaby!

    With half of last season’s first team not present and all correct, then it will take half the season to knit a team together. The Arsenal are still just 6 (repeat after all true supporters) six points off fourth place and closing.

  7. I’m surprised by how many people seem to score their best goals against us. I’m not sure if there is anything we can do about it though, but sit and admire (and hope we score more than them).

  8. @ Walter

    Off-topic – Were you sitting behind the goal when Van persie scored that 2nd goal because i saw someone like you on TV 😀

    Back to the topic, The defenders only need to concentrate better to avoid any silly mistakes.

  9. I dont think we need a defensive coach…what we do need is our manager to switch over to his previous style of quick counter attacks with a solid defence. What Wenger has done since the Invincibles is to make our game much more technical than it should be and this over-technical style isn’t suited to english football in the long run…

  10. in 2005 wenger employed Martin Keown as a defense coach… we made the champions league final and Jens Lehman conceded the least goals that season as for Pat Rice should be given some cab fare & a thanks for his time with us and get someone with more credibility and new ideas.

  11. The general principle of a great side is that they don’t concede many goals. The best defence ever in English football was at Liverpool in the early 1980s. One season they conceded 12 goals in 42 games. Not surprisingly, they also set the record for the most points in the history of the league.

    Arsenal have conceded 8 at Manchester Utd, 4 at Blackburn, two at home to Liverpool, two at Spurs, one against Sunderland and none against Bolton, Swansea and Newcastle.

    So that’s 17 goals in 8 games, something like 2 goals per game. So I don’t think Liverpool’s old boys will be too impressed with that, will they?!

    Now it’s unlikely it’ll be that bad the whole season, but if you told me at season’s end that 76 goals conceded was a satisfactory state of affairs, then your reputation as an Arsenal blogger will be up there with the best……….

    If you add in two gilt edged chances Sunderland didn’t take, a great save by Szczeseny against Bolton and Swansea, at least 3 fine saves against Spurs, you’ll begin to see that whatever the reason, the opposition either score or come close to scoring an average of 3 times per game so far.

    You’re a wizard with statistics, Mr Broeckx.

    You have one problem. You don’t see what’s staring you in the fucking face.


    I’ll give you one thing though. You’re nearly as good as the Daily Telegraph journos who have to write terrible things about the Labour Party and wonderful things about the Tory Party.

    So Liam Fox ‘should not be removed’ after the dodgy attache was revealed. ‘A great loss’ after he was removed.

    Ed Miliband talks about ‘a system is broken’ and he’s a Marxist. David Cameron talks about ‘society is broken’ and he’s a true Tory. No bloody difference at all. Except that the DT would struggle to say David Cameron was a health hazard if he had unprotected sex whilst HIV positive……

    Tip to you.

    Defence involves the goalkeeper, the four defenders and the midfield. Occasionally it even includes Robin van Persie.

    Here’s a few facts: Carl Jenkinson wasn’t up to it against Man Utd. He’s had quite a few OK to good games apart from that, so it’s saying he’s young and will mature. But he’s not worth paying £3000 for a Club Deck ticket. £1800 perhaps. But not £3000. Think about that…..

    Scott Parker was universally by the unbiased press described as having an excellent game for Spurs in the derby. This site described him contemptuously as ‘Championship material’. He’s exceptionally good at mopping up, winning tackles and setting things going again. He doesn’t try to be a Fabregas, he’s rather like Peter Reid was in the 1980s. Dependable, reliable, solid. For £3000 you watch the hugely promising Frimpong whose inexperience is showing occasionally. For 30% less, you watch an experienced player at the top of his career. Think about that……

    For £3000 you get to watch young Monsieur Coquelin. Awful at Old Trafford, brave and gutsy at White Hart Lane. You might ask yourself if that’s value for money………

    If you get a corporate seat at Man Utd, you pay considerably less than at Arsenal to watch considerably more experienced and well drilled defences (until this year, anyway when they could have, with a bit worse luck, have conceded quite a lot). They don’t have financial doping there. At Spurs, they pay their players less and you have Gallas, Dawson, King, Bassong, Kaboul as five central defenders. You would need to be slightly dippy doo to suggest Arsenal have five as experienced to show to supporters who pay considerably more………

    It goes further than defence. When you pay £3000 a year, you might expect crossers to be aiming at more than one body in the box, most of the time, since for less money you see that regularly at other leading clubs. They’re perfectly capable of it, as goals this season and in previous seasons testify. They just seem to see it as an optional extra rather than situation normal. For £3000 a year, you’d expect either the coaching or the players to be more professional…….

    I suggest you look at the empty seats not the corporate vacuity and lying which claims 60,000 at the games, Mr Broeckx. The seats which are empty most are the highly priced corporate ones. You seriously think that if companies had bought them for a season that no-one will go? More likely agencies can’t shift them……

    Games have been on general sale this season. Partly the recession. Mostly the fans’ decisions……..

    Loyalty is good so long as it doesn’t descend into lying.

    Think about that…

    If this criticism is regarded as too strong, just remember that for 5 years it was mostly praise and gentle criticism. If your wife asks you to take your shoes off at the door and you and your sons bring in mud, first time it’ll be a gentle chiding, second time exasperation and third time she’ll tell you to cook your own supper, wash your own clothes and FUCKING WELL CLEAN THE FLOOR!

    Arsenal are rampantly over-charging for their product right now and people are starting to tell them so.

    As you only come a few times a year, you can afford to be more tolerant.

    But I’m sure you wouldn’t pay 100,000 Euros for a family BMW……..

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