Is it the defence that is the problem? The stats suggest not.

By Walter Broeckx

A reader asked it we could look at the goals conceded and compare this with the invincible year. A fair question and so I went on to do some research on this.

And if you just look at the bare facts they say:

2003-2004 : conceded 26 goals and won the title.

2009-2010 : conceded 41 goals and finish third.

Okay that’s it. We have a very bad defensive record compared with that year. I could finish the article and move on to why. But when I tried to come up with an answer I found it not that easy.

Could it have been the experience in the side? After all it was an aging squad with many players in their thirties or nearing it. So I think age is one thing that could explain the difference. It could have been the injury problem we have faced this season. In fact the only player who made it to the end without injury was Sagna.

But as I was looking at some numbers I noticed some strange things. Because if we take the invincible year as the reference year we only managed to do better once in the last 18 seasons. That was in 98-99 when we only conceded 17 goals and still we didn’t win the league that season as we ended in 2nd place. In fact that is very strange to see that we didn’t win the league with a defensive record like that.

But is this 41 goals the worst result in those last 18 seasons? No. The worst result was in the season 94-95 when we concede 49 goals and we finished in 12th place. YES 12th.

Speaking about disaster. That was one year of disaster. We even finished behind you know who, I dare to say in a whispering voice. Could you imagine that we had all those blogs then? But the blogs in those days would not have had the chance to blame Wenger as he was nowhere near our club in those days.

Now if we take a further look at the invincibles we all know that it was not a defence that was brought together at the start of the season. No in fact is was a defence that played many years together before that great season.

To put things in some perspective I would like to divide the last decade in 2 parts. I would like to take the 1999-2000 season as a starting point and take this as the years of the invincibles up to 2004-2005. From that moment on I think the invincibles were leaving or stopped playing and we had to start all over again. So I just give you the season with the goals against we got and the place we finished.

99-00 : 43 goals against and place 2

00-01 : 38 goals against and place 2

01-02 : 36 goals against and place 1

02-03 : 42 goals against and place 2

03-04 : 26 goals against and place 1 (The Invincible year)

04-05 : 36 goals against and place 2

I think it is fair to say that these were the seasons we played with the defence, or for a large part anyway, that Wenger inherited from even before him. It had players like Adams, Keown, Winterburn, Dixon, Lauren,  Campbell in it and had great international goalkeepers like Seaman and Lehman.

If we try to make an average of it then we see that we conceded almost 37 goals each season. If you want to have the exact number it is 36.83.

So lets us move on to the era of our current defence. The one with Gallas, Sagna, Eboue, Clichy, Toure and now Vermaelen. And if you wish we can include a bit of Campbell, Lehamn and Almunia.

05-06 : 31 goals and place 4

06-07 : 35 goals and place 4

07-08 : 31 goals and place 3

08-09 : 37 goals and place 4

09-10 : 41 goals and place 3

If we make an average of these years we come to 35 goals conceded. And that is the exact number.

Now I must say that I, maybe like you, was very surprised by this. You can always hear people saying : ah in the seasons when we had those players, the invincibles,  from those good old days we were much stronger in defence. But apart from that one invincible year we conceded more goals than we do now.

So sorry for the one who asked to find an answer to his remark  “The invincibles always scored plenty of goals but didn’t concede as many as this team”;  as I can not give you an answer. The fact is we don’t concede more goals than we did with most of the invincibles playing. It just looks that way but it is not supported by the facts.

But if you do want to find something strange than I can tell you that in the era before the season 1999-2000 and starting from the year 1992-1993 we only concede an average of just under 33 goals per season. So this was by far the best defence we had in the last 18 years. But in that same period we ended 10th, 12th, 5th and some 4th places but we only managed to get one title. It was in 1997-1998 and I think most of you will know who was our manager.


Where next in 2010: Next Season: a set of articles about the current (2010) squad, the transfers, and who is moving up from the reserves  – not to mention a definitive analysis of how the 25 player system works.

The glorious future Everything else from 2010

The adventurous past Everything from 1910

What to read on the beach this summer

42 Replies to “Is it the defence that is the problem? The stats suggest not.”

  1. Good stats Tony, could we have considered the points attained as well to give a broader perspective

  2. Visions of the Invincibles get more rose-tinted the longer we go without a trophy.

    A great team, obviously, but we need to remember that they were not perfect. Especially because it’s a classic D&G strategy to wax nostalgic and compare an ideal version of them to our present day club.

    Thank you, Walter. Excellent analysis.

    This ties in nicely with an article by Paul C. awhile ago as well as another great article that compared what would happen to the Invincibles if 7 first-teamers were injured at once, like in this season (My apologies — can’t remember the name off the top of my head!).

    The myth of the Invincibles, like all myths, needs to be debunked — no matter how great it feels to believe it.

  3. An interesting article in isolation Tony but really needs to be looked at in the context of those teams that we are looking to wrestle the title away from and the facts are that our defensive record simply doesn’t stack up. Man U – 28 goals against (with Vidic and Ferdinand out for much of the season) and Chelsea 32 goals conceded. Even Aston Villa and Liverpool conceded fewer goals. I don’t think it’s simply the personnel involved. The year we reached the Champions League final was with a makeshift back four but we had Keown employed at the time as a defensive coach and the difference was telling.

  4. Very interesting stats. But goals scored could also have been nice. I think we just didnt score more in the 2nd half of the season….

  5. Wambuzi, a fair question. As I was writing the article I had to make a choice. Focus on the question that was asked or take all the other numbers along but then the article would have been a bit to much to be good. But like this article came from a question that was raised I will try to see if I can make another article on this with more numbers.
    I will see if I can work it out and keep it readable.

  6. Although the defence is poor this time but that I know is not really the problem. Our problem come mainly from attack, when looking at the invincible, one will observe that we score more goals that the present. So Cesc should remain in Arsenal or swap with Ibra plus cash.

  7. good research, nice perspective and interesting article… however, in my
    opinion you’re ignoring an important factor. Back then (in the first half
    of the decade you refer to) our opponents actually attacked us. Football in
    england was much more open, and indeed many of the goals scored by the
    invincibles were on counter-attacks following good defending. In recent
    years teams have taken a much more negative approach when playing with the
    arsenal. They are now defending deep most of the time and waiting for rare
    breaks (2 or 3) per game to score a goal. The two periods of time you refer
    are therefore in my opinion not comparable. We are now conceding the amount
    of goals you mention on these rare breaks from opponents, while then we
    were conceding against teams that had a genuine go at us. More possession
    from opponents means more attacks, more crosses in, and more chances to
    score. Our defense then used to deal with 60 attacks and let in 30 goals,
    now we deal with what seems to be 32 and let in 30 goals. Hardly the same.

  8. Just to conclude, in my humble opinion the problem is not our defensive
    line; rather, it is collective defensive play which is at present absent,
    and especially in midfield. Fab is fab in attack but does not defend;
    granted and accepted. Song has been a rock defensively as of late. Other
    than him though, other players have not contributed defensively, and with
    the exception of fab (even this is debatable) this must be fixed.

  9. Tony , Good article but tell me this and I have no idea as I havent looked any of it up. was the difference in the 2 teams NOT our defensive displays against what was considered to be the the top 4 in each year ?
    I would imagine the invicibles if we take them as the yard stick against the current squad were far superior against the Man Utds, Liverpools Chelsea etc of this world.
    Back then we were capable of winning at Old Trafford like when we won the league with Wiltords goal or drawing games away and winning at home.
    The difference might just be this team is not as good defensively against the best in the league year in year out.

    I know thats not always the case as one year cant remeber which one we had a great record against the other top 3 teams and still won nothing but in general I would say the invicibles were better by far.

  10. interesting but a one-sided argument. as one-sided as saying defence cost us the title this year.

    maybe you could do a goals for to goals against ratio and goal difference of the top 4 in the last ten years. i believe we would see that the top teams are scoring a lot more and conceding the same, if not less. it’s getting tougher and comparing it to stats from 97/98 doesn’t do the numbers justice.

  11. Very myopic research

    did u care to check what our rivals have been conceding in the last 5 years?

    Wenger said this at the beginning of 09/10 season about the 08/09 season

    “But we conceded too many goals last year and we decided to rectify our defence and the system we play.

    “I believe that by the end of this season we will have conceded less goals but somewhere as well we encourage the team to go for an offensive game and sometimes we pay the price for that a little bit.”

    u are on your own with that analysis

  12. Walter

    With the greatest of respect, you can make stats say what you want them to.

    The reality of last season was this:

    Arsenal lost 2-1 and 1-3 to Man Utd, throwing the first away through two daft errors by Diaby and Almunia and being thoroughly outplayed in the return. Nani turning our left back inside out, Rooney suckering us on the counter and then Park being asked to score on the counter by our defence.

    They lost easily both times to Chelsea.

    They got out of jail at home to Barca and were well beaten in Spain. In all honesty, Barca had more good chances at the Emirates and our defence was nowhere in the first 45 minutes. Mercifully, Almunia had one of his best nights in an Arsenal shirt. Or 6-0+ was the half time score.

    They threw away points to Wigan, Birmingham and West Ham, the first two of which included poor defence/goalkeeping at key moments.

    On the plus side they were much more ruthless in finishing off lower ranked teams than in seasons gone by. And they scored more late goals in key games.

    The Arsenal squad is demonstrably less strong than Man Utd, Spurs, Man City in Central Defence, with three of the 5 employed being 33 or more. You don’t need to be Einstein to see that that needs sorting. Our top two are really good, but Djourou was out, Campbell came only in January and Song is a stop-gap. You need four reliable ones to be champions. That’s undeniable fact and to keep them happy you need successful rotation. That’s reality also.

    The Arsenal goalkeepers are comfortably in the bottom half of the league in terms of reliability, commanding their area and organising their defence. I don’t know what stat you need to measure to show that to be the case, but I’d really like you to go through a list of all the EPL goalkeepers and tell me which are comfortably worse than ours. Really. Cech, Edwin, Gomes, Shay, Reina, Howard, Friedel, Hart, Schwarzer, Sorenson, Robinson, Kirkland, Gordon. Et al. I don’t think you could make a case for any of those being worse. And quite a few are clearly better.

    At right back we enjoy Sagna and Eboue. Solid without being world-beating. You wouldn’t want Sagna injured against the top teams though…but you don’t need to spend a fortune there….

    At left back we enjoy Clichy, Gibbs and Traore. No need for extras there in years to come in the absence of players being sold. Although Chelsea and Utd enjoy more experience right now.

    Now there’s three ways of looking at this:

    1. We play deliberately more open. In which case we need to score more in the tight games.
    2. Our midfield can’t defend. In which case it needs rebalancing with a few who can. You watch how Inter defended on Saturday and, I’m sorry, Arsenal can’t do it like that. It’s not saying it has to be like that each week, but it must be a core capability.
    3. We can’t get past the bus parked on 18 yard lines, so we get suckered on the counter. It’s no good saying parking buses isn’t fair, if you want to win you must sort it out. Nottingham Forest won the European Cup 30 years ago at the Bernabeu in exactly the same manner. Scoring in the first half and letting the best keeper in the world stop what the Germans threw at them in the second. And Clough bought two players specifically to win the European Cup: Francis, as England’s first £1m player, who scored the winner in Munich; and Shilton, England’s finest keeper, who made the stops to ensure they won in Madrid.

  13. Interesting stuff. I had no idea the previous title-winning sides conceded so many by comparison.
    I do agree with Franchise however, it’s more important to note how our rivals are now doing.
    Defence seems to be more important these days then, and we do leak too many avoidable goals – I think that much is clear. The number of goals we’ve let in over the past few seasons simply through not having a defender over 6foot is notable. Also we were getting cut open far too easily at times this year, which may have been due to the adjustment to the new formation.

  14. Very interesting Walter!

    Agree with you Jagger: I believe the new formation is a reason why we conceded many goals against big clubs. 4-3-3 is based on an offensive high-pressure defense and as such it is much more sensitive towards swift counterattacks and good passing in general. Rooney and Drogba scored such goals and Xavi was able to make Cesc-passes behind our back-four (because the otherwise brilliant Vermaelen played to aggressivly). Also this formation makes the DM so very important, which means that with Song absent we are much more vulnerable than we used to be.
    But now the lads have had a go at it for a year so they should do better! A shame Gallas is leaving though because his speed is perfect for a high-up-the-pitch backline.

    Without mistakes from Almunia/Fabianski, Silvestre and Traore we should have conceded a few less goals.

  15. Chelsea conceded last seasons 15, 22, 24, 26, 24 goals and this season 32.
    They also conceded mor goals some + 45 % against last year and if you make the average of the 4 seasons before. (Average of 22 goals)
    Mu conceded last seasons 26, 32, 27, 22, 24 goals and this season 28. They concede more but they kept it more thight to their average of 26 goals per season. But their defence is seems to have been more balanced in the last seasons.

    Chelsea’s defence had it worst record for a long time in fact.

    So I think it is fair to say that all the top teams have more goals scored against them.

    I think it is also fair to say that we always have been a team that conceded more goals than the other competitors for the title. I think this is because of our always open and attacking game we play.

    But for those who liked it we could try to go back to the time we played 42 games and scored 40 goals and conceded 38.

  16. Do not have a narrow view of the game.Cesc is leaving who scored 20 goals.Defending is not only about defenders it is also about efficiency and effectiveness of midfielders and sharpness of strikers.

  17. walter. I think it would also be better to see which kind of goals we conceded. We conceded 23 set piece goals in 09/10 (opta stats) which is 56%. And in all competitions it was 37,5%. I haven’t had the time to collect data from previous seasons, but on the defensive note we have alot to work on defending set pieces. As it is not open play. Players have time to go into positions etc and defend. I get nervous each time the opposition have a set piece and I know a lot of other people do aswell.

  18. For those who asked the scored goals : 76 average by the invincibles and 71 by the current team.

  19. “Lies, Damned lies and Statistics” as the addage goes. The context is more important when assessing these things. In the year of the Invincibles and the great years around then, we had one major asset that we sadly lack now – leadership. Those teams took the field each match with a majority of the players prepared to step up to the mark and take responsibility if things began to go wrong. There was always somebody to grasp the nettle. Nowadays we have Cesc, RVP (most times) and …eh that’s it. The rest often seem to be like rabbits caught in the headlights or else just hide in the crowd and accept a general criticism afterwards. This strenght comes with maturity and maturity, except in exceptional people (Mr Adams, Cesc etc..)comes with age.
    I’ll expect to see an even more confident Alex Song and Thomas Vermaelan next season and hopefully some of the others growing to a level where they are ‘senior’ players rather than just ‘potential’ senior players.

  20. Sorry to take you off topic, but i just want to say that your admire the willingness to verify stories before writing them. A lot of D&G proponents are already reporting stories about how Aliko Dangote, Nigerian billionaire, is willing to invest in arsenal and they are not publishing quotes, just reporting like they are in the know. Well it looks like that story originated from a scam e mail (see copy of mail on the link and it is being reported as gospel truth in mainstream media and D&G land.
    Aliko Dangote has come out to deny it. This tells you how low sports journalism has sunk (even the Nigerian dailies are reporting the story as gospel truth)

  21. Fair enough to go off topic 9ja because that story is everywhere and you’ve directed us to something new.

    I am not sure if the story is true or not, but we’ve covered the issue of Lady BS’s shares before – at 15% of the shareholding you pay £££££££££ and don’t get a seat on the board. You don’t even get a season ticket.

    My understanding is that the shares were offered to Mr Usmanov and Mr Kronke but neither showed an interest, so she is spending a lot of money with merchant banker to sell to anyone.

    For anyone interested, my advice is, go on to the club level waiting list. It’s cheaper and you get a nice seat.

  22. I`m not sure about whether we can read too much into these defensive stats Walter, as someone else commented you can often twist these things around to come to a suitable conclusion. However I was interested to see you mentioned the 94/95 side and how you considered our 12th place finish a disaster. Last week I used that season as an example to the Wenger out brigade on another blog. Believe it or not we were incredibly flattered to finish 12th, Where as this season we were still challenging for the title in april, in that particular season we were fighting relegation in the same month. It took 3 wins on the bounce over easter to stop us facing the humiliation of the drop. I know that most of the prats who call for Arsene`s head weren`t around then, they jumped on the bandwagon after his 1st double, but the fans who were around then and want him out should be ashamed of themselves, they must have bloody short memories.

  23. Interesting inital stats & some very good follow up points.

    Taking it all into account it would appear that the whole team does not defend very well as a unit i.e not well enough organised at set pieces & slow to close other teams down in midfield when they have possession.

  24. There was a stat that show denilson was the best MF(midfielder….) in the premier league at intercepting passes.

    I would like to see stats comparing midfielders tracking back or being robbed of the ball.

  25. I would just like to agree with some of the points mentioned by the other bloggers. The stats from Walter were very interesting and a little suprising to me however it is the context in which we lost the goals that matters, always from poor defending or decision making from the keeper and rarely from good play from our opponents. A good stat to look at would be the conversion ratio of goal chances to goals scored for the current team and the invincibles.

    However as one blogger has already pointed out our goals dried up in the second half of the season and this along with multiple injuries at crucial times is for me the real down fall of our season.

    The way we play we are always going to conceed in and around the same number of goals especially from counter attacks. This is where Wenger needs to cop on and have better tatics, especially when playing against the top 2 where this season we have just been picked off at will. So apart from the keeper i dont think we need a massive overhaul at the back just some better decision making from the sidelines. Like why can we not make subsitutions before 65mins ???

    I love what Wenger has done for Arsenal but he has to take a large part of the blame. Of course I’ll give him the time to make it right now that we have some money to spend.

  26. To clarify some things I do think we should improve on our defensive record. But like most things in life the bare facts sometimes contradict the memory.
    A bit like those summers when we were young. Now it looks like the sun was always shining but in fact we had as much rain as we have now in the summers.
    Yes we conceded to many goals but it is something that happened to us all the time even most of the time when we had those great defence and the years before.
    I agree a bit with Wilsheres dad as I think it has more to do with the rest of the team not defending enough at times.

  27. Chelsea scored 103 goals and were second in goals allowed with 32. Goal differential is a bigger predictor of overall success than just defense, because the third best defense in the League was Liverpool and they finished 7th. It’s not just one or the other, scoring or defending, it’s both, it’s balance.

    I wrote about this at the start of the season and this sounds almost trite but it’s not just defense because you can’t draw your way to the title.

    38 draws = 38 points and relegation threatened
    19 wins and 19 losses = 57 points and 8th or 9th place.

    See, you have to score goals if you want to stay in the league and you have to defend well to win the league.

    Arsenal play possession as defense, like Bayern on Saturday, and it’s not only predictable and easy to defend against, it’s easily exposed by the quick counter attack.

    How many times were we ahead this year and dropped points from a winning position because we couldn’t defend? You think Inter would have lost that second leg at Camp Nou if their striker opened scoring in the 18th minute? Maybe, but it wouldn’t have come 3 minutes later.

    Arsenal have an average, one-dimensional, disorganized defense until we are able to hold leads against good teams (or even poor sides like Wigan and West Ham) we aren’t going to win any titles.

    Well, maybe the Emirates Cup.

  28. Interesting stats, Walter & some good arguments pro & anti.

    I would like to point out some sequences all 38 game seasons Goals conceded:

    1990 38
    1991 18
    1998 33
    1999 17
    2000 43
    2001 38
    2002 36
    2003 42
    2004 26

    What I am trying to point out that it is possible to go directly from a relatively poor defensive season to very good ones.

    I don’t think the problem is the quality of the players but more a matter of concentration & pride in defending as a team.

    There certainly seems to be a need for some adjustment to the method of play & attitude. I can think of several games which we won reasonably comfortably but still let in a soft goal. The opening game of the season, Everton away, which we magnificently won 6-1 but that 1 goal came when we were 6-0 up. So what you might say but the slip of concentration is significant because it shows a laxity & lack of determination.

    They must start next season in the mood to give absolutely nothing away.

    Rhys- you don’t see every game these other ‘keepers play. To my mind Almunia is a good or bad as most of them. He is not a great ‘keeper but good. Lukic so if we can find a Seaman (please don’t tell me Green) then great but if not Lukic was ok. Almunia suffers from not costing a lot of money. We could spend a lot on a new ‘keeper & still have the same problems.

  29. Nice article Walter thank you so much

    interesting I think you have some valid points it does kind of show the team is there or there abouts .problem is you cant afford to make mistakes any more

    . I think the league is much more competitive than in 2004-2005 season, when you look at Gallas TV5 clichy and sagna they are all very good defenders. What I do find concerning is the number of goals we have conceded compared to our possession.

    so in terms of stats this team is pretty daRN CLOSE to the invinclbles,it must be down to the competition raising the standard. IMO there is about 10 really strong teams in the prem and these days there is hardly a given game out of 38

    Ps there is one thing I did think of there is a huge difference conceding a late goal when you are 4-0 up then when you are 1-0 up or 0-0. In those seasons when the invincibles conceded goals did they matter as much as the one that the clown conceded in the last minute at Birmingham in four years that is how close we have come to winning the prem two late goals at Birmingham have cost us big time

  30. I saw Inter many times this season, Tim. They were 4-1 up against lowly Chievo and were lucky to escape with a 4-3 victory. They conceded a boatload of goals this season

  31. Ole,

    Inter led the Serie A in defense with 32 goals. They had 26 clean sheets in 56 games, including 2 against rivals Milan, and clean sheets when it mattered, in the Coppa Italia final and the Champions League Final.

    In total, Inter kept the sheets clean 46% of the time. Arsenal had 19 clean sheets in 55 games for a corresponding rate of just 35%.

    I watched the Chievo match, along with many other Inter matches, most notably the 10 men against Barcelona. And I say that their defense played a huge part in them winning the treble. Sure, the offense helped a lot as well, but 46% clean sheets is amazingly good defense.

    Hell, Inter even kept a clean sheet against Chelsea: the team that scored 103 goals in the EPL AND had an amazing 51% clean sheet record themselves.

  32. I think there is a different cause altogether for this.
    Its not just a weak defence thats the problem. The midfield and the relatively weak scoring capability (due to injuries, largely) this season is making us look at numbers.
    Look the the midfield line-up of the ‘invincibles’. Look at our midfield now. I agree, except Cesc, there’s no one quite committed to chasing the ball once we’ve lost it. Look at the defence.
    Rhys Jaggar said above – ‘At left back we enjoy Clichy, Gibbs and Traore. No need for extras there in years to come…’
    I am stupified by that comment, because I really would not like to rely on Gibbs or Traore during important matches, if Clichy suffers an injury.
    Almunia’s best performance for me was in the Champions League q/f first leg, and it was truly due to him that we had a chance to go thru to the s/f at the end of that match. Most of the season, however, he was just about passable, with a lot more keepers performing much better than him.
    Also, according to the records Walter has come up with, even after Chelsea’s defence had their worst performance in years, they still conceded 10 goals less than us. I dont think anyone needs a painful reminding of how many goals Chelsea scored this season, and how many we scored. You do the math, and calculate the difference in goal differnce.Furthermore, Chelsea’s average is 22 goals conceded per season and Man Utd’s average is 26 goals conceded per season. I assume here that the averages mentioned are for the past 5 years. So even then Chelsea has conceded 13 goals less and Man Utd conceded 9 goals less per season over the past 5 years. Despite this, look at the number of league titles they have won over the past 5 years. In fact, they are the only two teams to win it for the last 5 years!!
    Another important aspect – we also saw the Barca vs Inter Champions League s/f 2nd leg and the Champions League final. Particularly in the s/f 2nd leg, Eto’o defended so well that you could easily mistake him for a defender rather than a striker.In the final, Milito really turned in a match winning performance. We have to learn how to ‘park the bus in front of the goal’ in the big matches, especially when we are leading.
    Attractive football doesnt always win, boringly defensive football does not attract, but if we can defend attractively, we can win almost everything!!

  33. Is defence the problem? – This question is too big and complex to be answered by these stats.

    Is our present defence far worse than the earlier ones including the invincibles one? – The stats give us a good idea that this is not the case but it’s not conclusive because the earlier teams finished higher in the league and that would imply that many factors have changed over the years. By the present standards the goals we have conceded are higher than what the predecessors did wrt their competition.

  34. Hmm, I love this blog but I don’t really agree with the point you are making.

    If we have conceded an average of 35 goals over the past 10/11 seasons and last season we conceded 41, then clearly it was not a good year for our defence.

  35. Is it the defence that is the problem? The stats suggest not.

    Good article, I would be really happy to see the stats on how many goals we have scored for the past few seasons and see if they were the factor that has changed the way we once were.
    I remember our attacking talents:
    Too many to name but you get my point.

    Nowadays teams have sussed us out, they know that the Arsenal are an attacking team. Have you noticed for the past 3-4 seasons the opposing team has always had 10 men behind the ball?
    We break through most of the times but then they deploy dirty tactics which really piss me off sometimes. Inter Milan style of course.


  36. Even more strange about not winning the league with that defensive record was Hoddle’s decision to take only Keown out our all English Defense to the World Cup. I believe Parlour had the most Man Of The Match awards that season and Hoddle picked Darren Anderton over Parlour (Anderton hadn’t played all season because of injury).

    The unprofessional Hoddle thought like a Spurs man, instead of a pragmatic head coach of the England National Football Team.

  37. 4-3-3 is new to doubt players need time to melt in it..but generally, Arsenal’s defensive side are not good enough..especially in GK can say anything but I believe it is just not good just not good enough..

  38. I think that what we forgot in this whole debate is the new enigma (sigh) called Jose. He came and changed the way whole PL played just like Arsene. He started the trend where teams actually stopped attacking and kept looking for counter attacks.

    So the last 5 years while we have conceded fewer goals than earlier, the whole style of playing has changed. I am sure that while we have improved other top teams (read Chelsea and Man U) have improved more.

    But I dont worry about it much because teams will again start attacking with the introduction of Owen Coyle, Man C and Spurs there will be more goals and we would definitely benefit from it.

  39. Flint,
    I agree with what you say and that the same defence can change from one season to another.
    It has to do with balance and sometimes this comes natural and sometimes it is hard work.
    And this balance is the result of the whole team defending.
    In fact I think the signing of Chamakh could be great in this as he is a player, when I saw him with Bordeaux, who is hard working and also a striker with a very clean tackle at times. So I think we will have one defender more up front when he plays.

  40. Analysis of performance should always start with a review of the points column and note the gap from the champion. Then look at points dropped(losses and draws) and identify where these were dropped. If we had beaten chelski and manure at home and drawn away we would have had 8 points more and they both would have had 5 points less. Do the math and you see how close we were. The experience made the difference. One fact we cannot ignore is that ALL teams just know that they can score against us, and most do. Clean sheets anyone? That means that the fear factor is gone and only ruthlessness, fearlessness and experience can get it back. Holding onto a lead depends not only on defending, what about scoring more? Take a fraction of the million chances we let go begging and we champions. Mindset, belief, mentality, confidence,,,,,,,,,,,,say it again – E X P E R I E N C E.
    One more important thing. A keeper who commands,,,,,,good distribution,,,,instills confidence,,,ant the whole team looks better.
    I promise you this is true.

  41. “Now if we take a further look at the invincibles we all know that it was not a defence that was brought together at the start of the season. No in fact is was a defence that played many years together before that great season.”

    Lehmann – 1st season
    Kolo – 1st season at CB

    Played together for years, my arse!

  42. Bill,

    I agree with what you have said in the other article. The problem is that to make an article in which all those things are taken in it would be some 4 or 5 times the length and maybe you are bored enough after this lenght.

    So I just focussed on the goals conceded from Arsenal itself and if we look at the last 10 years it is that Arsenal always have had more goals against (in avarage) compared to the other clubs at the top.

    IW8, I still was thinking that Keown played quite a few games in that season but it could be my memory letting me down. Wasn’t it Keown who was in the middle of things at OT? I will look if I can find how many games Keown and Toure played to be sure.

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