In the last 2 years football has changed in the EPL.
There have always been teams that would try and play for a 0-0 draw, but the last couple of years has seen a huge rise in this tendency. This year in particular we have had team after team after team turn up and from the first second indulge in rotational time wasting, and related tactics.
We’ve even seen it at away games, when in the old days, the smaller clubs would at least make an effort.
As a result the four teams in the EPL (and there are only four) that go out to play, entertain and win, find that they end up playing only six or so games a year against a team that actually wants to win against them. (Actually you can’t call them the Big Four, because one of them has never won the EPL, isn’t in the Champs League semis, wasn’t in the Cup Semis and has got a hang-up on walking alone).
So, clubs like Arsenal have started to evolve new methods of trying to break down the “park the team bus in front of the goal” approach.
As a result, football has changed – particularly in terms of defence.
Football originally meant going out and trying to win. Now that is not the case, the four teams that try to win all their games are placing a greater emphasis on players who can do something against a packed defence. In terms of Arsenal that includes Theo with his speed and crosses, Ade with his ability to take a ball down in the midst of the crowd, Cesc with his incredible passing, VP with free kicks, and Arshavin with his sudden shots, and so on.
This change includes the further development of the overlapping full backs, and a more attack minded midfield (Diaby and Cesc sometimes turning up as centre forwards for example).
Which leaves the defence isolated and struggling.
The weaker teams in the EPL accept this, because they go for the 0-0 or even a goal on the break, as per Fulham for example.
And that’s why when you see games between the top four clubs they can be rather exciting affairs. Not always of course, but quite often. Arsenal against Manchester, for example. Manchester against Liverpool. Chelsea against Arsenal. And Liverpool against Arsenal – plus many more. But it is also why Chelsea against Everton, and the Manchester Everton cup game were so dull.
Defences left on their own as the rest of the team look for the opening to get the game going are bound to let goals in sometimes. The simple answer is to score more at the other end – and that is the emphasis now, especially at Arsenal.
Asking for Arsenal to sign ever better defenders is, to my mind, not the answer. There are always better defenders around, but not everyone can work the new system of holding a two man line against a team that gets in your half of the pitch four times in a game. And besides I’d sooner see us win 4-2 than 2-0.
On another matter: who will make it through from the yoof team now in the Yoof Cup Final? (We got over 9000 at the Ems for the semi – which is not that bad).
Suggestions are that Luke Ayling, Tom Cruise, Sanchez Watt, Jack Wilshere (of course), Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong, Jay E-T, and Gilles Sunu all look good. But they can’t all come through the ranks can they? It would be a turn up and a half if they did.
Finally, a million thanks to our friends at GoonerNews for helping get us back on their listings. I changed the settings on this site, and they’ve helped restore the feed from us to them. There’s a link to Gooernews in the side bar of this site, in case you don’t know about them.
Next time: Perry Groves’ new book.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009
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