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By Walter Broeckx
Keeping clean sheets. How to do it. If Wenger knew how to do it, I think he would do it immediately. So this is just an attempt from my part to see if we could find some pattern in our clean sheets and our defending.
A lot has been said about how bad our defence is. I think it is all a bit of perception and something we are told by the media. Some fans really do believe it and we sometimes get the impression that we are really bad in defence.
If we look at the real numbers in the EPL we can see that there are two teams who conceded very few goals. And those teams are Chelsea (10) and Manchester City (12). And those are also two teams who have scored fewer goals than we did so far. Now is there any possible chance that this comes from the fact that both teams are coached by Italian coaches? And this could be perception from my part but isn’t this the reason what Italian football is all about: preventing goals as much as you can.
And when we move on to the next teams we find Manchester United with 16 goals conceded and then we find ourselves in 4th place with 17 goals against us so far. So yes it could have been better if we would have an Italian coach. But it would go at the expense of us scoring less goals I think. I think it will be part of our attacking football that we always will concede a few more goals than other teams. But to say that our defence is shockingly bad I just can say that we are in the same mould as the Manchester United defence.
So one has to make up his mind about it. Is the United defence also a bad defence? They have Vander Sar in goal who is one of the best keepers. They have Ferdinand-Vidic in the middle who are considered one of the best pairings in the EPL, and they have Evra who thinks he is the best left back in the world.
So I started wondering if it mattered much who we were playing when we did not concede any goals, and what our defence when we have had a clean sheet this season in the different competitions:
Arsenal Blackpool 6-0 : Almunia, Sagna, Vermaelen, Song, Clichy
Man City – Arsenal 0-3 : Fabianski, Sagna, Squilacci, Djourou, Clichy
Arsenal – West Ham 1-0 : Fabianski, Sagna, Squilacci, Koscielny, Clichy
Wolverhampton – Arsenal 0-2 : Fabianski, Sagna, Squilacci, Djourou, Clichy
So to get a clean sheet one could say that we must put Fabianski in goal and have Sagna and Clichy at full back. And in the centre we have had a few changes but it looks that the combination Squilacci with Djourou has the most chance of keeping it clean.
Newcastle – Arsenal 0-4 : Szczesny, Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs (Sagna)
Arsenal – Wigan 2-0 : Szczesny, Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs
In the Carling cup we kept two clean sheets and we started on both occasions with the same back four. So let us just keep it that way in the semi finals I would say.
Arsenal Braga 6-0 : Almunia, Sagna, Squilacci, Koscielny, Clichy
And in the Champions league we only had one clean sheet so far so we cannot really draw any conclusions on this.
But if we take it overall based on the 7 games and we had a clean sheet we could say that the best possible defence to keep a clean sheet this season is in this combination:
- Fabianski in goal in 4 games (Almunia in 2 and Szczesny also in 2 are on the bench)
- Sagna at right back in 5 games (Eboue on the bench with 2)
- Clichy at left back in 5 games (Gibbs on the bench with 2)
And in the central defence we have a problem as we see that Squilacci with 4 games, Djourou with 4 games and Koscielny also with 4 games with clean sheets have been involved so far.
So you cannot say that one of the players is a must play option.
So I was thinking if there is any combination that would get more clean sheets than the other and then I found out that if you combine the 3 of them they got 2 clean sheets each. The other clean sheet was with Vermaelen and Song in the middle.
If we only take in account the EPL games the best combination should be Squilacci – Djourou and in the Carling Cup Wenger should go for Djourou – Koscielny.
In other words I think it is fair to say that so far our central defenders are interchangeable with each other and it doesn’t matter that much who we play. I do think that to get a clean sheet it is very important that the whole team takes its responsibility and defends as a unit.
And don’t forget that the defender who all of us had seen as our main defender this season is out since begin September. And like I said in the comment section a very close relative from Vermaelen has informed the Benelux supporters club that he will be out until the end of the year. If he would be back I think we will have 4 central defenders which we can rotate at will without really dropping our level. Just come back soon Thomas.
Want to argue against Wenger and his philosophy? Then you must read this first, or your comment may not be published
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