Clean sheets and how to get them

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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.

Carling Cup:

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.

Champions League

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.

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69 Replies to “Clean sheets and how to get them”

  1. A good analysis as always.
    Can we do an analysis on the games we lost or let in easy goals?
    If my memory is correct, it always come from the right flank of our opponents and effectively putting pressure on Clichy. This doesn’t help us when Clichy moved up in support, leaving gaps when opponents counter attack. What often frustrates is that the left midfielder did not provide sufficient cover for Clichy.
    One of the strengths of Barca is that they play as a unit, both offensively and defensively. Much had been written on Barca’s offensive play, but they were also awesome in the way they defended when not in possession of the ball. There is hunger to win back possession and opponents had to breach the midfield defense before reaching the final 3rd.

  2. One thing which is certain from these stats is that Djourou is our best defender….U have to take no of matches squillaci has played into account, while analyzing his clean sheets…Djourou stats will look much better if u consider the (clean sheets/No of matches started) stat….Hope kos and djourou start the fulham game and keep a clean sheet….

  3. U say Chelsea conceded less to the expense of goals,then why did they score 6,7,8 goals a game last season….good analysis,I think we should TRY verminator and only wen verm is back ofcorz

  4. Appreciate the analytical effort, but this is a massive mis-interpretation of statistics. If one of your conclusions is that “it doesn’t matter that much who we play”, then something is obviously awry… if the quality of opposition don’t count then I’d be hard-pressed to understand what *does* count.

    The main problem is that the sample size of clean sheets is way too small to tell us anything at all. This is precisely why the whole field of statistics is so concerned with the concept of “statistical significance”. Further, to really gauge the individual and team performance of our defenders would require analysis not just of clean sheets but of all games. I think the most telling statistic is simply ‘goals conceded’.

    Sorry Walter, I just think that looking at 7 specific games and trying to draw conclusions such as the “best” GK is meaningless. What if Fabianski kept 5 clean sheets in 500 games and Shezza kept 4 clean sheets in 4 games? How to define “best”?

  5. good job Walter, but IMHO, there are more variables that should be put into account. One that i could think of, is how many games did they concede vs how many games they kept it clean. We could also have how many minutes have they kept a cleansheet between goals. If one is so inclined, he could go back to all of the goals we concede from freekicks and see who was standing in our wall (I don’t think Arshavin is very efficient as a wall). There are just too many variables that could be taken in. Maybe this is why AW can’t figure it out yet 🙂

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  6. I would like to see Squillaci and Djourou for the Premier league as you suggest. His height, while a cliche, does help. His reading of the game is a bit suspect, but overall he’s done well, and also squillaci is supposedly a very good organiser at the back.

    @Andrew Chua

    Barcelona absolutely destroy teams with their pressing game. But do you see anyone else doing it consistently and consistently well? There was actually a discussion on this on some other blog, and people came up with a few reasons. As you say, they do work hard, but they are in what is essentially a 2 team league where the game is slower, the referees protect them (along with Real madrid) and most other teams do not test them too much, meaning that they are relatively fresh and hence able to constantly harass the opposition when it really matters.
    Also, the majority of Barca’s team is from their academy, which is a model almost all other clubs including us will do well to follow. However, one difference is that their academy products play in the lower leagues together. They do not have to go out on loan individually. This means the understanding they share is built up right from the beginning. This is what makes their pressing so effective.

  7. Walter, I think you’re actually right about it not mattering who we play. Actually, our defensive problems are not related to problems with personnel in my opinion. It’s to do with us holding a high line, and not showing enough anticipation/awareness at certain times. That probably has to be worked on in training. But the high line will remain. As you say it’s a consequence of the attacking game we play.

  8. What is more important than the clean sheet is the goals that are conceded that cost points i.e games that cause us to draw from a winning position or lose a point from a drawing position. if you are 6-0 up and concede it matters very little. as long as arsenal remain in the top four for fewest goals conceded that is adequate.

    I watched barca against real the other day and the way barca press is exactly what is missing from our game, there is no excuse cos we was doing that this time last year. barca press like they are starving when they lose the ball, they dont let you breathe they cause the other team to make mistakes and if we did this we are more than capable of keeping the ball for long periods, a team cant score against you if they dont have the ball it is a simple as that IMO and it doesnt even negate are attacking prowess, I love our midfield everyone of them but I have seen the likes of song lose possession and not even jog back but WALK yes WALK back, they are lazy on occassion. no one can stop say a 20 yard screamer or say a goal that was hard to stop but it is the soft soft goals that they concede that annoys most gooners.

    we dont need to play like the italians but play like the bench mark for a team like ours and that is press you dont need to be strong just press no one does it better than barca and for a league that is not supposed to be fast paced they run around like dogs, i cant think of one reason why we cant do it again? if we keep possession and press the other team play to our game and no one in the prem can beat us at our own game

  9. Thanks for the input I would say and I will try to take this on and ad it in an attempt to fine tune it and make a follow up on this.
    By no means I had the intention to write the final conclusion. It could have been if I would have found out that all our clean sheets were the result of playing the same 4 defenders in each of those game. But as this wasn’t the case I will try to look further on this.

  10. @gooner80

    Pressing does have its own risks you know. If not done as a unit it leaves you more vulnerable. Which is why most teams don’t do it.

  11. @shard

    surely any kind of defensive set up there has to be unity, there is a compromise, all i expect is for the midfield to put in a decent shift, when we had the running man ( flamini) he was immense, IMO we are not even keeping possession as well as we were in 08 season when eduardo broke his leg we was playing the best football and keeping the ball so the other team had to do the work. All i am saying is we have to play to our strengths and our strengths are similar to barca, we cant emulate chelsea cos that not how we play and we dont have the team to play like that or like the invincibles so IMO pressing is are only option, I think you mentioned recognising danger that is a big part of what is lacking as well. Its soft goals and people not tracking back that annoy me

  12. p.s and you can defend by keeping the ball not just pressing like i said if you keep the ball the other team can have all the talent in the world but they cant hurt you if you have the ball, possession or significant possession is a key part of defending

  13. I agree.. That is the only gripe that I have with Denilson. Pressing is something we did at the start of last season. I don’t know what it is. Maybe we just don’t have the energy to do it in every game. Maybe we don’t have the organisation for it. Pressing does need much much more because the entire team does it. Maybe the English game is too fast or too differenty refereed to do it effectively. I deally we should but there may be reasons we cant

  14. Good stuff Walter – something to think about, I can see from the comments that it has broadened perception and people are already coming up with ideas to analyse this further – as it doesn’t go deep enough.

    Still; I think the balance is right as it’s a really good introductory angle on it and it addresses an awful lot of ignorance on the subject (that we have to put up with on a daily basis) – I think, with a bit of hackery, I can get hold of all the opta data XML so I might try and get some of these numbers together…

  15. Just to side track… then again maybe not since this impacts our clean sheets. I think we need another CB, not because of anything else but our record of injuries during this period. TV’s status is unclear. That leave us with 3 rotating CBs. If any one of them gets a long term injury, we are in trouble… not least with us competing on all fronts.

    Maybe… just maybe Song could cover, and/or another defender from the reserves. I suppose that’s why AW said he will only sign in Jan if there are injury(s).

  16. I often get in conflict with fellow Gooners about “clean sheet” issue. It sound important, but 0-0 draw is clean sheet too, but you get only one point for it, while we conceded two against Villa, but scored more and that for we got 3 points. Looking at things from that angle I really see no importance in clean sheets, I think it is something what teams who play ugly football invested as excuse for 1-0 results.

  17. I think one central defender of the class of Vermaelen should be added. Actually it should had been added last summer, but we got Koscielny and Squillaci. Koscielny looks good but is inconsistent. Squillaci is consistent but just about average. Clichy should try to reduce those moments of mistakes. Also the crossing by both Sagna and Clichy should be consistently good which is a important trait of fullbacks.

  18. And speaking about clean sheets, i think having a clean sheets tells us that our defence is doin a good job. It may sound nice that we won by 4-3…but what happens when we face a team which is defensively and attackingly good? Like say chelsea? We can all see what happens when we faced Chelsea in recent times. We have lots of possession but cant score a goal. And all they need is one counter attack to score. Thats why havin a solid defence is the 1st priority to win the epl. Whenever any team has won the epl, they always had a superb defence and goalkeeper.

  19. Armin,

    I’ve got to agree with you! It does seem like we fans always need something to complain about. If we win all our games 4-2 in the league, we would have conceded 76 goals by the end of the season but we would have 114 point and +76 goals difference. Now who wouldn’t prefer that to 88 points, +23 goals difference and 27 goals conceded. Of course this is only hypothetical but it demonstrates in figures the futility of the clean sheet argument. To me clean sheets are like the Carling cup: good to have but not worth going nuts over.

    BTW, having clean sheets does not in itself imply a great defence: own goals, penalties, LUCK, referees etc are all factors (positive or negative) that can impact on getting clean sheets. We lost at OT last season to an own goal (from a free header!) and a dubious penalty. Arshavin scored a beauty and we missed many GOOD opportunities. Can anyone here honestly say that Manure’ defence was better than ours that day? But imagine if we had put all our chances away! We might have won 4-2 (there comes that scoreline again).

    In summation, I don’t care about clean sheets, I only want my team to out-score the opposition.

    And to Dark Prince,

    We lost at Chelsea because they out-score us. Good sides ALWAYS score. Let’s not get carried away by the Farca V Real Mad result. I’m surprised by how many are now using Farca as the gold standard in defending? Seriously? All Farca believe in is out-scoring the opposition! That’s Arsene’s philosophy as well and I am wholeheartedly with him.

  20. Bootoome- chelsea out score us?? You’re keeping it too simple. They out-defend as well. Can you imagine how much possession we have in these games and yet cant score?? Seriously, how many goals have we scored against Chelsea? Is it bcoz we cant score or is it bcoz they defend well? I guess its the latter. Anyways, even for Barca vs Madrid game. We kinda have a situation like Madrid where the attacking players are awesome but their defence sucks. Plus even after all those attacking prowess, they cant score against Barca and thats because their defending is awesome.

  21. @Armin
    I agree, I don’t understand all this talk of clean sheets. Obviously you aim not to concede goals but it’s far better to win a game 3-1 than 1-0.

    I think examining clean sheets is not the best way to go about it. I would like to see the average number of goals conceded per game, of all the different CB partnerships. I suspect that the Djourou – Squillaci pair could have the lowest (best) score, but that could be down to the opposition they’ve faced.

  22. And please let’s not get into these comparisons between ourselves, Chelsea and Man Utd over the number of goals conceded. We play a different system to them, the question should be “can we defend better within our system?”, not “can we defend better than team X?”

  23. @Dark Prince
    Though you may have right there about Chelsea game, problem there is still in fact we couldn’t score, not in fact we couldn’t defend. If we defended better it would end 0-0 what still make no sense to me. I really don’t make big difference between losing 2 or 3 points it is lost one way or another. So in my opinion which don’t have to be right, our problem lays in lack of clinical finishing and not in pore defending.
    You could sow it from Nasri attempt in Villa and Wigan game, Vela misses two nights ago…etc (and no I dont blame any of mentioned players nor think we need better than they, but its fact).

  24. Armin- so you are sayin that we score a lot of goals against other team but cannot score against chelsea jus bcoz we forget everything about clinical finishing every time we face Chelsea??

    I think you’re taking away credit of Chelsea’s defence. They defend well and thats why we aren’t able to score. Same goes for United, they defend well and thats why we cant score as much as they can against us. And for me Arsenal’s attack is as potent as United’s or Chelsea’s. But its our defence that makes that difference of winning or losing.

    C’mon, you cant say that they outscore us without concludin that our defence is not as good to stop them score. Also we cant say that our strikers cant score without concluding that their defence does a better job than ours.

  25. defensively I think we need to change our approach against good teams we are far too open,players can lapse against the lesser teams most of the time, but our approach against chelsea and manu is wrong if manu counter attack us in the game coming up soon I would think the team is not learning, the head to heads are probably gonna decide the EPL. I think the CB are getting all the blame but is not the case that they dont get enough protection and the midfield and attack are not killing the supply to the opponents team enough.

    like i said earlier I am fan of the pressing game killing the supply is the best option prevention rather than cure and then if a team resorts to long balls any defender worth his saltshould be able to copeand our defence has dealt with teams long ball game quite well this season.

    IMO it just needs tweaking,we probably only need one player to sacrifice his game for the sake of the team someone in thwe ilk of flamini or parlour that runs and runs breaking the supply is key. i would like to see us gettony adams out of arabia and get him working with the defence

  26. Armin- also if that game against chelsea ended in 0-0 draw then, chelsea wud have been 2 points behind us and we would be 1point closer to united today. It should make some sense. Sometimes you have to get even those 1 point. Afterall every point counts, but it has a double benefit which is always overlooked. Its not d matter of 1 point, but 3 points!! Bcoz wen we draw against chelsea, we dont let them gain any point advantage over us but when we lose, Chelsea gains 3 points, even though we jus lost 1 point if we had got a draw. So we to think of not giving points to the opponents as well.

  27. Hey walter have you done any anylsis on why we have been better defensively away from home this year?

  28. We had same lack of clinical finishing against WHU, first half againt WBA, Braga (and not even one of those clubs can say having some superb defensive record).
    Without intention to minimize importance of Chelsea defense in their vision of football, but here where we talk about Arsenal as it is now, I think our troubles more come from our inability to “end” game.

  29. Dark Prince,

    Your selective memory is extraordinary!

    Yes the only game we have played this season is against Chelsea. All other games don’t count. Chelsea is the best of all in all. You can only see what other teams do but totally blind to the great things that our boys do like: get a 1-1 draw at Anfield while your beloved chelsea got out-defended and out-scored 2-0. The same team out-defended and out-scored 1-0 by Shitty that we beat 3-0.

    What you lack my friend is any sense of perspective. Our biggest loss this season is 2-0 ((away), but Chelsea have lost 3-0 AT HOME!!!

    Get some perspective dude and stop raising our rivals while denigrating our team.

  30. Bootoome- Like i’ve said b4, we should only compare ourselves with our rivals. Now i hope u know who our title rivals are. I dont think liverpool is one of them. Also if you’re comparing in that method, then i should also remind you of how we got beaten by West brom at home while this same team was thrashed by 6 goals at their home against Chelsea. This could go on like this. Thats why i’m only trying to compare Arsenal with the true title rivals, i.e Chelsea and United.

  31. Armin- Again you’re tryin to hide our defensive problems in the cover of lack of clinical finishing.
    West brom- everyone knows, the defence slept the 2nd half.
    Spurs- Same case as above
    Braga- defensive lapses again
    Newcastle- i admit we did well defensively, but again one gk error was enough
    Chelsea- we did all we can to break their defence but we couldn’t. But our defence had no answer to 2opportunities given to chelsea.
    Shakhtar- One defensive error and we still haven’t qualified.

  32. Yes Dark Prince,

    we can take this to any dimension you want us to.We lost to West Brom 3-2 but would you acredit Chelsea’s 6-0 win to their defence or attack? And BTW, I think comparing our performances against the likes of Liverpool and Man City, especially away, is more credible than your West Brom comparising at home, don’t you think?

    My point to you is that Chelsea is not that great nd our team is not even nearl as bad as you and many othr gooners portray them to be. Like they say, the grass is always greener on the other side.

  33. Generally it is hard to compare, not becase we or they are better but because of philosophy of football teams play.
    I believe we would have more clean sheets if Clichy and Sagna would play deeper on our half with Song who would be singing only around center and just before our penalty box. Of course in that stile of play one of our center backs would not go such high and would not take part in “building game”.
    But it is matter of approach. I don’t say you dont have right Dark Prince, but what you asking for is not strengthening squad it is changing whole tactic, what is much more complex than to buy one player.

    Sorry to my second favorite Belgian (just after TV) for geting a bit off from original topic. 🙂

  34. I think too often when goals are conceded we say “blame the defense” or “blame the ‘keeper”. Against WBA we just played terribly. The whole team. That was a terrible performance. Everyone was asleep. Against Spurs we were caught out from a freekick with everyone forward and they were able to score a counter-attacking goal with us up 2-0. That was a team lapse. Spurs 2nd was an incorrect decision by the ref that led to their penalty. No blame to the defense. Against Chelsea neither team created much, but Drogba had either a brilliant or lucky finish (depending on how you saw it) and that was the difference. Their 2nd was just a pile-driver of a free-kick. No blame to anyone. Against Newcastle nobody blocked Carroll’s run, that was a TEAM lapse.

    We need to defend better as a TEAM. It isnt about individuals. When you watch Koscielny or Djourou playing they are as good as anyone when it comes to defending. We have TEAM lapses. That is where we get caught. It isnt about the system or about one player (except perhaps Clichy, who has made more inidvidual errors than anyone – I also agree Gibbs is in line for a shot if he can prove his fitness) but about the way we have been defending as a complete team, from front to back. I really dont know if one or two new players will make that much of a difference. The players just need to accept their responsibilities better and defend as a unit better.

  35. I’m surprise some of us take defence so lightly. Even Barca cannot guarantee it will outscore the other team. The last CL game against Inter attest to that.

    How many times have we met teams that park the bus, and playing for a draw or the counter. In these scenarios, a solid defence is critical. Going by the notion that we outgun the opponent is naive.

    And the measure of defensive excellence is via the number of clean sheets. Consider the scenario at the end of the season when 2 teams are tied on points. What would be the next criteria/determinant for the champion? Goal difference.

  36. Bootoome- i’ve in no way ever said that our team is bad. I still believe that this year we wud be more closer to the top than last year in terms of points. I have belief in this Arsenal team to reach atleast 3rd position in epl. But then i want them to win the title as well. And to win the title, its essential to have a solid attack, midfield, defence and gk. I believe we have a solid attack and midfield. But do we have a solid defence to repel the attacks of Chelsea and United attacks?? I dont think so. Do we have a solid gk?? Maybe in few years, fabianski maybe superb but presently he’s still on the learnin curve and will take atleast 1 year to make himself the absolute number 1 of Arsenal.

  37. Andrew – your statement doesnt really hold true. You bring up goal difference as the first determinant for tied points totals, but isnt that where goals scored come in. A team that won all their games 1-0 would lose out to a team that won all their games 5-3 by goal difference.

    Balance wins Championships. Scoring and defending. Sometimes you have to win 1-0 and sometimes you win 5-3. Winning is what matters. The key is to be able to win those ugly games, or draw them occasionally when you are not able to score mutiple goals. We probably have done that very well this season but nobody has really.

    This season is wide open. I am quite satisfied where we are at the moment.

  38. Armin- I can again disagree with you. We really dont have to change the tactics. We used to have the same tactics during the invincibles era. And Chelsea and United too use their full backs cole, ivanovich, evra all participate in almost every attack. Infact let me tell you that Evra, Cole, Ivanovich have scored more goals than either Clichy and Sagna. That also tells us how their full backs are better in attacking terms than ours.

  39. Paul C- you are right when you say the whole team was asleep during most of our losses. But i really cant blame the attacking department for our defensive mistakes. Though the whole team does become complacent during easy games.

  40. Now we can speak about tactic, you have to look at whole picture than, not just where Evra is or where Ivanovic is than what his “pair” on that side doing. And how many players from “middle line” went back to allow them heading forward. It happens because Manure or Chavski don’t necessary play on “possession” than rather slowing game and catching opponent on wrong leg so they can rush where empty space is. Arsenal play on possession fast ball transition and opening hole. And for that stile of play you need to bring up as many players as you can so you stretch defense. Of course that’s is two-bladed sword which can cut you as well once you don’t manage to stop transition of opponent in counterattack.
    But this season we conceded less goals from such situations than, than from as Paul C mentioned just lack of team defending abilities.

  41. Thanks Andew,

    And if there is tie in goal difference, what come next? Yeah, number of goals scored! Actually winning your games 1-0 will make you lose to a team that wins 4-3 at the end of the season, all other onditions being the same. The notion of out-gunning your opponent is not naive. Actually, the rules of the game are designed to encourage it. 0-0 gets you 1 point (with your priceless clean sheet) but 20-19 gets you 3 points. I’ll setle for a 100-99 scoreline instead of 0-0 any day and I’ll also take 100-98 instead of 1-0.

    I’m sorry about my naivity but I’m just not that crazy about clean sheets. It is just another thing for whingey fans to moan about. I recall a point last season when some of our fans were complaining that our goals were only coming from mid-field like it makes any difference!

    Clean sheets have absolutely no effect at the end of the day. It is all about how much you score more than your opponent. If you score more you get 3 points, if the score is the same you get a point and if they ‘out-gun’ you, you get no point. This is so simple I cannot get this whole argument.

    Armin and Paul C,

    Great points and perspectives guys. We need more of that in Arsenal blogosphere

  42. Armin- In that case, either you’re telling me that Arsenal cant win against Chelsea or United with tactics or you’re telling me that even after bringing so many players ahead in an attack, we still cant score against Chelsea or United.

    I’ll jus ask you one question, -why do we lose to Chelsea or United? Is it because we have a bad attack or bad defence?

  43. I think it would quite not right to say that Arsenal doesn’t have clinical finishing. Yes we do have that problem sometimes but is it the reason why we lose of Chelsea and United consistently? I dont think so…

    Its easy to see why we cant score against Chelsea or United as freely as we do with others. Its their defence and gk. But most importantly its their defence. Also, on the other game, how do we easily concede 2-3 goals against Chelsea and United?? Is it bcoz they have some extraordinary super attackers which are far superior to our attackers? I dont think so… Its bcoz of our weak defence. I wont blame the gk much bcoz they way Chelsea and United score is something which our gk cant control but its something which our defence as a whole should learn and improve themselves.

  44. DP,

    Your last question to Armin is too simplistic and a mere ‘gotcha’ question. Why did Chelsea (your gold standard) lost to Sunderland 3-0 at home? Is it because they have a bad defence or a bad attack? In football, you win some and you lose some. Some perormnaces and results just can’t be explained away as poor defence or bad attack. On some days things don’t just go your way. Last season’s game at OT and this season’s at stamford bridge are examples. You can make yourself feel better by heaping blames and demanding players’ replacements but in football as in life, stuff happens!

  45. Also before getting to the topic of goal difference, we have to think about getting 3 points against Chelsea and United bcoz after losing 4 games already, another couple of losses can easily widen the gap between us and United to 8 points, which i think would be a tough task again to surmount.

    And to be honest, we cant win the epl without beating Chelsea and United atleast once.

  46. Now it is official people, there are only 2 other teams in the premiership: Man U and Chelsea! According to Dark Prince….

  47. Dark Prince,

    As Rep. Joe Wilson notoriously said: You lie! ManU won the 06/07 league despite finishing at the bottom of the top 4 mini league! We topped it then (beating Man U home and away) and could only come 4th. Liverpool topped that league in 08/09 and still lost the league to ManU (after also beating them home and away).

    Dude there are 17 other teams in the league!

  48. Bootoome- Again, you’re bringing in a team -sunderland, who has nothing to do with being a title rival. Just tell me, how many times have sunderland won against chelsea at stamford bridge?? I know anything can happen in football sometimes, and hence i dont want to bring in the cases of our loss to newcastle or west brom or spurs. But when we go against Chelsea or United, its a different case bcoz we are losing to them consistently since last 5 yrs, especially Chelsea. And being a title rival, its important that we beat Chelsea and United, not only to gain on points but also for the players to gain a psychological advantage over their rivals. And i dont think our present defence can handle the attacking pressure from Chelsea and united.

  49. Dark Prince wrote:

    “Bootoome- thanx, you’re just admitting that Arsenal cant beat United or Chelsea.”

    So? It’s a 20 team league hence we have other 17 teams to deal with. Your total obsession with the manure and the chavs is rather irrational. I think myself and any other Arsenal fan will like nothing more than to stuff these 2 teams but losing to them is not the end of the world as you will like us to believe.

    I suspect you have chav and manure pals or colleagues who make your life miserable when we lose to them and you lash out at the team and the manager to ease your pain. if that’s the case, you need to know you are not alone. But you really need to chill dude. It’s just a game!

  50. Bootoome- b4 behaving so naively and sayin that what happened in 06/07 or 08/09, pls just let me know what exactly happened in 92/93, 93/94, 94/95, 95/96, 96/97, 97/98. 98/99, 99/00, 00/01, 01/02, 02/03, 03/04, 04/05, 05/06, 07/08, 09/10

    I’m sure the mini leagues of the top 4 of these years will clearly point out that the eventual champion had to beat their rivals atleast once.

    P.S- you can use earlier records also, but i’m satisfied from the time the premier league was established!! 🙂

  51. I promise to you all that I will have a deeper look at the things I wrote in this article in a few days and on the combinations of players and on how many goals they conceded. And I even try to look at the opponents involved.

    And another article coming up about conceding goals in the very near future.

  52. Bootoome- If you feel happy to lose to Chelsea and United every year then i trully cant argue about this. Whether you hav thousands of friends who are Chelsea or United supporters or whether you have thousands of friends who are Arsenal supporters, the feeling of losing against Chelsea and United is the same in every case.

    And also yes, as i’ve earlier said, to win the epl title, its important that we need to beat Chelsea and United atleast once.

    Also anyways, i’ll come back to what i’d started with, Arsenal’s defence, which even after all this long discussion, none of the people here, except me ofcourse, has been able to admit that Arsenal’s defence is not as good as Chelsea’s or United’s. Or atleast try to prove me otherwise.

  53. Dark Prince
    No one feel good loosing Chelsea or Manure, but to win league, and that’s all what counts here, you need to beat other 19 teams, among whom Chelsea and Manure are just Primus inter pares. Sunderland wont win league becase they trashed Chavski. Nor we won it two years ago despite we won home at Ems vs Manure with stile… At the end team on top is one who have most points from all games and not ones against so called big 4. But what is big 4 now? It is now not only Manure, Chavski, Scousers and we. Now you have T’scum. You have Shity. Obviously Newcastle is team who is not there for improving goal difference.

  54. Armin- i agree. But i hope you’ll agree that eventually beating the title rivals will eventually play the most important part in deciding who wins the epl.

    No doubt there are 19 other teams in the league but Chelsea and United too are among them and we cant ignore getting lost by them all the time. Eventually the matches against United and Chelsea is the most important match for Arsenal in the league.

  55. I agree it is important but not key, especially now, this season you have at last 6 teams whom you may consider title rivals. So to me Manure or Chavski are just two teams among others. Team on top now conceded just one goal less than we. And Chelsea is even on points with us. So it is much more complex than to say beat those two.

  56. Dark Prince,

    I don’t think Arsenal need to win trophies. If they can beat the chavs and manure, all will be well in the world. Ignore the other 17 teams, they are nothing:)

    I enjoy a good debate based on logic and perspective because life is not about black and white. There are many shades of grey in the middle. You seem to be a ‘black or white’ type of person and with folks like you it is better to concede the argument as it will never end.

    For instance, I gave you 2 examples of EPL winners losing home and away to their rivals, after you claim it is impossible, and you decide to go to the archives to prove an unnecesary point. I never said teams who beat their rivals cannot win the league which is all your archival digging is out to prove. Of course teams who beat their closest rivals can win the league but you don’t have to beat your closest rivals to win the league.

    I am not obsessed with ManU or Chelsea. If we lose to West Brom, they lose to Sunderland, If we draw at Sunderland, they draw at Newcastle. For a team with our terrible defence, we have by far, the best away record in the league. I celebrate this and praise the team and the manager. I want things to be better but who doesn’t? I’m always calm however, and I believe in my team. That is my only role as a supporter. This ‘buy this buy that player’ is just nonsense that makes some fans feel powerful. Useless power. It’s Arsene’s team and only his decisions (thank goodness for that).

    Now, to finaly put this to bed, can our defence be better? Yes, like everything in life, it can be made better. Do we need clean sheets? Clean sheets are desirable but they are not important enough to go crazy over.

    This is my last post on this thread.

    Remember, Dark Prince, you already ‘won’ the argument!

  57. 6 title winning teams?? Thats an exaggeration. Dont tell me u expect Newcastle to win the league? I’ll say only 5 teams have a shot includin Arsenal. And among the rest 4 teams, i.e Spurs, City, Chelsea and United, we have already lost to Spurs and Chelsea. We only won the match of City which i think goes to the fact that they had a player sent off in the 5th min. But i wont moan about that win coz a win is a win. But still it shows that our record against the rest top 4 is not good as of now. Thats why we need to win against Chelsea and United this month.

    And yes, these matches are mostly the key to winning the epl. There may be few years in between, like examples given by bootoomee, but these are jus exceptions which happen once or twice in a decade. The most pivotal moment last season was when Arsenal lost to both Chelsea and United both away and at home. For United too, the key to their title success was the Chelsea vs United game which they lost and hence lost the title too.

    I think this month will clearly show where we stand. If we can win any 1 of the matches against United or Chelsea then it would be good. Even gettin both games drawn would be satisfyin but if we lose both games then its will very tough to win the title this year.

  58. No I don’t expect NUFC but there is Tscum, there is Citeh, Scousers (what ever you think of them they are still alive and in touch distance), and 3 of us. So it is 6 …

  59. Bootoome- you are right about one thing, i’m a very articulate person. I dont keep things in shades of grey. There needs to be clear understanding about everything.
    Can our defence get better? – Yes!!
    But is our defence as good as Chelsea’s or United’s right now?? – No!!
    I think as many of previous commentators have pointed out, none of the supporters here are willing to look into where Arsenal faces a problem and try to improve or rectify it. I guess most of the supporters here thinks that Arsenal didn’t have any problem since the invincible’s era or that we still dont have any problems even after losing all those games this year. Its just shows ignorance.

    You too being a clear example for it, i never said that we need to sack our manager, i never said to sack any player, i never said that we’re not improving. I jus stated that our Defence is not as good as Chelsea’s or United’s which i think any footballing neutral will can easily vouch for. But this one statement can bring out people like you to give irrelevant facts only to prove that a Squillaci and Djourou combination is better than a Rio and Vidic combination or a Terry and Alex combo.

    It just shows complete ignorance and turning a blind eye to problems. Or as one previous commentator said, ‘sugar coating on the cracks’.

  60. I dont think its an Italian thing as such Walter even though the Italians in all competitions are known for keeping it tight at the back and nicking a goal here and there.

    Mourhinos teams and even our own George Grahams teams were pretty similar.

    I think AW always has his own ideas on how football should be played and in general thinks outside the box.

    I think the difference is when there is competition for places.
    Clychy has a bit more pressure on him now with Gibbs seeking his place.
    Sagna doesnt have as much in his position and the central defenders also have plenty of competition.

    I think the same with goal keepers Almunia wasnt playing great and Fabianski is taking his chance pretty well because he knows young Schezny is sitting there just waiting for an oppertunity behind him.

    It hasnt always been the case over the past few years I would imagine we are improving slightly and will continue to improve, though I have no stats to back that up.

  61. @ Dark Prince

    Valid point on the perception of supporters on this website. When I first visited this site, that was my initial impression… somewhat corny with reference to ‘Lord Wenger’ et al and the undying support for all things Wenger. Having surfed the Internet and visited many Arsenal-related sites, laced with troll and vitriol, this was a pleasant surprise… at least comments are moderated to sift out the abusive, inflamatory etc. And of course the articles are well researched, diverse and interesting.

    Having said that, I believe as a genuine Arsenal supporter, we must also be critical (maybe too stringent a word) of weaknesses, perceived or otherwise, and have a healthy debate on that, wihtout getting personal and abusive. Opinions defer, but at the end of the day, its Arsenal we are all concerned about.

    I thought this site sometimes try too hard to justify the Wenger ways, nothing wrong with that but heck, everyone has weaknesses. And no, our CBs are not up there with the best, not yet.


  62. @Andrew Chua-
    You are completly right about what you said. I’ve had the same experience as you had in visiting the other Arsenal blogs. Though rest of them r on the complete opposite end of the spectrum where they will ask to sack a player or manager after every loss. That is very unacceptable. But this site, on comparison, is far better than any other Arsenal blog, though it still resides on the other end of the spectrum where no one thinks arsenal have a problem. I tend to be in the middle where i can appreciate the good things but cannot turn a blind eye to the problems.

    And yes, as you said, our CB aren’t the best but r improving and most probably reach to the top one day.

    Cheers to that!!

  63. @dark prince

    you are wasting your time my friend, anyone who thinks arsenal havent had a problem with defence since 2007 is obviously not that objective, I believe you are right about chelsea and man u you can not win a trophy without beating good teams and our record against these teams a kind of a summation of arsenals problems.

    you are clearly a supporter like me from the george graham era when we used to scream 1-0 arsenal and never had to worry, since that legendary defence and then the invincibles we have been lacking and to be a top top team you have to be as good defending as going forward. This is why I am realistic this year all I am hoping is that we win the carling cup and build from there, there is very few in that arsenal team that have won anything.

    I also think it is not the CB problem they dont get enough protection and as said early one midfielder needs to sacrifice his game for the sake of the team

  64. @gooner80- Have you noticed that we have used 2 defensive midfielders in almost every game and yet couldn’t defend decently?? You say that our defenders dont get any protection but actually with 2 defensive midfielders they get adequate protection, but still we end losing or conceding goals.

    Also i’ve started watchin football since Arsene Wenger has joined Arsenal and he’s the reason why i’m a supporter of Arsenal!! Believe me, i dont kno anything about the graham era!! But i do not a lot since Wenger joined.

  65. Barcelona cannot be compared with us… Those boys were raised that way… Confident but humble, skillful but willing to sacrifice for their team… They perform pressing in a different way than Arsenal… In a league which does not require much energy and pace comparatively, Barcelona does triangle pressing on every single opponent players… While, Arsenal performs ‘false’ pressing on their opponents in a fast, vast energy consuming league… ‘False’ pressing is players take turns to press the entire opponent at a time… Its more difficult to apply but devastating if it works… Players need to improve their fitness and intelligence over the years if ‘false’ pressing is performed… I think its justified because it takes time to mold the players into one efficient unit… Most Barcelona players grew with that kind of system in them and it still is… Not at the age of 15-20 years old, but at 5-9 years old itself… I think we have to accept that though Arsenal youth system is world-class, it is still relatively new and need time to produce these kind of players along the road… However, it takes general help as well… Barcelona can put reserves team in lower leagues but Arsenal cant… The stupid English FA and UEFA rules of limiting loan deals, youth players within time range from academies and 25 players rule will further dent the progress of the Arsenal youth system and high potential youngsters… Thank goodness Arsenal FC is very fine financially unlike Barca… Be patience people, its not the team Arsene is building, its the future…

  66. @dark prince

    there has been two holding midfielders but denilson is about the only one who has ever sacrificed his game for the sake of the team.

    the last holding midfielder who sacrificed for the team was flamini .song jack do not hold, to me a holding midfielder is about killing supply and mopping up infront of the defence, a decent one is often gone unnoticed the amount of times we get caught two against two or 3 against 3 at the back is not comforting.

    I think arsenal want to defend like barca, but just cant, I accept it is a different league but barca press like that against the top teams in europe all the time and I would say in their league there is a few other teams capable of causing problems to even the top prem sides

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