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By Walter Broeckx
When I did a very first and short attempt to analyse our defensive performances I got a lot of suggestions from people who asked me to dig deeper. So I took my shovel and went digging. And after a few hours of digging I had to stop. My back was hurting me and I am out for the next game. And yes I could dig even deeper, if you ask me and after some rest. So nothing is final until now, as it never is. I did not analyse the games itself and looked at their possible difficulty. For now I took as point of view that every game we play is difficult. We only have played against PL opposition, even in the Carling Cup so far and thus I think it is fair to say that the level of the games was the same for each game.
Just to start with I will say how I did my digging. I first took all the competitive games played so far. I then looked at how many games each player has played. And I also looked at all the possible combinations that we started with. I then looked at the numbers of games each player has played and the number of goals we conceded when he was on the field. And then I also looked at all the different combinations, the number of games they played together and the goals conceded.
For the keeper, the right and left back this was rather simple as this is a position in which you play or not play on your place. But for the centre backs this is a bit more difficult because do you play on the left side or on the right side? Hard to tell as this can change during the game a lot. So I took the centre back combination a bit together as you will see. If you are still interested of course.
And then finally I will try to act like Wenger and will tell you which are our best defenders and in which combination they should play. Not that have any intention to take his place. Even if I have been called the Wenger of the Low Countries (= Belgium+Holland as we sometimes call them) before. But still don’t know if it was meant as a compliment. Anyway lets try to make some sense from now on.
(NB these figures don’t include our last game).
|Total 23 games||Total 24 goals|
Of course the lower the average/game the better it is. But this is just based on looking at one player and his statistics. And if you look at Szczesny who hasn’t let a goal in so far when he played his statistics are great. But they are only based on 2 games. But it could give maybe a little indication for the future. Some will lift their eyebrows for the inclusion of Song. He did play at centre back in our second game of the season when we won 6-0 against Blackpool. Koscielny was suspended, Squillaci was still in Spain and Djourou was injured. But I will not count him later on when I try to attempt to form “the best defence”.
So if you only would have a look at individuals you could say that Szczesny would be the best option in goal and then Almunia and then Fabianski.
At right back Eboue should play and this comes to me as a surprise to be honest.
At centre back (and I leave Song out of this) Vermaelen and Djourou have the best statistics.
At left back it is Gibbs who has the best statistics.
So this first part is all very individual but as football is a team sport we must see if some combinations work better than others. So I did and this is where the back problems came as I had to dig very deep.
|Alm- Sagna- Vermaelen- Kos- Clichy||2||2||1|
|Alm- Sagna- Vermaelen- Song- Clichy||0||1||0|
|Alm- Eboue- Squillaci,- Kos- Gibbs-||1||1||1|
|Alm- Sagna- Kosc- Squillaci- Clichy||4||3||1,3|
|Fab – Eboue – Kos-Djourou-Gibbs||1||1||1|
|Fab- Sagna – Squillaci – Kos – Clichy||8||5||1,6|
For the sake of it I will leave out the Almunia- Sagna- Vermaelen- Song- Clichy combination as we all hope that Song will not have to play there again as this would mean that the injury crisis has returned in defence.
But based on this numbers we could say that Szczensy-Eboue-Kos-Djourou-Gibbs is on paper the best combination as they didn’t concede a goal so far. Be it only in two games. The second best combination looks to be Fab-Sagna-Squillaci-Djourou-Clichy with only 1 goal against them in 3 games. The worst combination looks to be Fab- Eboue-Squillaci-Djourou-Gibbs but this is only based on one game and they only conceded 2 goals in the final minutes when we were pushing to score with only 3 defenders left on the pitch.
A combination that we have played a lot is the Fab- Sagna – Squillaci – Kos – Clichy. And on paper they look bad. But we must keep in mind that they conceded 6 goals in 2 games and in the other 3 games only 2. So a bit of an up and down performance one could say.
Before I turn myself into Mr Wenger I just would like to make a final remark but an important one. We must not forget that our centre backs have until this season never played together. Vermaelen and Djourou have as far as I know never played together in a competitive game last season. And Scuillaci and Koscielny also never have played together before in their career. And we all know that forming a centre back combination is about building. Yes it can work out from the first seconds but still to know what your partner in defence will do when you do this or when you do that is something that needs time. So we are still in the building process from this defence and certainly in the centre.
Now if we would take a very short turn we could say that Wenger should play in the following line up IF ALL OUR PLAYERS ARE FIT and based on this attempt to analyse things a bit and my personal feelings:
In goal: Szczesny
Right back: Sagna (Eboue his individual numbers look better on paper but I just feel more relaxed with Sagna)
Centre back: Vermaelen – Djourou
Left back: Gibbs
And when I look at this I think this could well be a defence that could be around for a while and maybe it is the spine of the defence of the next invincibles? It has length in Djourou, a high jumping and always battling Vermaelen, a reliable right back and a fast left back. And a keeper I really like a lot.
And finally this defence never has played in this formation so far. If we do in the not so distant future will they prove me right or wrong. Time will tell.
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