Written by Mean Lean on Thursday, 14 February 2013 14:57
*HINT: READ WHOLE ARTICLE*
* IF I COULD DO A DOUBLE CAPS LOCK I WOULD. ARTICLE HAS MORE THAN A HINT OF SARCASM ATTACHED *
Thanks to my clever Twitter TL, it seems as if Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen are fighting fit before the all important Bayern Munich game on Tuesday. I was getting rather worried about who would play at left back during that game as Monreal has only gone and got himself cup-tied, with Kieran Gibbs on the treatment table I feared it being a bridge too far without our first three players who can fill in that spot.
Speaking of the defence, I was watching the Manchester United game last night and wondered while watching, if there were many differences to the way the teams defended. It is not often domestically that Manchester United are penned back inside their own box so I thought it a good idea to pay close attention to their defence, something I never do when it is Arsenal because obviously I am busy watching the ball and pooping my pants. I might have to watch an old Arsenal match via Arsenal player and compare the two.
What I found very interesting was the role of Rio Ferdinand. He was like an on pitch manager, orchestrating his troops as he saw fit. He was talking non stop, pointing at Rafael to close down the man and the Brazilian did as he was told, he was telling his players to hold when they needed to and this happened throughout the game.
Not many teams go to Real Madrid and hold on for a draw so I am interested to know what the communication is like in the Arsenal defence. Many people have said that it is practically non existent so I am a little intrigued to see for myself.
Manchester United have experienced defenders in their team, not only Rio Ferdinand but Patrice Evra and even people like Michael Carrick ahead of them. Their young players are now experienced players who have played many games, winning many trophies. Jonny Evans, Rafael etc may not be rated outside of Old Trafford but their records speak for themselves. This might sound like a Manchester United love in but I am trying to just see it as it is rather than following sheep.
Just so this is not all about those annoyingly consistent red devils, you only need to look at a team like Everton who are renowned for organisation and hard work. They have a defence first policy then build on that platform and try and score a goal, should you get that goal then there is a good chance you can win the game.
It is a bit unfair to compare our defence with Chelsea, they have bottomless pockets and have experienced players like John Terry, Ashley Cole *repeat robotic mantra about being the best left back in the world* and super Gary Cahill. God knows, we know about Gary Cahill.
The one thing in common about these teams are that they are well known for being tough to beat, they can roll up their sleeves when they want to and dig right in. Yeah we did so against Sunderland but let us face some facts here, Sunderland are no Real Madrid are they?
Now you look at Arsenal for a moment and yes we are an attacking team but you get the sense that it is a little bit of a free for all. Bacary Sagna has not been at his best this season. Szczesny started the season badly and spent the first few months coming back from injury. Thomas Vermaelen was shocking early in the season, Per Mertesacker has almost 0 pace and yet we haven't bought a new player to compete with Arteta to shield the back four. Unfortunately the mess against Liverpool at home this season is a regular occurrence rather than the Sunderland showing.
There is a long way to go before we can compete defensively with those teams that I have mentioned above. It is hard to know why Arsene hasn't seen it when it is spoken about, talked about and written about so bloody often.
Just to prove how far we have to go before we can get to where we need to be, here is the table based purely on goals conceded in the league so far.
Ok, that is a little confusing. 3rd best defence. One more than Chelsea in 2nd. Anyway, stats do not tell you everything do they? But we are also told that the table doesn't lie? Hmmm I am squirming around my seat rather uncomfortably now.
But the narrative has been that we are shocking defensively and Arsene will not let Bould work his magic on the defence and as this is repeatedly written and spoken about I have to ignore what my eyes tell me and go with the angle. You've all heard it this season, you gotta admit it sounded convincing didn't it?
Yes it says that we have the 3rd best record so far, having scored a goal more than 2nd place, yes we have played more of the top three teams than any other team and yes we are team in transition accommodating both Cazorla and Wilshere into a midfield but you can twist stats any which way you like so I am sticking with the experts.
Maybe we need to just forget about the defence and concentrate on our attacking game, the attacking game that was stuck at the start of the season. New overseas parts needing time to click. When I look back at Norwich away, Aston Villa away, Swansea home, Sunderland home, Stoke City away and more we looked a completely different attacking team to the one we have seen in recent weeks.
Manchester United and to a lesser extent Manchester City have clicked from the very beginning of the season until now and that is the difference. Before someone jumps to the defence of Manchester United, they are where they are because they deserve to be there, They have won many games because luckily they have not had to rebuild their attack. They have been able to add to an already strong attack.
You never know, we may be in a position to do that next season as well as keep up with our awful defending. Do that and we may just have a good season.