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My Vision

Written by Mean Lean on Thursday, 14 February 2013 14:57



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.

Pos Team Goals Against
1 Manchester City 24
2 Chelsea 28
3 Arsenal 29
3 Swansea 29
4 Tottenham 30
5 Manchester United 31
6 Everton 32

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.

Comments (16)

  • mario  - no title
    We have scored 5 against spurs,6 against saints,7 against newcastle,and 5 against both west ham and reading respectively,our problem is in attack as this ammounts to 28 goals in just 5 matches what have we been doing the rest of the season.
  • Blaise Aabe-ikuu  - Great Article
    You got it spot on. we need keen competition at the back of our field like we have in the middle and we can boast of the treble in the coming season.
  • JJ  - Tedious repetition without facts!
    Funny how everyone calls our defence 'shambolic' but fail to mention we have conceded LESS than Manchester United or indeed Spurs who have never been criticized.

    But this is just another example of sheep following each other blindly to the tune of 'lets-have-a-pop-at-Arsenal' tabloids. We've had some dodgy moments this season, but nothing like the howlers that Joe Hart has incurred, or ManU dead-ball defending, or the laughable Liverpool back 4.

    The 10 men on saturday were magnificent against Sunderland, but that doesn't fit into cheap remit that tedious pieces like this churn out.
  • JJ  - LIES
    PS And how exactly do you know that Wenger won't allow Bould to work on the defence??? Where do you get this from? Utter shit as per usual!

    Lee Dixon - one of Bould's closest friends told Ian Wright that there is NO problem between Bould or Wenger. NONE.

    Its just the deeply bitter likes of Stewart Robson - a man who was twice sacked by Arsenal, once because he thought he was the teams best midfielder but wasnt so was sold to West Ham, and then sacked as a pundit on ArsenalTV for talking utter shit! ... much like yourself!
  • gaya
    Mean Lean,
    our problem may have been from preseason.
    Not having the full squad training together.
    Maybe Arsene hasn't gotten a hang of the Asian tour.
    Maybe there hasn't been the right balance between attack (Arsene) and defense (Bold)
    Maybe the manager doesn't strike fear into his players
    Maybe Arsene thinks the players are professional enough to know what is expected of them on the pitch.
    Maybe the this team will get there eventually
  • MeanLean
    Haha JJ, I take it you didn't read the whole piece. I will take it as qa compliment as to how convincing I was.
  • Jordan Gooner
    Good article, you made your point well with the stats. Whist we know we csn improve.we are still the joint third best in the league
    Better than United and the tiny Totts. We lost RVP and Song but with the 4 new signings plus Wilsheres return.have a better team
    We need more consistency and a.couple of top players snd will be in good shape next season
    However we must finsh in the top 4 this season!
  • MeanLean
    Agree with you JG. A few quality additions and a good pre season can put this squad in a healthy position.
  • Tai Obasi, Lagos.
    You forgot or chose to ignore the fact that our second keeper manned the posts for about 10 EPL games. Only Man U and Spurs have real quality keeper back-ups. The stats say we are the third best defence in the League, having played stronger oppositions than any top ten club. Our first choice defence is not bad or 'shambolic'.

    For whatever reasons, Arsenal problems are always exaggerated by rivals and most painfully, friends. From what I've seen since the second half against Chelsea, Arsene has assembled another great team. If injuries could be a little more friendly, then Arsenal will finish third this term. TAKE THIS HOME!
  • paddlejack  - confusing
    You get close to not accepting everything the media throws at you, then pussy out
    Please tell me exactly how goals conceded stats can be twisted?

    Also you brand our defending "awful". I would say our defending on a whole is relatively solid, as shown by the stats. The problems lie in individual errors i.e shanked clearances, miskicks, poor touches at the back. Technically, these are not defensive errors, but can happen to any player on the pitch

    In my eyes, poor defending is poor shape, line height, poor offside trapping and poor decision making by the full backs. These problems are not suffered as often by us at all

    My point being, this article tries to be clever and discredit the "experts", but then inexplicably backs out of it. It is a confusing (and infuriating) piece that doesn't quite seem to know it's own point and meanders between points
  • MeanLean

    I fully understand my point, clearly I haven't explained it very well at all. In my head it was obvious what I was trying to do but in reality it hasn't made sense.

    My whole article at the start was continuing the narrative that has been pushed our way. You know the whole Arsenal cannot defend, Arsenal are all over the shop, Wenger doesn't teach defence. Man U are great, Chelsea are great etc.

    Then the goals table proved that it was a load of bollocks. I was proving the point that we are the complete opposite to what we are painted, I thought I made that clear at the end.
  • paspartu
    well said mean lean....and for those who didnt get it ..its right there in the top of the article in capitals....
  • Jd  - Partnerships
    It seems like a lot of defenses are not a good as we used to see some think it is down to the laws of the game changing and preventing defenders from tackling properly but one thing that I believe is a massive factor is that partnerships were very common until fairly recently where the same two centre backs would play together for almost a whole season but now due to there being more games possibly and the squad sizes increasing now teams often have 3 or 4 centre backs that are rotated. I think having a settled partnership at the back is really important and would love wenger to show a preference for either mertersacker or koscielney I know they both have differing attributes but pick the one that plays best with the verminator and let them settle it'll be good for szchezney too
  • Tim
    ML, we're sh*t. End of. We can't beat lower league squads and consistently get smashed by any club with any real quality. If you truly believe that any part of what we're currently doing is good enough then I truly don't know what to tell you.

    You're a nice fella but reading this blog over the years is like being in the twilight zone. "Next year," "if," "but..." etc.

    In some ways, I respect your devotion to the club but generally speaking the optimism is laughable. Have the last several seasons not told you all you need to know about these "if" and "but" scenarios?

    I'm paraphrasing here, but to say "if we hadn't sold our best forward to a team in our league whose defending is only marginally better than ours then we might be as good as them" is simply asinine. We did and we're not; those are the facts.

    Just like it's a fact that we conceded 3 against Bayern, 3 and 2 against Schalke, 2 against Liverpool, 2 and 2 against Swansea, 2 and 2 against Chelsea, 2 against United, 3 against Newcastle, and that's all without mentioning all the goals we've leaked in the domestic cups. Please, do tell me more in a sarcastic and condescending manner about how well we've defended this season.

    You can't expect to consistently win matches when you're leaking goals like that. Our defending is absolutely shambolic and I have no idea how anyone in their right mind could suggest otherwise. The Prem goals conceded stats you're clinging to are hollow. Look into the cups, look into the individual matchups against teams with quality going forward.

    And why after all these years are you still entertaining hypotheticals that clearly won't play out? What about selling our best player to a rival and our manager readily admitting "I knew I was selling them the title" doesn't tell you all you need to know about how this club currently operates and will continue to operate going forward? It's unacceptable but judging from the comments your spinning of the facts is clearly persuading people to accept the unacceptable. I must ask why you persist?

    ML, I had a similar conversation to this one with you about 4 seasons ago. Things have only gotten worse since. What will it take to push you over the edge and out of the positive spin zone? Missing out on the CL? Losing Jack to a rival? Would you bet real money on neither of those things happening in the next 2 or 3 seasons? Jack is a winner just like Cesc is a winner. He may love Arsenal but he loves winning more. He's also one of the hottest commodities in world football. You do the maths.

    Credit to you for being a bit more realistic this season (though the current state of the team and the sale of RvP to Utd didn't really leave you much choice) but you're still grasping for straws and looking for a way to spin things, this article serving as a perfect example of that.

    I'm not trying to come at you personally. Like I said, you're a nice fella, and just about any supporter of Arsenal is a friend of mine. it's just that I find some of the things I read on here to be absolutely mind boggling. The club is quite clearly rotting and it baffles me that you don't seem to fully grasp that.
  • MeanLean

    I was talking in facts, not spin, not my opinion but facts. It is easy to say we shouldn't have conceded in this game or that game but I am absolutely sure that Chelsea, City, & Tottenham fans are saying just the same.

    I am not spinning anything and never have. I give my honest take on how I see our club personally. People choose to support the club differently and I try and enjoy what I can from it. Some people choose to go to games and boo because that is what the take from it.

    I see our situation differently. I see that we have had a stadium move to contend with, I see that we have cash in the bank and that we have just received a phat payout from Emirates.

    Yes short term we have been poor in patches but it is not as cloudy as you make it out to be.

    Let us see next summer, if we do not make substantial additions then you can tell me I am wrong, I believe we are in a strong position for the longer term regardless of how this season pans out.

    We shall see.
  • Tim
    As I said, shambolic. And simply not f*cking good enough. We simply can't keep goals from flowing in against teams with any creativity going forward no matter how much possession we have.

    I don't dispute that you were talking in facts, but you can't create spin without facts. I don't care what our record shows statistically, our poor defending is our undoing time and time again. Attackers steaming from the half way line to our box without even a challenge, two Spurs players 1 v 1 with Sczesny in a matter of two minutes, etc. As I said before, you can't consistently win matches against good teams or even draw them when you're consistently giving up two goals. And for the record I don't even think Spurs are a particularly good team. Better than usual, but that's not saying all that much.

    You say we all support the club differently, and there may be some truth in that, but personally I was buzzing all week about the match, just like every Gooner I spoke to was." We're going to go in to the swamp and turn them over" was the general consensus. Wenger in, Wenger out, Wenger all about... whatever the case everyone badly wanted a win today, and once again we were undone by clueless defending and tactics.

    That was a sh*t performance from Spurs. They were there for the taking, and we couldn't do the job. And I know it's easy to pick on Ramsey, but, honestly, is there anyone else in the world who would've picked him for this match? If you want someone who is versatile, what exactly is it that he does better than Rosicky?

    As you said, we shall see going forward but 7 points behind the scum, Thursday nights looming, a cloud of discontent and negativity looming over the team... I'd say things are pretty f*cking cloudy as it stands. What top notch players are we possibly going to attract with our short arm/deep pocket transfer strategy combined with not being in the Champions League?

    And quite frankly, since you mentioned it, I'm bored of the stadium being used as an excuse. The club act like we're the first club in history to build a new stadium. Take a loan on a loan on a loan to get through the short term. Do whatever it takes. Take a slight gamble in the short term for a big payoff in the long run. The predator at the top certainly has the money and the credit for it. Where there's a will, there's a way. But there's no will because we have a vulture of a majority shareholder who isn't interested in anything put profit; isn't interested in taking any sort of personal risk.

    The club you wrote an article comparing us to just recently built a new stadium too, you know? And they're arguably the best team in the world right now. They didn't sell off all their good players. And a season ticket at theirs costs the same price as a single match ticket at ours.

    You referenced them as an example of what maintaining consistency can do for a team. You referenced players who have been in their squad for years and years and years. But you stopped short of examining why it is that they've been able to hold on to their players and we haven't. You act like we lost all these players through no fault of our own. Any way you slice it, it's damning to us. "If only we could keep players like Bayern Munich, then we'd be great." Well we obviously can't. Players like Schweinsteiger would've forced their way out ten times by now, just like Cesc, RvP and all the other players who have forced their way our of the club.
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