Is There A Case For The Defence?

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll get it. In fact, you’ll be humming the words even though they are not the ones you grew up with. Why? Because “Concentration…concentration…concentration, that’s what you need. if you be the best, if you want to be rest, oh, concentration’s what you need… if you want to make a clean sheet maker, yeah”

OK, so I took artistic liberty with some of that but those who know, know. Unai Emery knows. Not about Roy Castle; he may do, but that would genuinely surprise me. But he knows about concentration:

“There are different things. For example, in the match against Newcastle, we didn’t concede a lot of chances, and the goal that we conceded in the last minute is something we can work on. It’s something where we can give them the mentality so that it doesn’t happen again. I think this match is a good example of how we have improved in this.

“Yesterday was different because after we scored four goals, the team relaxed a little and conceded one or two goals. One was a mistake, but I think we have the solution and the first chance we have to prove that is against Everton on Sunday.”

That is Emery’s biggest challenge: “There are different things.” If the same mistakes are made, it’s easier to resolve but we aren’t making the same mistakes. Or the lack of concentration isn’t manifesting in the same way. The same end result, but a different route to ‘achieving’ that.

While Emery and his coaches appreciate the improvements, we’re far from the ‘real deal’ and struggling to reach the level needed to propel ourselves into the upper echelons of the table. It will take time to resolve the issues but time is a precious commodity.

Tricks of Confidence or Confidence Tricksters?

It’s easy to point fingers at the back four and goalkeeper, with good reason. The only two escaping chastisements in one form or another are Monreal and Sokratis. Bellerin is culpable – at times – for his positioning but Mustafi is head-scratchingly bad. Is it concentration, confidence or did we just get conned by Valencia?

As he rightly pointed out later, it isn’t solely down to the back four; defending is a team endeavour.

” First, the confidence with our defensive players. Second, working tactically to be more compact. But not only for the defensive players but for the whole team, the whole 11. With this process, I think we also need time, but it’s our first disappointment from the first games of the season. We need to improve this.”

It’s been a serial problem for us since 2005. As the band broke up and we morphed into a tribute act, our defensive work from the front began to drop. In recent seasons, it’s been almost non-existent. 

And it’s why we’re finding it hard to adapt to Emery’s preferred high-pressing style. The tactic must be enforced as a group; one chink in the chain, one player slow to react to a situation and the press is negated.

The collective issue is best highlighted by the right hand side. Bellerin is being asked to provide support to the attack and is doing so to great effect. However, part of that is for cover in his position. Not necessarily someone slotting in on the right but covering that area of the pitch. It isn’t yet second nature to the midfield hence exploitable gaps behind the defender. 

In the absence of a natural wide midfielder, it’s a problem which isn’t easily solved. None of the edges of the square pegs is sufficiently rounded yet.

Intervention Needed

This is the run of games to solve that problem, however. A key plank is surely the involvement of Lucas Torreira. Putting a defensive barrier in front of the back four improves defenders confidence as well as that of fellow midfielders. 

Whether that will happen is another matter. It’s the focal point of attention, particularly after his performances this week. There’s no speculation on how well he plays in the team given significant time on the pitch.

Is Emery yet persuaded? We may see tomorrow unless injury intervenes.

’til Tomorrow.

12 thoughts on “Is There A Case For The Defence?

  1. Unless injury intervenes… Didn’t LT11 get knocked pretty badly on Thursday. The wait could continue but hopefully he will start. I heard we had conceded only 2 with him on the pitch and 8 goals with him off.

  2. It is interesting that Sokaritis has escaped, especially against Chelsea. Torriera must start moving forward and we must also continue to press. After their performances midweek plus the fact they were subbed, I would like to see Iwobi play on the right and Torriera partner Xhaka amd Ozil in midfield.

  3. LSG,

    He’s been declared fit.

    Fortunately. There midfield could give us a hell of a time tomorrow and Walcott and Richardsons pace could be tricky

  4. Additionally, with Torriera:

    goals conceded when playing: 2 in 5 games Prem (Chelsea and Newcastle), 0 in Europa
    Goals conceded when not playing: 7 in Prem (City 2, chelsea 2, West ham 1, Cardiff 2), 2 in Europa

    Perhaps delving to much into it…. But paints a picture.

  5. YW,

    Hopefully he disn’t aggravate it. Emery played him from bench v Newcastle after thigh knock with Uruguay, so I’m orwpared for more of the cautious approach.

  6. MesutsLeftFoot,

    The midfield tomorrow will be interesting and its actually why I think having a midfield of Xhaka/Torriera/Ozil would be superb because Gueye/Schneiderlin/Sigurdson is good but they can be had with quality passing and if Mhkitaryan or Iwobi occupy the right then we could really get at them.

    Theo is in superb form as is Richarlison but they get joy off of being fed by their midfield on balls through or over the top. Its also why I want Leno to start because he plays that sweeper keeper role brilliantly and would help out the CB’s tremendously.

  7. Say what you want about Arsene but Arsenal have certainly gotten the better of rhe Sanchez/Mhkitaryan swap especially when you consider Manure have paid Sanchez £13m and he has 1 goal in basically his last 700 mins on the pitch.

  8. C:
    Say what you want about Arsene but Arsenal have certainly gotten the better of rhe Sanchez/Mhkitaryan swap especially when you consider Manure have paid Sanchez £13m and he has 1 goal in basically his last 700 mins on the pitch.

    He didn’t orchestrate the swap though C

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