Arsenal FC

DEFENSIVE NUMBERS MOVE FORWARD

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So we spoke a little about the need to ramp up the productions numbers in attack. The thing we didn’t cover is our defensive stats. There are some good numbers doing the rounds.

•Most blocks in the PL (includes shots and passes)

•Fewest times dribbled past

•Fewest tackles won

•6th most interceptions

•3rd fewest fouls committed

•4th most aerials won

This follow-up was also interesting.

Good tweet, Chris.

When Roger Federer started out in tennis, he had the best forehand in the game. His backhand was not up to scratch. So he spent a year going to town on perfecting it, which cost him tournaments and success… but the output, in the end, is storied history.

Arsenal came out of last season with the 3rd best defence in the league and a shitty attack, so what did we do? Went out and smashed transfers records to make us even better at defending. We saw our backhand was average so doubled down on the forehand. That ain’t taking us to the promised land…

I mean, that’s a little simplistic. We know that the mission of the summer was maintain the resoluteness of the defence, whilst adding more dynamism to certain positions.

Our keeper has character, dominates his box, and makes game-changing interventions Bernd Leno refused to indulge.

Ben White, the chicken korma eating centre back that would definitely nick your bird if you met him in Ibiza, was brought in to offer us David Luiz like threat in the build-up. He makes less mistakes, he’s faster, he can pass, and apparently, he’s very good in the air.

Tomiyasu is quite simply an actual right back. But we found extreme specificity in his skillset. He’s a hybrid centre back so he gives us aerial coverage and he tucks into midfield with absolute ease. Another huge character in a position we’ve lacked it.

The point from the above statistics is we’ve upgraded the footballers without sacrificing the defending. We’re creating a City model in defence. The players don’t tackle because they are so fast at reading the game and intercepting balls. I think we ranked lowest last season for interceptions.

It’s also interesting that we don’t foul a lot, that shows you there’s a real quality in defence.

The lack of high quality shots at our goal is a team effort. It shows the system is good. This was the pattern last season. We’re difficult to create against because we’re well organised.

Now, the path to the end goal should be: If you have better footballing options in defence that can defend and break lines… eventually, the automatisms set in, and the team bangs in attack… becuase the ball moves fast, with more ambition, and your attackers start to convert.

Average shots per game is 13 right now. Take out City and Chelsea and it’s 17, I take them out because they are two of the untouchables in the Premier League, and we were totally injury-ravaged for one game, and played 60mins with 10 players in the other. European Cup finalists are the exception, the other teams are more the rule, at least until November 20th.

We don’t know which way this team will go, but my suspicion is that we’ll be more around the 17 mark than the 13 mark this season. If that’s the case, then the goals should come. The big worry is our ‘Xhaka at leftback’ right now appears to be anyone we put as our striker. We don’t have the bully we need in the forward line. Auba needs to ball to feet fast and if we’re pressed with discipline, that doesn’t happen. If we use our link player in Lacazette, he doesn’t have the speed to take advantage of situations. Eddie has been impressing everyone behind the scenes, he was superb in preseason, but he doesn’t really take his chances in the league. Martinelli hasn’t progressed.  We need a DCL, Victor Oshimen, or an Ollie Watkins in our starting 11. I suspect if Balogun went on loan for the season, he could be that guy, but that hasn’t happened due to player preference.

So what will the club do? Hope that most teams can’t press to the levels of Brighton? Probably. Because most can’t. But we’ll see after the break. No doubt Paddy and Dean Smith have seen what Brighton did to us, so we’ll get a crack at it after the break.

On that note, see you in the comments.

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