DEFENSIVE NUMBERS MOVE FORWARD

by .

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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205 Responses to “DEFENSIVE NUMBERS MOVE FORWARD”

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  1. LoveSausage

    Englandsbest,

    It seems to me that the Arteta fan club are the ones who keep resetting every time they can find a new isolated piece of information that supports their case. Those of us you call doomsters are basically arguing that we’ve been seeing 20+ months of the same outcomes.

  2. Tom

    Negative Nigel, on the flip side the likes of Positive Pete will be here bragging Arsenal took a solid point against the fifth richest club in the world after a scoreless draw against Newcastle.

  3. Andy

    vlahovic would be the best option for us i think. excellent holding the ball up and going in behind. a real handful for defenders. if auba can’t get his mojo back soon i would like to see balogun given a run seeing as we worked so hard to keep him.

  4. englandsbest

    I remember when Newcastle United won the FA Cup. It was way back in the days when there were no substitutes. We had a man injured – I’m trying to remember, was it Jimmy Logie? – and lost narrowly. 1952, I think. We also missed out narrowly on the First Division championship. I had a 1000-1 bet on Arsenal to win the Double – no Club had ever done that yet.

    Anyway, to get to the point. For me Newcastle fans have been the most loyal, the most patient of all. They deserve a break. Too bad it has to be big foreign money.

  5. Up 4 grabs now

    Afternoon

    This ignores the mess Arteta inherited,ignores the deadwood he’s had to try & offload & ignores any realistic assessment of progress can take time.You don’t just press a button & Alls well.

    Delete Arteta and insert Emery into that sentence.

    5th place, missed champions league by a point, Europa league final.

    id take that season in a heartbeat now, (oops i cant, we didnt qualify for Europe with our Valiant 8th place finish and blow up in the semi final to our previous boss who went on to win it!

  6. Graham62

    englandsbest

    I wasn’t at the interview.

    Firstly, this had nothing to do with acquiring the players he needed, this was all about maximising the use of the players he had.
    Two years into a job and some fans are still making excuses for him.
    The world doesn’t stand still you know. Life changes every day. Arteta could and should have done far better than he has, the fact that he hasn’t is down to his inabilities to act accordingly and as previously highlighted, maximise the use of his players.
    Imo the reason we are so far into his reign and nothing has really changed is based on his rigid methods and philosophies. Where’s the flexibility and positive aspects of his team building? Where is the observation of our weaknesses and acting on them? We are still a slow and ponderous team in comparison to everyone else and I mean everyone! Why is this?

    Oh yes, that’s right, it’s because Arteta is a great coach and knows what he’s doing. We just have to “trust in process”.

    Poppycock!

  7. Graham62

    Oh the irony of it all.

    “Kick racism out” and “ end all abuses” yet we accept the Arab worlds investments with open arms.

    FFP is a farce, the FA are a joke, the EPL likewise and as for FIFA and UEFA, well, what can I say?

    It’s like ending drug abuse in athletics. Why frigging bother?
    Just let them run the 4x400m “pass the syringe” relay instead.

    It’s the same in football. Just let the bad and unfair things happen.

    Why bother?

  8. Olumide

    Honest question: which premier league club, right now, will take Arteta as manager if he walks away from Arsenal?

  9. englandsbest

    Graham62

    Let’s be clear. I don’t make excuses for Arteta – there is no need to.

    What I do is give explanations that refute the merchants of gloom, like yourself, when they twist the facts to suit their agenda.

    So let’s return to your airy fairy statement that Arteta didn’t highlight how long it would take the team to gel. And now it turns out that what you meant by ‘team’ is the players he inherited. Do you realize how feeble an excuse that is?

  10. LoveSausage

    Positive Pete,

    I actually do have a lot of empathy for the mess Arteta inherited. We’ve been accumulating subpar players for many years now and I didn’t expect us to change overnight. Which is why I supported him until early spring this year.

    But ultimately, a manager’s job is to drive change and deliver results within an acceptable timeframe. No amount of resetting and “projects” can change that. Arteta hasn’t, despite the massive amount of money that’s been spent on his watch.

    As for whether you should fire a manager after 5-6 losses, I don’t know. Depends on the circumstances. I don’t see what that scenario has to do with Arteta’s situation though.

  11. China1

    I’m really curious why people think Arteta inherited a bigger mess than Emery. Genuinely curious

    It’s not even close

  12. CG

    Olumide

    ”””’Honest question: which premier league club, right now, will take Arteta as manager if he walks away from Arsenal?”””’

    Honest: Right here goes…….

    When this ends, he ain’t a top flight manager ever again.I simply can not see what he offers a top level club except excuses.

    He will revert to being where his skills are best suited. Assistant coaching.

    He is Arsenal’s 2021 version of Don Howe.
    And the Howe years like the Arteta years , simply a waste of time of everybody’s time.

    Harsh but fair and you asked for honesty!

  13. raptora

    “Hypothetically speaking.New manager,loses 5out 6 first matches,do you sack him?”

    Pedro was shitting all over Emery the day Ornstein said we’ve appointed him. He literally wrote a 1000 words essay on all of Emery’s bad moments. He hated him before he even got appointed. Now we have superfans claiming that we should stand by the club’s decision and give time to the manager. Big LoL.

    Link to the post – https://le-grove.co.uk/2018/05/22/ivan-gazidis-opts-for-self-preservation-what-a-coward

    And one of the comments under it. Emery wasn’t even hired officially and Pedro was so incredibly invested in Arteta.

    Bankz May 22, 2018 08:37:17
    I’m done with this blog seeing Pedro has totally lost any credibility and is more concerned about sticking with his Arteta narrative than what could actually be better for the club.
    My only love for this blog was it’s ability to be real with facts concerning Wenger’s decline years before most people could see the obvious but it’s obvious now Pedro will NEVER support the next manager unless of course it’s his favourite or one of his favs.

  14. Dissenter

    Pedro also delights in writing that “Emery lost the dressing room”, conveniently forgetting that it was the bad apples that were against him also moved against Arteta .
    The same core group of players that the club had to move out to give Arteta breathing space.

  15. China1

    Who can forget Emery’s bad xG being a massive stick to beat him with but when we struggle to score we prefer to talk about shots attempted and a tight defense now

  16. China1

    Dissenter yeah Emery having a dressing room of luiz, mustafi, kola, ozil, guen, a Ramsey who wanted out etc was Emery’s problem because he can’t manage egos. But when said players caused Arteta any trouble Arteta was the victim and deserved 200m to fix it

    Consider Guen is now known as the ultimate problem child, you wonder how Emery managed to have him start the huge majority of matches in a campaign where we nearly came third!

  17. raptora

    Just read this: https://le-grove.co.uk/2019/05/06/arsenal-rebirth-a-disaster-heres-how-we-make-it-back-long-read

    Title of the post is “Addressing the disaster hire of Unai Emery” the day after our top 4 dreams were over. We finished 5th btw.

    Part 1: is that the manager isn’t good enough. There’s no hiding from this reality. I will absolutely not accept that it was an insurmountable challenge to improve the areas set out by the manager himself at the start of the season (better defence, be the protagonists, entertain the fans, mental strength). Part 2: we are clearly broken from a structural perspective. That also has to improve. However, I don’t want to wait a year to fix part one. Get a good coach in place and make sure next year isn’t shaped in a pricey manner by someone who isn’t the standard required.

    Part 1: Emery has somehow managed the feat of regressing the team as the season has worn on. He has no real track record in the upper echelons of elite football. He’s a Europa League specialist, and that, unfortunately, is exactly what the football has looked like.

    I’m struggling to re-up ‘the players have to hold their hands up’ excuse so many afforded Wenger. The squad wasn’t ever going to challenge for the title, but it was always top 4 capable, hence the undeniable fact that we were in it as of yesterday.

    Going forward, our elected strategy seemed to be to attack from wide positions and whip balls into two extremely dominant centre backs. We hit 41 crosses into their box. We had 16 corners that all went nowhere. Why didn’t Emery switch it up?

    The commentator mentioned that the manager and his team stay up regularly until 2am watching videos for analysis. What the fuck are they watching? Is he bingeing Ken Burns war docos, because I’m struggling to see the output on the pitch.

    ‘But these are Wenger’s players!’
    Let’s look into that.
    Leno: Emery’s Lichtsteiner: Emery’s Sokratis: Emery’s LT: Emery’s Mikhi: Been with Emery longer than Wenger Auba: Been with Emery longer than Wenger Lacazette: Player of the season Iwobi: Emery had greatly improved him (apparently)

    4 of the starting 11 are his. 2 of them have been with him longer than Wenger. One of them is a player of the season that’s being linked to Barcelona. One was supposed to be the kid he developed into a real boy.

    Outside that, are you telling me it’s beyond the realms of possibility to hope that the manager could have worked out a way to do something to coach the players? If we’re reducing the argument about him down to spending a bucket load of money, why did we hire him? Was that Emery’s pitch? ‘Give me cash.’ If it was, we should have hired in a better big club coach, or, you know, had some money.

    If it wasn’t, where is the coaching? Which players are better? As a collective, why are we so limp wristed? Why aren’t we more intelligent? Why are we not moving the needle in defence, attack or from an artistry perspective? Watching Arsenal is like dealing with a thunderous hangover after 3 nights on the town with late 1970s Berlin Bowie. Our football should be the Bowie after party. It should set my heart racing on a Sunday, not have me dual screening ASMR videos of iceberg lettuce, enjoying the lettuce more.

    Granit Xhaka has been an absolute joke for 3 seasons now. If you had watched 4,000 hours of Arsenal for a job interview, prepared a presentation for the ages, would anything you saw of the Swiss convince you he was the future of our midfield? Well, it seems he was integral. What was the plan for a player who can’t run, is immensely weak, and has the habit of dropping assists for the opposition when he’s bored? Why is anyone entertaining the idea of him being a worthwhile asset at 26 years old? He’s a fucking disaster. He’s the footballing equivalent of William H. Macy in The Cooler. You don’t stop being a dunce after 99 league appearances.

    The owner has to act now, compounding bad decisions with more bad decisions will take Arsenal to a place that is going to be too hard to recover without massive expenditure. There are inexpensive options that can save us. We just need a vision and the right team of experts to deliver it.

  18. raptora

    Pedro says about the horrible squad that Arteta has inherited:

    “The squad wasn’t ever going to challenge for the title, but it was always top 4 capable, hence the undeniable fact that we were in it as of yesterday.”

    LOL?

  19. Dissenter

    China1
    Emery famously told Mustafi that he should go and find another club in he summer of 2018. The club didn’t back him by moving Mustafi out. Same for when Ozil publicly dissed him in Baku.
    That same summer, he wanted us to sign Zaha and also spoke to Maguire early to try to to sign him.
    Instead, they signed an 18 year old defender and Pepe. Luiz was signed to cover Koscielny’s exit.

    Arsenal never committed tom backing Emery, that just plain fact. He was manager when there was so much chaos in the back room. Gazidis hires him, then bails. Mislintat went to Germany

    Emery ought to have just left, the moment they let Mustafi stay.

  20. Matt B

    Know a die-hard Man City fan who wants Arteta after Pep goes

    Bizarre, but true and he knows his onions, so don’t mock him (or me) for saying it

  21. englandsbest

    raptora

    Emery was wrong for Arsenal, it’s as simple as that. Pedro (and others) knew that. I am amongst those who didn’t.

    Nobdy is saying Emery is a bad manager, how can you with a man who has consistently won tiitles? But he was unsuitable for Arsenal. Just as he was for PSG

    I admit to misgivings about him but for reasons that had nothing to do with management skill. I wanted someone with an Arsenal background, a young guy who favoured a longterm approach, who had patience to focus on the young and vigorous, who could communicate well with players.

    Arteta fits all those requirements, Emery didn’t

  22. raptora

    englandsbest: “Top 4 is a halfway step, a return to CL My expectation is within three seasons, including this one.”

    Pedro for Emery’s squad: “The squad wasn’t ever going to challenge for the title, but it was always top 4 capable, hence the undeniable fact that we were in it as of yesterday.”

    So Arteta takes Arsenal and turns a squad capable of top 4 into a squad that needs 4 full seasons, counting his first full one, to reach top 4. And you are standing behind the said manager. Do I understand well?

  23. China1

    How is gerrard doing this season btw? Last season was a big one for him, but I haven’t seen how they’ve done this season

  24. Graham62

    Matt B

    Define “die-hard”

    I have two friends who are both extreme “die-hards”.when it comes to Man City. Brought up on sixties and early seventies MC.

    Neither one of them are particularly enamoured with Arteta.

  25. englandsbest

    raptora

    A touch of hyperbole to make a point is perfectly permissible. We all do it all the time. Including you.

  26. CG

    G of H

    “””Now Newcastle is the richest club in the world, I guess we are now failing behind them as well.””””

    Who is more likely to win the league title next?

    a) Arsenal
    or
    b) Newcastle United

  27. Guns of Hackney

    CG

    Newcastle. Easy. Chelsea did it. City did it. Why not Newcastle? If these people come in and throw money at new players, why not? Newcastle is a nice city as well.

    Good for them.

  28. raptora

    Gerrard is doing bad.

    Lost in the qualifying stages for Champions League to Malmo when in the 2nd game, at home, at half-time Rangers were leading by 1-0, doing well after a 2-1 loss away, and Malmo were with left with 10 ppl. After the break Malmo scored 2 goals and won the tie by 4-2 on agg.

    In Europa league qualification round Rangers barely made it past Alashkert? with 1-0 agg.

    2 games played in the competition – 2 losses. To Lyon and Sparta Prague.

    Scottish Premiership is probably in the bag already. Celtic is 6 pts behind, 8 rounds in.

  29. Graham62

    englandsbest

    Agreed, “Emery was wrong for Arsenal”

    Arteta was also wrong, as has been proven. Arteta was wrong after Emery and would have been wrong after Wenger.

    After Wenger we needed stability and structure and experience in dealing with club systems and players. Arteta was found out big time.

    Our useless owners have no idea about the game and because Mr Arteta communicated in a way that Americans relate to, the tough and believable selling of the process ( is this being racist?), we went for someone that should never have been given the opportunity to take the controls.

    You say that he can “communicate well with the players”. How do you know this? I only go on how he communicates to us as fans and based on this I would say that he’s communication skills are questionable.

  30. Olumide

    raptora
    Those posts you quoted are some of the reasons long-term readers and posters have issues with Pedro.

    Fine, you have the right to support a manager if you want. But, at least, be consistent.

    You can’t say Xhaka should be sold at 26 under a manager and then say he’s great value at 28 under another manager.

    You can’t say a squad is top 4 quality under one manager and call the same squad (even improved) absolute shit under another manager.

    You can’t say 5th is unacceptable under one manager then say 8th is okay under another manager because he’s executing a long-term project.

    You can’t say a manager deserved the sack for losing an Europa league final and then support another manager who lost in the semi-final to his predecessor.

    Doing things like this has a single result: you lose credibility.

    You can’t use xG to criticize one manager and then dismiss it under another manager.

  31. Shaun

    lego head needs to deliver top 4 this season he has no Europe to contend with and he should defiantly have a plan B when things are not going his way. We have seen no in game management to even suggest he is a good coach and this is an issue for a lot of arsenal fans he should be able to change tactics to gain control of a game against a team like Brighton for example .The next five games will tell us what’s really going on .He should be winning the next three for sure. Villa will be a game I am keeping an eye on. They over ran our midfield for ninety minutes at the emirates and lego head did nothing to rectify the situation .so lets see if our generational coach is actually learning to rectify his mistakes

  32. Tom

    Once Afghanistan taps into the $1Trillion worth of its mineral deposits including the Lithium, the Taliban and their main business partner,Tesla , will be looking to buy a PL club to clean up their image too.
    Tottenham might be an attractive club for a takeover then , with a fairly new stadium , decent London location, although 40 year old Kane leading the line might be needing an upgrade.

    Arteta will be knocking at the top four places right about then with Englandsbest giving him three more years to prove himself.

  33. Graham62

    Olumide

    For me personally, it’s become very simple.

    I respect Pedro for the time and effort he puts into the blog but, on the flip side, I will disrespect him if he continues to act the way he does ( flip flopping to suite his own agenda). Because of this he has absolutely no credibility.

    That’s me.

  34. Spanishdave

    Graham here here.
    He’s getting desperate to lavish praise on a lost cause.
    We all want to get our mojo back , but as each year goes by it’s going to get harder.
    Now Newcastle have got a sugar daddy, and they will pump a lot of money into their project.
    Stan is a big problem, stagnation is with us

  35. Matt B

    Graham62: It’s really okay for people to change their minds, nothing worse than sticking belligerently to a pov for no good reason

    I didn’t agree with Pedro’s pov re AW, so I didn’t read but don’t castigate him for doing what he does — their are few, if any better

  36. Tom

    Thank you Matt, of course I forgot to mention Taliban will be needing professional help to promote their move.
    Top of their list will be Peter Wood and Associates, voted the best London PR firm of 2033.

  37. Kroenkephobe

    I understand that the famous Geordie lawyers, Hadaway and Shite, are handling this acquisition and that Mike Ashley is eyeing up a move for some underachieving shitshow of a North London club. He’s in two minds which one to buy.

  38. englandsbest

    Graham62

    Arteta communicates very well with me, and I’m a fan. In fact better than anybody at the Club has done since GG. And here is why: Arteta is honest, straightforward, forthright. This after acres of BS from Wenger, Gazidis, Hill-Wood, etc ending with abslute non-communication from Emery. I mention GG because he was forthright and straightforwards too (tho’ maybe not quite as honest): he told the BoD that no player would earn more than him.

    Judging by the reception at Emirates and elsewhere he communicates very well with those who turn up for Arsenal games. And judging by the contract extesions players like Saka and ESR have signed he communicates very well withem as well. And it’s worth mentioning that you need communication skill to entice quality players to play for you.

    The logical conclusion must be that your view of Arteta is a minority viewpoint. Not that it matters to me. But it may to you.

  39. Graham62

    englandsbest

    So your take on Arteta is based on the fact that he speaks intelligently.
    Sometimes communications can be perceived to be excellent because it is what the recipients of that communication want to hear.
    Maybe Arteta has utilised his communication skills to manipulate things for his benefit.He was desperate to be manager and when you’re desperate for something you will say anything to get what you want.
    As for the players, what exactly do you see? Do you feel the players are genuinely happy? Do you look at their body language? When you look at other teams, do you see a difference?

    My take on things may be different to your own but what I’ve learnt in life is that bullshit can come in many different forms. So when Arteta communicates to me that Granit Xhaka is a pivotal member of the Arsenal team, I see that as being a disrespectful communication to those of us who know the difference between a quality and substandard player. When Arteta communicates to me that Willian is an integral cog in our progression I shake my head in disbelief. When Arteta tells me that Leno is a great keeper, I ignore his opinions completely. When Arteta tells me that he knows what the Arsenal fans want, I take his communication with a pinch of salt.

    Just because Arteta speaks six languages, doesn’t make him an excellent communicator, in fact, it can sometimes go against him.
    Listen to Sean Dyche speak. It may not be the Queen’s English but most of the time it’s intelligent, honest and spot on.

    There’s straight talking and there’s straight talking.