Rule Change Will Stymie Stoke in Arsenal’s Favour

Without much fanfare the Premier League has introduced a regulation change which might prove to be very helpful to Arsenal in certain away games this season.

Whereas previously clubs had discretion about the size of their pitch (within quite broad parameters), now they all have to comply with the UEFA standard of 105m by 68m (which, in old money, equates to more or less 115 yards by 74 yds).

No big deal?

Well, it’s going to make a significant difference to some clubs who have been taking the “barely legal” approach to pitch size for some time.

Chief among the culprits have been the Mighty Orcs, otherwise known as Stoke City.

Until forced to enlarge their pitch this year, Stoke have been using the absolute minimum dimensions for their playing surface.

The old rule (Rule I. 21) said: In League Matches the length of the pitch shall be not more than 110 metres nor less than 100 metres and its breadth not more than 75 metres nor less than 64 metres.”

Stoke opted for the minimum length (100m/109yds) and the minimum width (64m/70yds). If the laws allowed it, you suspect they would have shrunk their pitch to the size of a basketball court and swapped goals for hoops. Rory Delap to win the Golden Glove anyone?

Now you may be thinking that we’re only talking about a yard here or there, so what does it matter?

Well, what if I told you that Stoke’s approach means there are 800 fewer square yards to play on at their ground compared with a ground that follows the UEFA standard (which, by the way, is compulsory for both European cup competitions). For reference, the pitch at The Emirates complies with the UEFA standard.

EIGHT HUNDRED SQUARE YARDS!

The pitch area at the Emirates is 8,510 sq yds. At Stoke it’s 7,700.

Just imagine an area of turf 29 yards by 29 yards square. All that lovely green grass that our fine young players DON’T get to play on when we visit the Britannia.

Not that I really blame Stoke for doing this. If you are going to base your game on physicality, defensiveness and long throw-ins then why not exploit the rules to the maximum?

But – and not before time – the Premier League has decided to make sure that every team gets to play on a level playing field (pun intended). By insisting on larger pitches I suspect the EPL is also hoping to encourage more expansive, attacking play, which will help maintain the international appeal of our league.

As far as I can tell from some cursory internet research (if any of my facts are wrong, feel free to correct them in comments) the only other club in the EPL this year that previously had a minimum sized ground is West Ham.

However, several clubs were a good way below the new criteria. Both Liverpool and Everton had 8,140 sq yds of playing surface – 370 sq yds below what is now acceptable. Of course that could be because the locals pinched a few hundred yards of turf to sell off the back of a truck.

Interestingly, the Spuds – until recently – had a pitch only marginally bigger than Stoke’s, with an area of 8,030 sq yds. Given the way they try to play (with fast attacking wide men) it seems an odd approach. Maybe it’s just too much effort trying to get grass – or anything else wholesome – to grow in N17.

Fulham, QPR and Southampton have all also had to enlarge their playing surfaces as a result of the new rule (at least I assume they have – although there is a get-out for a club if “it is impossible for it to comply… due to the nature of construction of its ground”).

So what does this all mean for our trip to Mordor on Sunday?

One thing it doesn’t mean is that we’re sure to win. You only win tough games like this if your squad are fully committed and play close to the best of their ability.

But it takes a slight edge away from the home team (they have more ground to cover defensively, it will be harder for them to funnel everything into the crowded middle of the pitch and Towel Boy Delap will have to throw even further to reach the penalty spot). And it gives a slight edge to us: more room for our wide players to stretch the Orc defence and pull the home team out of shape; more room for our clever movement and passing to be effective.

The same should apply at the other grounds where the pitch has had to be enlarged this year.

For our boys, playing every game home and away on a pitch the same size can only be a good thing.

Last season Stoke punched (sometimes literally) above their weight in the EPL.

Their tiny pitch undoubtedly played a part (as did the consistent favourable bias they got from referees – check out the Untold Arsenal site if you don’t believe me).

This time round, with a full sized playing pitch and, hopefully, some extra scrutiny of the refereeing bias, I don’t expect them to be able to emulate their 14th place finish from last year and they could well be in for a relegation fight. Let’s hope we give them a shove in that direction on Sunday.

RockyLives

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124 Responses to Rule Change Will Stymie Stoke in Arsenal’s Favour

  1. Gus says:

    It would seem a no brainer that there is a standard size for pitches. In American sports this is the case and with rugby, only the width varies. Australian football and cricket however, are just completely random. The rational sports are tennis and basketball etc

  2. dandan says:

    Nice article Rocky, It obviously makes sense to standardise things in this way. Although I seem to remember GG reduced the size of the Highbury pitch to enhance the powers of the fab four and push teams down the middle.

  3. oz gunner says:

    I like variation as it means different tactics are employed. Personally I hate Stoke’s style (I’m sure even their orc fans do), but different sized pitches keep it interesting. In Australian football it adds to the home ground advantage very effectively. In juniors I loved the open expanses of a big field, and hated the small ones because pace was ineffective and I’d get crunched over and over, but hey that’s apart of the game.

    Got to disagree with you on this one Rocky. Make a standard level, but not so that it takes away strategy. Although the towel should be banned, and anytime you play there I can’t see how there is not 12 minutes of extra time. It is bloody boring watching the orcs lumber forward for every single throw and free kick.

  4. Morning all, excellent follow up by The Rock to a comment he made in one of his earlier posts about the standardisation of pitch sizes and it’s effect on Orc-ball this Sunday.

    I wonder what strategy to counter the negation of their primary attacking weapon Pulis will have cooked up whilst soaking in the communal batch with the Stoke first team ?

    I just had a thought, could this be why Sahin has been stalling joining us ?
    From Madrid to Mordor in a matter of days; the delay makes sense now.

  5. DSCH says:

    INS&OUTS:

    “In Limbo” … please add Squillaci and Park.

    Also, what was the width of our pitch last season? The maximum 110 metres or the UEFA standard 105? I thought we always went for the widest possible under the regulations.

  6. Bradster says:

    Highbury was the same, 100m x 67m. Perhaps that’s also why it was easier for Arsenal to defend there.

  7. oz gunner says:

    @ chary

    haha good call

  8. Terrence Machin says:

    Utter rubbish, Delap has rarely been used for long throws last season. Why do Arsenal with there big spending and array of stars find it so hard to beat little old Stoke, maybe it’s because Arsenal have no spirit. Team work is what it’s all about, something that Arsenal find hard to come to grips with. Stoke doesn’t get preferential treatment from the refs, quite the contrary. Typical disgruntled Arsenal supporter.

  9. Thorough says:

    Lovely write up. Hope we utilize the increase to the fullest and make a whitewash of the fleet of Shreks for once in a long while.

  10. firman says:

    i was also wanted to referred the highbury size in my comment. as bradster said, it was perhaps easier for us to defend at highbury. we didnt really dominate games in emirates either. so i dont see the point of leveling playing grounds’ size, at least for arsenal.

  11. Great Post Rocky
    Never thought about this before, i just take pitch size for granted.
    I know some are small and some are big, i just didn’t realise that the differences were that huge.
    I think its absurd that pitch sizes can differ, imagine tennis or basketball courts differing wherever, or a cricket wicket that isn’t 22yrds. Why should football be any different. Currently the powers that govern football are allowing a habitat where ANTI football can thrive – small pitches & ploughed pitches. Surely they should be doing all they can to improve the beautiful game.

  12. Slimgingergooner says:

    Big spending Arsenal!? That’s a first Terrance!

    That Spanish tosser Belague reckons the Sahin deal is hours away from completion with no deal in place to buy after a year, but he said it should’ve been announced after the Song deal so maybe the delay is due to us agreeing the £14m future price?

  13. Hi Rock This is a wonderful coment abt the standardisation of the pitch to the disadvantage of the throwing experts to the home boys, however has stoke lost its all previous away games to standard pitches or won its all games at home since they are used to thier un st. pitch?

  14. Mordor.R.U.F.C says:

    Stoke fan here, suprisingly most Stoke fans are pretty pleased with this new legislation. We had to widen the pitch last season for our Europa League games and we performed very well in our home matches with the wider pitch. We’re very much a team based on width and one of our main outlets is our wingers, Pennant and Etherington thrived on the extra space down the line. So this seems a welcome move, especially now with the addition of Kightly to our squad. Of course the only downside is that it gives your wide players more room and Walcott will be a worry, Gervinho, not so sure.
    Anyways good luck for the season.

  15. Oh goody, we have a troll from the Land of the Orcs, with a chip on his shoulder.

    In our last 14 games against Stoke you have beaten us a grand total of 3 times, during which time we have beaten you 9 times.

    Arsenal “find it so hard to beat beat little old Stoke”, eh Mr Machin ?

    Now THAT’S utter rubbish.

  16. Iceman says:

    @Terrence machin – SHUT UP!

  17. Charey, i think we find it hard to beat stoke, its always a fight, though its a fight we have been up for since Shawcross….
    I for one dread playing Stoke, i want our brittle players left out and protected. Now RVP is gone we can breathe a little easier.
    I always worry about freekicks been given away in daft areas against everyone else but with Stoke i also worry about giving throws away…..
    Gaaaawwwd i hate it when we play Stoke.

  18. Red Arse says:

    Well said, Mordor, :-)

    It is true that we Gooners are naturally biased against long throw in merchants, but I am certain that the legislation was not brought in simply because of Stoke/Delap, it is something that needed to be done.

    The old pitch variations were a left over from the days when grounds varied hugely in their overall dimensions, and dispensation was needed, especially regarding clubs who were promoted from the lower divisions.

    With all the money in football nowadays, and the extensions to stadiums and new stadiums, that dispensation is no longer needed.

    Of course, if we find a long throw in merchant we might change our minds about standard pitch sizes! :-)

  19. TT says:

    Nice write-up, Rocky. I appreciate hearing about the new standards.

    This change might have limited effect on the long throw tactics though. The Britannia Stadium pitch goes from 64m to 68m, which an increase of 2m on each side. Delap’s throw-in is around 38m long, which means he is just about 5% less effective. Not so much in my mind.

  20. But a win percentage of 21% for the orcs against us should hardly inspire fear, Jon.

    As long as the ref enforces the rules consistently(assuming he can make himself heard above the piped crowd noise from the “great home support” we’ll be ok.

  21. Red Arse says:

    Jonathan are you the twin of Tommy? :-)

  22. TT says:

    Mordor.R.U.F.C @ 10:32.

    Perhaps Stoke City might prefer the bigger pitch now, but last year when the Britannia Stadium had to be expanded for the Europa league, Tony Pulis was quoted to complain:

    “When Everton play in Europe they don’t extend their pitch and when Liverpool play in Europe they don’t extend theirs either, but we take notice of Europe and we have to do that.”

    He went on to say:

    “We will have the pitch the same [smaller] size as we’ve had it for the last three years in the Premier League [for Stoke City Premier League opener against Chelsea].”

    “It’s a size that suits us as it lets us to play close together as a team, particularly for the wide players.”

  23. tburrows88 says:

    A more general point but how on earth have QPR managed to meet this new stipulation! Their pitch was virtually in the stands as it was.
    Maybe they can run amongst the seats.

  24. tburrows88 says:

    TT as an Arsenal fan you should well know that what the manager wants isnt always the same as what the fans (and even players) want.
    Most Stoke fans are pleased with the move, I’d imagine our wingers are too!
    Like a more ‘forceful’ poster said, Delap is rarely played these days so it’s a moot point really the throw in issue

  25. chas says:

    Nice post, Rocky, let’s hope it makes a difference.

    Excellent comment, Mordor. I like going to the Britannia and have met some fine stokies.

    I had a quick look for some video to illustrate the pitch size change at the Britannia Stadium. If you look on here from 0:45, you can see the difference it makes to the position of the six yard box and goal line and at 1:12 with the boot kicking incident, the difference to the touchlines.

  26. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Nice post Rocky. we do tend to find it more difficult on the tighter pitches so hopefuly this will help us.

    ok, i admit that Stokes long throws and Pulis obsession with towels, baseball caps and showers annoy me, but i do feel that its time to call a truce with Stoke. They are a well run club who play with pride and passion in front of a great home support. I also watched them a couple of times in Europe and they played some good stuff

    In a world were Van Persie goes to Man Utd and Adeybeyor jepordises his move to Totnumb because of greed having a pop at Stoke and its support is not right.

  27. RockyLives says:

    Hello All
    Thanks for the comments.
    Particular thanks to Mordor RUFC for a great name and for taking the Post in a good spirit.
    Mordor – the pitch widening may well lead to some better forward play at Stoke this year, who knows? You mentioned Etherington, who is one of the most under-rated players in the EPL (I have had him in my Fantasy League team before because of his assists). As you say, the extra width could give him more time to get even better crosses in.
    That said, I feel extra playing room will benefit us more than you.
    Good luck for the rest of the season (apart from a certain two games).

    Oz
    Interesting perspective – and well argued. Clubs still have discretion in how they prepare the pitch (length of grass, amount of watering etc – rather like the way you can prepare a cricket wicket differently).

    I’m travelling today so won’t be around to comment too much. Catch you all later.

  28. Ooops Mr Syrup, I seem to have had a few digs at Stoke already, but then I was only responding in kind and with facts rather than insults(mainly). :)

    I can’t forgive them for boo-ing Rambo as he was being stretchered off after being Shawcrossed; and if he plays on sunday he’ll get the same abuse as he has done every time he’s been back there since.

    The whole “Poor Ryan, he’s the real victim in all this” is what really pi**ed me off about the Stoke fans reaction to the incident.

  29. RockyLives says:

    I should just add, dan dan’s point about keeping a narrow pitch at Highbury to make things better for our defence is spot on – so to some extent our criticism of Stoke is a case of pot and kettle.

  30. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thats ok chary. Ime in a philosiphicly tranquil mood today. But tomorrow will probably be calling for the death sentence upon any one who dosnt support Arsenal. hahaha

  31. glic says:

    Excellant Rock Report on something I had no Idea about.
    This is one instance where I hope ” Size does count “, Stetching their pitch will be a lot less painful procedure, believe me !.
    I will be their tomorrow, I usually see this tramp in a baseball cap going through a skip full of towels outside a local brothel on Sir Stanley Matthews Way, dirty bastard !.

  32. chas says:

    I completely agree with today’s Terry.
    The animosity that’s stoked up (hehe) before these games only ever benefits one team, Stoke City.
    It fires up their supporters and fires up their players, then we wonder why some clubs always raise their game when they play us!

  33. Charey – i guess i don’t fear Stoke beating us its more of a fear of what harm they may do to our players.
    RedArse – yep Tommys gone, change Twittername & it changes on here, should have realised.
    TMHT – seemed like we needed to make the Emirates a little wider last saturday or was Walcott just missing Sagna.
    My god i’m bottom of ArsenalArsenal fantasy league #TheOnlyWayIsUP

  34. Chas as long as we call them orcs they’ll be fired up, i’m happy with that, we are on the good side!

  35. Terry
    Whatever you think of stoke pulis is a minge

  36. Exactly GM – Pullis is probably on his tractor now ploughing up the pitch as we speak, plis he;’ salso one of the clique of managers who are Fergies lackies.

  37. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Jonathan, good point. It will be interesting to see on Sunday and at places like QPR and Fulham wether larger pitches really do help us. We could just be making excuses for our own deficiencies?

    GM, after ive finnished with Van Persie i intend to make pulis my best friend. Have already packed my suitcase with 35 towels, 12 bottles of baby shampoo and some homo erotic after care lotions for my visit. hahaha

  38. Still enjoying the fact that van purseflaps had a losing debut. the press are so funny with their bias. i don’t think he’ll be as effective for them. He’ll bang in goals but not at the rate he did last season. the don’t play to his style.

  39. GunnerN5 says:

    Standardization of pitch size makes a lot of sense but will not reduce the amount of negative football we see played. Sunderland proved that last Saturday, they came to The Emirates with the specific goal of taking one point home and they set up shop to achieve just that end.

    Admittedly it makes negative football tougher but at the Emirates we’ve seen it proved many times over that a team determined to only defend can take home the spoils.

  40. chas says:

    Is homo erotic after care lotion another way of saying pile cream.

  41. RockyLives says:

    At airport now.

    There seem to be a lot of stories around about us bringing in the Spanish winger Jesus Navas.

    He seemed like a great little player in the Euros, but it only makes any sense if Walcott is going.

  42. RockyLives says:

    Chas :)

  43. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    chas, hahahaha. Got it in one my friend.

    Rocky, that would be a great signing. Imagine a team of Wilshere, Ox, Carzola and Navas all in it. Unbelivable ability.

  44. WiganGooner says:

    Great article, I had heard about the rule change and I knew it would take effect and make some grounds have to modify their pitches, but I hadn’t thought about the knuckle draggers.

    Great job.

    WG

  45. Red Arse says:

    I said, yesterday, that Maoniho was delighting in pulling Arsene’s chain, and that continues to be the case today.

    I hope AW tells him to go f**k himself, which given he is such a narcissist he probably does anyway.

    Sahin is a good player but there are other fish in the sea, and I would not give the ‘Sh*t One’ the satisfaction of dictating events, if I were in Arsene’s position.

  46. glic says:

    Redders
    Dont knock it, untill you`ve tried it, well ,it`s not as if I`m cheating on my wife !. :lol:

  47. Red Arse says:

    Glic, :-)

  48. Reddawn says:

    What’s this I’ve read about Arsene after Jesus Navas? I looked him up on Wikipedia and it showed his club as Arsenal! Very interesting.

  49. glic says:

    Nothing unusual about that Reddawn, I looked up God on Wikipedia and It said the same !.

  50. Big Raddy says:

    It must be better to have standardised pitches for all concerned.

    As to Highbury; pray tell how it would have been possible to create a bigger pitch? I could touch the player taking corners at the North Bank and Seamo used to start his goal-kick run up from the 3rd step of the Clock End.

  51. Red Arse says:

    I looked up Dennis B and it said ‘refer to God’!

    V. true Raddy. :-)

  52. glic says:

    I am a very happy laid back person, think along the lines of a Budhist monk on morphine laying on a bed of herbs with a copy of Huge Jugs and you get the picture. That Arsenal ticket online thingymajig is driving me crazy to boiling point, I could quite easy nut the Dalai Lama and clamp Mother Teresa`s nipples with Mole Grips !. :evil:

  53. Red Arse says:

    Reddawn,

    I think the way Google works, it will show *the name* + *the context*, so as Navas has been linked to Arsenal in a transfer rumour that is what it was showing.

    Sorry to disappoint.

  54. Big Raddy says:

    RA. Interesting. I just looked him up on Wiki and there was no mention of AFC !

  55. chas says:

  56. chas says:

  57. Reddawn says:

    Thanks for all your comments. I gues Jesus was always a difficult one to pin down, if you get my meaning!

  58. Reddawn says:

    Sorry, guess.

  59. Finally got a ticket for the Saints game off the notoriously user-unfriendly online Arse.com booking.

    I was hoping to take my boys along but no chance of getting 2, let alone 3, together. :(

  60. chas says:

    Haven’t got a clue if this is 100% true, but it makes interesting reading nonetheless.

    http://sulia.com/channel/arsenal-fc/f/829521b7-b6ef-44b3-b589-41f2ef0aec73

  61. Red Arse says:

    Chas,

    That is pretty much how I heard it too.

    Pity it had to come to that, but if it is accurate — good riddance!

  62. glic says:

    chas
    As much as I admire and respect those Koln fans, how the f**k did they get tickets for the Mackem`s game, yet I cant get two tickets for the Soton game. Right thats It, where`s Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama ?. :evil:

  63. dandan says:

    Chas 5:38 that is how I understand and reported it a week ago, his Goose was well and truly cooked when Bouldy said he had no place in a secure defensive system for that kind of Attitude. Dein being involved did not endear him to the club either

  64. chas says:

  65. chas says:

    It can’t be good for Arsenal if the spuds are getting rid of players of this calibre.
    At the news that Tom Huddlestone is off on loan to Stoke…..

  66. chas says:

  67. evonne says:

    I am livid!!!! Bloody furious!! Did any of you listen to TalkShite radio?! They are basically saying that Arsenal destroys players careers and that 17 players that left won 44 trophies between them

  68. dandan says:

    Evonne it serves you right for listening to the rubbish they churn out, if people dont listen the station will go bust.

  69. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    I like Talk Sport. It makes me feel good to realise there are people out there thicker than me.

  70. glic says:

    Got to disagree there, Keys and Gray have/had some great guests on their show , inc` some former Arsenal legends. H and J , although a Spud & Chav, are entertaining and DriveTime, well, just laugh along with Durham, you`ld be silly to fall for his wind ups, alas It looks like some have !. :)

  71. evonne says:

    Yes Dandan, you are right, bad habit needs ditching.
    Terry :)
    Glic :(

    No, he did not mean it as a wind up, trust me. He seriously thinks that any half decent player should not waste, WASTE, his time at AFC

  72. glic says:

    e va va vonne
    I`m taking it was Durham who made the remark as I haven`t listened to the station today.
    He is a shock jock and says what he thinks is outrageous stuff just to get a reaction and obvious it works !. :lol:

  73. Red Arse says:

    Dandan is right, in that if enough people boycotted TalkSport it would go bust.

    But it won’t happen. Even those who complain about the content obviously, by deduction, must listen to the programmes to know what to complain about.

    I understand that a huge percentage of their audience, especially for the Durham and the Idiot show, appear to be Arsenal fans. Hence their wind ups of Gooner fans — many of whom seem to love it and go back for more.
    Durham’s young son is a devoted Arsenal fan, and he pretends to be cross with him.

    At times the programme sometimes gets my back up, too, Evonne, but I also agree with Glic that if you take it all as a bit of fun, especially Gray and Keyes, when listening in the car, it is harmless enough.

    Not that I care, either way, frankly.

  74. glic says:

    VS
    Please dont do that, I nearly jumped out of my seat reading that first word . Lucky I had the lights on !.

  75. GunnerN5 says:

    A long, but very uplifting, read – for Arsenal supporters.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………

    Van Persie and Song may be gone but Arsenal have cause for optimism

    By davidgold on August 20th, 2012

    The inevitable questions over who will now score the goals for Arsenal were particularly pertinent in the aftermath of a 0-0 draw with Sunderland which suggested they were already missing their Dutch talisman.

    Yet many observers seem to have missed a crucial part of the Arsenal equation. There are two ways to cope with the loss of van Persie. One is the heralded ‘buy a replacement’ option, and find 30 goals from a new striker. The other is to simply concede fewer goals. Ideally Arsenal will hope to do both, but it is significant that for a team with such a poor record at the back in recent years there is little clamour among fans or the press for Arsene Wenger to bring in another defender.

    In fact it is hard to think of a time since the ‘Invincibles’ of 2004 that Arsenal’s defence has looked stronger. Wojciech Szczesny is a reassuring presence in goal, a huge improvement on the days of Manuel Almunia. Laurent Koscielny was Arsenal’s unsung hero last year – when all around him were either losing their heads or fleeing elsewhere, he was the reassuring presence at the back for Wenger who kept things together defensively. Thomas Vermaelen, when he returned from injury, added another presence whom Arsenal could rely on, whilst Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs offer reliability defensively and a useful option going forward.

    In fact, the only real concern regarding the back four is Vermaelen’s tendency to step out and follow opposition forwards, rather than keep in line with his fellow defenders, a habit which almost led to James McLean scoring for Sunderland on Saturday.

    Of course it takes more than five players to defend, and this is where Alex Song comes into the equation. Song’s influence last season has been hailed by all those questioning Wenger’s judgment in offloading the Cameroon international. Yet his most telling contributions were going forward. Whilst eleven assists and some sublime skill cannot be ignored, Song was meant to be primarily a defensive midfielder. Yet his indiscipline in that position has been the main reason Arsenal have had such a poor defensive record in recent years.

    Arsenal have also suffered from an incoherent pressing strategy; as Barcelona have shown a team playing a high line and fast short passing game need to press their opponents quickly and high up the pitch. This requires a discipline and hard working mentality that Arsenal have been found lacking.

    The defeat to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final was the epitomy of all that had gone wrong with Arsenal. Two highly talented players, Szczesny and Koscielny, contrived to throw the game away with an error born out of bad decision making. And bad decision making is the inevitable consequence of inexperience. Added on top of all of that, a back four often ravaged by injury have rarely been helped by Song’s inability to stick to his position screening the area in front of them.

    Yet last year, for all the difficulties they endured, it was notable that Arsenal’s defence had a much better record with Mikel Arteta than without him in the midfield. Arteta was not at Arsenal for the calamitous opening three games of the season, when they conceded 10 goals. He was absent for defeats to Swansea and Manchester United mid season, and also missed the last five games, when Arsenal conceded another eight. Five of the ten games Arsenal lost were in the ten games they were without Arteta. Arsenal won just one of those games. Arsenal conceded 0.92 goals with Arteta, and 2.3 without him.

    Statistics are often derided but they are invaluable to properly understanding the game. The significance of Arteta is that unlike most Arsenal players in recent years, he is both a primarily attacking player who does not neglect his defensive duties and experienced. Often last season the Spaniard was effectively Arsenal’s main defensive midfielder, dropping back to cover the spaces exposed by Song’s rampages forward. Yet Arteta is not a defensive midfielder. If he can have that impact, imagine what a real defensive midfielder would do.

    Whatever happens, Arsenal will at least be improved by Song’s departure for the sole reason that they will have a defensive midfielder who may not be quite as talented, but is certainly more disciplined. Yann M’Vila is being heavily linked with joining Arsenal this week, but even if he does not sign, Abou Diaby or Francis Coquelin are more reliable when it comes to sticking to that position between defence and midfield through which Arsenal are so often undone.

    Arsenal conceded 49 goals last season. Based on the statistics that Arsenal concede an average of 0.92 goals with Arteta in the team, it is reasonable to predict that they would have let in only 34 with a real defensive midfielder playing in every match, just one more than Manchester United.

    Now look at who Arsenal have signed this summer. Olivier Giroud, Lukasz Podolski, Santi Cazorla, and Nuri Sahin’s arrival is imminent. Attackers they may all be, but one characteristic they all share is that they track back and are team players. Podolski and Cazorla are also both experienced, while Sahin and Giroud are both title winners. Arsenal have often been let down in the past by inexperience and poor decision making, as well as attackers who neglect defensive duties. All of Wenger’s signings this summer seemed designed to eliminate that naivety by bringing in a know how missing from Arsenal in recent years.

    It is unrealistic and improbable that either Podolski or Giroud will replace van Persie. To score 30 goals in a season is an exceptionally tough ask. But if Arsenal continue to show signs of improvement in defence, discipline and shape, helped by new assistant coach Steve Bould, and the new forwards can chip in with close to 20 goals each, a more realistic target than finding another player of van Persie’s quality, then there are more reasons to be positive than negative for the Gunners this season.

  76. Red Arse says:

    I am delighted for you Valencia.

    You have managed to put two words together, one of which is onomatopoeic.

  77. glic says:

    Yes Redders, I keep going back for more pain ! :lol:
    Durham gets more upset than me at any Arsenal failing`s, He`s definately a closet gooner !. I imagine that he goes under the name of Gambon on Leg over !.

  78. glic says:

    Durhams two producers are gooners, they even have a spot called ” The Daily Arsenal “, it`s all a wind up !. Dont fall for it !. :lol:

  79. Red Arse says:

    You could well be right, Glicster.

    He knows far more about Arsenal than some disinterested neutral should. Like the red top journos, the TS shock jocks are earning a living, however much it bugs some of the audience.

    I used to chat with gambon on another site 18 months ago, and he made reasonable, balanced and amusing comments with zero foul language.
    I don’t know what LG has done to him, but each to his own, I guess.

  80. glic says:

    Redders
    I only go on LG to have a look ( I never comment, It`s a bit too adult for my liking ! :lol: ) when I know they are having a mass fit . That Tampon guy is the one whose comments I look out for , purely for shock value , he`s the one who constantly craves for Wenger`s death !. Bit sad really, how football takes over their lives to that extent.

    PS
    I`m still looking Mother Teresa and the Damai Lama !. :lol:

  81. Red Arse says:

    Rocky,

    If you happen to notice, I apologise for omitting to thank you for the Post, and if you do not happen to notice, I thank you all the same! :-)

    You are v. naughty, Glicman!
    I take it the Damai Lama is the twin brother of the Dalai Lama, younger brothers to the Dalai Stretcher Lama. :-)

  82. glic says:

    Dalai Stretcher Lama is still busy stalking RVC !.

    Sorry to interrupt this comment !

    BREAKING NEWS>>>>>>>>
    Arsenal have signed Dortmunds Lewandowski for £15M with Chamakh as £10M of that fee !.

  83. Rasp says:

    That article put up by GN5 @ 7:16 is spot on……

  84. Hi Rasp, it could have been written by us months ago ….. hate to say ITYS :( Where’s sharkey?????

  85. Reading equalise!!!!!!!!

  86. I have to go and watch this game ……….

  87. Gooner In Exile says:

    It’s about bloody time, and thanks Rocky for bringing this one to my attention, at Britannia Delap could throw the ball as cars as the 6yard box and further, and from anywhere up to the halfway line could launch a throw in in to the danger area. The extra distance will nullify the distance from which he can throw, and even this some Stole fans did come on earlier to say Delap was not used as much they failed l mention the new launcher (Shotton). Shotton made 23 league appearances whilst Delap made 26 so about covers all PL games.

    So rather than any throw in being a weapon from the halfway down it will need to be about 40yds from goal.

    The rule change that could and would stop the throw in tactic from anywhere on the pitch is to make it possible to be offside from a throw in. Doing so would mean the defensive line could hold a line in line with the thrower and he would be forced to throw short or give away possession.

    When Stoke play they can play good football, I remember them tearing us a new one on the counter during the FA Cup a few years back (Sol’s return) I was there.

  88. evonne says:

    peaches – thank you!! what a result :)

  89. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Watching the chelsea game on a dodgy albanian satelite channel. Hazard looks class, but the rest of them are crap. Dont want to get carried away, oh what the hell, the Leagues ours this year.

  90. Gooner In Exile says:

    Thanks for that article GN5, reading it and thinking about comments made that Song was ignoring his coaches I am vast back to TA6 saying that he as captain went to see Wenger in the early days to stress the first job of the midfield two (PV4 and Petit at the time) was to help the defence. With Bouldie in the coaching set up I wonder whether he was asking this of Song but being ignored?

    GliC is that Lewandowski thing true? If so I’d be well chuffed, if not then I’ve got a bunch of fives waiting for you next time your at the Tavern!

    Reading 2-1 up and currently top of the league…..Martin O’Neill hang your head in shame!

  91. RockyLives says:

    Further to GN5’s link, there has been a bit of a divide between those who feel Song was neglecting his defensive duties and those who feel that if he was wandering, it must be because AW told him he could.

    If the article is right, it seems the former group were correct.

    By the way, I love the idea of Bouldy grabbing players by the throat! More of that please Steve.

  92. Stokies says:

    As a Stoke fan you know I’m going to disagree, right? Wrong! During our Europa campaign we had to increase the dimensions of the pitch to the UEFA standard and in my opinion both Home and Away we played better football…. And a standard playing area is an obviously good idea. I do have to point out that when you guys were at Highbury you had a smaller dimension pitch, and when other fans moaned all your fans defended it saying a smaller pitch kept the game tight and suited your style of play… And if you look at your team of the early 90’s some of your players were very… Stokeish!…. Anyway see you at Mordor – THOU SHALT NOT WIN! ( yeah yeah some smart arse is bound to say… ” and Stoke shalt not pass – just dont bother!!)

  93. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    lots of moans and groans for Torres from the Chelsea crowd. Realy enjoying watching this lying down on the sofa and having a good stretch.

  94. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    chelsea have bought on oscar and are beggining to pile on the presure but they cant seem to stretch the Reading defence

  95. Stokies i agree your wide players are good enough to exploit the extra space and a couple of times in the games at the Em’s your team did play some nice football on the deck in triangles, unfortunately this was followed swiftly by Pulis waving his arms around and screaming “punt it in the box” :D

    I think the reason our pitch was small at Highbury was due to the dimensions of the ground (i think from memory we extended it when we built the North Bank Stand (all seater). Like QPR who cannot extend their pitch without taking rows out of the ground.

    The thing Stoke did is make the pitch smaller even though they did not have to.

  96. Big Raddy says:

    Cashley really is a detestable person. Knocks the ball past a man then runs into him, hits the deck and appeals for a yellow which gets given. Repulsive little oik

  97. Boooooooooooo Chelsea equalised

  98. RockyLives says:

    Nice comment Stokies :)

  99. Dardy says:

    mighty orcs/morder
    got to give you 10/10 for that.
    Myself, bigger pitch means Pulis will have to play a more passing game, as a season ticket holder i look forward to it. It stood us in good stead the first two years but has now had it’s day

  100. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    oh crap

  101. Fletcher has joined Sunderland, hasn’t he already been relegated twice in three seasons? ……..we can only hope……

  102. glic says:

    Sorry GIE
    I got my poles mixed up, this was another big up front striker called Wellendowdski !, right a nice stretch then off to bed as I`ve got a lot of milege to Stoke tomorrow, I shall pop in with some white paint and make the pitch even bigger !.

  103. Gooner In Exile says:

    According to Twitter Hazard dived and Torres was offside for 3rd.

    Same old same old.

  104. GunnerrN5 says:

    GIE

    The penalty looked to be valid – even though it appeared that Hazard was already falling.

    Torres was definately offside.

  105. Gooner In Exile says:

    I do hate the already falling penalty but you can’t expect the ref to see it real time

  106. Hazzard was already falling for the one against wigan too.

  107. Big Raddy says:

    Good game but the wrong team won.

    Back to Uni today….. yawn.

  108. Morning all

    New Post …………….

  109. [...] about them already. We’ll have a proper preview of the game in tomorrow’s blog, but here’s an interesting snippet which outlines why Stoke, amongst other teams, had to change the dimensions of their pitch this [...]

  110. Gooner_81 says:

    Does this mean we have to reduce the size of the Emirates pitch this season? That will make it even easier for the opposition to “park the bus”

  111. Paul says:

    @terrence machin. F off u twat and get back to middle earth.

  112. RockyLives says:

    Gooner_81
    The Emirates pitch is (and has been) exactly to the UEFA required proportions on which the new FA regulation is based.

    It was a different story at Highbury, where the pitch was very small.

  113. Chezsu says:

    Brilliant article. I will say one thing though, at Highbury we took advantage of our narrow pitch for years. We were never orcs like Stoke though!

  114. [...] new EPL ruling regarding pitch sizes. The Arsenal Arsenal blog did a great, detailed piece on it (http://arsenalarsenal.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/rule-change-will-stymie-stoke-in-arsenals-favour/). Basically, Stoke, like other clubs, played on a much smaller pitch than Arsenal’s, which [...]

  115. [...] 除此之外,大伙都活蹦乱跳的,呃,当然了,那几个大家耳熟能详的长期病号除外。哥们在明天的博客里再跟大伙唠唠比赛前瞻啥的,不过这有个有趣的链接,赶紧戳我,这里面讲了这个赛季石头城必须更改球场尺寸的原因。这对他们以及他们的比赛方式有什么影响还拭目以待,不过比起斯托克城,我们更喜欢大一点的场地。等明儿比赛开锣咱们就啥都知道了。 [...]

  116. [...] but we knew about them already. We’ll have a proper preview of the game in tomorrow’s blog, but here’s an interesting snippet which outlines why Stoke, amongst other teams, had to change the dimensions of their pitch this [...]

  117. [...] ArsenalArsenal has made reference to Stoke’s pitch size being kept to maximum throughout the season which on paper will decrease their threat from throw-ins slightly. But Rory Delap is no longer the talisman he was for Stoke and I would be surprised to see him anywhere else other than on the bench. The danger from midfield comes in brutal tacklers Wilson Palacios and Glenn Whelan, while Matthew Etherington will be looking to service Peter Crouch as often as he can with telling crosses. [...]

  118. ヴィヴィアン 腕時計 イルビゾンテ 新作 http://zhongbiaq.leeahuepajp.org/

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