The Art of Defending

We sit third but without being that convincing to date. One does worry that we have slightly got away with it till now and the performances will not sustain us in our search for a points tally that sees us have a more successful season.

We have some unenviable stats where we top a league across many leagues for shots on our goal. How is this happening? I am not sure of the exact figures and maybe one of you lovely people can shed some statistical light on it.

I have also wondered whether there are any stats out there as to how often a teams defence have to face a defensive moment. My gut feeling is that this could also be very telling if say, for instance, our defence was having to face 50% more “defensive moments” than any near rival.

The sheer numbers game would indicate that you will eventually concede more than those rivals no matter how good your dfenders are individually and as a group.

I was interested in reading that Emery was after Boly to quote “solve Arsenal’s defensive woes”. My question is this. Is it just about the quality of defender we have or don’t have right now that is our big issue, and throwing another defender into the mix will solve our defensive problems, or is it more of a whole team structure thing that sees our defence called into action far more often than it should be and our rivals, and thus explain that worrying shots on goal stat?

Please discuss ……….



52 Responses to The Art of Defending

  1. RC78 says:

    It s a typical business issue where you have one part of the business not doing great so I think you have to look at all aspects. In our case, we re short of a world class GK, CB and DM so that s the personnel issue. In terms of processes, seems the team is struggling to work well as a defensive unit so it can be due to tactics (again personnel issue related to coaching staff) or to the way we set up and that s more to do with processes and here again, I feel that we are conceding too much even against Liege – we re still not finding the right balance, which is worrying. Then if you look at strategy, it is also unclear it seems.

    So I think it s a holistic issue that requires an integrated approach and I’d start with working on the strategy and the processes. We could then help our current team improve until we are able to invest in better players. But they would also need clear processes, structures and strategies to follow

  2. RC78 says:

    Good post by the way and big thanks

  3. JM says:

    Hi GoonerB, I shall hijack your post for a moment with this YT video, Ian Wright visiting and interviewing Dennis Bergkamp at his home in the Netherlands.

    I might send in my thoughts on the topic later.

  4. Sue says:

    JM.. I love that video!! And I love Ian Wright 😍
    At that award ceremony, the other night, when Arsene was awarded for being a legend.. Wrighty sent him a message, apologising for rollerblading in the marble halls of Highbury and bumping into him! He even called him ‘Boss’ after all this time!! Aww dontcha just love him 😊

  5. RC78 says:

    great players, true Arsenal legends, great video – thanks

    I hope that one day – we can call Lacazette and Auba the same and that they bring the fans the same joy and pride that Ian and Dennis did. I d be well chuffed to see a video 15 years from now of Laca and Auba reminiscing about their good old trophy-winning days at Arsenal…If in 20 years, it is Saka, Nketiah and Martinelli – I d be equally happy πŸ™‚

  6. JM says:

    On “The Art of Defending”:

    In regards to our PL matches (only):

    (1) How many chances (or %) at our goal from the opposition were (a) in the goal area, (b) in the penalty area (c) outside the penalty area? (Quality chances conceded vs Quantity chances conceded)

    Chances in (a)/goal area are usually the best in scoring goals, followed by those in (b)/penalty area, i.e. being close range shots, while chances from (c)/outside penalty area, from long range shots, are the least to score goals from.

    (2) Where our players (the CBs/FBs/MFs/FWs) are positioned when we are without the ball and defending the opposition’s attack at our goal? (i.e. our basic defensive shape)

    Were we mass defending in our penalty and goal areas with bodies either blocking shots on goal or marking the opposition’s attackers, while capitalising on blocked shots/rebounds to spring counterattacks? Were our midfielders switched on to change from our defensive form/phrase to an attacking form/phrase once we had collected the ball? Were our forwards anticipating to break the opposition’s defence line whenever we have counterattacking chances?

    I am also waiting to see if the return of both Holding and Bellerin, along with the debut of Tierney to our 1st team in the PL matches hopefully in the near future, can change our team’s way of playing.

    Since Emery is likely to keep our new captain, Xhaka, to play regularly in midfield, I like to see us fielding a test starting line-up, when all are fit, of:

    Leno, Bellerin, Luiz, Holding, Tierney, Chambers, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang.

    Chambers and Xhaka are our dual midfield pivot (Chambers – defensive calm presence and positioning to protect our CBs while helping Xhaka in ball distribution in our engine room, as we have witnessed he is capable of assisting goals); while Guendouzi gets licence to join attack in a hybrid CM/AM role and winning the ball back from our attacking 3rd.


    From our academy, in terms of defenders that are likely coming up to get some 1st team matches, I can only think of Zech Medley, who mainly plays CB and and occasionally LB, and also Osei-Tutu (a RB) who is currently on loan at Bochum.

  7. RC78 says:

    There is hope for Bergkamp to join us in a few years and I think the same with Overmars…knowing that Vieira and Henry are keen to come and that Wright loves the club, we could have:

    Head Coach – Vieira
    First team coaches – Bergkamp, Ljungberg, Campbell, Lehmann
    Academy – Metersacker, Wright, Pires, Lauren, Seaman
    Director of Football – Overmars
    Assitant Director of Football – Henry

    That d be well fun and nice to see

  8. Sue says:

    Happy Birthday to the one and only Mr Arsenal 😊

  9. GoonerB says:

    Thanks all

    Just to say this was written very quickly and based on a thought I had the other day when reading about our link to Boly to “solve our defensive issues”.

    That would indicate it is mainly only the quality of defender that makes us suspect in defence rather than it being a whole team issue and I thought it was worthy of discussion to see which camp one falls into.

    I have to say that RC’s 10.29 comment is brilliant and explains my feelings almost perfectly in a way I would have struggled to say. While acknowledging that we still maybe need 2-3 additions for quality upgrades you talk about the whole RC. I love your use of the word holistic in this sense as well as words like strategies, processes, integrated approach, defensive unit and balance.

    I agree we could still improve on individual quality in a couple of places but feel that when we look defensively suspect (too frequently currently) that it is a team and holistic defensive issue primarily and individual quality issue secondly. This may not have been quite the same in the recent past but right now it feels this way to me.

    I feel you are right RC that we need to focus on our team defensive strategy right now and worry about recruitment later and, as JM points, out there are others of potential better individual quality to come back in, so individually the back 4 quality will likely rise before further recruitment.

    JM, firstly a perfectly justifiable hijacking….brilliant video. I also love all those extra questions you ask expanding on the shots on (our) goal stats. Those stats were what I was hoping you would provide me with JM, not ask πŸ™‚ I am not your stats man but find them interesting to tally with what I feel I see in general play. Sometimes they are informative and sometimes misleading.

    I never like to assume or read into too much on anyone’s comments but, and please correct me if I am wrong in how I read it JM, I got the feeling you weren’t convinced we had a defensive problem that the shots on our goal stat highlighted, and maybe thought it was misleading as a stat, and that the real issue would be dealt with by improvement in the quality individually in our defenders.

    Currently I personally feel the shots on goal stat is informative, and that lead to my big question really. Is it just about the individual defender or is it a holistic team issue.

    I feel those stats indicate a team that allows another team to get too close to our goal, too often, and feel this is a team issue more than individual defender quality issue that, as RC says, requires a holistic and integrated approach to improve.

    My thoughts are that the back 4, by and large, aren’t the first to engage the opposition when they move forwards in possession towards our goal, but then mostly deal with it once it is already in that area of the pitch. Something else in the team dynamic allows this to happen in the first place before our back 4 generally engage. It feels to me that we are forced back far too easily into having to defend too often near our own goal.

    I am not convinced that these defenders coming back in will change our way of playing so much JM, but will more just make us defend better when we are having to defend. But again, I ask are we having to defend in our final 3rd and penalty area too often?

  10. JM says:

    @Sue 11:05 am & RC78 11:25 am,

    You are welcome. Bergkamp is my favourite Arsenal player. Maldini(Paolo) & Zanetti(Javier) are my other favourites which made my Top 3.

    @GoonerB 1:33 pm,

    I will be very worried if our team are giving away more (quality) chances/shots at our goal in our goal area, followed by those in our penalty area. Less worried if most of chances given away at our goal are from outside our penalty area.

    The former (goal area) means that our defence lines are completely breached in that the opposition attackers are likely to be 1v1 against our GK and/or shooting at goal within 12 yards from our goal line (which is equivalent to shooting from our penalty spot). These are the more quality chances we are conceding where the opposition are very likely to score goals.

    The latter (outside our penalty area) means that our defensive players are mass defending (blocking) in our goal and penalty areas, while conceding the areas just outside our penalty area (let say around 20 to 25 yards from our goal line) where the opposition are having to taking more long range shots at our goal (the less quality chances).

    Chances conceded in our penalty area are somewhat in between. (i.e. the 50% quality chances)

    And then, there are also the difference in % of chances given to our opposition either from open play or set pieces (throw-in/corner/free kick/penalty etc).

    Give me some time for compiling the figures on the chances we have conceded in the PL matches so far. (I do not know if I can get the exact numbers, so it is more likely a rough guide).

  11. RA says:

    Why, thank you, Sue — I did not realise it was my birthday. πŸ€ͺ

  12. GoonerB says:

    Thanks JM, look forward to it. You are right that not all shots on goal are decent ones but I would be surprised if the number of shots on goal dont include (more than average) decent ones that fortunately didn’t result in a goal.

    Another thing is the really good and dangerous chances that don’t fall into the shots on goal category. Maybe like those ones that flash all the way across our goal in the 6 yard box but fortunately no-one got on the end of.

    How are those chances recognised statistically? We all recognise them visually during a game and by the end of a game have a recognition of them collectively that forms an opinion about how we did in the game. Were we largely dominant or did we use a get out of jail free card.

    I call them the change your underpants moments. I just feel I have been changing my underpants a bit too much in certain games recently and need a trip to Primark for some new supply of budgie smugglers

  13. JM says:

    Reference (for GoonerB and other interested readers):

    Chances conceded in our PL matches (what I could roughly gathered):

    vs Newcastle (away), win 1-0
    17th min Joelinton (open play, penalty area)
    20th min Shelvey (from a throw-in, penalty area)
    22nd min Shelvey (from a corner, outside box)
    26th min Joelinton (open play, penalty area)
    39th min Almiron (open play, outside box)
    68th min Almirion (from a corner, penalty area)
    84th min Saint-Maximin (open play, outside box)
    86th min Schar (open play, outside box)
    89th min Joelinton (open play, outside box)

    5 chances from outside box (where 1 is from a corner); 4 chances from inside the penalty area.

    vs Burnley (home), win 2-1
    3rd min Pieters (open play, outside box)
    14th min Barnes (open play, penalty area)
    18th min Tarkowski (from a corner, penalty area)
    20th min Cork (from a corner, penalty area)
    20th min Mee (from a corner, penalty area)
    25th min Cork (open play, outside box)
    28th min McNeil (from a corner, outside box)
    38th min Barnes (from set piece, penalty area)
    43rd min McNeil (open play, outside box)
    43rd min GOAL Barnes (open play, penalty area), this goal was from the previous deflected shot from McNeil.
    53rd min McNeil (open play, penalty area)
    61st min Westwoord (open play, penalty area)
    68th min Barnes (from a corner, goal area)
    71st min Lowton (open play, outside box)
    71st min McNeil (open play, goal area)
    74th min Barnes (from set piece, penalty area)
    75th min Mee (from set piece, penalty area)
    90th+3 min Rodriguez (from a corner, penalty area)

    5 chances from outside box (where 1 is from a corner); 11 chances from penalty area (where 7 are from a set piece/corner); 2 chances from goal area (where 1 is from a corner).

    vs Liverpool (away), loss 1-3
    2nd min Robertson (open play, outside box)
    9th min Wijnaldum (from a corner, penalty area)
    15th min Robertson (open play, outside box)
    21st min Mane (open play, penalty area)
    23rd min Firmino (open play, penalty area)
    24th min Mane (open play, outside box)
    32nd min Henderson (open play, penalty area)
    39th min van Djik (from a corner, penalty area)
    39th min Alexander-Arnold (from a corner, penalty area)
    39th min Salah (from a throw-in, penalty area)
    40th min Firmino (open play, outside box)
    41st min GOAL Matip (from a corner, penalty area)
    45th+1 min Mane (from a corner, penalty area)
    45th+1 min Wijnaldum (open play, outside box)
    45th+1 min Firmino (open play, outside box)
    49th min GOAL Salah (from a penalty, penalty area)
    51st min Salah (open play, outside box)
    53rd min Alexander-Arnold (open play, penalty area)
    53rd min Alexander-Arnold (open play, penalty area)
    56th min Firmino (open play, outside box)
    56th min Salah (open play, goal area)
    59th min GOAL Salah (open play, penalty area)
    61st min Robertson (open play, penalty area)
    62nd min Firmino (open play, penalty area)
    69th min Firmino (open play, penalty area)

    8 chances from outside box; 16 chances from penalty area (where 7 are from a set-piece/corner/throw-in/penalty); 1 chance from goal area.

    Liverpool are the No.1 team in the PL currently, and we were overwhelmed.

    vs Tottenham (home), 2-2 draw
    10th min Lamela (open play, outside box)
    10th min GOAL Eriksen (open play, goal area), this goal was scored off a rebound fumbled save by Leno.
    15th min Eriksen (open play, outside box)
    18th min Son (open play, outside box)
    36th min Kane (open play, outside box)
    38th min Eriksen (from a free kick, outside box)
    40th min GOAL Kane (from a penalty, penalty area)
    44th min Sissoko (from a corner, penalty area)
    52nd min Son (open play, penalty area)
    52nd min Rose (from a corner, outside box)
    59th min Kane (open play, penalty area)
    60th min Eriksen (from a corner, outside box)
    90th+4 min Sissoko (open play/fast break, penalty area)

    7 chances from outside box (where 3 are from a set-piece/corner); 5 chances from penalty area (where 2 are from a corner/penalty); 1 chance from goal area (where they scored from a rebound/saved shot).

    vs Watford (away), 2-2 draw
    6th min Deulofeu (open play, outside box)
    11th min Cleverley (open play, outside box)
    12th min Cleverley (from a corner, outside box)
    13th min Holebas (open play, penalty area)
    35th min Hughes (open play, penalty area)
    35th min Deulofeu (open play, penalty area)
    35th min Gray (open play, penalty area)
    44th min Holebas (from a free kick, outside box)
    47th min Hughes (open play, penalty area)
    52nd min Doucoure (open play, outside box)
    53rd min Cleverley (open play, penalty area)
    53rd min GOAL Cleverley (open play, penalty area), off a mistake by Sokratis (I believe)
    55th min Deulofeu (open play, penalty area)
    58th min Deulofeu (open play, outside box)
    60th min Femenia (open play, outside box)
    63rd min Doucoure (from a corner, outside box)
    65th min Sarr (open play, penalty area)
    66th min Pereyra (open play, penalty area)
    68th min Deulofeu (open play, outside box)
    69th min Kabasele (from a corner, penalty area)
    74th min Deulofeu (open play, outside box)
    75th min Sarr (open play, outside box)
    81st min GOAL Pereyra (from a penalty, penalty area)
    83rd min Cleverley (open play, penalty area)
    83rd min Deulofeu (open play, penalty area)
    86th min Doucoure (open play, penalty area)
    86th min Cleverley (open play, outside box)
    87th min Janmaat (from a corner, outside box)
    91st min Doucoure (open play, outside box)
    91st min Cleverley (open play, outside box)
    90th+1 min Doucoure (open play/fast break, penalty area)

    15 chances from outside the box (where 4 are from a corner/free kick); 16 chances from penalty area (where 2 are from a corner/penalty).

    vs Aston Villa (home), win 3-2
    4th min McGinn (open play, outside box)
    5th min Trezeguet (open play, penalty area)
    11th min McGinn (from a corner, outside box)
    12th min Al Ghazi (from a free kick, outside box)
    20th min GOAL McGinn (open play, penalty area)
    33rd min Wesley (open play/fast break, outside box)
    38th min Mings (from a corner, penalty area)
    ** 41st min AMN sent off (we played with 10 men then on)
    47th min McGinn (from a free kick, outside box)
    53rd min McGinn (open play, penalty area)
    60th min McGinn (open play, penalty area)
    61st min GOAL Wesley (open play, goal area)
    64th min Trezeguet (open play/fast break, penalty area)
    82nd min Nakamba (open play, outside box)
    89th min Hourlhane (from a set piece, penalty area)

    6 chances from outside the box (where 3 are from a free kick/corner); 7 chances from penalty are (where 2 chances are from a set piece/corner); 1 chance from goal area (which results in a goal for Wesley).

    vs Man. United (away), 1-1 draw
    29th min Pereira (open play, penalty area)
    37th min Pogba (open play, outside box)
    43rd min Pereira (open play, penalty area)
    45min GOAL McTominay (open play, outside box)
    57th min Pereira (from a corner, outside box)
    63rd min James (open play, outside box)
    64th min Pereira (open play, outside box)
    64th min Pogba (open play, outside box)
    70th min McTominay (from a corner, goal area)
    70th min Rashford (open play, outside box)
    73rd min Maguire (from a corner, outside box)
    79th min Fred (from a corner, outside box)
    89th min McTominay (open play, outside box)
    91st min Rashford (from a free kick, outside box)
    90min+2 min Greenwood (open play, outside box)

    12 chances from outside the box (where 4 are from a free kick/corner); 2 chances from penalty area; 1 chance from goal area.

    vs Bournemouth (home), 1-0 win
    15th min King (from a corner, penalty area)
    17th min Solanke (from a set piece, penalty area)
    40th min Lerma (open play, outside box)
    56th min Stacey (open play, penalty area)
    58th min Billing (open play, outside box)
    66th min Fraser (open play, penalty area)
    77th min Lerma (open play, outside box)
    86th min Groeneveld (open play, outside box)
    91st min Cook (from a corner, penalty area)
    90th+4 min Wilson (from a throw-in, outside box)

    5 chances from outside the box (where 1 is from a throw-in); 5 chances from penalty area (where 3 are from a set piece/corner).

    Defending and conceding chances from set pieces (indirect and direct free kicks/ corners) are more related to a team’s defensive organisation and individuals’ awareness in those particular scenarios.

    The Liverpool and Watford matches are looking to be the worst in our team’s given away more quality chances from open play in the penalty and goal areas. Against Villa, we are playing with 10 men in the 2nd half.

    In our last 2 matches (against United and Bournemouth), our team has probably lessen the more quality chances in open play given to the opposition against our goal.

  14. RA says:

    Afternoon, GB,

    I always feel I should keep my minuscule musings to myself, when responding to one of your immense, not to say epic, comments, and the comparison of my diddly comment, which is alike to the moon circling the earth, springs to mind, as opposed to your ginormous interstellar Black Hole inexorably drawing everything towards it, before finally devouring every morsel, before letting go a satisfied corresponding giant belch of gas. Wowee πŸ₯Ί

    I will therefore respond in kind.

    Arsenal defence problems? Holistic remedy? Hogwash. Sorry 😳

    Liverpool – crap defence. Bought one CB – Van Dyke = 2nd in EPL + champions of Europe.

    Conclusion? Quality player required.

    How d’ya like them potaters? πŸ˜‡

  15. Sue says:

    RA.. 😝😝 (bus pass?!)

  16. Sue says:

    Budgie smugglers – some look, GB πŸ˜‚

  17. RA says:


    I am happy to be whatever you would like me to be — but none of your afternoon naps mind —
    — my (sort of) girlfriend, Big Bertha, (sshh – she does not know I call her that ) – and at 6’3″ she prefers to be called Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, (so who is going to argue with her?) πŸ€ͺ – and she is very demanding, but if she thinks I look like a “bus pass”, whatever that means, she has never said — then again as she is Anglo-French, who knows?? 😎

  18. RA says:


    GB is still reading JM’s comment — could be finished by 10 pm — and will perhaps will then put up a picture of himself in his budgie smugglers — God help you!! πŸ˜›

  19. Sue says:

    Either that, RA, or the budgie smugglers he has on are too tight & he’s passed out πŸ˜€

  20. Sue says:

    Afternoon naps?! πŸ˜‚ Big Bertha?! Big unit?! Very demanding – ha, now I know where the afternoon naps come from, RA… at your age (😜) you struggle to keep up?! πŸ˜†

  21. GoonerB says:

    RA, you are indeed correct….everything I utter is indeed comparable to a giant belch of gas πŸ™‚

    Now then, your Titania the queen of the fairies, I am sure I met someone of that description one Saturday night exiting the gents in a fine public house in London. Very scary lady. Apparently during the week she masquerades as a scaffolder going by the name of Brian.

    Sue, good look indeed. I put the budgie smugglers on and just know I look drop dead gorgeous, but I have this malfunctioning mirror in my house that doesn’t present a true reflection of my sexiness. I really must get rid of that mirror.

    JM, great work. Well done. Also interesting is the Frankfurt game, a very tough ground to win at apparently. 3-0 away there was a tremendous result. I say result because I think if you did your thingy with the chance analysis on this game it would again throw up some very interesting questions as to how we left with a clean sheet.

  22. Mike M says:

    Granit Xhaka. Explains most all of it.

  23. RA says:

    Gooner B

    Sssshhh — πŸ˜€

  24. Sue says:

    GB.. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I don’t know what I’m laughing at more, your mirror or ‘Brian’……. nice one, GB πŸ‘

  25. Sue says:

    Reasons to be cheerful –
    It’s Friday!
    We’re almost half way through this boring interlull! (I can’t bring myself to tune in to England later, so the darts it is…..)
    Duzza is in the semi final!! 🎯 Come on!!!
    Mince pies are in the shops πŸ˜‹
    And last but not least – budgie smugglers πŸ˜‚
    Have a great day people!

  26. GoonerB says:

    Mike, I didn’t want to say it myself (@ your 9.30pm yesterday). However Mike, I kind of feel inclined to look at it in a different way rather than just singling out poor old Granit, who has taken a fair bit of online flak, not excluding from yours truly.

    At the base level Xhaka is not too bad a player and has some decent qualities. It’s just that he isn’t that invisible wall. He was never that before he came to us either, and still isn’t now, and normally played with that type of player tucking in just behind him.

    However Mike, rather than single any midfielder out from now on, I feel inclined to look more at all the midfielders in our squad (and players who could potentially play there from another position, i.e Chambers and Luiz) and look at them both individually and then collectively. What I personally see is that we have some excellent CM’s in our squad, all with slightly varying skill sets and qualities. It seems to me that we have options for every role conceivable in CM from within our current squad.

    We have the players who could be that invisible wall. We have box to box players, and players that can carry and drive forward with the ball. We have good passers of the ball. We have resoluteness and players that will get stuck in. We have players who are more creative and can open teams up.

    There is really no excuse for us to line up with an unbalanced midfield. Rather than pan one individual player from now on, whose main crime is just being selected by the manager and therefore being on the pitch, I am more of a mind to look at the manager and say, well you have pretty good options, so if the midfield isn’t working and balanced, then that is down to you.

    We need to get that balance between defence, attack and someone who can break the lines in between, and I feel we have the players for this. I am pretty sure you could actually have a better balanced midfield than we have recently seen even with Xhaka in it, if another player tucked in behind him as that invisible wall, but that would mean dropping our boy wonders in place of him.

    Either way Mike I feel this is not about Xhaka per se now, and getting our midfield firing is all on Emery, because he has the tools for it, or at least the tools for it to be far better than we have seen.

  27. RC78 says:

    And we also have the winner of the PL player of the month in Auba

  28. Sue says:

    Auba’s on πŸ”₯….. many congrats!!

  29. JM says:

    @ GoonerB, 9:07 pm

    Chances conceded in selective EL match,

    vs Eintracht Frankfurt (away), won 3-0
    4th min Sow (open play, outside box)
    11th min A.Silva (open play, outside box)
    15th min Kohr (open play, outside box)
    15th min Hintereggar (open play, outside box)
    18th min Kostic (open play, penalty area)
    19th min A.Silva (open play, penalty area)
    21st min Dost (open play, penalty area)
    23rd min Kostic (open play, penalty area)
    23rd min Kohr (open play, outside box)
    25th min Kamada (open play, penalty area)
    28th min da Costa (fast break/open play, outside box)
    29th min Hintereggar (from a corner, penalty area)
    37th min Dost (from a corner, penalty area)
    45th min A.Silva (open play, penalty area)
    47th min Dost (open play, penalty area)
    49th min A.Silva (open play, penalty area)
    54th min Kostic (fast break/open play, outside box)
    59th min A.Silva (open play, penalty area)
    68th min A.Silva (fast break/open play, penalty area)
    68th min Kostic (open play, penalty area)
    69th min Paciencia (open play, outside box)
    71st min A.Silva (from a corner, penalty area)
    73rd min da Costa (from a corner, outside box)
    77th min Kostic (open play, penalty area)

    9 chances from outside box (where 1 is from a corner); 15 chances from penalty area (where 3 are from a corner).

    Our team conceded 12 better quality chances from open play in the penalty area. This match happened before Villa, United, Forest, Liege and Bournemouth. I believed our team was still wobbling after being held to a morale sapping draw by Watford previously.

    My rough reference:

    (Low quality)
    Chances conceded from outside the box (which should be similar to a direct free kick distance and/or more for long range shots): 15% to 35% chance of scoring (average 25%).

    (Medium quality)
    Chances conceded in the penalty area (excluding penalty kicks): 40% to 60% chance of scoring (average 50%).

    (High quality)
    Chances conceded in the goal area: 65% to 85% chance of scoring (average 75%).

  30. GoonerB says:

    Excellent work JM and I like your rough estimation as a guideline. Just need to clarify one thing. Are you looking at all chances against us and categorising them into low quality, medium quality, and high quality chances so we can get a better idea of the balance of how much threat we have been under? If so would the sum of all 3 not have to total 100%. Did you mean 25% were high quality chances not 75%?

    Also JM now you have analysed us individually you can start on the small matter of analysing our rivals so we can have a comparison πŸ™‚ I do hope you managed to book some annual leave from work to allow time to do this πŸ™‚

  31. RA says:

    GB, @ 11:41

    That is an interesting comment.

    I do not believe it is wrong for a fan to express an opinion that a certain player has played poorly, either occasionally, or persistently.
    That is just what fans have always done — especially if that poor play affected the whole team, and a game was lost.

    There can, of course, be mitigation for a poor performance — carrying an injury, for example, or trying to do what the coach had demanded the individual player, or the team, should do against a better team, and did not change the strategy when it clearly did not work.

    What cannot be overlooked, however, is that some players are just not good enough, in general, or cannot play in a team coached in certain specific ways by the manager.

    On the other hand, a change of coach and strategies can make an apparently moderate player bloom in a new setup and become every fan’s favourite.

    The converse of that is a top coach will eventually decide that one or more players have not got the quality required and he will move them on, and buy replacements that he believes will bring the success that he and the fans want to see.

    Football is a results driven industry – and players and managers stand, or fall, dependent on the results.

    As fans, we are observers who cheer bawdily when the team is successful, or become judgmental when they lose.

    C’est la vie.

  32. Sue says:

    Eddie & Joe start for the England U21’s πŸ‘

  33. JM says:

    @GoonerB, 3:42 pm

    That rough reference on chances conceded/chance of scoring (by opposition) is for any team in general. The further distance away from goal that a shot is made, the more unlikely it will result in a goal.

    % in scoring:
    0 to 10% – shooting from own half
    15 to 35% – shooting from opposition’s half/ any area outside the penalty box
    40 to 60% – shooting inside penalty area
    65 to 85% – shooting inside goal area
    90 to 100% – shooting at an open goal

    Naturally, if our team can keep the opposition’s shooting chances more from outside our penalty area, we are less likely to concede.

  34. VP of Oz says:

    as an ex-defender my only advice would be, “be the water”

  35. RockyLives says:


    Thanks – good brain-stirrer.

    I think (though am far from certain) that our defensive frailties are more of a system/tactics problem than a personnel problem.

    Redders may be right to say that one great signing (VVD at Liverpool) is the answer, but I have doubts whether we would achieve instant success by dropping Virgil into our team right now. Or indeed even by adding Scott, Alan, Gordon or any others of the Thunderbirds.

    Adding Brains might help…

  36. RockyLives says:


    Thank you for the Wrighty/Dennis video.

    What a brilliant watch, featuring my two all-time favourite Arsenal players.

    I thought some interesting talking points came out of that interview… there my be fuel for a Post about one or two of them.

  37. RA says:


    πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  38. RockyLives says:


    I’ve dropped a Post in drafts…

  39. RA says:

    Good Morning, All,

    I have a Post too — and here it is —

    For all peeps bored rigid by the Interlull, and waiting for the Rock King’s Post —

    Go watch the Rugby World Cup!!

    It has been a fantastic competition, and even those who do not know the rules will get carried away with the sheer speed, skill and physical ability of some of the best athletes in the world.

    True word.

    [Even better than watching the Rasper’s Koi carp go around and around in lazy circles.] 😜

  40. RockyLives says:

    Morning Redders

    There have been some cracking games in the Rugger. I’m enjoying it, although inevitably in the groups stage there are some very one-sided encounters.

    But my general impression is that emerging teams like Japan, Georgia, Uruguay and Argentina are slowly getting more competitive, which will only be good for rugby in the years to come.

    The knock-out phase should be really exciting.

  41. Mike M says:

    GB, sorry I’ve been away this weekend. I’m not sure what the real answer is but I think the player that plays in the middle of the field in a 3 man midfield is basically the centre of your team, especially defensively. all roads lead to/from him, whoever he is. For 4 years we’ve watched a ponderous, fairly un-athletic often lethargic and poor tackling player fill that role. In the interest of fairness I’ll say his last 2 performances have been better, so apparently being named captain may have helped. I’m just pointing out that if the most critical position in your defensive shape isn’t right, you will struggle defensively. That’s a long term observation, not Xhaka bashing.So if anyone disagrees (and i’m sure there are many), I’d like to hear their POV. Is it a money thing? Lack of viable alternatives? I don’t think so and if you want proof, look at Liverpool. Wijnauldum, Fabinho, Henderson, Milner, Keita. Hardly world beaters but all hard working, defensively responsible and positionally intelligent.

  42. RockyLives says:



    Everyone’s asleep.

  43. RA says:

    Hi Rocky,

    I is not asleep. I is workin’. πŸ₯Ί

    I know not, what is happening with Peaches and Cream Rasper — they would normally whiz your Post out for the delectation and delight of the AA aficionados.

    Mayhap they have eloped??

    P.S. I see Mike was responding to GB’s Post, to which you entreated him to not make a noise — “Shhhh! Everyone’s asleep” — and I am so pleased I am not the only one who succumbs!! πŸ‘€ 😁

  44. RA says:

    Incidentally, Mike, and afternoon to you — I think you make a fair point with your ‘Pool comparison.

    We are fortunate, on AA, to have so many Strategic Masters with the likes of GB, RC and JM, and altho my alluding to Occam’s razor may not have resonated with anyone, all I was referring to was the principle that, sometimes the answer to a puzzle is, where all things are equal, the simplest solution is inevitably the correct one.

    ‘Pool’s defence, in the early days of Herr Klip Klop, was every bit as bad as ours is currently. Some astute and relatively inexpensive purchases formed the building stones for a transformed defensive unit, and the keystone, i.e. the rather more expensive signing of Dick van Dyke at CB transformed the defence and lit the touch paper for their current all conquering team.

    I wrote to AW on this very point, as we have been crap for so many years, with no one at Arsenal understanding the principle eschewed by Occam’s rusty, trusty razor, and as a result we have stewed in unnecessary mediocrity.

    He wrote back, “RA, as we French say; tu dis des bΓͺtises — peut Γͺtre, merdre — au revoir — or as you Anglaise say — ‘sod off’.

    I wrote back instantly and said; “I’m not Anglaise – so there!!”

  45. RA says:


    You were clearly correct that all are soundly sleeping.

    As far as the inertia of Peaches and Rasper is concerned, I think you said you had dropped one in Draughts — maybe it has overcome them?

  46. Mike M says:

    RA – Good afternoon to you Sir !! I agree 100% with the continued ‘Pool’ analogy. When you look at Ceballos’ work rate from such a predominantly creative player, it’s hard to see, for example, how Mesut could fit in any more for us, especially in a 3 man midfield. Likewise with #34, his deficiencies have been so pronounced in the role he’s playing, if we ever give someone a chance who is actually good enough to play there a chance (I believe we have at least 3 good options), we might come to a similar conclusion when comparing. Of course signing a VVD type may help our #34 but it isn’t a guarantee. Rather I think the other way round as you point out, build a solid midfield so that a good CB becomes better when he joins.

  47. RockyLives says:

    Redders @4.46

    Well, I am usually full of hot air 😳

  48. RA says:

    Mike, πŸ‘ πŸ‘

    Rocky, πŸ₯Ί 😳 😜

    Off for a steak!! 🀠. See you guys!!

  49. RockyLives says:

    Enjoy your steak Redders.

    As a former butcher’s boy (first job aged 15) I feel compelled to ask… what cut? And how do you have it ? And what sides? Any sauce?

    (you can tell it’s an Interlull πŸ˜€)

  50. Sue says:

    Happy Birthday, Mesut πŸ₯³

  51. RA says:

    Rocky, @ 7:39 pm

    Post-steak I can reveal the following:

    Cut: My current fave is Ribeye steak – juicy, flavoursome and delish.

    Cooked: rare

    Sides: Fries, tomatoes, wild cep mushrooms, and Zuchini Salad.

    Sauce: Peppercorn

    Restaurant: Friends house.

    That about covers it. 😁

  52. Rasp says:

    Morning all …

    … New post …

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