Archive for December 14th, 2004

The Missing Set-Piece in the Jig-Saw

78 comments December 14th, 2004

The fact is, if we’d been able to defend set pieces, we would have beaten Chelsea on Sunday.

Considering our excellent performance, a draw was acceptable. But they scored two goals that you would have to call “soft”.

So what’s the issue? Some blame our zonal marking system, with Mark Lawrensen rather astutely commenting, “I never saw a zone score a goal”.

Arsene, meanwhile, seems content to blame it our difficulties on a lack of height, saying “In midfield, we are very short and so are our full-backs. That means we have only two central defenders who can win the ball at set-pieces.”

It is, I suppose, a valid point. This season, Reyes and Cesc have often been playing in place of their taller comrades, Pires and Gilberto.

So what’s the solution?

Firstly, there is always the oppurtunity to revert back to a man-marking system. Though Arsene is so stubborn that it is difficult to imagine him doing so.

There are several ways we could reinstate some aerial presence in the side. All 6’3″ of Phillipe Senderos is biding his time on the substitutes bench. The possibility of bringing him in at centre-half and shifting Kolo out to right-back is something that may be explored in the near future. Equally, assuming he doesn’t leave in January, Edu will soon be available for selection. Installing him alongside Patrick Vieira would give the side some much needed physical power. The ever-impressive Robin van Persie must also be close to a starting berth. Whilst his actual heading is not the best, his sheer height and strength with his back to goal would improve that aspect of our teams play.

Even so, last week the boys produced their two best performances for some time. Let’s hope that David Bentley scores the winning goal against Chelsea on Sunday, before we thrash Portsmouth 14-0 on the Sunday.

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