As an amateur goalkeeper I take a keen interest on how professional teams set themselves up at set pieces, positioning of a wall for arguments sake can be the difference between a free kick going in and a block leading to a quick counter attack.
Corners are always of great interest to me more so than any free-kick as it presents a bigger danger than a free kick. A Free Kick will often present somebody with a direct opportunity to score. More often than not the direct shot is blocked by the wall and the danger, again more often than not, is averted.
Corners are more of a concern for goalkeepers as a shot is not the intention of the set piece. Add to that the aggravation of around 15 bodies in the penalty area jostling for position and well just about anything can happen.
In recent weeks of my own playing time I’ve witnessed two back post goals from corners with exceptionally poor marking and one thing got me thinking about the difference between how Arsenal set themselves up at corners and how I arrange my own defence going into a set piece.I’m a stickler at corners for man to man marking, men on the posts and getting up as soon as the ball is gone. Very old school style if you like, with the intention of matching height for height and getting the danger clear sooner rather than later.
Since the introduction of Steve Bould as assistant manager, I have paid more attention to the involvement of the Arsenal defence and despite my own preference, I’m never going to be a big fan of zonal marking at corners. Against Crystal Palace and Yesterday against Everton I noticed a slight change in how Sczcesny arranges his back line when a corner is coming in. Last season we would operate with one man at the front post, a system that now seems to be gone with no man on either of the post yet still leaving all 11 men back in and around the Arsenal penalty area. My image at the top highlights the header from Brede Hangeland which went in at the far post. I’m not saying a man on the line would have certainly cleared it, but he would have been able to swing a left boot at it to get it clear.
Fast forward to our trip to Goodison Park, and in the main frame there were not that many corners for Arsenal to defend. Yet when we had to defend our third and Final one, I eventually noticed that Flamini was the man on the back post still leaving the front post exposed.
Although our current custodian has sensational reactions, I am yet to see us properly deal with a corner effectively in the old Tony Adams style of getting a good strong head on the ball and getting it somewhere between the penalty box and the centre circle. This means that he is always having to be alert at every corner for a good 30 seconds, making sure he knows exactly who is where and doing what during a challenging set piece.
If a top European team was to investigate our zonal marking efficiently, they would soon be able to exploit four runners in and around the 6 yard line to penalty spot would all have a good chance of getting a head to the ball. Based on the fact the gap in between the zonal markers and the somewhat questionable man marking by the edge of the 18 yard line would only require shrugging off a man easily to then allow you a running jump against a static man at the fore front of the defence. My concern for Arsenals defensive line is such that I have never really seen zonal marking work 100% through a season if you do not have the right personnel. Mobile centre backs are needed with good awareness and good jump strength with a good commanding midfielder, ideally a defensive midfielder, somewhere in there as well. Arteta doesn’t cut the mustard at fulfilling the latter part of this requirement. So the need for a good player in that position has become ever more apparent with only a few days left of the window to go.
Attacking wise we also need to brush up on our opponents and work on what they have as weakness’ as exploit that. Our returns from attacking corners are exceptionally poor and we appear to focus too much on what we can do to attack rather than exploiting what the defensive team cannot do at corners and making the most of that.
I shall be keenly watching our Home game against Besiktas to see if anything has changed in the Defensive line up bearing in mind we have the return of Koscielny and Mertesaker, but what to do with Chambers you ask who has been very impressive so far? I would sit Callum out as he has not missed a beat since joining us, let the lad remember that he is in competition and that he isn’t guaranteed a starting berth all the time.
Thanks for reading Savvygooner
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