How Unai Emery can change approach to Arsenal's defensive positions
paininthearsenal's Brian Wong looks into Arsenal's New Era defending
"Arsenal gave up a goal to Chelsea off a corner, and, to be fair, Chelsea should have actually scored two goals from corners. So, in that aspect, nothing has changed. The Gunners are still terrible at defending against set pieces.
"But have Arsenal really been so terrible at defending set pieces? Consider this, even in using the zonal-marking tactic that created space for players who charged into the box from afar, last season, they conceded seven goals from set pieces, accounting for 14% of all goals conceded. According to whoscored.com by comparison, Manchester City gave up three set-piece goals, Liverpool with eight, United and Tottenham both with 10, and Chelsea with six.
"So statistically, Arsenal were not terrible at employing zonal marking to defend against set pieces. It is a painful realisation which does not seem to make any sense. But Unai Emery’s switch to a man to man marking does signify something, nonetheless. There are changes happening, changes to the defence and how it is organized. Now, all the team needs is for players to be able to follow their man and not have a much shorter player marking a much taller centre-back.
"Even if the initial results have not been positive, these changes are good. They give everyone a new look. Change may not always be great initially, but without change, opponents will be able to rely on a textbook of past experience on how to play against you. Change will allow Arsenal to play the game slightly differently and hopefully catch some teams by surprise along the way."