Because I think some of you are interested here are my notes from all 14 goals Arsenal have conceded this season. I’m harsh on some of the players and you’re going to see a few names over and over again that are probably a surprise to you. But this is what I saw when I re-watched each goal.
This season Arsenal have conceded 10 of 14 goals from either their own set plays or the opposition’s set plays. And they have done so with some almost comedic defending at times. Way too many lapses in concentration, especially from Flamini, and far too much poor positioning, especially from Gibbs, are gifting the opposition far too much space and time to get into dangerous positions to score.
Arsenal have a troubling habit of relaxing on set plays. If you let a loaf of bread rise on your counter and then you pick it up with your hands, the dough will quickly collapse and relax into your hands. This is what Arsenal’s set play defense looks like time and again.
First Chelsea goal (penalty, Hazard):
A series of set plays and throw ins which culminates in an offside against Schurrle. Gibbs takes a quick free kick to Sanchez. Alexis is dispossessed by Ivanovich (probably a foul), passes to Matic, to Cesc, to Hazard all alone. Eden dribbles past Cazorla, then past Chambers, and then is fouled by Koz.
Analysis: Gibbs took the free kick too soon, Atikinson allowed Alexis to be fouled, Arsenal in disarray and too slow to react to Hazard. Set play indiscipline starts the Chelsea move, Chelsea set play finishes the goal.
Second Chelsea goal (long pass, Costa (Cesc assist):
Long ball to Alexis in the CF role, turnover, Mikel quick pass to Cesc, Fabregas has all the space and time, Costa beats Koz and Szczesny with a great first touch and special finish.
Analysis: pushing up for the win, not enough pressure in midfield from Flamini, leaves Cesc too much time to create.
Galatasaray goal (penalty):
Sanchez dispossessed in midfield, defense switches off, Gibbs tries to step up to force the offside but Per doesn’t, Yilmaz gifted tons of space, Szczesny comes for the ball, foul.
Yilmaz scores the penalty.
Analysis: Gibbs probably shouldn’t have stepped up to draw the offside. There was, however, lots of lazy play leading up to it and the Arsenal players were walking all over the place. To be expected when your team is 4-0 up? Or chronic problem with Arsenal’s soft mentality?
Tottenham goal (Chadli):
Szczesny claims the Erikson free kick easily and then hurriedly passes out to Chambers. Chambers is challenged by Erikson and passes back to Mertesacker, who passes to Flamini. Flamini takes a lazy touch and turn, is dispossessed by Erikson. Jack lets Lamela waltz past him, Lamela picks up Flamini’s recovery tackle, and passes to Chadli who scores past Gibbs (who recovered with a quick sprint), Koz, and Szczesny.
Analysis: Szczesny shouldn’t have taken the throw so quickly, the defense was disorganized, and Gibbs was too far up the pitch and for what reason I don’t know. Flamini was too casual with the ball and Wilshere, his midfield teammate, didn’t attempt to help out but stood and watched as Flamini was dispossessed. Lamela got the assist because Jack didn’t track him and Chadli the goal because Gibbs couldn’t recover. Better shape at the back and calmer presence from the keeper and this goal never happens.
Southampton first goal (penalty Tadic)
Free kick boomed in by the keeper, headed away, but played right back in to the same player, who flicks over to Manaes. Rosicky comes flying in and makes a pointless challenge. Tadic shoots right down the middle.
Analysis: Rosicky made a stupid challenge.
Southampton second goal (Clyne):
Tadic takes a corner, Chambers heads the ball out. Clyne picks it up from 35 light years from goal and fires in a shot which parts the red sea.
Analysis: a goal scored off a corner. Half wonder goal, half Einsteinium.
Dortmund first goal (Immobile):
Arsenal win a throw in deep in the Dortmund half, it’s punted up to Immobile, Gibbs races back, Koz is jockeying Immobile and Gibbs doesn’t make a challenge.
Analysis: Gibbs should have challenged Immobile for the ball, Immobile gets a lucky bounce and scores.
Dortmund second goal (Aubameyang):
Arsenal have another throw, cleared up to Aubameyang who passes to Grosskruetz. Aubameyang runs past Wilshere, between Per and Koz, Szczesny comes off his line, Aubameyang gets a lucky bounce and gets around Szczesny, scores a chip despite Koz’ valiant effort to get back.
Analysis: Wilshere was nominally the defensive midfielder. If he follows that run, it probably gives Per and Koz time to catch up. Instead he ran over to Gross.
Man City first goal (Aguero):
Kompany clears the ball desperately, Flamini tries to clear/tackle away from Aguero but the ball bounces to Navas. Navas drives up the pitch, Flamini runs exactly where you want him to run and tracks Aguero but at the wrong moment stops and Aguero goes past him and scores the cross.
Analysis: I don’t get it. I just don’t get why Flamini would run all that way back, get into nearly the right position and then lose Aguero. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Man City second goal (Demichelis, Corner, header):
Man City send a line of players to attack a spot, pump in a corner and Demichelis is completely un-marked. He actually had a lot to do with the pass, but he sends in a nearly flat-footed, falling away header that Szczeny and Flamini can’t keep out. Szczesny actually palmed the ball into the post.
Analysis: Arsenal had just two players in that zone. Neither got the ball.
Leicester Goal (Ulloa header, cross Schlop)
Koscielny suffered a head injury a few minutes earlier. Leicester ping a ball forward to Scholp, he chests down and makes a break for it, the ball is played back to him and he sprints to the end line. Debuchy is covering fine and Scholp sends in a hopeful cross to where he sees Ulloa running.
Analysis: It wasn’t catastrophic in any way, it was simply lax marking. Koz is probably to blame (he sees Ulloa but cant beat the man to the spot), except that seems a bit harsh considering the fact that he will be taken off in a minute for his head injury.
Everton first goal (Coleman header)
Alexis commits a foul on an aerial duel. He then spends plenty of time talking to the referee for Arsenal to get set up for the free kick. Everton take the free kick and pass to Barry. Barry passes and moves to a more advanced position. The ball swings to Baines and Baines basses back to Barry who sand wedges a ball into Naismith for the header.
Analysis: This looks like a set play by Everton. Baines and Barry have a chat and then the play starts. It goes through Osman before getting to Baines and then to back to Barry but what that ball movement does is relaxes the Arsenal defense like resting a loaf of dough. I think Barry’s ball was intended for Lukaku but Coleman beat Özil to the ball and headed in far too easily. Classic example of Arsenal switching off.
Second goal (Naismith)
Play is entirely down the left. Monreal is in advance of Mesut Özil and the ball is passed to him in space, he plays it back to Özil who attempts a splitting pass into the box. The ball is hoofed clear and Lukaku wins the first challenge with Mertesacker. Chambers rushes out to challenge and misses the tackle completely. Özil actually busts a gut to get back while “pass master” Monreal stays up top — ready to counter attack. Flamini, alone (which could be a poem), is caught between covering Lukaku and Naismith. Flamini checks Naismith several times, and even points for Debuchy to cover. Naismith waltzes between the two players (not that it would have mattered, they had a man behind Debuchy as well), and strays well offside. Lukaku plays Naismith in and Naismith scores a bit of a lucky goal between Szczesny’s legs.
Analysis: Naismith was offside. Lukaku fouled to win the first ball. Does it seem to you like Arsenal rely more on officials to get the calls right than other teams? Chambers shouldn’t have made the challenge. And structurally ask yourself this question: should Mesut Özil be the player busting guts to get back, what value does Monreal offer going forward, and why shouldn’t he be dropping back or holding back?
Crystal Palace (Hangelaand header corner)
Hangelaand simply beats everyone in the air.
Make of this what you will.