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Parth Shah (Sportz Interactive), Sep 29, 2011

Arsenal's defense still leaves a lot to be desired


In the end, it was 3 points in the bag as far as Arsenal fans are concerned. But for Wenger, it means an investigation into Arsenal’s defensive woes. It wasn’t the easiest of wins, and had there been a better finisher in the Olympiakos side, we might well have been talking about dropped points and poor defending. As Man United found out the other night, too much of an open game coupled with a quality striker on the opposition’s books can lead to a nightmare scenario.

The two Olympiakos players (circled) have tons of space to run behind into. Arsenal played a very high line and Arshavin hasn't regained his position from the earlier attack, so Sagna has to deal with 2 markers.

Where Arsenal won it

The midfield trio of Arteta, Rosicky and Frimpong was too good for the Greek champions. Alex Song playing at centre-back actually helped Arsenal to regain possession and start attacks from deep within their half.

Song’s presence coupled with Frimpong’s energy allowed Arteta and Rosicky freedom to attack more as the first half progressed. Chamberlain had a good game, constantly looking to run behind the Greek defenders who were playing a high defensive line.

Arteta was the best player for Arsenal, seamlessly linking up the defense and attack with clever movement. He kept it simple most of the times and looked to stretch the opposition with throughballs to the full-backs. He isn’t a like-for-like replacement for Fabregas, but he is a quality player in the centre of the park for Arsenal.

Where Arsenal struggled

Arshavin (circled) should be helping out Santos by doubling up on the opposition full-back and not allowing him to cut inside. Luckily, the shot that followed hit the crossbar.

Andre Arshavin is a good wide attacker and possesses excellent dribbling and finishing skills. What he lacks, and that was clear last night, is the ability/mentality to help out his fullbacks. He simply does not have the discipline to regain his position once an Arsenal attack has failed and the opposition team has the ball.

A look at Arsenal’s foul chart shows that the majority of the fouls committed by them were on the left flank, where Santos and Arshavin played. Frimpong committed an unusually large number of fouls on the left wing, simply because he had to cover for Arshavin’s absence.

Arsenal committed majority of their fouls on the left side of the pitch.


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