This is what a set piece looks like to Arsenal
Arsene Wenger after the Stoke loss.
” We have conceded, I think, 21 from set-pieces and only 17 in open play. That is something we have to correct. It is the easiest thing to correct in the game but you still must understand the flight of the ball and want to be first to the ball. I feel we are sometimes a bit naïve.”
This is an example of coaching failure. As Arseblog points out if it is the easiest thing to correct then why has it not already been done. You don’t need a course in astrophysics to understand the flight of the ball. Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs were not undone by a free kick that slithered around like Nagini.
Djourou allowed Kenwyne Jones to front him and Gibbs shockingly ducked to get out of the way. Jones did not do anything with the flight of the ball. He just walked it in. And where was the wall? Sticking Arshavin in front is not going to make Pennant think differently.
Remember when we were conceding goals from set pieces a few seasons ago the gaffer pinned it down to a lack of inches on the part of the centre backs. The answer was obvious – go get a pair of defenders taller than William Gallas.
I seriously think Wenger does not get defense and it seems he does not get attack either. Van Persie is best at the slot, he is not a centre forward, Bendtner is. But Wenger insists on sticking him out wide. Chamakh is also a centre forward but he seems to have abdicated those responsibilities.
Midfield is where Arsenal showcase their creativity but at each end you need basic players. Someone who can shoot the ball when in the box and defenders who can defend set pieces. Man Utd do well because they have the well drilled pair of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the back and Chicharito up front whose only responsibility is to score goals.
Pat Rice may be an important figure in Arsenal history with impressive defensive credentials but if after all this we’re still trying to figure out why we concede set pieces then we have a job not well done. Rice will be retiring at the end of the season and it will be advisable to turn to someone like Steve Bould to rectify the situation. Like Arseblog said the the lack of focus on fundamental aspects of the game means we cannot look to the transfer market for an easy way out.