Arsenal Set Piece Problems: But is it just an attacking issue?


Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League

Much has been made in light of Arsene Wenger’s recent comments regarding the need to practice attacking set pieces, with Arsenal consistently having one of the lowest goal conversions from set pieces in the Premier League, just the 13 goals scored from a set piece in the previous 3 seasons. To put that in to some perspective, Manchester City scored 13 goals from corners last season alone, there is clearly a problem that needs some attention in that department.

set piece

However during Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the club there has always been a stereotype attached to Arsenal that they can be got at, by roughing them up and that they are vulnerable from a set piece. As an Arsenal fan nothing drives me crazier than people attaching outdated stereotypes to my football club, especially when they do not apply any more. Last season Arsenal conceded 7 goals from corners and 1 indirect free kick in all competitions. Considering Arsenal played well over 50 games last season I think it’s pretty safe to say that Arsenal are no longer a team that struggles with defending set pieces.  Or is it?

4 goals conceded from set pieces last season worryingly for Arsenal fans came during those crushing away defeats to ‘big teams’. The first 2 corners Arsenal conceded from last season came in the League and Cup games away at West Brom, Claudio Yacob and Saido Behrahino putting Arsenal’s defence to the sword from corners. Next up was the Robin Van Persie header to win Manchester United all 3 points at Old Trafford, that header started a growing trend to follow Arsenal around the country in the ‘big games’ Next up was Aguero’s opener as he capitalised on a lack of concentration from Laurent Koscielny to put City 1-0 up in their 6-3 demolition job. The North of England continued to be an unpleasant place to visit for the gunners as Liverpool scored 2 quick goals from Set pieces, Martin Skrtel finishing from a corner and an indirect free kick inside the first 10 minutes as Liverpool romped to a 5-1 victory. It didn’t stop there however, 2 goals in the opening 8 minutes against Hull in the FA Cup final at Wembley put Arsenal 2-0 down and jeopardised the ending of their 9 year trophy drought. Thankfully a set piece of their own helped Arsenal to a 3-2 victory in that game.

So whilst the stereotype that has surrounded Arsenal over the years where smaller clubs could perhaps capitalise on weaknesses from set pieces against Arsenal may not be true, there definitely does seem to be an issue against the big sides or in big matches.

The first issue we can see with these goals is the timing. 7 of the 8 goals Arsenal conceded from corners and indirect free kicks last season came in the first half, 6 of them coming in the opening 30 minutes, 5 of them in the opening 15 minutes. 7 of the 8 goals conceded from set pieces were actually the first goals of the game, obviously putting Arsenal 1-0 behind. Surely being away from home the last thing you want to do is concede early goals from set pieces. Could this be a preparation issue?

Arsenal last season were not traditionally fast starters, throughout the season they dominated the so called ‘smaller’ teams with possession scoring lots of second half goals as they attempted to barge down the doors of stubborn opposition defences, but often having quite weak first halves as they lacked penetration and intensity in their game. However because Arsenal were winning many of these games not much was made of this. Against higher calibre opposition you are not going to be so lucky. If you start slow you will be punished as we saw in games against Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Not much seems to have changed this year either, Manchester City’s equaliser at the Emirates came from a set piece that Arsenal failed to defend competently, as well as Crystal Palace’s opener on the first game of the season from Brede Hangeland, that goal also came from a corner. Incidentally that was the first goal Arsenal had conceded from a set piece at home over the last 1 and a bit seasons, all 8 conceded came away from home last season, which of course is where we saw Arsenal really struggle. Arsene Wenger admitted more practice is needed in the attacking department of set pieces, but maybe for the big games more attention needs to be given to the defending of set pieces. Just because you get it right against the smaller teams, doesn’t mean the bigger teams can’t still punish you.

Could there be an element of complacency that has developed at Arsenal where they feel an issue has been fixed and thus dedicate less time to it. Much has been made of Wenger’s lack of personal instructions to players, could this also be applied to the defending of set plays? Do Arsenal need specific instructions in these big games on who to mark, who’s going to defend what area etc? Isit a tactical issue, should Arsenal switch to a man to man marking scheme against the bigger sides? But surely if zonal marking can work against everyone else why shouldn’t it work against the top teams.

With not much to choose between the top sides in terms of personnel, the differences in the big games normally come down to individual errors, set pieces and tactical set ups. In the games against the bigger teams we saw an abundance of individual errors in these games, especially in the mauling’s from City, Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as serious question marks raised over the tactical set up of Arsene Wenger’s team. We often hear about the ‘fine margins’ associated with the elite level of the game, and some belittle the use of set pieces. However it’s become apparent that Arsenal has been left behind in this aspect of the game both defensively and offensively, some may say Arsenal has been left behind in quite a few aspects of the game. With Arsenal facing their toughest challenge of the season so far against Chelsea on Sunday, a team who have plenty of aerial strength and fantastic deliverers of the ball, Arsenal will need to be focused from the first minute to avoid another embarrassing defeat.

By @Lewbob91

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Weekends Football Betting Tips

Welcome to this weekends football betting tips, each week we hope to give you some tips to help you win some money over the weekend and bash the bookies up a bit!

£20 to £500 challenge

We enter the 3rd leg of our £20-£500 challenge after boosting our £20 to £38.18 in last weekends Newcastle V Hull game.  We fancy a both teams to score in the Liverpool v Everton game. On Bet 365 the odds are 8/15 which would boost us to £58.54. If you’re joining in late, never mind, you can still join in the fun!

Timmy’s Fourfold

Our superb tipster @A1Deniro has gone for a fourfold of

Norwich, Ipswich, Sheffield United and Torquay all to win today. At odds of 7.97.1 a £30 stake would give you returns of £269.10. We fancy a bit of this! (Bet365)

BTTS & Win Treble 

Both teams to score and win trebles are tough to predict, they look good on paper but rarely come to fruition, however the returns are spectacular. We’ve gone for a Chelsea, Man United and Bristol City Both teams to score and win treble. At 31.10.1 a £5 stake would return you mega returns of £160.55.  (William Hill)

Thankyou for reading our tips, we hope to give you some winners. Make sure to follow @TouchlineFracas and our dedicated tipster @A1Deniro on Twitter

024 – Premier League So Far Football Podcast

Football Podcast

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A Weekly Football  Podcast On this weeks show the panel gets together to discuss how the opening 5 games of the season has panned out thus far. We also answer your questions on a wide range of football topics.

This weeks Football Podcast;

Are Man United in crisis?
LVG’s tactics going forward
North London Derby
Mesut Ozil form
Liverpool In Europe
and much, much more

Thank you for all your listeners questions we appreciate your support hugely.

Host – @Lewbob91
Ayo – @A_D1su
Leroy – @PatternOfPlay
Mickey – @TheRegista_
Reuben – @MarcoReubs
Ollie – @OlivierBanks

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Podcast also available on Itunes, Youtube and Stitcher

Please leave comments and reviews on Itunes, Youtube, Soundcloud etc. Feedback is always appreciated and we will read your views out on the show!

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The Star of Ruhr Valley – Shinji Kagawa


A Japanese international who has found a home in the Ruhr District of Germany, Shinji and Dortmund were fated.
At Dortmund he is the favourite prodigal son, even deserting the family won’t diminish the love from the raucous Westfalenstadion faithful, they campaigned for their son to come home and the father of the family Jurgen Klopp happily obliged. Before a usually fierce Ruhr Derby with neighbours from Gelsenkirchen the Blue Samurai further mystified his legend with a very Samurai like prediction, he had the audacity to claim that he would fall one short of a hat-trick and score a brace against Schalke and best of all past Manuel Neuer who was no slouch even back then.

Admittedly,he wasn’t much of a success in England but there were moments, instances that happened and vanished in seconds,you blinked and you missed them. A deftness of touch has been misused but Our Shinji has it, his boot was like a pillow for the ball- it called the ball to his instep and lulled it to sleep, sleep in motion. There were complete performances too, rare but occasionally present. I long admitted Kagawa into my misunderstood genius hall of fame which contains the likes of Berbatov and Jeremy Toulalan, story for another day. When Shinji Kagawa found a team mate on the same wavelength as he was on any particular matchday Manchester United ticked and hummed. There were signs that he had found a willing ally in Juan Mata and the one touch and move football spoke to the inner samurai in Shinji Kagawa and they almost blossomed, but it wouldn’t be right for that to happen to the favourite son of the Ruhr, it wasn’t fated.

A belated ode to the man I willed to succeed at United till I realised that I was being selfish with him, it’s just that he was so lovable, so good you could see the talent struggling to be unleashed but that would be like letting the Hulk release his magnificent powers in a colony of ants. The one game he will always be remembered for is that against Norwich and boy wasn’t he on song, he pressed, passed, scored and every time he was on the ball there was an air of expectancy around Old Trafford, edge of the seat stuff, that afternoon he was the conductor of an Orchestra and the theater of dreams was his opera house, he conducted and the team produced beautiful music though in hindsight only Wayne Rooney danced to his music, his other team mates were all in awe and appreciated that they were witnessing something special that afternoon, a one-off sadly as was most of his career in England. Shinji Kagawa’s second goal was the most breath taking goal I’ve ever seen at Old Trafford not in its beauty or range, they’ve been better, it’s simplicity and execution was mind numbing, the presence of mind to dummy and change body position and just side foot it into an empty net with a subtleness of movement and grace barely noticeable, all the defenders and goalkeeper sprawled in the opposite direction anticipating a less cultured player’s attempt.

When he left I was sad and a bit teary but I was also very happy, the romantic in me was triumphant even, the Star of the Ruhr much like what the Wise men saw was always bound to rest where it was fated, Dortmund is Shinji Kagawa’s Bethlehem, Signal Iduna Park his manger and Jurgen Klopp his footballing father, the Dortmund faithful got their wish and more, their favourite son has come back a man, the star of the Ruhr is home.

By @CJSonofAnarchy

Be sure to follow him on Twitter clicking on the above link

Premier League Team Of The Season So Far? operate a feature that calculates the team of the week/month/season so far using their intricate player ratings system. You can find out more about the player ratings system WhoScored uses by listening to our interview with Editor In Chief Ali Tweedale here.

Whoscored have gone with this team as their Premier League team of the season so far. Do you Agree?

whoscored tots


Some notable inclusions in there that would surely be up for debate. Phil Jones? Gael Clichy? Surely, names such as Bertrand and Fonte deserve a mention before those two. Possibly some of the Burnley back line also.

Can’t argue much with the midfield, although it’s a bit suspect that Ulloa is in midfield, not sure how that works. Lets just pretend we’re playing 4-2-4. Fabregas & Schneiderlin have been superb, as has Hazard. Some honourable mentions could have been Sigurdsson, Dyer or Tadic possibly.

Maybe we could include one of the above, if we remove Pelle, who has been on fire to be fair, but take him out and put UIloa up top to make room for another midfielder.

Are there any other players that have been missed out of the Premier League team of the season so far?

Get involved in the debate @TouchlineFracas

Using the #HashTag #TouchlineFracas

Saturday’s Betting tips

£20 to £500 challenge
Carrying on from last week. £27.27 to be staked on Newcastle v Hull over 1.5 goals, which would bring our balance to £38.18 to be staked on another selection until hopefully we reach that magic £500!

Tim’s Treble

Norwich, Newcastle and Northampton all to win. £20 wins you £88.60

Follow @a1deniro on Twitter

BTTS and win treble

Norwich BTTS and Win
Bayern Munich BTTS and win
Schalke BTTS and win

£5 returns you £124.90

Good luck!

023 – Matt Whitehouse Interview

matt whitehouse interview

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A Weekly Football Debate Show. This weeks show features esteemed author and Professional Football coach Matt Whitehouse. In the Matt Whitehouse Interview we discuss his new book as well as contemporary football issues, including Mesut Ozil, Arsenal Wenger, Van Gaal, Juan Mata and more.

We’d like to thank Matt Whitehouse for appearing on the show, as well as all the listeners for their questions.

Host – @Lewbob91
Matt Whitehouse – @The_W_Address
Mickey – @TheRegista_
Ayo – @A_D1su
Ellis – @Elliskco_I
Leroy – @PatternOfPlay

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Itunes Link

Youtube Link

Last Weeks Pod

You can purchase Matt’s latest book – Universality: The Blueprint for Soccers New Era here –

Arsenal v Dortmund Review



What a… Yesterday night Arsenal…. It was a lesson… As you can see, Dortmund’s pressing last night was so convincing that even I’m finding it hard to get any words out. Credit to the impressive Dortmund, who bestowed onto Arsenal an unbridled masterful game of how to play football. Dortmund were hungry, and Arsenal were taken to the slaughterhouse.

If Arsene Wenger and Jürgen Klopp were all chummy and in awe of each other before the match, then after the match, I’m sure Wenger planned some sort of excuse to omit himself from his post-game rendezvous with the ever-ebullient Klopp.

The Match Report

Losing to Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park is no shame. However, producing the same old flaccid performance against the bigger teams more or less restores that shameful equilibrium.

The scoreline finished 2-0 to Dortmund, but you could’ve fooled me. Dortmund’s concurrent attacks resembled a swarm of killer bees protecting it’s nest, that nest being the Signal Iduna Park. Arsenal couldn’t handle their stings, nor could they handle the ball. They flipped and flopped with it like a piping hot potato, where Dortmund moved the ball like the Harlem Globetrotters. And they did so without so many key absentees.

The warning signs were clear from minute one; bright red, flashing lights, signalling to Houston that we have a problem. Arsenal’s best player on the pitch was not of anyone wearing an Arsenal jersey. No, it was the Armenian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who squandered so many of his chances, keeping the scoreline somewhat respectable.

Despite, the myriads of chances Dortmund created, the scoreline was still ominously 0-0. However, you just knew that Arsenal couldn’t uphold this homemade wall of luck. This inevitability was later solidified when Danny Welbeck fluffed a rare Arsenal chance; a chance he really should have scored. The goal was coming, and it did come, from an Arsenal set-piece – shock!

The ball somehow found its way to Ciro Immobile on the halfway line. As he turned, he was suddenly faced with a 2-on-1 situation. He was shepherded towards the Arsenal area under no real threat, beat Koscienly with a fortunate piece of mis-control, and then fired it across Wojciech Szczęsny. Dortmund were up 1-0 on the stroke of halftime, the worse possible time to concede.

All hopes of Arsenal coming out to the second half with a point to prove were quickly and effectively disposed of. The second goal came straight after the second half kicked off. Kevin Großkreutz played Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through – who’s pace was a perennial problem for the Arsenal back line – who then rounded an on-rushing Szczęsny, and fired home the second.

The second goal took the sting out Arsenal and the game. Dortmund sat back and afforded Arsenal more of the ball. Apart from a few more squandered Danny Welbeck chances, and an APB out on Podolski’s missing shin pad, Dortmund played a game close to “perfection”, described by Jurgen Klopp, under no real duress.

Where Is Our Patrick Vieira?

It was another sell-out crowd for the traditional, ‘The Big Game, No Show’ performance provided by Arsenal. The Arsenal midfield was overpowered in every possible facet. New Arsenal captain, Mikel Arteta produced a performance that paid even more credibility towards Wenger’s inability to buy a defensive midfielder as a sacrilegious one.

Wenger has adopted a new formation this season of 4-1-4-1, which has been met with a lot of pessimism from fans. Perhaps this preemptive action was to negate the funnelling Arsenal faced against the big teams last season. However, on the back of last night’s one-sided performance that assumption can be put to bed. The fact is, this formation depends highly on a fully capable defensive midfielder, which Arsenal don’t have, and haven’t had since Patrick Vieira left in 2005.

Between Mathieu Flamini, who has the hunger and passion in abundance, but lacks the discipline, and Arteta, who may have the discipline but not the legs to provide adequate protection for the defence, you can wonder why Arsenal fans have screamed for Callum Chambers to be moulded into that role. An outcry that I find a little ill-advised, but surely a decision that cannot be any worse than what is on offer now.

Özil Hung Out To Dry, Again

If I had never watched Mesut Özil play football before, and someone told me Arsenal had payed their club record, £42 million for him – on the back of last night – I would have Wenger live out his remaining years in a mental home. Özil’s return to German was his worse game I’ve ever seen him play. It was eerily Space Jam-esque, and it’s almost heartbreaking to see a player so devoid of confidence.

The new 4-1-4-1 formation has made the infamous “number 10” role obsolete. On paper Özil is penciled in on the flanks, but watching him, he often spends most of his game drifting infield. So suggesting that he isn’t playing well because he is out on the flanks is amateurish.

The fact is, Özil is not in form, and hasn’t been for a while. Wenger has been at Özil’s side fighting his battle for a long time now. But, I think that it is in his best interest and the club’s best interest to sit Özil out for a couple of games. Give Oxlade-Chamberlain a lengthy run in the side.

The Final Say

Not the ideal start to a Champions League campaign. Dortmund brought their A game, but thankfully forgot their shooting boots. These spineless performances cannot go unnoticed.

Arsenal’s next game sees them travel up to Aston Villa, who sit second in the table. A win there won’t mask the horror that was on show last night, but will make things more viewable. For now, it is a Nightmare on Elm Street, and this fight with their demons continues.


Wojciech Szczęsny – 6

Hector Bellerin – 6

Per Mertesacker – 6

Laurent Koscienly – 7

Kieran Gibbs – 6

Mikel Arteta – 4

Jack Wilshere – 7

Aaron Ramsey – 5

Mesut Özil – 4

Alexis Sanchez – 6

Danny Welbeck – 6

– Words by Yvens Tiamou –

Saturdays Betting Tips

Timmys Lucrative Treble

Stoke, Watford and Peterborough to win = 7.95/1

£25 stake wins you £198.75 (Bet365)

Follow Timmy on Twitter for more tips & Football opinion

Tom’s Longshot Fivefold

Stoke, Bristol City, Kettering (FA Cup), Bournemouth, Barnet to win = 19.88/1

£10 stake wins you £198.80 (Wiliam Hill)

Follow Tom on Twitter for more tips & Football opinion

Touchline Fracas Rolling Acca £20-£500

Not been the greatest starts for rolling Acca’s but we’ll try again starting with £20 on Over 0.5 First Half Arsenal v Man City. Over 0.5 goals in the first half have been scored in 5/5 of their last 5 meetings,  4/5 of Arsenal’s latest matches, and 3/4 of Man City’s last matches.

£20 returns £27.27, which if correct gets staked on to another bet until we reach our goal of £500

Follow us on Twitter for more opinion, debates and tips @TouchlineFracas


022 – FIFA 15 Player Ratings

fifa 15 player ratings


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A Weekly Football debate show. This week the panel discusses the impending release of FIFA 15 and the yearly debate of Fifa 15 player ratings. We dissect how & why FIFA 15 player ratings are so important to some, and the risks associated using games to judge a players ability. We also discuss Overrated Fifa 15 Player ratings, and how Fifa 15 player ratings are formulated. We also discuss the role of Football Manager and other video games have and their impact on fans ability to judge a players ability

Thank you for all of your questions, we appreciate your support. You can give our podcast a rating on Itunes, or give us feedback on Twitter or via email.

Host – @Lewbob91
Ayo – @A_D1su
Morayo – @Whodeknee
Aron – @AlvinChills
Daniel – @Swagadore

Follow @TouchlineFracas on Twitter