Defender Linked!: Will it solve our problems?

November 29, 2010

The last few matches have revealed that we are still very much prone to conceding goals at the back. After getting three clean sheets in four matches not too long ago, we have again gone to our knack of conceding goals, mostly due to defensive errors. The situation has led to many defenders getting linked with us to solve the problem. Bolton’s Gary Cahill is the foremost of the players linked to us with reports suggesting Wenger will move in for the defender in the January transfer window with a 10 million bid. With Bolton’s debt rising, they will be tempted with the bid but it will require more than this to part ways with Cahill.

I am in for the notion that we need a new defender come January if we are to have a chance to challenge for the trophies. The question is will it solve our problems? The thing that I have noticed is that most of the problems that we have are not due to the ability of the defenders but due to some basic mistakes that we are not avoiding. Even a top class defender will be made to look normal with the type of mistakes we make. The problem is further escalated due to the fact we are weak in defending as a team. We fail to keep our organization whenever we are under attack. I don’t know why it is but it is visible. Most of the times we are caught ball watching or out of position, we are weak in the air, not attacking the second balls, the midfield is not supporting the defence most of the times, our clearances are weak and we are not confident in defending the set pieces. Even if we are doing it, we are not consistent.

This problem is serious because at the moment even with a two or three goal margin a win is not ensured for us. Although this is also due to some other factors but the problem of bad defensive organization is one of the foremost.

Someone once mentioned it to me that the reason might lie in the way we practice. It’s like we usually play the beautiful game of passing the ball and looking for killer balls to open up defenses. So in practice sessions we will be doing the same thing. Our forwards and midfielders would keep the ball down and move forward, not relying much on the aerial route or set pieces. Therefore the defenders will also adjust and practice for this type of play and not the long ball game. That’s why you will see that we are good in the one-on-ones’ and in tackling but weak in the air.

Also in our style of play most of our team is involved when we attack leaving plenty of space behind. As a result a slight mistake can lead to many open spaces which the opponent can exploit and we have suffered due to it a lot.

Now I feel these problems cannot be solved wholly by buying a world class defender, although it will greatly reduce the burden and may bring some organization at the back. To counter all these problems we need to change the way we practice. We need to work out a way to defend set pieces, corners, crossess and long balls. We need to learn to defend as a team. We need to be more effective in our pressing. We need our players to stay close to the defenders when we are under attack. And for all this we need to keep our focus.

Also our keeper needs to communicate with the defenders more. The keeper is the one who has to take charge of his area and organize our defensive shape. Although Fabianski is doing great but he needs to learn to command his area and only then we can avoid conceding avoidable goals.

I am not saying that we will not be doing somthing about these problems but we need to change something somewhere. It cannot be done overnight for sure but it is high time that we dealt with them. The season is entering one of the important phases and results here will be crucial. Let’s hope we do find the solutions to our defensive frailties.