I believe that whenever Arsenal are defending a free kick, corner or any sort of set piece, every Arsenal fan worldwide watching the match would be frightened and a chill goes down all our spines. Arsenal, for a couple of years now, are extremely vulnerable defending a set piece. I will now analyse the reasons for our shaky defence right now.
1) Defensive coach?
Arsenal for a certain period of time was operating under zonal marking. That is extremely unsuitable in the fast paced premier league where there are many aerial threats and also where the teams are so quick in counter attacking. Thus, Arsenal are hit on the break very often. This could be due to the mentality of our defensive coach. However, there are signs that recently Arsenal have shifted to distinct man marking with Vermaelen and Szczesny mainly controlling the backline.
2) Lack of defensive leader?
For a long while, Arsenal have been in search for a center half to control the backline and take charge of each and every member’s defensive leader. I feel that Thomas Vermaelen has the capabilities to do that and he inspires his colleagues like Mertesacker or Koscielny to push harder for to ensure Arsenal can have a stronger, more solid backline.
3) Weakness on both flanks
Arsenal has been extremely weak in the defence towards crosses and headers. This is mainly due to the inability to defend crosses entering the box for our full backs. For example Santos is not particularly good at stopping crosses. For the right flank, though Sagna is doing not a bad job when he’s fit but often the attacking portion of the right flank, Walcott or Arshavin, are unable to retreat to provide cover for the flank defence.
Despite this, Arsenal’s defence has improved significantly in recent games and Szczesny especially, has earned the respect of his colleagues. With added steel in the full backs position in January, Arsenal will develop to have one of the best backlines in the premier league.