Will Arsenal ever learn how to defend set pieces?

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So then Gunners fans, how many times are we going to hear "Another goal conceded by Arsenal from a set piece"? What is it about The Arsenal that mean they can't defend dead-ball situations when they have defenders with plenty of height and quality?

Well, there can only be two reasons. The first one comes down pure and simply, to aggression and desire. Two attributes that should be in abundance with any professional footballer, in fact any footballer with any degree of aspiration. 

The second reason must come down to organisation and tactics. Now, with Steve Bould on the coaching staff, you would expect the recipe for success to be easily attainable. However, that's far from the case.


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Take a look at the first goal against Olympiakos, the corner is pulled to the edge of the area where Pardo is unmarked. A first time shot, and with the help of a deflection it nestles in to the bottom corner.

The second goal is also from a set-play. A corner comes in and no one attacks the ball, possibly due to a shout from Ospina but more likely due to the fact that the ball has evaded the rigid 'zones' being 'marked' by the defenders, leaving Ospina with a last second realisation that he needed to deal with it. 

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Now, if Ospina hadn't behaved as though he had just applied a fresh coating of bearing grease to his gloves, there would be no issue -but he wasn't helped.

So what about Wenger's team selection? Well, it's clear that Wenger sees Petr Cech as the Arsenal number one. So why has he picked Ospina for the Champions League?

Has he underestimated the opposition or has he acknowledged the fact the Arsenal can't win it and is resting some of the first team? Whatever the reason, Ospina's howler has cost the Gunners dearly.

Yes, the goal is debatable, was it over the line or not? (I suppose we should just be grateful that the 5th official actually made a decision this time) But the bottom line is that Ospina dropped it, a drop that barring a miracle, has cost them a place in the knock out stages.

Individual mistakes aside, there is something fundamentally wrong with the Arsenal defensive set up. It appears  they still persist with the zonal marking idea, an idea that Liverpool proved won't work a few years back. Even if the ball drops directly on to a defender, the attacker still has a running jump against the defender's standing jump. Arsene, Steve...... players score goals, space doesn't!

English dominance over before it really began.

It is not just Arsenal that are struggling in Europe's elite competition. The English teams have taken just one win from the first six games, losing the remaining five. Why is that?

A few years back, the English teams were feared through Europe and not just by the lesser teams. There was a reputation of fast, powerful play with little respite. However, Europe have become wise to it now. They know that with that speed comes mistakes. If they remain disciplined and organised, they can capitalise on the mistakes.

Now like it or not, the English teams are not the most technically gifted and certainly not the most organised, and those teams can exploit that. Couple that with the relentless intensity of the Premier League and as a consequence fatigue and the need to rest players, the English are now seen as winnable games.

Will it come full circle?

Probably not, the most technical of players such as Suarez, Ronaldo, Xavi, Iniesta, Gotze (the list is endless) remain abroad.

There is a chance that we will see them towards the end of their careers for a final swansong. Of course there are exceptions, but those exceptions tend to find themselves being hoofed in the air by a 6'5 behemoth on a cold December night, meaning that they don't quite fancy it any longer, or in their own words "need a new challenge". There are exceptions to the exceptions (Messrs Fabregas, Sanchez, Silva for example)

For the time being, the problem remains and unless the English teams wise up, straighten up and slow down then they will continue to get found out in Europe. With that, will not only come an embarrassing lack of silverware, but the yielding of the fourth Champions League spot.

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