By Walter Broeckx
In the last article I tried to give you a view on how the goals we conceded were made. As was shown a lot of those goals were made from our own mistakes. In today’s article I want to take about where we conceded those goals.
As you know we let in 30 goals in the PL this season.
That itself is a good number. The only team who has done better is Manchester City who only let in 24 goals and who are by far the best team when it comes to preventing the other team from scoring. With 30 goals we sit in second place together with Chelsea. And then we have Manchester United who let in 31 goals.
So all in all I think we are not doing extremely bad compared to other teams. Yes things can improve as they always can improve. And as was shown in our earlier article the individual errors should be removed from our game. And then we would have a great record and would be up there with Manchester City.
Moving on to where we conceded we see that from the 30 goals we conceded 19 goals in the Emirates. And only 11 games when playing away from home.
So far we have played 13 away games this season. And only conceded 11 goals. That is not bad, I would say. Not bad at all. The goals we conceded were 2 at Chelsea, 1 at Southampton, 2 at Reading, 1 at Everton, 2 at MU, and one apiece at Norwich, West Ham and Manchester City.
On the road we kept 5 clean sheets so far this season. At home we kept 4 clean sheets in this season. A total of 9 clean sheets in 27 games. On average one clean sheet in 3 games. On the other hand we also had 2 games in which we conceded 3 goals. But neither of these games was lost. A 3-3 draw with Fulham and and a 7-3 win against Newcastle.
As you can see both those games were when playing at home so there seems to be a real difference when playing at home or away in our defensive performances. The big question now of course is what is that difference? What makes us stronger away from home when it comes to not letting the other teams score?
Is it the tactics we employ away from home that is a bit different? I don’t really think so. I think we start each game with the will to go forward. It is the nature of our game. It is the nature of our manager. So at home or away we just try to attack and win the game.
Or is it the opponents who approach the game differently when playing at home compared to playing at the Emirates? One could expect the opposition to defend more at the Emirates and yet they end up scoring more goals there than at their own grounds. One could say the counter-attacks are responsible for it but then again less than 10% of the goals can be attributed to goals scored on a counter.
I was just wondering that the difference between home and away might have something to do with the way both players and supporters interact at games?
Because when you go away you expect that you have to defend in a tough way. You know you will be up against not just the home team; you know you will also be up against the home crowd. So you prepare for that mentally. You prepare so that they don’t get under your skin.
To do that you need to play strong. But that little bit that helps you overcome both the home team and their support is the feeling that you are not alone.
That feeling that comes from the Arsenal away supporters. You see them, you hear them and you know they are there to support you. And as we know they usually do this in a rather loud and strong way. It sure helps the player and I think the interaction helps the players in their battle.
The away supporters also have travelled a long way and gone through a lot of trouble to get there. Get up early, make a long journey, often against the odds: train cancellations, road “incidents”, diversions, bad weather…. They also know that they need to support as much as can to wipe out the home advantage. So that is what they usually do in a great way.
And the big difference is that at the Emirates we maybe have too many people just sitting there doing nothing at all. Even clapping their hands when we score is sometimes asked too much. I’m not wanting to say that this is for the majority of the supporters at the Emirates. No I think the majority wants to sing and shout. But when you are surrounded with 4 statues next, in front and behind you who only look at you with eyes telling you to calm down a bit then you really have to be a real supporter to ignore them and keep on signing and shouting.
Maybe the fact that in the away support section you only have 0.1% of the Gooners there who do nothing. But at the home games even if 15% just sit there you get maybe some 10.000 people sitting there. Waiting to start the moan. Waiting to start the groan. Waiting to start abusing their own players. (Chelsea fans are stating that they will take this “art” to a higher level this weekend).
Now I played at the Emirates almost two years ago myself and my God I still relive the occasion a lot. But I must admit there weren’t a 60.000 people there to support us. (Where were you by the way?) But I do know that even those few hundred people who made a real noise when one of our team mates scored an amazing cracking goal to win us a game. On that day it raised the level of our team. I still remember how we defended as if our lives depended upon it. And after all it was just a friendly tournament with other Gooners from all over the world.
So I don’t know the 60.000 people experience but I do think that players who are used to playing in such a stadium can feel it when some 10.000 are not supporting you. When they just sit there waiting for your first mistake and then can start saying: told you so. I wonder how much the players feel this attitude. And how much it might affect them?
So maybe, just maybe the usually brilliant away support who gets behind the team from the first minute to the last minute brings out the best there is in the players and they make less mistakes? And maybe the moans and groans and the apathy from some fans brings out the fear of making mistakes and usually when you are afraid of making a mistake, you will make a mistake.
So what if we raise our home support to the usual level of the away support? On each and every game. Would it matter for our defensive performance? Well why don’t we just try it? Why don’t we just go for it?
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