Defending is out

  Clearances per game
  Last This
Murphy 1 0.9
Etuhu 1.3 1.2
Duff 1 0.9
Kelly 5.6 4.8
Hangeland 11.4 7
  Tackles per game
  Last This
Murphy 3.2 2.2
Etuhu 2.5 1.6
Duff 1.5 1.2
Kelly 2.2 1.5
Hangeland 1.6 1
  Interceptions per game
  Last This
Murphy 2.8 1.5
Etuhu 2.5 1.3
Duff 0.9 0.9
Kelly 1 1.6
Hangeland 2.2 2

Probably why we seem to be allowing more shots than we were.

18 thoughts on “Defending is out

  1. No wonder we’ve gone from 4th best defence in the league to 9th worst! Like many things our defending has gone to pot under Jol which wouldnt be so bad if we were scoring a lot more goals but we’re not.

    1. Thin margins though. We’re currently dead average for the prem both in goals for and against, with most results as narrow as ever, but a few glaring exceptions. Take your pick as to which of those exceptions point to the way things will be when Jol has had more time. I would expect to be able to make that `call’ by now, but frankly can’t, while you made it last August.

      For a quick peek just now at the goals situation, I looked up the BBC `full table’. This colour codes the last 10 results….and we are the only team that has neither won nor lost successive games. For a summary stat on Jol so far, that seems as indicative as any.

        1. It’d have to be different numbers of varying width stripes surely? ;P

          With no grey, as this season/Jol has been either horrendous or awesome.

      1. After 25 games last season our goal difference was 0. Its now -5. Our inconsistency is a major worry to me. Its not just home or away now its home and away. Oh well we’ll see what happens.

    2. I like the use of language there to make your point: from 4th best to 9th worst! So from 4th to 12th. A big drop, undoubtedly, but not as awful as the language makes out. It’s also, of course, not a straight comparison because the season is not over yet.

      So, just to take some of the confusion out of the language, here’s a comparison of where we stood on this date last year, compared to today:

      Season Position GD Attack Defense
      2011-2012 12th 12th 10th 12th/13th
      2010-2011 12th 10th 17th 5th/6th

      So, relative to the competition (really the only important measurement) our attack is 7 places better than our attack was on this date last year, but our defense is 7 places worse off. The result, predictably, is that, relative to the competition, we’re basically the same quality of team and find ourselves in the same position: just more fun to watch.

      1. I just realized that the we had played two more games at this time last year (27 compared to 25 today). However, none of the numbers above change when you look at where we were after 25 games in 2010-2011. It you don’t like the relative number, you can also look at the actual number as of 25 games:

        Season Position GD Scored Conceded Points
        2011-2012 12th -5 31 36 30
        2010-2011 12th 0 26 26 29

        So we’ve scored 5 more goals, but conceded 10 more. The result of that, however, is that we’ve accumulated one more point this season after the same number of games.

  2. The problem with possession is that while its a good thing to have control of the ball it doesnt win games. Many times this season we’ve bossed possession but lost. We are too easy to defend against most of the time because we play so narrow and so predictably. We play across the pitch too often and lack penetration. Despite two transfer windows none of the known weaknesses in the team have been addressed and while the squad age has come down with players coming in they never play so the age of the team has got older.

    I didnt want Jol as our manager and nothing has changed my opinion of him as a manager. However if Al Fayed gives him shedloads of money in the summer then maybe he can get the players in to suit his “style”. If not then we are in for another long hard season with an ageing team and often baffling formations and tactics.

    1. The numbers I post above seem to contradict the implication in your argument that we were more difficult to defend against last year. We are easier to score on, but we appear to be somewhat comparably more difficult to defend against. We’ve just had a change of emphasis between defense and attack, with no meaningful difference in results.

    2. Also, regarding the age of the team. In actual fact, Jol has done a decent job here. Comparing the first teams played a year apart — Feb 14, 2011 vs Chelsea, and Feb 11, 2012 vs Stoke — the age of the average age of both teams is 30, despite many of the players being a year older. That is evidence that Jol is injecting younger players into the first team.

      This is even more marked when you consider the match day squad (i.e. including the bench). The average age of the matchday squad against Chelsea last year was 30. The average age of the matchday squad against Stoke was 28.

      The teams are below (with apologies for how long this will make this post):

      Feb 11 2012 vs Stoke

      Schwarzer 39
      Hangeland 30
      Hughes 32
      Riise 31
      Kelly 28
      Murphy 34
      Dembele 24
      Dempsey 28
      Duff 32
      Pogrebnyak 28
      Ruiz 26

      Ethuh 29
      Baird 29
      Davies 32
      Stockdale 26
      Gecov 24
      Frei 18
      Trotta 19

      Feb 14 2012 vs Chelsea

      Schwarzer 38
      Hangeland 29
      Hughes 31
      Salcido 30
      Baird 28
      Murphy 33
      Sidwell 28
      Dempsey 27
      Duff 31
      Dembele 24
      Johnson 30

      Greening 32
      Davies 31
      Gudjohnsen 32
      Stockdale 25
      Gera 31
      Pantsil 30
      Kelly 27

      1. That’s still a pretty old looking team IMO. Back 5 of av age 32. 32 year old on the wing. 34 year old in midfield. Only players on that bench getting game time at the mo are Davies (32) Baird (29) and Etuhu (29).

        Frei has been dropped since Blackburn it seems, Trotta has had like 2 mins game time and Gecov has had a matter of mins Premiership game time.

        At least last years bench was getting game time…

        1. Yes, we’re still old, but we’re clearly heading in the right direction. Remember, Senderos is the first choice centre back, meaning that shaves four more years off. And defenders and keepers generally reach their peaks later than wingers and strikers, so I’m not too worried about age there.

          Where youth really pays dividends is in attack. Duff has only played 12 games this season, so I’m not convinced he’s first choice anymore. Regardless of where Dembele played against Stoke, I still think that Jol wants to play a front four of Pogrebnyak (28), Dempsey (28), Dembele (24), and Ruiz (26), supported by two in midfield. That’s two 30+ year olds out of the attack in one season.

          And I don’t mind age in the two in the middle. It increasingly seems a place for old heads.

  3. The drop in tackling is radical, but I’d be interested to see how that stacks up against the rest of the league. It’s possible tackling on the whole is down, as people are less willing to gamble on a borderline tackle due to the strictness of the officiating.

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