Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has spoken about what he considers to be a weakness in the team’s defence.
The German has called on himself and his teammates to improve when they are put under pressure from set pieces, with the opposition looking to bombard Arsenal’s penalty area as they go in search of a goal.
“We have to go through the set-pieces and say what went wrong because last year we had quite a good record. We need to improve on it this season because we’ve conceded from them already,” the German told Arsenal’s website.
The way Arsenal approach set pieces has sometimes been criticised because of the impact zonal marking has against man marking.
Man marking is considered the more effective way of managing set pieces because it leaves each player responsible for an opponent and if the opposition score, there’s no inquest needed.
“It’s all about reminding ourselves how good we are in the air from set-pieces, but we have to get to the ball and stop opponents getting into dangerous areas. That’s what we need to improve. We had a good record throughout last season but we need to find that again quickly.”
It’s a fair point because one of the easiest ways to improve in terms of set pieces is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
If Arsenal can cut out the number of silly free kicks they concede and clear more effectively with throw-ins as opposed to corners, they are reducing the amount of pressure they’re inviting into their own penalty area.
“When we went through the situation we could see that not everyone was on the ball. We have to be able to score or avoid conceding goals. We have to make sure that we are ready and concentrating on every set play.”
That’s where the German comes in because he’s the experienced figure and leader in Arsenal’s back four. He needs to ensure that everyone is doing their job because set pieces are a way that sides with less quality are going to look to hurt the Gunners and they have to be prepared.