Arsenal tactics – Set-Piece Concern Ahead of the Wolves Game

Arsenal’s Set-Piece Concern Ahead of the Wolves Game By: Ibiniyi Victor

During the later days of the iconic Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal, quite a number of unwanted traits became the trademark of the Arsenal team – from poor decision-making at the back to howlers, capitulations and concession of dumb set-piece goals, despite commanding the tall figures of Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud at some point – all of this turned the once revered Arsenal to an object of ridicule by rival fans.

Dwelling on the set-piece play as a subject of discussion from the aforementioned issues, Arsenal’s plight in this area continued into the reign of Unai Emery, who, alongside his coaching staff found it hard to significantly improve the team’s set-piece defending; and we all know how things panned out for the Spaniard at the Emirate.

Another Spaniard, Mikel Arteta, who learnt the Arsenal way as a player under Wenger, and tutored by Pep at Manchester City, was charged with turning things around at the club. Frankly speaking, he has in my own judgement been clearly detailed in his plan for the club and has improved the team in many aspects including both the defensive and attacking set-piece play. He benefited from his relationship with the coaching staff at City by securing the service of Nicolas Jover who replaced Andreas Georgson in the summer as the new chief set-piece coach.

Thanks to the Frenchman’s appointment and some serious work in training, coupled with Aaron Ramsdale’s great command if his penalty area, Arsenal are yet to concede from a corner kick this season – a remarkable achievement indeed. Top teams like Man City hardly let-in goals from set-piece play, as it presents smaller teams with a rare opportunity to get bodies into the opposition penalty area. Having someone like Jover around certainly is important to how easy we want to finish off matches without conceding goals due to lazy set-piece defending.

Despite the significant improvement in this area, another area of concern is the opposite end of set-piece defending – attacking set-piece play. Many may not have paid much attention to, or attached any importance to, the corner kick scoreline in the match against Brentford which read Arsenal 14 – 0 Brentford. The gunners took fourteen corner kicks without posing any serious threat to the opposition. Does this mean that there isn’t as much effort put into attacking set-pieces as it is with defending set-pieces? Only the coaches and players know that, but we can only have different assumptions based on what we see on display on match days. Whichever it is, there’s no denying that the team need not rely solely on goals from open play, and truth be told – on days where you are not at your best, set-pieces give you what many often term as ‘undeserved’ or ‘ugly’ wins.

Funny enough, Arsenal won ugly against Wolves and personally, given their recent run of form, I wouldn’t mind another ugly win against them, but this time around, I hope we do that with eleven Arsenal players still on the pitch at the final whistle.

Ibiniyi Victor

Tags corners tactics Wolves


  1. Arsenal’s for and against has improved a lot since the 0-3 and is now as good as Westham and Man U and better than Spurs and Wolves. In an even football game both sides will have at least 60 times in possession a total of 120 possessions. Yet the average scoreline is 2-1. This means football is about 97.5 % of passing the ball for no reward. 1% of possessions lead to unintended goals like deflections, own goals, penalties or defender errors. 1% are set piece goals. Only half of 1% are intended goals and half of those are once a season worldlies. So only a half of 1% ofpossessions result in fairly taken intended goals from open play. In conclusion pretty football is nigh on useless. “Ugly” football is far more successful. Just get the ball into the box as often as possible looking for hand balls, penalties, deflections, 2nd balls, defender errors and players running and getting tap ins is winning football.

  2. Top 4 is in our hands.. looked at the fixtures, and our most difficult games would be Spurs and Chelsea away, which are yet to be rescheduled. Most likely they will be rescheduled around end of May or in April. However, Man United have it much, much worse:

    Watford (H), “easy” one but after that:
    Man City (A)
    Spurs (H)
    Pool (A)
    Leicester (H)
    Everton (A)

    Not to forget their CL game is between there somewhere too. Soon after this run of 6 PL games, Man U will play us at the Emirates.

    Also, West Ham will play Wolves, Pool and Spurs in their next 4 games. This is in addition that they’ve already played 3 games more than us.

    We on the other hand have a very generous fixture list in the near future:

    Wolves (H)
    Watford (A)
    Leicester (H)
    Pool (H)

    No easy games in the Premier League but 3 of the games are at home, and those 4 games are in the space of 21 days!

    Let’s just play one game at a time and play like its a cup final, because in fact, every game from now on is a cup final for us. CL qualification is the only goal we have left. COME ON BOYSS!!!

  3. Arsenal knew we’ve wasted too many corners and they didn’t even loan a new target man in January to fix the problem. The club don’t seem to be serious about our top four chance

    Initially, we scored some goals from the set-pieces using flick-on headers, but the oppositions seem to have been familiar with those tactics. This is why variations are important in set-pieces and for the passing types in the final-third

  4. GOI
    It astounds me that a lot of clubs fail to make the most from corners.
    I heard a stat this weekend which was shocking, it was man u first goal from a corner count in approx. 130 plus attempts.
    We have become far better at defending from corners and we are nicking the odd goal or 2 at the other end.
    The new set piece coach we got from man City has definitely improved us in that area.
    Good article read and agree what you have said admin pat
    3-1 win for us tonight and we get right on the coat tails of united with 2 games in hand
    Onwards and upwards

      1. Gai not for not trying some teams can be difficult to break down. Consider Tottenham with Cain etc could not break Bunly down this things happen. The problem is you can’t buy a striker who is only good aerialy.

    1. I’m not convinced that in possession based modern top flight football “winning” or “forcing” a corner is as much of an advantage as it once was to be honest, free kicks a bit further back gives the attacking team the opportunity to angle one in and that seems more advantageous to me

      Having said that City are probably the epitome of top flight possession based football and they score their fair share from corners, so what do I know!

      I think it was Wenger with his FIFA hat on that talked about changing throw ins to kick ins because the team that “won” the throw was actually disadvantaged because they had one less player on the pitch with limited options of where the ball could be thrown to, I think he may have a point on that one

  5. Some here claim spurs are better us. We drew against Burnley and some fans got on MA’s neck, calling him all sort of name.

    The so called (better than us) team lost against Burnley yesterday and the place has been quiet since the final whistle.

    Fail to accept we’ve improved at your own peril. Negative fans on here!

  6. A very good reflection and write up. I agree with the Set piece problem at the attack. Since Giroud left the club thatspace has remained vacant!!!! No header among the attackers. Martinelli is a very good header. He should use that skill. All our attackers since Giroud do not use their Heads to convert corners and free kicks.
    Coach Arteta put in your Versatile attacking Force today
    If you put ;
    Martinelli(header with speed and energy) .
    Smith Rowe (with good ball control and good finisher)
    Saka(Perfect winger, tribbler and Finisher)
    Ordegaard (master controller and Free kicks-,taker) as your starting Attack force against Worves, you will
    Win the march. in the first half. I assure you. Try it
    What we need in the attack today is no Lacazette’s experience and age. We need speed, focus, precision and perfect finishing.

  7. I think people focused too much on what Giroud could do while forgetting what he couldn’t do.with most teams playing from the back now,pressing has become very important,Giroud couldn’t do it for long periods, also his lack of speed was a problem too.anyway the game has moved on and there must be a reason why the best teams do not have target men,I also think our defenders should be the one scoring headers from corners,they have the height.

  8. Gai not for not trying some teams can be difficult to break down. Consider Tottenham with Cain etc could not break Bunly down this things happen. The problem is you can’t buy a striker who is only good aerialy.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors