Arsenal’s clever angles and their importance in the race for the Premier League title

On April 10, 1993, Manchester United I needed a win to take back the opening lead Premier League season.

A draw with Sheffield Wednesday wasn’t enough to get them back on top with just five matches remaining after that.

The final minutes of that match played a key role in United achieving the Premier League title.

After conceding in the 65th minute, Steve Bruce’s two late headers won United the match, sending them back to the top of the league. Both goals came from corner kicks – an equalizer from a superior player was the winner from the second stage as Bruce headed in Gary Pallister’s cross into the bottom corner to spark jubilant scenes on the touchline from Alex Ferguson (six years before he was knighted) and his assistant, Brian Kidd.

Goals from corners were important to the former champions. In the past 16 seasons, only five Premier League winners have scored less than 10 per cent of their goals from corner kicks. United’s highest share in that time came in 2007-08, when almost a fifth of their goals (18.8 per cent) were scored from corner kicks.

Fast forward 10 years to summer 2018 and it is Liverpool who were looking at free kicks to give them an advantage over Pep Guardiola Manchester city. In the pre-season before 2018-19, Jurgen Klopp sat down with his assistants Pep Leanders and Peter Krawietz to revamp the club’s set-piece routine.

Klopp’s side missed out on the title by a point, but 14 goals from a corner kick – the highest in the league that season – helped them get very close to City.

The following season, Liverpool went one better to win their first league title in 30 years. And guess which other table it topped in 2019-20? You guessed it: goals scored from corner kicks (11).

The warning signs were present in 2018-19 when Liverpool’s 14 goals from corner kicks represented 15.7 per cent of their total goals; City’s number that season was 6.3 percent. City may have already tried to respond by appointing Nicholas Gover as set-piece specialist in July 2019.

Gradually, City improved from free kicks and the percentage of goals from corner kicks increased: 7.8% in 2019-20 and 10.8% in 2020-21 as City regained the Premier League title.

The best corner scorers in the Premier League

season Team Goals from the corners

2018-19

Liverpool

14

2019-20

Liverpool

11

2020-21

Liverpool

11

2021-22

Manchester City / Liverpool

15

Jover’s departure in July 2021 did not immediately affect City as they promoted Under-18s coach Carlos Vicens to work on set-pieces. What they didn’t expect was that Jover’s new employers would challenge them for the title in two years’ time.

Arsenal’s acquisition of City’s set-piece specialist last season Significantly improve their corner output. In the season before Gopher joined Arsenal, they had the second worst record in the league for goals scored from corner kicks (three). Then, when the Gophers arrived, they jumped to third place (13 goals) only behind City and Liverpool. This season, Mikel Arteta’s team is fourth in terms of goals scored from corner kicks, with seven goals.

Arsenal She also has the second highest goals expected (xG) from corner kicks in the Premier League this season with 6.61. And on average, they create the most dangerous corner chances in the league with 6.12 xG per 100 corners.

Arteta emphasized the importance of set pieces After winning next to him Aston Villa In March last season when they scored from the second stage with a free kick. “They (set-pieces) are a big part of the game, in the Premier League in particular,” he said. “You can see that the top teams score a lot of goals from set-pieces, but then they score another goal or two (from open play) and nobody talks about it, but they made a difference there.

As you can see in Champions League it’s happening. You have to dominate every part of the game. Football has become faster and more complex. Everyone is really good and knowledgeable and we have to find the advantages where possible.”

With Gopher on the coaching staff, Arsenal’s corner routine was a bit smarter. This can be seen in Arsenal’s first match of the 2022-23 season at Selhurst Park. Crystal PalaceA defensive approach in this corner is the presence of four men-watchers, Eberechi Eze (No. 10) Move towards the edge of the square if Arsenal play the short corner and four area markers in the six-yard box.

Arsenal has two runners in and Gabriel Granite ShakaWith Gabriel Jesus In an odd position by the byline behind the back post and three players outside the penalty area in case they lose the ball.

This is where the trick happens.

where Oleksandr Zinchenko He is one of three players outside the penalty area, basically there and in case Arsenal lose the ball, he is unmarked. As a result, he has a free run.

Gabriel faked a move towards the near post, and Jesus positioned simply dragging one of the palace players into the dead zone. As for Arsenal’s trio of six and Shaka, their movement complements the others. The trio maintain their position while playing the corner…

… And Xhaka dropped deeper, outside the penalty area, replacing Zinchenko (yellow) and making sure Arsenal had three players (Ben White outside the penalty area) outside the penalty area if the ball is lost.

All this creates space for Zinchenko to head the ball back into the six-yard box as three Arsenal players position themselves for a header. Gabriel Martinelli Zinchenko’s pass meets the header and scores to give Arsenal the lead.

This routine against Ballas was taken into account William Salibaeditorial v Brentford On 18 September to protect against the late runner from outside the penalty area, Brentford Aaron Hickey Man – Mark Martinelli (No. 11), one of the three players defending the potential counterpunch. The rest of Brentford’s defensive system consists of four man-markers (red), four area markers in the six-yard box and Brian Mbeumo Towards the edge of the penalty area to defend the short corner.

The Arsenal setup here is divided into three: Jesus and Shaka (in red) are the blockers, Thomas ParteyWhite and Gabriel (white) are the runners and Saliba (yellow) is there to attack the near point.

like Bukayo Saka Preparing to put on the cross, Jesus (red) is close David Raya to disable the Brentford goalkeeper and Saliba (yellow) begins his movement towards the edge of the six-yard box, making a run from Evan Tonyblind side. But the player of interest here is Xhaka (Red, No. 34). Swiss midfielder managers to block bin mi And Pontus anisewith the latter unable to leave his area to track Saliba due to Xhaka blocking.

This allows Saliba (yellow) to attack the cross ball freely, and there is the support team of Barty, White and Jibril (white) in case Saliba moves the ball for a second header.

It’s not needed because the Frenchman’s header goes straight in, but the presence of two runners in Partey and Gabriel (white) – White failing to escape the Brentford mark – provides another option for Saliba (yellow) when attacking the near post.

This was another well executed move and the freedom Partey had in this corner can be attributed to the fact that Brentford had one less player inside the six-yard box because Hickey had to come off should Arsenal use the late runner routine they used against Palace. .

In Arsenal’s recent victory over Manchester United, it was another corner routine that saw them score their first goal. Twenty minutes earlier, a similar routine resulted in an opportunity for Barty.

Here, United have five players marking the area as well as two men’s spotters Luke Shaw And Lisandro Martinez (white) and three players toward the edge of the penalty area to defend the short corner.

Before we move on to the short corner, note that Xhaka and Saliba (in red) go down while Martinelli plays the set piece Martin Odegaard.

In this case, Arsenal have only two players to defend against the counter-attack, Saka and Zinchenko (outside the shot). This is why Saliba falls when a corner is awarded, because the routine involves Zinchenko and Arsenal need another player with Saka to defend the potential counter-kick.

Meanwhile, Xhaka moves towards the edge of the box…

… Because when Odegaard plays the pass towards Zinchenko (who is knocked off a shot on the left) it becomes a four-for-three, and Xhaka becomes the free man.

Then, Zinchenko finds Xhaka escaping in space, which he catches Scott McTominay And Wout Westhorst (white, near the penalty area) positioned to protect the near post. From there, Xhaka squares it off to Barty, who misses the point.

On the second try, the routine is successful. Once again, United have the same defensive setup with three players to defend against the short corner, two man-markers (white) and the rest areas. Saliba and Xhaka (in red) start to fall as soon as the short corner is played…

… Xhaka moves into the free space towards the edge of the box, and Saliba drops to allow Zinchenko (outside shot) to advance.

Xhaka asks for the pass, but Martinelli doesn’t play it right because this time McTominay is aware of the Arsenal midfielder’s movement.

So Martinelli plays it backwards to Saliba, who plays the ball at Zinchenko and Arsenal’s routine appears to have been neutered. The reason United have not switched completely to one side of the ball is the four Arsenal players (yellow) on the other side. Eddie Nketiahthe final scorer, wide of the goal.

Then, Zinchenko played a neat ball at Xhaka and with McTominay still catching up…

Bruno Fernandez He shifts his focus away from Martinelli and towards Xhaka, allowing the Brazilian winger to move forward into space while occupying the other Arsenal players in the penalty area.

Xhaka does not play the ball towards Martinelli and returns to Zinchenko, who is free to advance and walk away Anthony (white) because Saliba (outside the shot) is already covering it to protect it from the counter.

these forces Christian Eriksen To advance towards Zinchenko and so Arsenal have an overload again, with Xhaka the free man this time. Zinchenko plays the ball in Odegaard…

… who finds that Xhaka has run out. On the other hand, a bitmap (in yellow) moves away from Aaron Wan-Bissaka To put himself on the blind side of the defender …

…which allows him to attack the cross and head the ball into the net.

Using corner kicks to gain marginal advantages over their opponents will be crucial for Arsenal in their title run this season. The improvement at this point in the game since Jover’s arrival is noticeable.

In the five seasons before Gopher joined, Arsenal had failed to score more than 10 goals in a season. In his first season (2021-22), he scored 13. This season, he scored seven goals after 19 matches.

Arsenal goals from corner kicks since 2016-17

season Goals from the corners % of corner goals

2016-17

9

11.7

2017-18

10

13.5

2018-19

8

11

2019-20

9

16.1

2020-21

3

5.5

2021-22

13

21.3

2022-23

7

15.6

Corners proved crucial for the title-winners in the Premier League’s first season, and with an increased focus on set pieces in the Premier League, they can do it again as Arsenal look to win their first league title since 2003-04.

Arteta’s side has turned a corner.

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