Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughTop sides no longer have a case for defence - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Top sides no longer have a case for defence - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Top sides no longer have a case for defence

A ‘normal’ start to the Premier League season usually sees very few goals scored as teams do not want to drop silly points at such an early stage.

However, the current campaign has seen a number of high-scoring games due to poor defending and a complete lack of concentration. Even teams such as Manchester United and Arsenal are now remarkably easier to attack.

295 goals have been scored in 99 league games making it the highest games-to-goal ratio in the top flight since the 1967/68 season. 259 goals were scored after 100 games last year – a big difference when compared to this campaigns statistics.

The big question is; why can’t the top sides defend anymore?

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, all members of the so-called ‘Big Four’, have been criticised for their poor defending with experienced internationals such as John Terry and Rio Ferdinand coming under fire.

Ferdinand was nothing short of awful in United’s heavy 6-1 defeat against Manchester City at Old Trafford. He was at fault for a number of City’s goals and was then subsequently dropped for their next league fixture against Everton.

Sir Alex Ferguson has stated that Ferdinand’s place is no longer assured, citing his loss of pace as a reason why he has to change his game. United have also had to shuffle their back four on many occasions due to injuries to Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Rafael.

Rotation in defence means that there is no consistency and it is particularly difficult when you have a new goalkeeper who is struggling to find his own form.

Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea has also had problems with his defence. Terry is no longer the solid figure he once was and David Luiz does not look assured in a back four. Jose Bosingwa is also a liability in defence, with the Portuguese right-back clearly more comfortable going forward.

The likes of Chelsea and Manchester United are adopting attacking formations which leaves them vulnerable at the back. Villas-Boas usually opts to play with two attacking full-backs in Bosingwa and Ashley Cole with one holding midfielder protecting the back four. Then their other two midfield players usually like to join their front three attackers.

United have also changed their approach, particularly against fellow top four sides and away from home.  Ferguson has changed to a 4-3-3 formation in previous seasons as he likes to pack his midfield and hope to hit the opposition on the break. This season has seen the Scotsman often start with two wingers and two strikers, leaving the Red Devils short in central midfield.

Another reason why the top teams are conceding so many goals is because of the emergence of Manchester City. Sergio Aguero and David Silva have been in devastating form so far, helping their side to impressive triumphs against United, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Wolves.

Arsenal’s defence is in a state of transition with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker and Andros Santos all establishing their places in Arsene Wenger’s starting 11. The Gunners look particularly poor when Thomas Vermaelen is not involved.

Arsenal fans have called on Wenger to employ a defensive coach as much of his training regime is based around attacking play. His forward players are clearly benefitting from his coaching but his defenders are falling short of the high standards needed for the Premier League nowadays.

All the top sides seem to have no problem scoring goals with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and pretty much all of City’s strikers starting to show signs of top form. The same cannot be said for their defences though with only City looking comfortable at the back at the moment.

Anthony Hay

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