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How do we tweak our defensive fragilities

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As I said I did miss the 1st half where I understand defensively we looked assured until the one blip. But in the second half we did see how a very good attacking team can suddenly take a game away from us with quick goals and a defence that will leak goals.

We know the step up, our young defenders are going to be under pressure and we will have games where we will concede 3 or 4 goals, maybe more. If our young guns are sold next season it will be because they have shown a great promise, but not from loads of clean sheets.

I think we can agree you continue in the attacking formation as we have built so much confidence from it and a total change of style will def mean relegation as our group is built in a style.

Do we need more than just a DM, do we need a centre back of some experience, or do we need to have two deeper midfielders with Leitner and the DM sitting deeper once our full backs move further forward? This would be not particularly a change of formation but of tactics within our formation. 

It is the pace of the attack, passing and movement which opens space and gives opportunities. At times we seemed to crowd our penalty area but leaving spaces on the edge of the penalty area too. 

It seems that we can have a lot of 3 v 3 against us due to our attacking play. In the end your 3 defenders will not always win. But how we minimise the amount of these opportunities and how do we win more of them, is it rough challenges, is it stick with the man and push outside to the wings. Do we need our team to track back further and quicker so any loose ball is more likely to come our way?

Atalanta came through our defence at the end was after changes and a look of tiredness from our part. Not every team in the premier League will attack with pace and slick passing to move through our team. However those that do will see plenty of opportunities.

Just wondering what we can do to the system even if we do bring in a better DM. One that I would say is so important is in a position where they could change our fortunes and be POTS if this fragility can be minimised against most opposition.

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The answer is to play like we did in the first 65 minutes for the whole match - which would have been easier yesterday if it hadn't been for all the substitutions.  Also we had Byram/Roberts and Fahrmann in their first matches at CR.  

We had plenty of chances which in a meaningful match might have put away - some players just can't quite reproduce their best form in friendlies, it's a psychological thing.

I really enjoyed the match up to the substititions and I thought we dominated play a lot of the time, but the substitutions clearly affected the way the match went. 

You have to wonder whether it was counterproductive to the team play to make so many subs, but then you have to say well it was a friendly, no point in pushing the players too hard and it is important to get as many of them having minutes on the pitch as possible.

Defensively, we weren't bad, Klose made a c**k up, Heisse wasn't at the pace of the game having only just come on and by the last ten minutes our team play had gone to pot, mainly because of all the substitutions.

 

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I think we will need to push the full backs on less in certain games and whoever plays the DM role needs to be extremely disciplined and just sit in front of the defence. Perhaps sometimes we may need to play 3 centre backs.

the issue seems to be that we push so many players forward that when one of the central midfielders gives the ball away or our press is beaten we have at least one full back stuck up the pitch and the opposition often seem to have a 3 on 3 break or even have players free on the overlap. 

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14 minutes ago, Jim Smith said:

I think we will need to push the full backs on less in certain games and whoever plays the DM role needs to be extremely disciplined and just sit in front of the defence. Perhaps sometimes we may need to play 3 centre backs.

the issue seems to be that we push so many players forward that when one of the central midfielders gives the ball away or our press is beaten we have at least one full back stuck up the pitch and the opposition often seem to have a 3 on 3 break or even have players free on the overlap. 

This can be a problem, but it seems to me that it is a feature of the way we play - and that isn't going to change - at least I hope not, as we will give opposition plenty of problems as we did last season in the league and over the last two seasons in cup games against PL teams.

Maybe we are not going down the route of a single DM sitting in front of the back four all the time - after all, we want to be attacking and not stuck in a rigid formation. Imo our best bet of doing well this season is to be unpredictable, having fluidity and movement throughout the team. Yes, a clearly defined DM when we are defending for periods of the game, but not at the expense of attacking play.

 

Edited by lake district canary

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Klose needs to grow his hair. Sampson had the same problem. Wobbly as a new born giraffe after a haircut. When he’s as solid as a rock usually.

These sorts of teams will slit your gizzard in double quick time if you give the ball away in bad areas. 

Our lads will take away a lot from this. It went from a wonderful display of beautiful football to a watching through your fingers job.

It’s good to have this lesson now. Atalanta’s press was very effective, plus they play with two up top. Not sure what Klose was thinking. Trapped high on his end against the touch line. Surely with no safe pass he puts his laces through it in a normal game.

Presumably Klose had some sort of brain fart there. 

The other goals were more examples of what happens when you screw up against good teams by passing the ball where you think a team mate should be or by underestimating how well good opponents can anticipate and cut out your passing.

On a different day it’s a game we could have won but I’m glad we didn’t. This loss will help us immensely. 

 

 

 

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I can see a back 3 at times with Aaron's and Lewis as wingbacks who move further forward in attack and have the fitness to get back in defence.

Leitner and trybull,  feeding an attacking three of Buendia, Pukki and Roberts.

But we know we lose the impetus given by Marco, it would be quite a change in our philosophy.

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Quality players will almost always cut open an exposed back four.

We play with very attacking fullbacks, which we all love. However that places much more importance on the holding midfielder to provide protection to the centre backs. In the premier league, this is an extremely difficult job and one we weren't great at in the championship.

We all know it is a meme now, but we are desperate for a Tettey replacement/upgrade. Trybull is good enough to compete - but if we do not sign a quality player in this position I worry we will no longer be able to just outscore the opposition like we did in the championship.

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At this stage of the pre-season, bedding in a new DCM is looking extremely unlikely.

it would seem a central back three of Zimmermann, Klose and Godfrey ought to be a potential formation, with Godfrey there to cover the attacking full-back. There is so much creativity in our attacking players that one less, on occasions, shouldn’t be as detrimental with this current team as it might have been in our PL teams of yesteryear.

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Still think we need another defensive midfielder, I know we have Tettey but also Thompson is so injury prone if Trybull out we are short.

If the Hanley out of loan has any legs to it I would seriously consider looking at Gary Cahill, I know his wages are high and he's getting on but bags of experience and would help Godfrey develop further too.

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33 minutes ago, lake district canary said:

This can be a problem, but it seems to me that it is a feature of the way we play - and that isn't going to change - at least I hope not, as we will give opposition plenty of problems as we did last season in the league and over the last two seasons in cup games against PL teams.

Maybe we are not going down the route of a single DM sitting in front of the back four all the time - after all, we want to be attacking and not stuck in a rigid formation. Imo our best bet of doing well this season is to be unpredictable, having fluidity and movement throughout the team. Yes, a clearly defined DM when we are defending for periods of the game, but not at the expense of attacking play.

 

I see your point here and as much as I'd love to see us play that way, I'm not sure it's the most pragmatic and sensible thing to do this season. There's a risk-reward balance, and piling men forward when we are in possession to then be undermanned if we lose it is on the wrong side of that. 

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30 minutes ago, smooth said:

I can see a back 3 at times with Aaron's and Lewis as wingbacks who move further forward in attack and have the fitness to get back in defence.

Leitner and trybull,  feeding an attacking three of Buendia, Pukki and Roberts.

But we know we lose the impetus given by Marco, it would be quite a change in our philosophy.

I'm also picturing this happening on occasion.

And I wouldn't be surprised if we see it as early as Anfield next Friday provided we have enough CB's fit (which seems more likely now than it dd this time last week).

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I’ve said all along that with the same personnel and same tactics/formation that leaked 50+ goals in the Champs, we are going to struggle.  IMO we’ve needed a new CB or DM all along, or at the very least a formation tweak, and that’s not changed. 

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Just going to copy my post from the match report as I'm too lazy to type another one...

 

Difficult not to be a bit concerned about the second and third goals though.

The second is the kind of chance we gave up in the championship quite regularly because of our fullbacks bombing on and allowing teams and extra man on the counter. You can get away with that against Rotherham or Millwall as often the final ball will be overhit or the strikers touch will take him too far away from goal to get the shot away. Against even middling Premier League teams though we'll get punished.

The third goal is a classic case of over pursuit- again hit on the counter, players trying to get back actually end up too far back so we've got 5 players on the 6 yard line and nobody on the penalty spot, hence letting a ball get miscontrolled and travel across the box unchallenged for a free hit.

These are all adjustable, we just need to be more disciplined in defence. So having a DM who sits deep between the central defenders when we push our fullbacks up, making sure on of the other four midfielders doesn't get too far up the pitch on every attack to snuff out counters on the halfway line and some dedication to keeping a defensive shape even when we are pushing forward. 

Every great attacking team of the modern era understood this need- Barca had Busquets breaking up play and sitting deep to let the more attacking types do their thing and Xavi knew when to hold and when to push up. The Madrid Galacticos balanced the outrageous attacking talents with Makelele and the more conservative Salgado opposite Roberto Carlos. Liverpool last season found space for players like Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum to help create a platform for the forwards to reign free and for TAA and Robertson to bomb on.

So yes, a DM and some more work on the training pitch on keeping a shape at the back and I'll be very confident. No changes to how we played yesterday and we could set a record for goals conceded

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51 minutes ago, lake district canary said:

This can be a problem, but it seems to me that it is a feature of the way we play - and that isn't going to change - at least I hope not, as we will give opposition plenty of problems as we did last season in the league and over the last two seasons in cup games against PL teams.

Maybe we are not going down the route of a single DM sitting in front of the back four all the time - after all, we want to be attacking and not stuck in a rigid formation. Imo our best bet of doing well this season is to be unpredictable, having fluidity and movement throughout the team. Yes, a clearly defined DM when we are defending for periods of the game, but not at the expense of attacking play.

 

Our style of play can and should change- any great coach knows you can't just chuck out the same tactics and style no matter the level and the opposition.

It doesn't need to be a total overhaul, just a tweak here and there- training Aarons and Lewis to spot if the other one has bombed on and thus staying back to not get outnumbered defensively. Similarly, getting the midfield four to recognise that if both fullbacks go on then all four of them can't push up. 

Farke is clearly a smart guy, he'll have and idea of how to balance our play.

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I thought last night we pressed in higher numbers than a lot of times last season but in doing that lost discipline and shape. Of course pressing naturally incurs this risk anyway but the lack of organisation meant the high press resulted in them being a man or two up on us when they broke through it.

Its also not easy when someone like EMI is having a poor game and giving the ball away because the teams just put a lot of energy into winning it back and losing it immediately in that kind of fashion is both physically and mentally tiring.

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I wonder if we did have three at the back, if Byram could be the centre half on the right side of the three.

Byram, klose or Zimbo, Godfrey.

Pacier than some of our centre halves and can defend against tricky forwards, unlike a more traditional centre half.

We tried our other fullbacks in the three last season, when required. I suppose that may be it this year, when it is required but I do wonder if Byram is a good choice to keep Aarons and Lewis on the field so they can add when we defend and add when we attack 

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37 minutes ago, Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man said:

I see your point here and as much as I'd love to see us play that way, I'm not sure it's the most pragmatic and sensible thing to do this season. There's a risk-reward balance, and piling men forward when we are in possession to then be undermanned if we lose it is on the wrong side of that. 

depends who the opposition are though surely? As you say we need to be pragmatic and horses for courses. We simply can't play that way (certainly not from the outset anyway) against the likes of Liverpool, Man City or Spurs or we will get carved apart. In some of those games I think we may need to go three at the back and play with wing backs like we did against Chelsea in the cup. 

However at home against teams like Burnley or Shef U then we need to go all guns blazing. 

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31 minutes ago, Branston Pickle said:

I’ve said all along that with the same personnel and same tactics/formation that leaked 50+ goals in the Champs, we are going to struggle.  IMO we’ve needed a new CB or DM all along, or at the very least a formation tweak, and that’s not changed. 

I really don't think the centre backs are the issue. Ok when they make stupid errors like Klose's then they are but generally it flows from our style of play/tactics rather than the individual players not being good enough. I don't think that it would make any difference to that last half an hour if you put Van Dijk in alongside Klose or Godfrey. When teams are able to get at you 3 on 3 after playing one simple through ball then any defence in the world will be exposed and look iffy.

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Having just watched the first half, we were pretty impressive but I personally feel Atalanta did have a few good chances and at half time it could have been 2-2.

When we played out from our goalkeeper position we have our CB so wide that we have little central cover if the ball breaks down. 15mins in we almost caused a similar situation from a misplaced Trybull pass and in the 2nd half with Kenny recieving the ball facing his goalkeeper. Yes sometimes it came off, just felt when we do spread our team out at that point we do need a bit more central cover if we lose possession as it will be an unopposed attacker taking advantage.

We do look good in possession when we have a bit of space and I think will be a genuine threat to every team as we have quality too. Just hope we can improve our defensive quality.

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Even Farke jumped on the DM wagon last eve...

"Good news. No surgery for Alex. We have to handle it in a predictable way, although we don't know how many days it will last," he said. "I am looking forward to having him back because in this type of game you would wish you could throw a defensive-minded player into the game."

Would prefer an upgrade on Tettey tbh.

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35 minutes ago, BobLoz3 said:

Even Farke jumped on the DM wagon last eve...

"Good news. No surgery for Alex. We have to handle it in a predictable way, although we don't know how many days it will last," he said. "I am looking forward to having him back because in this type of game you would wish you could throw a defensive-minded player into the game."

Would prefer an upgrade on Tettey tbh.

I think he (Alex) surprised a lot of us last season. Fingers crossed he can do it again if needed.

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55 minutes ago, Nuff Said said:

I think he (Alex) surprised a lot of us last season. Fingers crossed he can do it again if needed.

Yeah I love Tettey, don't get me wrong. I just think we need an upgrade.

It is clear to me and others, as it has been for a while, that the way we play is sometimes going to require a 'destroyer' type in that DM position. I suggested a while back that Leitner, McLean etc. could play there and kind of got shot down but I've also seen others say it now too! Point is, and I include Trybull in that, they can do that quarter-back type of thing but they're not, for the most part, going to charge around the pitch and make important interceptions in front of defence.

The way we play, with pushing the full backs on and CB's stepping out of defence and playing quite high up the pitch, requires such precision. If we lose the ball while in that formation it always puts us on the back foot. So, although I love Tettey, I feel we need someone with the similar defensive abilities but more energy. Keep them back in case of such breaks. They may not need to play every game but it would be great to have the option.

Edited by BobLoz3

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4 hours ago, Bonzo said:

Klose needs to grow his hair. Sampson had the same problem. Wobbly as a new born giraffe after a haircut. When he’s as solid as a rock usually.

These sorts of teams will slit your gizzard in double quick time if you give the ball away in bad areas. 

Our lads will take away a lot from this. It went from a wonderful display of beautiful football to a watching through your fingers job.

It’s good to have this lesson now. Atalanta’s press was very effective, plus they play with two up top. Not sure what Klose was thinking. Trapped high on his end against the touch line. Surely with no safe pass he puts his laces through it in a normal game.

Presumably Klose had some sort of brain fart there. 

The other goals were more examples of what happens when you screw up against good teams by passing the ball where you think a team mate should be or by underestimating how well good opponents can anticipate and cut out your passing.

On a different day it’s a game we could have won but I’m glad we didn’t. This loss will help us immensely. 

 

 

 

That's where we need to adjust our approach I think. Our football is beautiful to behold, but you need to know when safety first is the order of the day & act accordingly. Getting the balance right is going to be the most difficult thing this season - they'll need to develop a sort of 'digital switch' in their brain, with the safety/attack threshold set to just the right level. A tricky one.

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Tettey is a player I am fond of. Came to us and played the position very well over his career. I would say he his upside was never has high as possibly you would need to be a midtable premiership team. Hence I would add we have needed competition/ improvement for a few years.

He has had to be managed over the last few years for the toll of many games, including internationals. If I recall he retired a couple of years ago as he was playing through injuries and less opportunities to play for Norway.

TT has come in admirably and is a cracking player, but too his upside is probably not what we need right now.

It is the position all of us have highlighted at the end of the season and I still think with the right recruitment this is the position that can give us the best chance of staying up. It is a critical position and get a strong, dominant, tenacious, game reading DM who can stop more that comes our way, who has big upside is the signing we need to make.

We did do this with a few other player, starting them when they were on their decline from being peak players, Fleming being one of them. It is not the time to do that again.

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Everyone is saying it, a holding midfielder is needed to shield the defence against the more technical teams. I'm positive that Farke and Webber are all over it. Expect a young hungry DM to arrive from a big club in the new few days.

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I still quite like idea of the wildcard that is Semi Ajayi as an option in the DM role. At least we could afford him - and though his footballing ability is still under debate, his sheer physical presence is undoubtable.

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I'm beginning to doubt that we will sign another DM. So, if we don't recruit another DM or DM/CB option, what alternatives does DF have? One is to play 3 at the back in a 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1. The obvious choice is Klose-Hanley-Godfrey, but DF might also opt for Lewis-Klose-Godfrey to cope with Liverpool's pace and trickery up front, with Heise coming in at WB. He used the latter in the German pre-season games when Klose wasn't available and it worked quite well. Even when we're using a 4-2-3-1, Lewis often drops back to be a third CB when the ball is lost, then moves back to LB when we have the ball. The advantage is the pace and mobility Lewis and Godfrey have to deal with pacy attackers. It also gives us the mobility all over the pitch that LDC was talking about, in that Godfrey and/or Lewis can move forward when we have the ball then drop back when we don't. Another option is to use McLean alongside Trybull to strengthen the cover.

Edited by Yelloow Since 72

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4 minutes ago, Grando said:

I still quite like idea of the wildcard that is Semi Ajayi as an option in the DM role. At least we could afford him - and though his footballing ability is still under debate, his sheer physical presence is undoubtable.

Ajayi has signed for West Brom, so no longer an option. Bielik is still an option from Arsenal, also being able to play at CB or DM, as he did last season for Charlton. It just could be that Arsenal wanted to keep him through the pre-season before releasing him on loan.

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3 minutes ago, Yelloow Since 72 said:

Ajayi has signed for West Brom, so no longer an option. Bielik is still an option from Arsenal, also being able to play at CB or DM, as he did last season for Charlton. It just could be that Arsenal wanted to keep him through the pre-season before releasing him on loan.

Bielik is very close to a move to Derby for £10m apparently. He is also much more a centre back than a DM.

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