"Gael Clichy yet to recover from Eduardo tackle"

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Post by Sri Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:29 am

Some journalist should interview Gael Clichy about the effect the match against Birmingham had on his career. They could title the piece “Gael Clichy yet to recover from Eduardo tackle” or maybe “Arsenal fans yet to forgive Clichy for Eduardo tackle” because from what I can tell the genesis of Arsenal supporters current disdain for Gael Clichy stems from that game.

From that ugly day forward he was always going to have to put every foot in the right place to keep Gooners happy, and predictably he has not. Several high profile mistakes in games kept the target on his back and as his Arsenal career progressed he became the object of public derision from very popular figures within the Arsenal fold.

Perceived or real, opposition managers have picked up on Arsenal’s defensive frailties at left back to the point that I can’t remember how many times I wrote “they are targeting Clichy.” This idea that teams target Clichy shows up in the numbers as well. On a normal team the defensive midfielder will lead the team in tackles and Arsenal’s Song manages a very good number with 3.3 per game but in an unusual twist Clichy leads Arsenal with 3.4. If you take out Vermaelen’s numbers (because he only played 5 games) Clichy also leads Arsenal in interceptions with 3.4 per game.

Just to give you some perspective, Evra played in 35 matches and averaged 2.3 tackles and 2.3 interceptions. Ashley Cole played in all 38 games for Chelsea and he averaged 2.6 and 1.3. Adding those numbers together you get the following:

Clichy 6.8
Evra 4.6
Cole 3.9
And then there’s clearances. Again, removing Vermaelen because of his paucity of matches, Clichy is Arsenal’s 4th most prolific player in terms of clearances at 4.5 per game — Sagna is right behind him with 4.2! Ashley Cole manages just 1.2 and Evra just 2.7 per game. Clichy gets 4.5 clearances per game while only winning 51% of his aerial duels — now, not all clearances are aerial but it’s still a telling number in showing how often this player is picked out of the Arsenal back four for long diagonal balls and other defensive duties.

Again, this is born out by the numbers: adding all three categories together you can see that Clichy is very active defensively.

Clichy — 11.3 key defensive plays per game
Evra — 7.3 kdpg
Cole — 5.1 kdpg
Ashley Cole is called on to perform less than half the defensive duties of Gael Clichy! Those numbers would be great if defense was his only job.

Part of the reason the fullbacks are targeted at Arsenal is because of the system that Wenger runs. Fullbacks, like the center-halves, are regularly exposed as the team press forward and hold the ball in the opposition half. Both left and right back are crucial to this system in terms of moving the ball and providing width and there have been numerous matches where either Clichy or Sagna led the team in passes per game. Typically, that happens when a team floods the midfield in order to choke off the supply to Cesc.

In this case, you would expect that the Arsenal fullbacks would have a high number of completed crosses per game or perhaps a decent number of assists but they don’t and I have to wonder if that plays a part in some of the stick Clichy gets. For example, Sagna had 3 assists and 2 goals and also averaged a higher percentage of passes at 87% while completing an average of 1 cross per game. Clichy had just 2 assists and 1 goal in all competitions and completed 80% of his passes and zero crosses per game on average. I don’t have a number for “key frak-ups per game” but my feeling is that all of Arsenal’s defenders suffer from this affliction. Though, it would be very interesting to see how much more frail Arsenal are in that category than others.

All of this raises a question for me: who is going to replace Gael Clichy? Arsenal need a player who can shoulder the burden of being constantly exposed due to the system that Wenger plays, targeted for long balls, derided by fans for every mistake, required to sprint forward and back, must pass at a rate that makes average midfielders look poor, and needs to be able to provide crosses into the box for a team with one real center forward.

Sorry kids, that player doesn’t exist and I’m starting to understand why Clichy refused a new contract: playing at Roma will look like a walk in the park compared to the demands of Arsenal’s system on their fullbacks. He might even start to look like a good defender in a league that doesn’t just bomb big diagonal balls forward.

The reality is, that is the League that Arsenal play in and I can’t see it changing any time soon. So, to replace Clichy you are going to need to decide what type of fullback you want. Do you want a big player who wins a lot of headers? Maybe Boukary Dramé from Sochaux is someone you would look at. He won 65% of his aerial duels and was second on his team with 6.2 clearances per game.

If instead, you hire a big center forward to dominate the middle of the park and then want a player who can whip in crosses and is generally more offensive minded then maybe it’s Leighton Baines that you would look at. 3 completed crosses per game along with 1.95 key passes per game and an amazing 11 assists — oh wait, I mean seven goals and 12 assists in all competitions — put him clearly in the “wingback” mold. With those numbers and his work rate defensively which isn’t horrible (2.2 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, and 2.7 clearances) he might even be a viable replacement for Arshavin on the left. At least occasionally when he’s not playing fullback.

It looks like Clichy is heading out the door and I know that will make some happy. But for me, he’s going to be a very difficult player to replace and how Wenger replaces him (more offensive or defensive, more height, more crossing) will give us a clue into the direction the team will take next season. After all, no fullback, that I could find, is the alpha and omega.

<Source: http://www.7amkickoff.com/2011/gael-clichy-yet-to-recover-from-eduardo-tackle/>

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Wow, there is just sooo much I have to say about this! Unfortunately, I'm going to let you guys toy with this till I find some time to get back to this.. cheers

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Post by Iceman Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:47 am

I always said that Clichy's work is extremely underrated by other fans and Arsenal supporters as well. These statistics back me up as well.

Sure, on the offense he isn't great, but this year he has been solid at the back and that is exactly what we need. I do not want him to leave
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Post by BeautifulGame Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:31 pm

Apparently he wants to come to us rather than Roma and Arsenal are holding out for 10 mil.Wenger also wouldnt block the move to a rival if the price is met.(Times)

Does wenger have another Left back lined up or going to use Gibbs as first choice?I wouldnt be surprised Wenger convinced to stay him at Arsenal though.
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Post by The Verminator Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:37 pm

I know many will disagree, but i think Clichy is underrated. I mean, i think when we lose, we all just look for a scapegoat, when really the defensive problems may lie in midfield. I mean i didn't watch CL final but i heard that when the mid didn't help the defense, even Vidic struggled. What i'm saying is don't always hate on the playa, there are other causes for our defensive fragility.
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Post by Sri Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:38 pm

Nope, no way I am losing another LB to a PL rival! Wenger would not do it even if Liverpool met our valuation.. He'd rather sell at 8mil to Roma.. Besides, Roma's interest in Clichy is not new, this is the third year that I am seeing this same rumour..

We are considering moving for Jose Enrique if Clichy moves apparently, but can someone tell me how he'd fare against the metrics the OP lays out? (Crosses, interceptions, etc)..

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Post by Sri Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:41 pm

The Verminator wrote:I know many will disagree, but i think Clichy is underrated. I mean, i think when we lose, we all just look for a scapegoat, when really the defensive problems may lie in midfield. I mean i didn't watch CL final but i heard that when the mid didn't help the defense, even Vidic struggled. What i'm saying is don't always hate on the playa, there are other causes for our defensive fragility.

Have to agree with you and Iceman on Clichy being underrated.. The DM(s) are supposed to cover the gaps left by the full backs in case of a counter attack, but when we had people like Denilson playing, the defense was invariably exposed.. Also, we have known for awhile now that the advanced wingers are also responsible for defensive duties along with the full backs.. We had made a point of this, esp when Arshavin lazed around ahead of clichy, leaving a gap in the left side of the field for the opposition to exploit.. Towards end season, when Arsha started helping more with the defense, it seemed a little better..

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Post by The Verminator Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:51 pm

srigooner wrote:
The Verminator wrote:I know many will disagree, but i think Clichy is underrated. I mean, i think when we lose, we all just look for a scapegoat, when really the defensive problems may lie in midfield. I mean i didn't watch CL final but i heard that when the mid didn't help the defense, even Vidic struggled. What i'm saying is don't always hate on the playa, there are other causes for our defensive fragility.

Have to agree with you and Iceman on Clichy being underrated.. The DM(s) are supposed to cover the gaps left by the full backs in case of a counter attack, but when we had people like Denilson playing, the defense was invariably exposed.. Also, we have known for awhile now that the advanced wingers are also responsible for defensive duties along with the full backs.. We had made a point of this, esp when Arshavin lazed around ahead of clichy, leaving a gap in the left side of the field for the opposition to exploit.. Towards end season, when Arsha started helping more with the defense, it seemed a little better..
And some people forget this and they blame the defence, esp Clichy for the teams failure. If Clichy is to leave, then i'm sure that his absence will be felt.
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Post by Sri Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:17 pm

As the guy points out in the OP, there are barely any LBs, who can fill our requirements of a defensively-solid attacking full back in our system..

He points out that Baines can be an attacking solution, while Drame is good with aerial interceptions..

What I really want to know, is how Gibbs and Jose Enrique fare in the same criteria? What do you guys think?

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Post by Sushi Master Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:23 pm

Baines would be good attacking, but we NEED someone good defensively, else we play with 2 solid CMs who would be covering every inch of grass. This I doubt.

Gibbs is no where near the level yet, plus he's constantly injured and the worst position to have injury prone players are in defense.

Jose Enrique comes from La Liga. The.End. I don't trust defenders from la Liga to adapt to the PL.

Clichy should stay!
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Post by Jay29 Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:18 pm

Jose Enrique comes from La Liga. The.End. I don't trust defenders from la Liga to adapt to the PL.

He's been in English football for three years; two in the Premier League and one in the Championship. He's already adapted and solidified himself as one of the better left backs in the league.

That's why Enrique is probably the best replacement for Clichy at this stage, since he's defensively better than Baines and probably cheaper as well.

I think it goes without saying that Clichy should be kept and it's a shame not many fans actually realise this. However, those stats do not justify his quality. Rather, they expose the glaring weakness in our system that we fans have known about since Arshavin signed, but the management has made no move to ammend the issue.

Solving the problem on the left side will be the first step towards becoming a better defensive unit.

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Post by lenear1030 Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:23 pm

clichy is class.


he's just had a couple untimely mistakes, but people harped on him for them. he does a lot of work but is greatly underappreciated. too bad it seems that he is all but gone from arsenal
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