Dealing With Packed Defences
Yet again at QPR we came up against a team set up to defend in depth and yet again we couldn't break them down, its becoming our achilles heel, it might cost us Champions league football.
Unlike Arsene Wenger I don't believe the opposition should be forced to play the kind of football that would suit us. Teams like QPR are fighting for their lives, they must do whatever is most likely to keep them in the Premier league. What is worrying is that even though we knew what they would do we didn't seem to be able to do anything about it, why?
When faced with a packed defence we seem to play in front of them, trying to pass our way through. Chelsea's victory in the Champions League last season showed how futile that tactic is, even Barcelona couldn't make it work. Unless you get lucky with a long shot there are two basic ways of dealing with packed defences. One is to get down the sides and send in crosses from the bye line. The other is to score from a set piece. The one good thing is you only need to score once, as soon as you do the game changes.
So why can't we break teams down? On the face of it wing play should be ideal for us with Bale and Lennon's pace. But you need wingers to stay wide and, if they are to fire in a stream of crosses, to be playing on their natural side, our wingers don't do that. Even then you need strikers in the box trying to get on the end of crosses. Obviously not ideal for Defoe, what's worse is that even though Adebeyor is ideally built to play as an orthodox centre forward he actually spends most of his time drifting wide.
Dempsey might do better than either of them. We actually showed how set pieces should be taken against Swansea, good delivery from Walker, good finish from Vertonghen, Swansea's game plan in ruins. The trouble is that was the exception not the rule. Generally free kicks and corners appear to be wasted, often going straight to the keeper, there seems very little thought behind the delivery.
We have plenty of height in the squad, but without a decent ball in it makes no difference. I don't know whether its that our kickers aren't good enough or simply that we don't practice the routines. What is clear is that we are likely to see more teams playing defensively against us simply because it works. AVB needs to find a way of countering packed defences and drill it into the squad, even if it means players have to adapt their normal game. Otherwise we will drop a lot of points by the end of the season.
Written by jod