LUMPING THE BALL FORWARD IS A CAR CRASH!
There are a lot of Arsenal fans who have gone as far as demanding that Emery should abandon the tactics of playing out from the back. They want goal kicks lumped forward. I sympathies but such fans are only over responding to their fears of the moment, seeing only the moment instead of the larger picture. If the tactical and statistical advantages of playing out of the back are better understood, the fears of the moment becomes easier to manage.
Study has shown that about 70% of plane passengers fear to fly, but are able to manage their fear because they know that the odds are very much in their favour. For example according to the US Census Data one’s chances of dying in a plane crash is 1:205,552. Note that the chances of dying in a car accident is 1:102. Yet we feel so cosy inside cars, so cosy lumping the ball forward.
In statistics, models are built on large samples. For example in the two matches played so far this season we have taking 21 goal kicks (terrible compared to City’s 8). At that rate (I believe it will come down) we would have taken 399 goal kicks in the PL by the end of the season. That’s potentially 399 playing out of the back. Brace up for it, there’s likely going to be two or three crashes but the benefits from playing out of the back would overwhelmingly outweigh the cost. Already this season Adrian and Ndidi of Liverpool and Leicester respectively have blundered but Klopp and Brendan Rogers are never going to begin to lump the ball forward. In modern football, lumping it forward as the go to is nothing short of a car crash.
To understand the science behind playing out of the back you have to look at the whole field. We have a goal kick. Auba and Laca, ever drifting into spaces, stay on the shoulders of the opposition back line. Even though we normally play out of the back, the opposition knows that any moment Leno or Luiz or some one else could go long. Therefore they put at least 3 men on Laca and Auba knowing that 2 on 2 is bad defending.
In our box area the opposition would have 3 players (usually) pressing our 2 central defenders and a central midfielder, but we have a 4th man who is not an outfield player, Leno. That means we always have a free man to pass to. If one of them decides to press Leno, then one of our 3 outfielders engaged in playing out of the back is free. We now have 3 of their outfielders against 2 of ours around our box.
Sum the numbers at their defensive line and at our box area and we have 6 of theirs engaging 4 of ours. Automatically in the middle patch of the field we have 6 players against their 4. That is a whopping 50% overload and that is the name of the whole game: overload in the middle, easier transition.
50% overload at the middle patch of the field for 399 times in a season from goal kicks would fetch many goals. So it’s easy to discount the 2 or 3 that it would cost us and to discount the nerves. Nobody knows the flight that would crash not even Pep the Master, but what the master knows so well is how sweet the odds are.
No doubt one of the big reasons Luiz was acquired is to bring the calmness and the confidence that are essential to that process to the team. These days defenders must be good with the ball at their feet, calm and assured in their passing of the ball. That is exactly why Holding is being missed, not because of his tackling numbers or his pace. The lack of it is also why the guy with the our best defensive numbers is out in the cold. People wonder about Mavro. He is fantastic defensively but they say he is nervous with his passing. The coaches are working hard on him.
By road or by air? Get me a flight ticket please.