I kind of wanted to do a series on tactics and player analysis, but I do not have the time to be a full time blogger. Nor do I think I have the credentials beyond doing a little bit of tactics (I don't even have a twitter account, so I'd be horrible for transfers). I'm thinking I might do a focus on the attacking players on team, perhaps one every month.
Over at Sounder at Heart, there was a discussion about one of their players. They talked about whether Lamar Neagle should be considered a poacher or not. I kind of figured out my own system for how to classify strikers, which you can see in the comments. I'm basically taking that (like, I'm literally copy and pasting it), expanding upon it, clarifying it, and applying it to Arsenal.
I would label strikers in some fusion of 4 "ideal" stereotypes. In order to differentiate between the different types, I will use a scale of 0-10, where up to 5 points are awarded for number of touches and up to 5 points for distance from goal. Lots of touches and lots of distance equals more points.
For these purposes, a tap in will get a score of 0. A proper shot will get 1 touch. 2 touches get’s 2 points. 3-4 = 3, 4 = 5 or more consecutive touches, 5+ if any touches are not consecutive (another teammate touches the ball during the sequence). Tap ins get 0 points. Otherwise, anything inside the 6 gets 1 point. Just outside the 6 gets 2. The rest of the PK box and the area up to the top of the circle , but only the central part, is a 3. Just outside the box but wide is a 4. Anything else not yet covered within the attacking third is also a 4. Everything else is a 5.
I think Javier Hernandez would be a good international example of this type of player. Arsenal don't really have a poacher
The traits Poachers are usually associated with having excellent movement, especially in the box. They also are very good at seizing scrappy opportunities. They are associated with being extremely clinical, but usually do not get involved in any build up play.
Poachers touch the ball relatively few times and extremely close to goal, so a score of 4 or lower.
International examples- Dennis Bergkamp
Arsenal- Santi Cazorla
These guys are going to have a lot of goals with high scores because they get a lot of touches, often through give-and-goes and complicated dribbles. Expect a lot of long distance goals. I’m thinking 7+. You should expect a lot of assists from this kind of player.
International examples- Michael Owen
Arsenal- Theo Walcott
This group will have a similar score to the next group. What sets them apart is where they get the points and how consistent their goals are (in category). Runners rely on through balls to get behind defenders and exploit high lines. They will get a middle range score in both categories (as they get 2-3 touches to get into the box, where they put it past the keeper). I would anticipate a score from 4-8. They may get a number of assists, but they won’t be involved heavily in build up play, at least not in terms of passing.
The Hold Up Man (Also called a Target Man)
International- Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch
Arsenal- Olivier Giroud
This kind of player is often big and good at headers. These players are often utilized for defensive purposes. When the team is under pressure, the defenders boot the ball up the field. The Hold Up Man is then expected to win the ball and keep it away from the other team. If he can hold it long enough to lay it off to an advancing teammate, the team can transition to a counter attack. These Hold Up Men likely score most often off of headers. This means that these players have high scores for touches, but low scores for distance from goals. 4-7, again
I will analyze the goals from this season and classify where they go in this system. Of course, this is a little tricky because we don't have a whole lot of goals just yet, especially from our really attacking players, but it does look like there's some good diversity. It's not enough to categorize the team yet, but I think it is enough to demonstrate the system, which would probably be good for a first post in the series. The archetypes don't really apply that well to midfielders and defenders, but I'll categorize them anyway, in order to better illustrate what I mean by each category. All highlights are from Arsenal.com and are free to access.
The goal starts from the 0:33.
The ball goes from, I believe, Aaron Ramsey to Rosicky, who finds Walcott. Theo advances into the box, and GIroud finishes deftly from just outside the 6.
3 total points, indicating that this is a Poacher's goal.
Ramsey is able to get on a good ball from Theo to easily bury it in the 25'. Notice, Ramsey does not participate in the build up.
3 points, Poacher's goal.
Ramsey's second goal comes from a nice build up play, which leads to a cross from Gibbs. Ramsey than one-times it from the center of the box. However, while the finish comes with only one touch, the immediate sequence actually begins with Ramsey, which means that there is a set of non-consecutive touches
7 points, that is a Creator's goal. Ramsey was part of both the build up, but he also made the late run to finish it.
Giroud opens the scoring after accidentally blocking a shot from Ramsey. He collected the ball, took a second touch, and then finished it from around the 6 yard box.
3 points, this is a Poacher's goal.
Podolski was able to make it 2-0. Mert fed Podolski, who promptly found Cazorla. Cazorla made a great pass to Walcott, who was able to shoot from the right side of the box. The keeper parried, with the rebound falling to Poldi, who made no mistake. Podolski's pas wasn't particularly important to the goal, however, it was a part of a non-consecutive sequence. The run is more akin to a creator's late run than an opportunistic box-hunting poacher, so I will give him the non-consecutive points bonus.
8 points, a creator's goal. The participation in the build up play and the late run are standard for a creative second striker, or a center attacking midfielder.
Podolski's second came straight from a counter attack. A cleared ball found Giroud, who did well to keep it while Walcott and Cazorla advanced. After a short string of passes, Cazorla found Poldi, who took a touch and than buried it.
5 points. This is a bit difficult to place. I'm going to say it's a Runner's goal, as Podolski took advantage of his speed to catch Fulham's defense off guard and outnumber them. However, this is an example of how anything can be a little bit vague.
Fulham's goal came off of an unlucky block by Szczesny that fell to Bent, who had an easy tap in.
0 points, a very very clear poacher's goal.
Gibb's opener came off of a nice cross from Walcott. Ramsey was able to create some space for himself before feeding the Englishman, who promptly drove towards goal and delivered an incisive ball to Gibbs, who had a good finish. It wasn't quite a tap in, but it was close.
This is a standard poacher's goal, with a great cross and a good finish.
Ramsey was able to double the lead after finding space to run into and delivering a good shot from outside the box. The video shows Wilshere giving the ball to Ramsey, who promptly takes 4 touches. It is not clear whether the Welshman had the ball before then, but I will go with the video for now.
6 points. This is a Runner's goal. There is a lot of touches, with a lot of movement from the player on the ball. It's not exactly characteristic of a standard Runner's goal, but it is similar enough.
I'm not analyzing PK's (which is how Giroud scored). However, if I were to guess what it would be, I would say a Runner's goal, as Theo was able to exploit a lot of space after a long ball.
Giroud was able to get an early lead with a nice finish from the 6. He was not involved in the build up.
2 points, a good poacher's goal.
So, from the start of the season, Arsenal have bagged 5 Poacher's goals from 4 different players. There have also been Runner's goals and Creator's goals. Now, I think it's still fair to say that none of Arsenal's players are really poachers. Giroud is a Target man, as demonstrated with Podolski's Runners goal. However, it does look like he's been very clinical with great movement in the box to start the season, both Poacher's qualities. I think the explanation comes from Arsenal's style of play. There is a lot of quick passing on the ground, as well as counter attacking. Arsenal has become very good at basically passing it into the goal (which I think every goal besides Ramsey's from distance demonstrates). However, do you notice what's missing? Headers. We haven't scored from an aerial cross, nor from a set piece. If you watch the videos, there is extremely little hold up play as the team is already in oppositions half, or, at the least, not in a pressured (defensively speaking) situation. There are no flicks to teammates from Giroud (which explains why he hasn't had any Hold Up Man goals).