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Wednesday Cannon Fodder: fault on the field

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Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

One thing that I’ve been trying to get better at in my game analysis and commentary is remembering that sometimes, when the opposing team scores, nobody is at fault for conceding the goal. Their guys can just be better or have made a better play. For example, if a defender gets beat but was in good position and didn’t dive in, that’s not a mistake for me. Defenders get dribbled from time to time, it’s part of the game.

Like, if peak Leo Messi did Messi things and Barcelona scored against you, is that anybody on your team’s fault? And you don’t have to get to an all-time great. Take somebody like Wilfried Zaha. On his day, he can create goals on his own with individual effort / skill. If he does something impressive to create a goal, it doesn’t also have to be a defender’s fault. Normalize crediting opposing players for the good things they do.

The same goes for Arsenal scoring, too. Sometimes our guys make good plays and score goals when the opposing defenders haven’t done anything “wrong” per se. The other team, whether scoring or conceding, has agency in the match. It isn’t all about what your guy did or didn’t do. And a corollary to that: when Arsenal play badly (or the opposing team plays badly), it could be because the other team was having a good day or doing something tactically that created the problems and made Arsenal look poor in the match.

Remembering those things will make us better at analyzing the game. And it will probably help us be more positive about Arsenal, too.