For far too long our set-pieces have been uninventive, lacking in movement and downright awful. If my memory serves me correctly we scored one goal from a corner in the whole of last season, Demba Ba’s away to Wolves. A terrible return.
The problem seems to be many things, the taking of them and the activity of the players in the box. Corners for the last year have either been too long or too short and end up going out for a throw in or being easily cleared by the man on the near post. An equal amount also fall straight in to the arms of a thankful goalkeeper. We have had a series of people take them, including so called set-piece experts such as Ryan Taylor and Yohan Cabaye but to no avail.
What is the cause of the issue then? These two should be able to get a good ball into the middle. It seems to me a lack of viable targets. It isn’t like we lack height but the lack of movement in the area from corners is astonishing. There is no creativity in the attempts by our players to make space and as a consequence the people taking them have little to effectively aim for, causing them to put a needless ball in towards the near post. If we look at the Ba goal way back last year, some fantastic movement by our number nineteen saw him get in at the near post and nod the ball in. More movement could cause so many more problems for defences.
The set-piece frustrations aren’t just from corners, free-kicks as well are nothing more than useless. The amount of times we get free-kicks in and around the centre circle that we punt forward towards a tall player at the back post, in the most predictable manner possible, is ridiculous. These free-kicks are the most predictable I have ever seen. A tall player at the back post is meant to head it across goal, he’s usually just man marked and the ball comes straight back or possession is simply given away. If Pardew does insist on this once more, some intelligence from the kick taker or some movement to drag markers out of position could prove fruitful. Also, the way we set up leaves space down the right side usually and a smart bit of play could give Ben Arfa a free run down the right wing and a shot on goal, our set-pieces though have lack any intelligence of the sort.
Pardew seems to have finally come to his senses and realised they need working on. Hopefully before Everton some good work will be done on them and we may reap the benefits. We had a grand total of ten corners on Sunday and not one of them was of any sort of recognisable quality, if we want to push on, more goals from set-pieces are essential.
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