At the Audience with Rafa Benitez last Sunday in Liverpool, some fans wanted to know the true data about marking at set pieces whether the marking is zonal or man to man or a mixture.
In answer to the question, Rafa showed the table below. (The data is provided by Opta).
From the table, it can clearly be seen that, during his time at Liverpool, the team were twice the best in the Premier League at preventing goals from set pieces. During the years under Rafa’s management, they were always in the top 4 at conceding from set pieces except for one season when they fell below this high standard.
During this time, Liverpool were using zonal marking when defending corners and this aroused a lot of debate, yet the figures in the table were never really included in these discussions. All the other teams in the Premier League at the time were mostly using man to man marking and their figures do not show that this type of marking is any better than zonal marking, in fact, in the majority of cases it is shown to be worse. As a comparison, the table also shows Liverpool last season under two different managers when the team changed to man to man marking and they conceded the same amount of goals as in the one poor statistic under Rafa Benitez. Manchester City are currently top of the league and they are using zonal marking.
So what does this data show? As Rafa said at the Empire Theatre on Sunday, it shows that it should not be the system that is blamed for conceding goals at set pieces but it will always depend on the determination, concentration and ability in the air of the players at the moment of delivery of the set piece. The data certainly does not show that one system will always be better than the other. It is about using the right system for the right players at the right time. In fact, at Liverpool the zonal marking evolved through the years under Rafa to take in to consideration the changes in personnel of the team but still maintained the high success rate.
Intelligent points and good comments, from the posters on here as well.
Also of interest was the fact that Rafa invariably mixed zonal defending and man marking. On many occasions the core defenders would defend zonally whilst others, like Kuyt, would be tasked with man marking key attackers and danger men (Cahill for instance when playing Everton).
The lack of insight, intelligence and research by the general punditry during Rafa's time at the club was quite appalling and, frankly, an embarrassment to their profession. Saddest of all, this lack of research only seems to apply to foreign managers who have had the temerity to go up against Fergie and his flock.
The ridicule and derision aimed at Rafa and Wenger is in stark contrast to the massaging of egos applied to Redknapp, Hodgson, Allardyce and Fergie himself. It is a great shame that some of the world's leading managers/tacticians are being hounded out of the Premiership in favour of 'geezers' and 'mates' purely because they were not born in this country.
Zonal marking was really strong in the first two seasons you employed them. But by the 3rd season I think some teams were attacking the weak link in there, by which I mean certain players. Is it possible that zonal marking is complimented with one or two players given the duty to stake out the more dangerous opponents? Or is it possible to have some flexibility to swap zones to handle the opponent's tactics.
Since the first season we were checking our system. The first year against Chelsea we were doing man to man against Terry. We were using one player in the post or two or nobody the last year it depends on your players and the opponents.
I would like to have your insight on why Liverpool is conceding goals and struggling to convert chances at the other end? As far as I'm concerned I feel that the midfield is not very solid, and it is where the game is won or lost, CB's are not getting enough protection from the midfield. And attack wise, the best finisher seems to be Bellamy, but he's not playing in center. Suarez is tricky but he is not clinical in front of goal, but he can create a lot. So I think the best would be to play Suarez of Bellamy. Your thoughts please.
Hi Bulb, we could be talking about this for hours, but I think that it will be better if someone else give you his opinion. I must not talk about the Liverpool players or tacticts. Maybe I'm wrong but I prefer to respect what they do. Thanks.
Hi 'El Duderino', we have been changing things every year. Reina is good in the air, so he had confidence and we were using two players on the line, after only one and at the end we didn't have players on the line. So we could leave a striker there for the counter attack. It was a hard work in training sessions to learn the options, problems and solutions.Thanks.
Normally Crouch was in front of the near post in corners against, he was the first man, very difficult to pass him.