Uk news Analysis Celtic's set piece struggles as zonal marking comes under fire PremierLeague-News.Com
MetiNews.Com - Neil Lennon's side have conceded almost half of their goals from dead balls this season.
Breaking News ! It was Groundhog Day for Celtic on Sunday as they once again lost to Ross County and once again conceded on a set piece. The issue has plagued Neil Lennon's side all season, with around half of their concessions coming from dead balls. The frustrated manager said after defeat in Dingwall: "I can’t do it for them. It wasn’t a problem for us last season, but it has been a real problem for us this season. I can’t change it now. “You have to go and head the ball, you want to block runners." And captain Scott Brown is acutely aware of the issue too, as the defence fail to deal with the schemes in place. He explained: "It’s zonal marking, we work on it and it’s how we do it. We keep a line. It’s part and parcel of football. People want to do zonal, others want to do man marking. Sign up to our Record Celtic newsletter Get all the latest Celtic news sent straight to your Inbox every day by signing up to our newsletter. We cover every morsel of information regarding your favourite club in the form of articles, videos and podcasts. The newsletter will arrive every day at 12pm, giving you a round up of the best stories we've covered that in the last 24 hours. To sign up, simply enter your email address into the link here. "We do a mixture of both. We can stop the run, we can head it better. We need to look at it and right it tomorrow." Both zonal and man can be effective ways of dealing with set pieces, and have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. (Image: SNS Group) Man marking is more simple: every player stops his opponent getting to the ball and if everyone does their job right the opposition won't score. Zonal takes more time to get right but brings the advantage of being active rather than reactive - players attack the ball to clear it rather than responding to what their man does. You can look pretty daft if it goes wrong though, and even in the Brendan Rodgers era there was criticism of John Kennedy after three goals conceded on set plays in a Champions League qualifier against Malmo. As Lennon has said it wasn't a notable issue last season but it’s clear something is going wrong at Celtic. Is it the man marking? The zone? The combination of the two? We've taken a look at four of their biggest set piece howlers to see if there are any patterns. Read More Related Articles Scott Brown nails Celtic's woe in six words as gutted skipper doesn't recognise current flops Read More Related Articles Neil Lennon tells Celtic flops don't end season with a whimper as boss remarks 'I can't do it for them' Ross County The most recent set piece concession was what sparked Brown's comments and here we can see the mix of man and zonal marking to which the skipper was referring. The captain is marking the back post zone while Diego Laxalt has gone man-for-man with Jordan White. Unfortunately the left-back fails to track the run when the Ross County striker makes his move to the back post. Perhaps expecting Kris Ajer to attack the ball, Brown doesn't react as it comes into his zone. Ideally the skipper would actively attack the ball but instead he backs off. Meanwhile Laxalt has lost track of White, who comes round on Brown's blind side, gets in front of him, and scores a simple header. Brown and Laxalt gesture to each other but both can take their share of the blame. The left-back lost his man having been responsible for man marking, while the captain didn't attack the ball when it came into his zone. Sparta Prague In the 4-1 Europa League defeat Celtic appeared to put more focus on man marking.
. However, Shane Duffy, Nir Bitton and Moi Elyounoussi had gone man-for-man, with potential runners also being man marked on the edge of the box.
Once again though there was a breakdown in the system. Bitton didn't track David Hancko's front post run, and despite clocking the Sparta defender McGregor neither did he attack the front post cross. Once again it's Brown and Laxalt at the back post and it appears both are zonal, but the Sparta players bend their runs around the back.
Jancko flicks the ball on, it rebounds off the far post and both players are left flat-footed as Lukas Julis smashes home.
While it's Brown and Laxalt involved again here, the pair could justifiably point to McGregor and Bitton for failing to deal with the initial header. Lille A ball being flicked on had previously caused chaos in the Europa League during the 2-2 draw with Lille. Celtic had taken a 2-0 lead over in France but the hosts got back into it on a corner. Once again we can see the zonal system, with Brown in his customary position at the back post.
Elyounoussi is man marking Boubakary Soumare, with the centre-backs all zonal. However, they fail to attack a deep ball into the middle and it proves costly. Shane Duffy fails to get off the ground as Adama Soumaoro wins a flick-on.
For a player known for being dominant in the air it's the kind of situation the Irishman should relish. He's caught flat footed though, perhaps misjudging the flight of the ball and expecting Bitton to cut it out. Rangers Celtic's set piece woe has been going on all season and was evident in the first meeting with Rangers. In this instance Celtic leaned more toward a zonal system, with Jeremie Frimpong man marking Glen Kamara for any late runs into the box.
It's actually a decent line by Celtic but Shane Duffy is clearly concerned by the position of Goldson. The centre-back is standing in an offside position but will look to step back on just as James Tavernier takes the kick. Duffy drops as Goldson steps back, ensuring he's onside.
Tavernier picks him out with a good ball that neither Ajer nor Elyounoussi can deal with. The former appeals for offside but the failure to hold the line proves costly.
This is an example of one thing going wrong and leading to a total breakdown. Without that little half step back from Duffy, Goldson would have been offside. Ajer clearly expects him to be but from a decent starting point the organisation failed. What's going wrong?
Neil Lennon looks dejected
Lennon has insisted he can't go out there and defend set pieces for his players, and of course he's right. On every set piece conceded there will be individual errors, and we could be here all day highlighting mistakes from the glut Celtic have conceded this season. There are repeated issues though that point to deeper issues. Dealing with flick-ons has been a problem, as has the zonal defence on the back post. Three of the four above concerned that area, and we also saw it in the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts and the Betfred Cup loss to County.
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Callum McGregor is typically asked to defend the zone on the front post but appears to struggle with attacking the ball as it comes in, even turning one past his own goalkeeper in the 1-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox. Finally there appears to be some confusion over who should attack the ball and when, with defenders often left flat-footed in the middle. It's something Lennon or whoever comes in to replace him will need to get right for next season.
Source = PremierLeague-News.Com