Arsenal reveal their secrets for penalty success
Friday 13 March 2009
Arsenal did not practice penalties before Wednesday night's Champions League tie in Rome which culminated in the Gunners defeating Roma in a shoot-out. "I did not think it would go to penalties," said manager Arsene Wenger.
So, lucky Arsenal again eh? Maybe, maybe not. Wenger said his players practiced penalties occasionally in training but would never do so the day before a match. "I don't think it helps," he said. Many coaches differ. Guus Hiddink's Chelsea took penalties before Chelsea's tie with Juventus on Tuesday, including John Terry, who missed the crucial spot-kick in last year's final.
Liverpool practiced prior to defeating Roma on penalties in the European Cup final a quarter of a century ago. Then again, only Steve Nicol scored in that training session. On the night Nicol was the only Liverpool player to miss as Roma lost 4-2 on their own ground.
The reality is that, however much innovative coaches attempt to replicate the scenario (at Watford Aidy Boothroyd had his players take kicks in front of the crowd following a league game), it is impossible to imitate the circumstances surrounding a shoot-out. Players will be tired, physically and mentally, the tension will be overwhelming. They may have had a good game, or a bad one. Whilst there is something to be said for practicing technique - and as golfer Gary Players once said, 'the more I practice the luckier I get' - that long lonely walk to the spot can only be experienced in the here and now.
Which is why England, as well as Arsenal, could prove to benefit from Theo Walcott being blooded. "It was a really good experience for me," he said after scoring his spot-kick. "It was the first shoot-out I have ever done. I didn't expect to take the third penalty but the boss (Wenger chose the first seven takers, Abou Diaby then volunteered to take the eighth) has faith in all of us. That definitely showed in the penalty-takers tonight. He told me I was third and I am not going to say, 'No'. I just wanted to get up there and see what would happen.
"I had a dry throat going towards the goal but I didn't look at the goalkeeper once. I didn't want to make eye contact because he might have put me off. Plus he was a big lad. I learned that from James Beattie (when they were both at Southampton). He's one of the best penalty takers I have seen."
Walcott added: "It's all about positive thinking. The best thing is not to change your mind."
Latest in Sport
West Ham vs Arsenal match report: Sam Allardyce fumes at referee as Arsenal push on towards top four
Tottenham vs Manchester United match report: Hugo Lloris blocks Manchester United from putting pressure on Premier League title rivals
Liverpool vs Swansea preview: 'Jonjo Shelvey is lazy, he needs to wise up,' says Garry Monk
Arsenal transfer news: William Carvalho to be subject of £20m bid
West Ham 1 Arsenal 2 player ratings: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? Andy Carroll? Alexis Sanchez? Who was the star man?
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Douglas Carswell tells Ukip to stop blaming foreigners as youth poll shows Nigel Farage is even less popular than Nick Clegg