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."
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Latest in Sport
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 2 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 3 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming that the street artist's identity has been revealed
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage