nicolas jover

HOW NICOLAS JOVER IS THE NAME EVERY ARSENAL FAN SHOULD LOVE AND OPPONENTS FEAR

had themselves a pretty busy summer transfer window. Six new signings, all aged 23 or under, have settled more or less into the team as the days have gone. One new face in the camp has gone largely unnoticed for the most parts…until now that is. In the League Cup fixture against Leeds United, substitute Calum Chambers scored with his first touch following a corner. He ran over to the sidelines in what was perceived as celebrations with those on the bench but there was a deeper reason behind it. Chambers was searching for Nicolas Jover, the set-piece coach of the Gunners who was appointed in July. He had told the defender that he was going to “score from your [Chambers] first touch so that’s why I went running over to him. It was a nice moment.”

 

So who is Jover and why has he been getting so popular with the players?

 

PRACTICER OF RARE CRAFTS

The Frenchman has a stellar resume behind him, having started his career as an analyst with Ligue 1 side Montpellier. He was part of the backroom staff when the team won the league title in 2012, before spending three years with the Croatian national team. Jover made his first foray into English football with Brentford in 2015, part of the Bees’ unique model of tactics, scouting and approach-play.

Nicolas Jover

Image credits: arseache.com

 

His performances with Brentford were integral in the team’s rise to the Championship and Jover did not go unnoticed. Pep Guardiola recruited him in 2019 and this was where he first came into contact with , then the assistant coach of Manchester City. Jover and team helped the Cityzens win two League Cups and the crown this season.

 

Arteta, now at Arsenal, lost his set-piece coach before the start of the current campaign with Andreas Georgsen moved to his native Sweden to be Sporting Director of Malmo. The Arsenal boss wasted little time in bringing Jover into the fold and results have been fruitful right from the off, just as they were with City over the past two years.

 

STELLAR TURNAROUND

Coming to how successful Jover has been over the past few years. In the 2019-20 season, City scored 17 goals from set-pieces while conceding only seven. Those were the best and second-best respectively in the league. Jover uses a mix of decoy runners, disguised movement and an overload of players inside the box in anticipation of the second ball. He has players stationed at different positions alongside defenders and even in free spaces so that the threat is sustained for a longer period of time.

Nicolas Jover

Image credits: arsenalinsider.com

 

With the Gunners, the impact has been noticeable already. Arsenal have scored six times from set-piece situations, which have accounted for 46% of their goals. That is as many times as they scored in the entirety of the 2020-21 season and the team is well on their way to set a record. Defensively, they have let in only two goals as most of their new players are well over 6ft tall. It has helped on both sides of the pitch but what has been even more encouraging is how well Jover has gelled with the players in such a short time.

 

They are really invested in what the coach is trying to implement and working hard to achieve the targets set down by him. Indeed, Jover takes a lot of time in analysing and studying each situation and how best to capitalize from them. That is reflected in how the xG from set-pieces has gone from 0.16 to 0.60 (5th in the league) along with completing 38.8% of their corner-kicks (4th in the league).

Jover has been described as someone who “asks questions” and “is never satisfied,” willing the players to transmit the knowledge they have gained in training so they can improve regularly. Furthermore, he also aims at preempting what the opponents might do once the set-piece is taken and if the ball breaks into the box and discusses every possibility in minute details. Thus, there is clear and logical reasoning behind every move taken by the players during match time.

 

UNDERAPPRECIATED GENIUS

Set-piece coaches are still a rare breed in football, though more and more clubs are on their way to hiring one. The importance of goals from corners, free-kicks etc cannot be understated and similarly, keeping things tight at the back. Jover has brought his magic to the Emirates and Arsenal’s opponents need to be well aware now.

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