Pep Guardiola was not kidding when revealing what Arsenal players could expect from Nicolas Jover after the Frenchman was appointed as the set-piece coach last summer following his departure from Premier League rivals Manchester City.
Of course, during Jover’s time at the Etihad Stadium, he would have worked closely with Guardiola on the training pitch, so much so that the Spaniard informed Mikel Arteta and the Arsenal players of the set-piece specialists’ attention to detail.
When asked how often his players practiced set-pieces during the 2019/2020 season, Guardiola replied: “Every day.” Effectively, the Man City boss was clearly giving the Gunners squad the heads up as there’s enough evidence throughout the season to suggest a lot of work is going into making the side strong at set-pieces.
Despite being at Arsenal for less than a year, it hasn’t taken players long to get to grips with Jover’s drills and Thomas Partey has certainly benefitted from Jover’s appointment as he netted his second goal of the season – both from corners – to open the scoring in the 2-0 win over Leicester City on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Jover was credited for masterminding Wolves’ downfall last month. As Gabriel Magalhaes reacted quickest to a loose ball in the six-yard box to prod the ball home, it was the first time that Wolves had conceded from a corner in the Premier League this season.
And according to the Telegraph, who were in attendance at Molineux, the Frenchman showed how much he loved the goal by screaming at the skies and pumping his fists on the touchline.
But during the win over Leicester, Sky Sports provided more evidence that Jover continues to prove he has been a shrewd addition to Arteta’s backroom staff. At one stage in the first-half an impressive statistic emerged on screen showing Arsenal’s record from defending corners in the Premier League this season.
It read: Corners faced: 119, Goals conceded: 0. In total, the Foxes had six corners at the Emirates, but thanks to Jover’s drills and Aaron Ramsdale commanding his area, the Gunners were able to extend this fine record.
In addition to defending rather comfortably with set-pieces all season as well as scoring a few, Jover’s obvious attention to detail at both ends of the pitch is clear and fans have shown their appreciation on social media.
@jokotaz said: “This guy deserves a raise.” @iam_njenga said: “Jover the set-piece coach is totally worth all the dimes.” @BIGSMOKE099 said: “Being an Arsenal fan for 10+ years, this stat is enough to show how improved we are.”
With that said, bigger tests of Arsenal’s set-piece resolve await. In fact, as soon as Wednesday night when Liverpool come to town in the hope of keeping pace with Man City at the top of the table.
The Reds are one of the most prolific sides in the Premier League when it comes to scoring from set-pieces as the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Diogo Jota look to benefit from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson’s delivery. A game that is important for both clubs could be settled by the finest of margins and set-pieces could be key.