The problems of Chelsea and Tottenham
By Tony Attwood
Arsenal are not going to win the league, and this weekend’s game gave Arsenal a pretty awful result (although not worthy of the booing that came from some quarters at the end of the game, I felt.)
But still, we can perhaps take some satisfaction from the answer to the question, “Who has made the most of their opportunities this season?” A question which shows that Arsenal were would be third in the league in terms of expected goals.
What is interesting however is that Arsenal have only one player in the Premier League’s top ten for shots on target. That is Odegaard on 33 shots on target, in tenth place. Tottenham have two players in the top ten, and Brighton have two. Manchester City have one, just like Arsenal, but we all know that all this means is that they’ve got a goalscoring powerhouse, and if he were to get injured, they would feel it keenly.
Indeed in writing the league table in goalscoring order (see table below) Manchester City would still be top and Arsenal still be second. But other points do emerge.
The first column in the table shows the league position as we normally see it, plus in the second column, the position in terms of the number of goals scored. So Liverpool are 5th in the normal league table but would be third if we counted goals scored as the determining factor. In short, a minus number in the Diff (Difference) column, suggests that any problem the club has is not the fault of the defence not the attack.
|Pts order||Goals order||Diff||Team||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts|
|6||4||-2||Brighton and Hove Al||34||17||7||10||66||45||21||58|
|15||13||-2||West Ham United||36||10||7||19||38||52||-14||37|
At the other end, Leeds United, are six places below where they would be if tables were built on goals scored. And this is interesting because they are second in the yellow card table too, having 79 cards, one fewer than Crystal Palace. (For more on tackles, fouls and cards see here).
In other words, Leeds are doing themselves down because their defenders are fouling a lot, and so letting down their attackers who are playing like a mid-table team, not a team threatened by relegation.
Now this is interesting because this is the situation Arsenal were getting into when Arteta came along and took his steps to reduce the yellow cards dramatically.
Leicester also would be much higher up the league if they could just get their defence sorted out. But they spent so long developing the act in which they tackled almost with impunity that, now they are subject to the same laws as everyone else, they just can’t find another way to defend.
So who needs to improve their defence? A + sign in column three shows how much the defence needs to improve to get up to the standard of the team’s attack. A – sign shows the defence is the powerhouse in the club and it is the attack that is letting the side down.
|Pts order||DefENCE Order||Diff||Team||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts|
|6||9||+3||Brighton and Hove Albion||34||17||7||10||66||45||21||58|
|15||12||-3||West Ham United||36||10||7||19||38||52||-14||37|
Clearly this is a problem for Chelsea who are eight places below where they would be if the league table were based on defence. Arsenal however are three places better of than they would be if league tables were based on defence.
So to summarise: clubs where, if the attack were to be improved without anything happening to the defence, would be much higher up the league are: Leicester, Wolverhampton, Chelsea, and Manchester United.
And looking at the defences, it is Tottenham who stand out as singularly awful. Tottenham are seventh in the league, but if we built a league table based on defences, Tottenham have the 15th worst defence in the league! Looking at the league the other way around, Chelsea is the team whose defence is holding the club together despite the activities of an inept bunch of forwards.
So if Tottenham gave Chelsea some attackers, and Chelsea gave Tottenham some defenders they could both be comfortable in mid-table. Seems fair enough to me, although thankfully it won’t happen.
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate