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By Tony Attwood
Here’s the league table after the Arsenal game today…
It gives a different perspective from that which we have felt of late, with the notion of two other teams creeping further and further away from Arsenal. And I am not writing this with a thesis that Arsenal are, because of today’s fine win, going on to win the league.
Rather my interest and of course my concern is whether Arsenal are consistently building on the achievements of last season or whether the club is stagnating, or even getting worse as some bloggers have suggested (seeing that Arsenal are not at this moment building on last season’s advances).
As things stand, on goals scored, we are just two goals behind Liverpool after having to listen to regular demands for Arsenal to bring in a striker which I have not thought we urgently needed.
And I have this view because of the point that the superb progress last season was in part achieved by spreading the goals around between different players.
Yes having a centre forward such as Manchester City has can bring success – of course that is true. But it also brings a danger – when the player gets injured. And it is a fact that the number of such players available is small. Many a player has looked to be the salvation in waiting when it comes to delivering record numbers but upon moving to a new club, turns out not to be able to deliver.
And there is a second point that is not a new one but needs repeating. Arsenal have the best defence in the league and we should notice that at the moment I write this, after the Arsenal game, the top three teams now have very similar goal differences. These are all very encouraging signs.
But the issue of spreading the goals around, which we noticed so much last season, is one that deserves far more attention than it gets. Journalists focus on individual players because it is easier for them to do so. But Arsenal uses which is the opposite of Manchster City’s. Arsenal spreads the goals around. We did it last season, and we are doing it again.
2023/4: Arsenal top goal scorers (league games only)
If we take where Arsenal have got to so far this season as a team, we can see that taking today’s situation and extending it to the end of the season, Arsenal will be projected to end up with 84 goals – just four fewer than last campaign.
Better still this season we are on track to concede only 35 goals. Last season it was 43. So using the projections based on the season so far our goal difference will be +49. Last season it was +45.
Now of course projections like this never turn out to be exactly right, but what figures such as these show is that progress is being made and they also show that the approach of spreading the goals out between the players is once more working – just as it did last season.
While seemingly every other club goes down the usual route of looking for a single goalscorer who will aim for 20 goals a season, it is possible and indeed even desirable to go down the multiple goalscorers route.
Desirable because if you have five players in the team who are knocking in the goals, it makes it harder to defend against, and the club has cover in case one or even two of the top scorers get injured.
Now this is not an approach that is often used, and I am not sure that anyone has taken it as far as Arsenal have, but it is certainly an interesting approach, and appears to be delivering the results.
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