Arsenal in 2024: Trading Excitement for Success?




The 2022/2023 season marked a return. A footballing giant, suffering from a multi-year slumber, had awoken. The memes faded, the jealousy rose, and enthusiasm among the fanbase came to a crescendo. Arsenal were back.

Yes, the club ended up falling short against the Man City machine. Yet finishing second in the Premier League demonstrated an impressive structure built atop the foundation of the previous season. At the time of writing, Arsenal are in the middle of a three-way title race.

While similarities can be drawn from last season’s form and league position, it is a different story on the pitch. It has had a lot of fans questioning if Arsenal have traded in an exciting approach for one that’s more inclined to achieving silverware.

Boring, Boring Arsenal?

Last season, the pieces fell into place. Arsenal had cultivated a youthful, hungry, fearless squad – and they came to play football. The approach was fast and thrilling. Often, they’d be so quick out of the blocks that opposing teams were left choking on dust. Yet even if they caught up or even went ahead, Arsenal would pip them to the finish line at the last second.

Who could forget Reiss Nelson’s 97th-minute winner against Bournemouth? Or Eddie Nketiah netting in the final minutes against Man United?

Like playing at, it delivered high levels of excitement, suspense, and the potential thrill of victory. This season, however, those intense emotional experiences have not been quite the same. Late winners have happened. Sure. However, it’s akin to a casino player who’s more savvy, more experienced, and more controlled in their gambling. It increases the chances of winning. Yet, in doing so, has Arsenal shifted away from what made them such a great watch the previous season?

A Look At the Stats

Admittedly, you don’t have to analyse any stats to realise Arsenal are more measured and methodical in their play. They tend to control the pace and pick their moments to up the intensity. The team’s not bombarding the opposing goalkeeper, but this is reflected in the lack of shots faced. Raya could chill on a deckchair for most of each match – until the usual major defensive mistake crops up!

Using figures from the Premier League and FootyStats, here’s a comparison of last season and the current one so far:

Goals per match:

  • 22/23: 2.32
  • 23/24: 2.21

Shots per match:

  • 22/23: 16
  • 23/24: 12.42

Expected goals for:

  • 22/23: 2.13
  • 23/24: 1.87

Goals conceded per match:

  • 22/23: 1.13
  • 23/24: 0.92

Expected goals against:

  • 22/23: 1.21
  • 23/24: 0.92

As the facts and figures confirm, Arsenal are not as formidable in front of goal as they were the previous season. There are fewer shots, fewer expected goals, and fewer goals per match. That’s where the finger can be pointed in terms of reduced excitement. In its place, however, is a sturdier defensive wall. If going strictly by the expected goals against stat, the defense has improved by around 24% overall. Considering only the goalie has changed out of the starting eleven, it showcases the change in tactics.

That change might not be the most exciting from a footballing purist’s perspective. Although, from an Arsenal fan’s view, they’ll take it if it means getting their hands on a trophy or two at the end of the season.

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