Are Arsenal improving this season, or is the club slipping backwards?




By Tony Attwood

We know that the top four at this moment does look a bit different from the top four at the same time last year.  Here is the present table…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 24 16 6 2 55 23 32 54
2 Manchester City 23 16 4 3 56 25 31 52
3 Arsenal 24 16 4 4 53 22 31 52
4 Tottenham Hotspur 24 14 5 5 51 36 15 47


And one year ago it was


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 23 17 3 3 51 23 28 54
2 Manchester City 24 16 4 4 60 24 36 52
3 Manchester United 24 15 4 5 41 28 13 49
4 Tottenham Hotspur 24 13 3 8 44 35 9 42


But what we are particularly reminded of at this moment was that it was one year ago that Tottenham then took quite a tumble.  In their last 11 games in fact they won just three, 

But let us not dwell on the past, fun though it can be, for three of the top four after 24 games are the same this year as last year.   The difference is Liverpool who were eighth at this point last year.  They had a game in hand, but even when they played it, it didn’t make things look much different.

Newcastle had something of a rise up the league as Tottenham took a tumble,  Which is a good reminder that clubs in fourth in February may not actually stay there – and with Liverpool’s rise this season, as with Arsenal’s last last season, one season’s table does not always look like last season’s (although most journalists always predict in the summer that it will, treating their readers, as always, as idiots with no memory.)

But moving on, I was wondering what differences there are in Arsenal’s performance between this season and last.  Stats here are from Whoscored.

In terms of shots per game the total this season is 16.9, whereas last season it was 15.6.   So the number of shots being taken is on the rise.

On the negative side last season we were getting 1.37 yellow cards per game.  This season it is 1.54.  That is obviously an increase but the number of yellow cards being dished out is increasing greatly throughout the league.   Last season for example Tottenham got 75 yellow cards.  So far this season after 24 games they have knocked up 57 suggesting that by the end of the season they could be up to 90.

Possession last season was 59.7%   This season it is 60.9%.  Only Brighton and Manchester City are higher – which is an interesting pairing of teams.   And indeed when we note that Chelsea have the fourth highest possession rate, perhaps that is not such a key statistic.

This seaon Arsenal are putting in 16.5 tackles a game.  Last time it was 14.9 – so that is a 10% increase on tackling.  Arsenal are letting in 1.09 goals a game compared with 1.13 goals a game, so that is an improvement – even though by a small number.  Roughly 1.6 more tackles a game leading to 0.22 fewer goals conceded a game.

Last season Arsenal were committing 9.8 fouls per game.   This season it is 9.6.  That is only a fraction decline but it comes against the background of more tackles and of refereeing going beserk with the waving of the cards, so that tactic looks effective.

Last season Arsenal were putting in 15.6 shots per game,  This season it is 16.9 – an 8% increase.  This season 5.8 shots per game were on target, while last season it was 5.4%.  Again a modest increase – but still an increase and both to be welcomed.

Last season we were fouled 11.4 times a game and this season it is 10.8.  That suggests some worthwhile strategies to avoid the fouls.

As for the yellow cards, as we know the rules have changed this year and many more are coming forth.   This season after games we have 37 cards so far of which 27 were for fouls.

Last season after (obviously) 38 games we had 32 cards from fouls and 52 all told.

Comparing those numbers the total number of cards per game has risen from 1.19 per game to 1.54 cards per game.  In terms of cards for fouls the number is 0.84 cards per game.   Last year it was 0.63.  So a rise in both, categories, but still much lower than most clubs – and with all fouls statistics we must notice referees set out to give many more cards than before.

In terms of actual yellow cards from all offences Arsenal have the lowest number with 37, as opposed to 52 last season – which is a very significant improvement.

So there we are.  On the key statistics that we can measure, comparing this season against last, many statistics seem to be moving in the right direction.

In terms of goals we are on 2.21 goals a game at the moment – which is just slightly lower than last season when it was 2.32.  Still another couple of victories of the type that we have had recently should see that gap narrow.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *