Will we score more? Looking ahead to the season

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By Walter Broeckx

The Arsenal game is very much based on trying to score more goals than the other team. We are a very attacking team and this also leads to the fact that our defenders are under more pressure than defenders in other teams. If you look at a team like Blackburn who defend deep and who are very much defensive orientated and who defend in large numbers it is clear to see that those defenders are not left alone like Arsenal defenders are sometimes.

Now we could of course try to play more defensive. But would the supporters love it? Because it could mean that we have more games finishing with a draw. Now we go out for the win and well sometimes we run in to the wall and sometimes we lose when the ball bounces too far of the wall.

Defending is down to the whole team and not just the defenders. One could blame Djourou for the second Boca Juniors goal because he kind of slipped and didn’t connect properly with the ball. But if you look at the gap in the midfield from where Boca Juniors scored their second goal then it is plain to see that the initial mistake happened there.

But playing like we do we rely on our goal scoring ability and on the fact that our forward going players need to score more goals. So I thought it would be interesting to give a view on how exactly our goal scoring ability is positioned for the moment. Problem is that we don’t know if all the players who are current Arsenal players will be Arsenal players in September. But I just kept them in this because I don’t know what will happen. I also didn’t speculate on all the names being thrown around. One name mentioned is not only a good goal scorer but also has a very high number of assists. But as he isn’t an Arsenal player yet as far as I know, this doesn’t  mata.  (I couldn’t let this chance pass me by without typing this)

Anyway, I made up a table with all the current midfielders we have and gave the assists and the goals behind their name in last season.

Player Goals Assist Total Involved
Van Persie 18 7 25
Walcott 9 7 16
Chamakh 7 4 11
Arshavin 6 11 17
Song 4 2 6
Diaby 2 3 5
Wilshere 1 3 4
Vela 3 2 5
Gervinho 15 10 25
Ramsey 2 1 3
Subtotal 0 1 1
Total 67 51
Fabregas 3 11 14
Nasri 10 1 11
Total 80 63

So if every player would just score the same goals as he did last season we could end up with some 80 goals. Now the difficult thing is that none of us knows what the future will bring. Because some players will score more goals and other might suffer a bit.

But I will stick out my neck and try to predict how things will go for each player in this season. I could go horribly wrong with this and believe me I am not someone who can tell the future. Or else I would have won the Euro Millions lottery a few times by know and I would be the president of Arsenal.

But here is my prediction for the players involved:

Van Persie: will score more and will give more assists. He only played half a season and I think this will be his wonder year. Unless of course a terrible injury spoils it. But I think by now he will have torn every muscle  or other thing there is to torn and will stay fit. Touch wood…

Walcott: getting better and better according to his annual statistics. Still a bit vulnerable in his ankles but should be able to do as good as last season.

Chamakh: had a great start to his Arsenal career, then was the main victim of Van Persie his goals and lost it a bit. So he will be depending on an injury of Van Persie but I don’t think (or better said hope) it will not come so I’m afraid Chamakh will score less goals this season.

Arshavin: I think our little one will have his last big one. He feels more pressure than ever on his position and I do have the feeling he is ready to give it one final go. So I think he will score more and will assist more goals.

Song: will do the same thing as last year. He will get more rest this season I think with Frimpong coming up and so it could be that he is fresher and could be more involved in the goals but if he would be more involved in preventing goals and for the rest do in attack like last season it will be fine for me.

Diaby: if, and this is a very big IF he stays fit and if the other teams don’t kick him off the field again by aiming at his ankles he should do better. But as the refs in the EPL will not give him any cover (I think Diaby is paying the penalty for looking to similar to Vieira for many refs). So if he does the same it will mean that he has been kicked off the field again. If he can stay fit he will improve both on goals and in assists.

Wilshere: Much more pressure on him than last year. Then he was unknown, no one expected anything from him. But I think Jack is one who can handle such pressure. And as he is still young he will get better.  Just compare this to Fabregas at the same age and then Fabregas had 2 goals and 4 assists in a whole season.   So my prediction is that he will do better than last season.

Vela: if he gets more chances he will score more and give some more assists. I think Vela is in the last chance season and so I hope (because I really like him) he can finally show his ability. Come on Carlos score and let score.

Gervinho: I gave the numbers of his last season in Lille. In his first outings for Arsenal he has shown he can be a very good addition. So if he does the same as in Lille I think we should be pleased.

Ramsey: No doubt about this one. He will do better than last season. He will play more and we know he can shoot and can score. And he also is very young but he is now coming at the age where he will be setting the world on fire. So I predict a lot more goals from this young Welshman this season.

Rosicky: Surely he can’t do worse than last season. The strange part is that he still is very valuable for his national team and helps them with goals and assists. So I think he will do better this season than the last one. He better…

And then we have the 2 rebels.  Will they stay or will they go? IF they stay I’m expecting more from them. And I think Fabregas will have a point to prove. And he will score more goals this season. He will give the usual numbers of assists somewhere between 15 and 25. So for me he is priceless and I would hate to see him go to be honest. But I doubt he will stay just to please me… But one can but hope.

And when Nasri stays I think he will score around the same numbers of goals but will add a few more assists to this game. It is one of his weaknesses in fact and so I hope he can work on that a bit and let other score a few more goals. Well I hope this is the case when he stays at Arsenal of course. Otherwise he can rot on some bench.

So my overall prediction is that we should score more goals with the players we have for the moment. But hey who knows what will happen in the next days or weeks and so I will have to rewrite the whole thing again. Well not the whole thing maybe…

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30 Replies to “Will we score more? Looking ahead to the season”

  1. I just read a funny comment to The Guardian’s evaluation of Arsenal’s chances next season (they claim Arsenal will finish 5th; wonder what they’ll say about Chelsea and ManU, given the apparent weakening of the latter’s squad and a “lack of activity” on the part of Villas-Boas). The commenter wrote that Arsenal are renowned for shooting, and not scoring. The funny thing is, I just got back to the EPL statistics for last season, and it shows Arsenal had 654 shots overall while, say, ManU had 611. It basically means Arsenal gave 17 shots per game, and ManU 16. The difference in goals scored is negligible, with Arsenal just under 2 per game and ManU just over. And, as you rightly point out, we’re more likely to watch Van Persie play for a major part of the season, as well as seeing Arshavin in better form, and Gervinho adding even more spice. I think Arsenal should score 80 goals this season quite easily, I would even venture as far as to say that they will break this limit.
    Also, a nice point about defending, which goes to show that Arsenal are hardly in a dire need of a centre-back, although at least I think they could use a new defensive midfielder. I can’t get over Diarra having been a Gunner.

  2. The only one I might disagree on is Chamakh. It’s really worrying how much he’s regressed. Was absolutely brilliant at the start last season, and while losing his place might have something to do with it, it is still worrying. He seems to have no confidence at all. Doesn’t shoot, doesn’t make threatening runs, and doesn’t even win many attacking headers anymore.

    He has clear potential and can contribute a lot to Arsenal. But I’m worried because he has shown absolutely nothing of value since midway through last season.

  3. Judging by the last two friendlies, we should invest in more strikers and aim to score many more goals in all games with the hope the other team will not score as many against us. Then we do not need to change our defensive philosophy at all.

  4. Walter,
    Improving the defense would lead to more draws, you say? Given last seasons end, and the two just at the Ems, how many more draws would be more draws? We do need as you gently suggest to develop a Barca-like swarming defense (like we had at the start of last season) and somehow rekindle the spirit to sustain it. And for the offense, the tendency not to take the open shot but cue it up for someone else is still upon us – witness Ramsey, RvP, etc. At least directness tests the keeper and good things might happen. Perhaps there’s too much politeness or lack of confidence masquerading as team play. And lastly, I don’t think that a strategy based on we can be expected to outscore the opposition is going to work out this season any more than it did last season, unless we splash on another killer striker to both complement RvP and to let him play off him (and to replace him when injury usually strikes). I love the side and say all this in a cool-eyed manner, but there are surely problems which need to be addressed in the next four weeks and the lingering Nasri/Cesc morass is eating away at the team spirit (or lack thereof, judging from yesterday’s less than sizzling showing at the Ems.) And, ps, I heard an interview about us that said that Arsene is not the only one involved in closing the signings and that they get so protracted and hit and miss because the closers are not closing, which is not Arsene’s doing. Perhaps someone with specific knowledge could weigh in on that point. It’s beyond belief and ideology and drum beating right now. We need a cool eye and a warm heart – which means not only an end to toxic booing but also the club’s ability to end the toxic Nasri/Cesc holding pattern and to start closing a couple of deals sooner than later.

  5. zdzis,
    so there’s no problems, right? you can kust talk them out of existence? do you call that loving your team?

  6. I would think that so long as we don’t make random substitutions purely for the sake of giving players an appearance, we’ll be fine.
    I may be mistaken but in every match, hasn’t the first choice XI kept a clean sheet and it’s only after the wave of mass substitutions that we’ve conceded?
    PS Barcelona are in real trouble, they lost to ManUtd already this season, oh wait, no Xavi, no Messi, no contest…

  7. Walter i think you are spot on there. If Gervinho scores more than 20 then we are in the mix and i had forgotten the 12th player because they will leave him to be kicked around and talk about how the Premier is of hard tacklers not leg breakers. We will be in the top 4like, it or hate it that’s where we belong. The first 3 matches will decide our destiny and the booing fan(atics) will cease. Tony / Walter have we known our middlemen or we wait until d day. I would love to know,thanks

  8. Just a quick note on whether or not Fabregas will stay…Barca has already spent their transfer budget for the summer. Just thought I’d point that out.

  9. I never thought that I’d find value in what Stewart Robson has opined, but just yesterday in a radio interview he said something that seemed sound to me. And perhaps it’s all obvious and easier said than done. But perhaps it adds a strategic context to some of Walter’s goal-productivity analysis. Robson says that our brilliant, swarming Barca-like defense was in full effect for 2-3 matches (destructions of Everton and Celtic, etc.) until that terrible Brum City loss because we got so badly stung on the counter-attacks. And, he adds, that to successfully achieve and maintain that high-scoring high line that was then so-productive, we’d need to swarm to keep as much as possible in the first third whilst improving on how to deal with the counters. To keep this balance we need to have the two-way players to do so, and the spirit to do so, or need to adopt another strategy. And, lastly, in either case, we need to get our transfer business done as soon as possible as we face the onrushing CL two-legged tie. We are in a pressure cooker, to say the least, and I think that Robson has brought some clarity to the present moment with this analysis.

  10. Talking of mata,Just seen a couple arsenal blogs saying the mata deal is dead as we would not pay until cesc is sorted out one way or another anyone have any more info on this?

  11. I disagree that being an attackin team has lead into making us defensively weak. Its a pitiful excuse. Arsenal has always been an attacking side in Wenger era, but our defense in the first half of wenger era was much more better than the latter part. Even our finishin has dipped a lot. Its more down to the decrease in quality in players.

  12. dark mind,
    Intellectually dishonest, you again distort everything stated to make your argument against a straw man. this is the last time i’ll ever respond to you.

  13. @ Bob

    I think you make a good point that the Cesc/Nasri transfer situation must be very unsettling to the team as we now try to prepare for the new season with the first match 12 days away. I do wonder if our poor form at the end of last season was in part due to Nasri and others becoming restless. Anyway, you are right, we need closure of these two sagas quickly – like yesterday!

    I have reversed my opinion on Nasri, 6 months ago I would have been in favour of keeping him, now I would sell him and reinvest.

    I hope Cesc stays, the thought of Cesc providing his inch perfect defense splitting passes to a forward line of Gervinho, VP and Walcott would be very exciting. Goals galore!

    But there is no point scoring goals if we concede just as many.
    Our defense does need tightening. I think the organisation and the understanding by each player of his role in defending needs to be improved as much as changing personnel. I think we only need one additional defender, but, many many drills!

  14. bjtgooner,
    yes! well said, and it would be great if we had brought in a world-class defensive specialist coach to run those drills. (and for all I know, we have; but how can anyone know if there’s no media coverage of the practices as they do massively in, for example, US pro baseball during the training season)

  15. off topic but as it is my article … Miguel just won the Uwhatever (19 I think) with Spain.

  16. Walter I totally agree that defending is down to the whole team and just adding another CB into the mix will not solve problems. The panic that sets in when we are in the final stages of a game and when the other team is in our half for a throw in has to be addressed.

    We give them too much time in our box and we need to work on this in training. There is nothing wrong with lashing the ball out of your own half sometimes instead of playing it out of the back in the dying seconds of a game. Sol Campbell should make himself useful since he is back at the club and help out with some drills.

    The players also need to learn how to wind down the clock in the last 5-10 mins of the game. We need to keep possession rather than go in serch of another goal sometimes. Of course the best form of defence is attack, but the midfield can help by slowing the game down if we are winning before building another attack in the dying minutes of a game.

    Mad Jens was the master at this with his crazy antics and I also remember Lauren and Gilberto often played 1-2’s amongst themselves whilst the opposition charged down into their own half in anticipation that the ball was about to be played and then when it wasn’t they had to come back out to try and get the ball and then it was played over the top. I don’t see the strategy working in all games but it would be useful in some. Pass the ball around in the opposition half without shooting with men behind the ball in case someone gets stripped and don’t over commit going forward. Kill the game off.

    That is my alternative to scoring even more goals to win games.

  17. Mandy Dodd,
    What I read online states that there was a sunday night deadline by Valencia for us to splash on mata; and that when we didn’t, they’re raising their fee from 20/23 to 28M. If that’s so, then the delay on mata could be proving costly. Then again, this may all be bluff and pressure by Valencia to excuse their desire to squeeze an extra 5M out of our vulnerability. Do you read it this way? Of course, who really knows.

  18. Gooner Gal,
    The two last goals conceded (Boca second and NY) was just the midfielders who didn’t do their job imo. The Boca goal no midfielder even close to the lose ball and no midfielder attacking the player with the ball. The NY goal no midfielder just running with the NY player so he couldn’t come free for the keeper.

    Now it could be that the players were to tired and/or the cohesion had gone with the many changes but for me this wasn’t about the defenders. It was the midfielders who didn’t track back enough.

  19. Gooner Gal,
    That’s spot on – practicing kill-off tactics. Sol and Jens would surely be great coaching hires to specialize in training/ teaching these and perhaps Sol’s trade-off for the summer training is doing some such thing for us. If we could see evidence on the pitch for it, what a godsend.

  20. @ Walter, I agree – the midfield players all have to take more responsibility for defence.

  21. Walter, Gooner Gal,
    So it’s two-way players that we need, and anything less than two-way commitment should be grounds for benching – otherwise we can’t sustain the type of offensive blitz that we say makes us The Arsenal. If some players, say as Arhavin did last season, are given de facto special rights not to commit to defense (in addition to his offense-when-interested), then other players may well get corrupted by that bad example and not give as fully as they might. This plays havoc with the balance we need. Do you agree?

  22. zdzis,
    by the way, if you watched the Guardian video that accompanied that 5th place consensus, the guy doing the interview shocked his interviewee by picking Arsenal to come in 2nd. Have another look.

  23. Thanks bob, you could well be right. Who knows what his club know or what arsenal know. I guess these sort of stories are a bit disturbing if they, come to their worst case scenario, they, give the aaa under 10s the usmanov dein brigade a lot of ammo but guess we have to see what pans out

  24. Hey guys, do you not find it slightly pointless to try predicting whether we will score more next season? Anyway, my answer would be a boringly honest one; I don’t know, but it is highly likely we will score lots of goals. We might score more and still not win the league or we might score less and win the league! The bigger problem for us has been not being able to keep them out at our end. Is it not telling that for each of the last five seasons starting 2006/7, we hold the distinction of the worst defence of all the teams finishing in the top four, and yet we have outscored many teams that finished above us in that time. Why has it taken that long to address this strikingly obvious shortcoming? Clearly Arsene believes in the old adage that attack is the best form of defence to the point of actually neglecting defence tactics, much less a defence strategy.

  25. Good mature discussion guys, without the sort of language and rude comments typical of some so called Arsenal blogs. Curiously, I posted a comment a few hours ago on this but it hasn’t appeared so I will try again. I tried to make the point that scoring goals is actually not a problem for Arsenal, certainly not in the often quoted six drought years. Our main problem in that time has been our inability to stop goals going in at our end. How telling is it that in each of the last five seasons starting 2006/7, have have had the worst defensive record of the top four, yet at the same time managing to outscore some teams that have finished above us? I think Arsene has taken the “attack is the best form of defence” concept too far. I doubt that we have a team defence strategy at all, and if we do then it is clearly ineffective. For me it is not so much not winning trophies but the predictable manner in which we fail at the decisive moments. In my view, we need a better balance between the offensive, creative and defensive qualities in our team. It need not be the case that our offensive qualities take away from our defensive qualities. I know that getting the balance right is easier said than done but we have been frail defensively for so long it has become an Arsenal characteristic. Someone said that you cannot keep doing things the same way and expect a different result. Tell you what, I am expecting a different result next season, but unlike Arsene, am not in a position to do anything differently.

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