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The figures that show that a 30+ goalscorer is not always the answer.

by Tony Attwood

Olivier Giroud has scored 20 goals in 42 games this season, and that is clearly not enough.  I know this because everyone tells me so.

But this week an article turned up on the Goonernews blog that suggested that maybe this wasn’t so bad at all.  It showed me that in 1998 Arsenal won the league with Bergkamp as top scorer.  He got 22 goals all season.  In 2001 when Arsenal didn’t win anything Henry also got 22 goals in the season.  Clearly on the basis of current analysis he should have been chucked out.

Trouble is the following season he got 32 and we won the league.

In 2008 Adebayor got 30 and we didn’t win the league.  In 2012 Robin Van Persie got 37 and we didn’t win anything.   So maybe having a top goal scorer isn’t the be all and end all of everything.

And Chelsea – they know how to do it don’t they?  And they have the money that people wish Wenger will spend.   Here is the chart – again taken from the Goonernews article, of their top scorers

Season Player Goals
2010–11 Nicolas Anelka 16
2011–12 Frank Lampard 16
2012–13 Fernando Torres 22
2013–14 Eden Hazard 17
2014–15 Diego Costa 21
2015–16 Diego Costa 15

So maybe having a top scorer doesn’t bring in the top prize.  In fact, even worse, maybe it doesn’t always help, because here is the current state of play for this season, this time just taking in league goals.

Player Club Lge games Lge Coals Lge pos
1 Kane Tottenham 33 22 2
2 Vardy Leicester 33 21 1
3 Lakuku Everton 31 18 14
4 Agüero Man C 25 18 4
5 Mahrez Leicester 32 16 1
6 Ighalo Watford 32 15 15
7 Giroud Arsenal 32 12 3
8 Defoe Sunderland 28 12 18
9 Costa Chelsea 24 11 10
10 Sigurdson Swansea 23 11 12

But I hear you cry (metaphorically) surely having a top goalscorer is better than not having one!  Well, no, because sometimes a top scorer can so dominate a team, no one else can get a chance.  Look at Everton and Sunderland.  And then no one else is ready to step in when the top man gets injured.

I’ve always maintained that part of Henry’s brilliance with Arsenal was down to him having Pires playing in the team alongside him.  Shock horror, maybe it is all more complex than it looks!

Could this be another myth busted – that not only do new players who come in on big fees fail to make an impact in their first year more often than they succeed, not only does Arsenal not have more injuries than the rest of world football put together, not only is changing manager more likely to bring disaster rather than success, not only is Arsenal not the most expensive club in England, Europe and the world, but now we find that our failings (real or imagined) are not down to the simple failure of Wenger to sign a striker.

And actually this might be an even nicer thought than just being able to point out yet again to associated journalists and bloggettas.  Because we have a new striker: Alex Iwobi.  A young player who looks like he is made for the part, even at 19.  (But hey, let’s forget the faith that Mr Wenger has shown in him, not sending him out on loan, having him on the bench, getting him ready etc etc.  That might suggest Mr W actually knows a thing or two.)

As even the Telegraph recognised in an article earlier this month by Charlie Eccleshare, finding kids like Alex Iwobi is what Mr Wenger does.

And to quote from the Telegraph article,

“If many Arsenal supporters had their way Alex Iwobi would be nowhere near the first-team right now. Instead he’d be playing with the Under-21s while Isco, Ilkay Gundogan and Andriy Yarmolenko competed for the first-team spot Iwobi has recently made his own.

“It’s impossible to say whether in this parallel universe Arsenal would be doing better than they are now, but what we can say with certainty is that the rise of Iwobi has been the most exciting thing to have happened to Arsene Wenger’s team this season.”

As we all know, he has started four of the last five, and started scoring.  He doesn’t look 19, at least in terms of his football.  And when the Telegraph starts talking about an Arsenal player with “intelligent movement and determination to be at the centre of everything” you know something is up.  The normal headline these days is “27 crap players that Wenger wasted Arsenal’s millions on” or words to that effect.

(Actually they really have changed of late, as they recently published  Elneny proving a bargain buy for Arsenal.  It took me several days to recover).

So there is now talk of Alex being a first team regular for years to come, of his self-confidence, of his technical proficiency, of his five year contract.

And although they miss this point, there is another real bonus.   Every time someone like Alex Iwobi is found (note please, Coquelin, Bellerin, Fabregas etc etc) it makes it easier to recruit all the other players we want to try out.  The kids and their parents look, and notice, and realise that if you are good enough you will get a chance at Arsenal.  It is not like that everywhere.

Plus of course in developing the Arsenal reputation, Chelsea are helping us.   Because they still can’t get a player from their youth squad into the first team on a regular basis, even in a season where they have nothing to play for in the league.  Even in a season when they have more players on loan than has ever been achieved by any other club in the history of loans.

When Arsenal have success under Wenger it is with a combination of players Arsenal develop from scratch, players Arsenal buy and then change their way of playing (Pires, Henry and Bergkamp are examples – compare what they did for later, and how they struggled in their early games), and players who were already there – Overmars is one such that always strikes me).

But amusingly the horror stories have already started.   I have actually seen, “Arsenal could be without Alex Iwobi for the start of the 2016-17 season after the teenager revealed he wants to be part of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero this summer.”

So a new forward line of Iwobi, Welbeck and Alexis has emerged, with multiple backups for when people are injured.  Let’s hope not too many of them are sold in the summer, as the media are telling us will happen.  (If you are English you are out, seems the main thought).

And it really is looking good when you consider what Mohamed Elneny has brought to the team for such a modest transfer fee (and the fact he is only 23).

Altogether, I find this all rather promising.

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21 comments to The figures that show that a 30+ goalscorer is not always the answer.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Please note, nobody is allowed to find anything rather promising when it comes to Arsenal

  • Menace

    Tony – the scoring of goals is a requisite of winning just as the goals scored agianst you is a requisite of a loss. The only true table is that Untold table of shame. It describes the reality of the effect of officiating on the game.

    The false assumption of goal scorers being paramount in victory does not cater for the official who needs to give it as being correct. The official is more important than any other aspect in the game.

  • Polo

    Having a striker that scores 30+ goals is good but not important, I believe what a team need are a range of players who are consistent in scoring, rather than just one person who scores 3 goals in a match but then don’t score in the next 5 matches or so. Arsenal has this where most of our players can score goals, however this season the finishing is poor hence why we are where we are.

    In addition, to scoring goals it’s important to have competent defenders because it’s pointless scoring 1 goal but concede 2. I think at Arsenal we are beginning to address this. If you look at last season, Chelsea won the league with goal for 73 and goal against 32 while Arsenal was third with goal for 71 and goal against 36. So statistically we were close in term of scoring and conceeding but we were not consistent in winning matches compare to Chelsea as they won 21 draw 9 lost 3 whereas Arsenal won 17 draw 8 lost 7.

  • para

    Winning the matches is the most important thing. How do we win matches? By scoring more goals on the day than the opposition.

    Of course having multiple players scoring regularly is Arsenal’s prefered way, but as noted, for some reason these last seasons, the amount of goals scored by Arsenal players decreased. Why?

    Arsenal has now reached a stage where they have come up against a wall for the last times and can go no further. To continue without change in our system is just pure foolishness really. Every system needs to be tweaked to be able to compete and beat others who tweak their own system(even so far as to playing just like Arsenal) in order to remain competitive.

    10 years ago no one played like Arsenal in the PL, look today how many play a similar way to Arsenal. We should have moved on making them have to catch up again, but we are stuck, and some have overtaken us, even the dreaded “enemies” from across the road.

    And we still play the same way, only thing is, unless we are almost perfect on the day, all the other teams have devised strategies(both legal and non-legal) to stop us.

    Yet Arsenal refuses to embrace all the little changes that enhance the team and make them more competitive again.

    Yet with all that said, i still have the feeling that this team is running on a low to mid flame and have not even played on a high flame yet.

    I wait paitently(sometimes not so) for the high flame to begin.

  • gouresh

    Para, u’ve hit the nail on the head.

  • WalterBroeckx

    The problem was that for a period non of our forwards managed to score a goal. Chances enough but we just couldn’t put the ball over the goal line when it mattered. Now if that happens to one of the players the other can fill in or step up and finish the job. But when all your forwards are misfiring, then you have a problem.

    +30 goal scorers are rare to find. Or better said impossible to find. The CR, Messi, Suarez, Ibrahimovic, Lewandowski players are at their top club who don’t want to let them go (why would they) so unless you are Man City, Chelsea or PSG you cannot afford them. Even Manchester United struggled to find one and had to spend 50M on a kid (with potential) but who has scored 8 goals in the league so far. Not really a great return and at Arsenal the aaa would now be haunting him out and declare Wenger a fool for having spend 50M (that can go op to 80M!) of our money on an unproven young French kid.
    Benteke… yeah that turned out to be a huge success for Liverpool….7 goals… let’s just waste some 33M on him…

    Now would I mind one of the top players at Arsenal? No, surely not. But I am realistic enough to know that we will never pay over the odds for such players and so the chance of us getting one of the top, top strikers is rather low.

    Just finding our shooting boots back for our current forwards is the most important task right now. And it seems that since Iwobi has been put in the team our scoring has improved. Not bad for a 19 year young kiddo that cost us…. nothing.

  • porter

    The Premierleague is seen throughout the world as a money pit and as such trying to deal with clubs is an uphill struggle. A player like Lacazette for instance is probably worth a punt at £ 20 million but his club will demand a lot more . Is it good value ? probably not, however is it the going rate ? yes.
    Like King Cnut holding your principals and expecting things to change just isn’t going to happen. You either take the gamble or you don’t it’s the way of the world .

  • Pat

    Menace mentions officials. Just caught the end of Arsene Wenger’s press conference. He was asked about referees who support certain teams.

    He said he had discussed this with Mike Riley and taking that into account will make it impossible to appoint referees to games. Not only would you have to rule out games of teams the referee supported, but you would have to rule out games where the result might make a difference to the team he supports.

    Every referee should be expected to be professional and rule out his personal emotions when doing his job.

    He also said he was not happy with the refereeing of Arsenal this season and that referees need help from the use of technology, for example in the matter of offsides.

  • WalterBroeckx

    So Pat the thing is we have to live with it….
    What is never mentioned as a solution is to have professional referees from all over Europe who do matches in different countries.
    That might be helpful in many ways.
    First of all you would get much more referees and you could actually come to a system where you only get a ref once in the season. So the bias would be almost completely wiped out. Or you should be extremely unlucky when having refs from all over Europe.
    The refereeing would be organised in Europe and that should lead to a more consistent level of refereeing. All referees would be trained in the same way and so should apply the laws in the same way.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Or to start: having more than 14 full time refs in the PL might also be helpful….

  • Pat

    To me the problem with PGMO is not personal bias by the referees relating to support of a team. It is far deeper than that. Untold analysis has shown some of the problems – too few referees, no referees from the London area (8 million inhabitants), Arsenal not being awarded penalties, failure to punish violent conduct on the field and a whole range of other issues.

    It is, however, interesting that the only time a referee has been changed because of the team he is alleged to support is in relation to Leicester City. Never happened to us!

    As someone says on another stream, a huge petition did not stop Mike Dean being appointed to referee Arsenal matches. One law for Leicester …

  • WalterBroeckx

    But more on that later 🙂

  • Ando

    A realistic post.

    One thing though – Cnut (Canute) actually did the thing with the waves to prove to his sycophantic courtiers that he was NOT omnipotent – they had said he was so powerful that he commanded the tides. He had them set up his throne on the beach to show them that he was not..and that they were a load of b/s artists.

    In that sense, m. Wenger seems to have a lot in common with him!

  • Robert

    “And [Chelsea] have the money that people wish Wenger will spend.”

    Fact 1: Arsenal total revenues 2014/15 – €463.5m. Chelsea total revenues 2014/15 – €435.5m. Source: Deloitte Money League.

    Fact 2: Arsenal cash reserves 2014/15 – GBP 228m. Chelsea cash reserves 2014/15 – GBP 1m. In fact, Arsenal have more cash than any other club in world football. Source: Swiss Ramble.

  • john

    But that 228m cannot all be spent .We have overheads and have to leave some for a rainy day and wengers wages .And what if we spend it and then a super super player comes along that might improve our squad ( highly unlikely but possible)?No realistically out of that their is about 5 million available ,it would be stupid and might bankrupt us if we spend a penny more. Its not about spending money!!!

  • Notoverthehill

    Robert is a fool!

    Chelsea FC plc, as an ongoing concern is guaranteed by the controlling company Fordstam Limited. Note 26 to the Chelsea FC plc Financial Report 2014/2015.

    Arsenal Holdings plc: Turnover 2014/2015 £344.5 millions
    Chelsea FC plc: Turnover 2014/2015 £314.3 millions.

    Arsenal own it’s stadium, Chelsea pay a peppercorn rent for it’s stadium.

    As for cash reserves, Abramovich has no intention of leaving spare money in Chelsea FC plc, is he?

  • Jacobite Gunner

    **Public interest notice**

    Please note that The Daily Telegraph is owned by tax evading billionaires.

    It is also a right wing Tory championing newspaper.

  • Jacobite Gunner

    Next season I look forward to Hayden Mullins and Chuba given the opportunity in the first team. Hayden Mullins has performed well for Hull in the Championship and would fill a good squad role seen as Arteta and Flamini are both likely to be released. Has anyone seen much of Toral and Miles Naitland? Both have performed well in the Championship with both of their on loan managers playing them reg and lavishing praise… (thoughts?)

  • Josif


    You missed Drogba’s season in 2009-10 when they won the double. Drogba scored 29 league goals.

    When Torres scored 22, they won Europa League.

    When Costa scored 21, they won the league and COC.

    When we had Adebayor’s 24 league goals, United had Ronaldo’s 31.

    The thing is, attack is just one part of the team. The other end of the pitch matters as well.

    When Van Persie scored 30 in the league, we conceded 49 goals. Liverpool had Suarez and Sturridge scoring over 50 goals combined but their defence was worse than City’s.

    And, let’s not forget the matter of consistency and conversion rate. As I’ve pointed out in 2012-13 when we won games with hitting six, five, seven, five in just four games (23 goals), our goal-scoring constistency. Some of the posters even mocked my use of statistics back then but Untold Arsenal used the same correct logic when commenting our heavy defeats in 2013-14 – who cares if you get four big defeats if your defence keeps the opponents at bay for 17 times.

    And, I have already pointed out how Leicester have had much, much better conversion rate. When you apply number of chances per goal we have to make to theirs, then you realize that the real difference is much bigger in their favour than the goals for column suggests. I haven’t done the same comparison with us and Spuds but they do have Kane who is 22 and doesn’t have problems with reaching 20 goals in the season.

    Giroud was 26 when he arrived. He has failed to get us 20 league goals ever since he has arrived and it’s not that he hasn’t had enough chances to do so. He is inconsistent performer who has had too many goal-less months at Arsenal. His last league goal was against Liverpool three months ago. At the age of 30, he is unlikely to go through a transformation that would turn him into a world-class striker we need.

    And, it’s good that you have compared him with Henry. Henry scored 22 in 2000-01 which had ended three months before his 24th birthday which means he was closer to Iwobi’s age than Giroud’s. It was his third season at Arsenal while Giroud has been going through his fourth.

    But here is the biggest catch: in 2001-02 we signed a world-class central defender, Henry scored 30 and we won the double. So, adding a world-class central defender and Henry’s improvement to a striker who scores 30 goals per season DID turn Arsenal from a team that shipped six at OT and four at Anfield to the double-winning team.


    No. If you, say, analyzed our season 2011-12 to claim Arsenal had a shaky defence and switched goals for and goals against column, you would get a goal-swing of 50 (from +25 to -25). You might have a point that our defence was poor (both 49 and 74 are big numbers) but the data you based your assumption were wrong.

    If you completely switched the data, you wouldn’t keep the + as in your example, you would turn + into -. That’s what PK did and that’s why I think Tony should have deleted that article after the mistake had been noticed. That being said…

    @serge- …I don’t think PK made an intentional mistake. It can happen to anyone.

  • upp

    Well done josif

  • Porter

    Having a 30 plus goalscorer isn’t always the answer? Maybe not but having watched us toiling again with total domination and doing what we have done time and time again it would bloody well help.