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March 2021

Arsenal after five games; the statistical analysis. (Hint: the number of shots doesn’t count).

By Tony Attwood

A lot of people got very exercised about the Arsenal need to buy another striker or three during the summer.   We bought one, and in this weekend’s game he came on, on the 88th minute.

Last season Giroud was our top scorer with 16 goals.  So far in the league he has come on twice as a sub.  So what is going on?

In terms of  the shots per game listings we are way off the target – not even making the top five.

OT pos Team Shots pg Shots OT pg Lge pos Shots pg pos
1 Everton 15.4 7.4 2 7
2 Manchester City 17.6 6.4 1 3
3 Chelsea 18.2 6.2 5 2
4 Liverpool 17 6.2 6 4
5 Tottenham 19 6 3 1
6 Arsenal 14.6 5.4 4 10
7 Manchester United 16.2 5.2 7 6
8 Southampton 16.6 5 14 5
9 Crystal Palace 14.8 4.6 8 9
10 Watford 9.6 4.4 9 16

Clearly there is something of a link between shots on target per game and league position – only Southampton are out of phase between the two – 8th in the Shots OT per game but 14th in the league.  There is less of a link between shots per game and league position.   West Ham are 8th in terms of shots per game but 18th in the league.

So (at least thus far) shooting on target doesn’t guarantee success but it comes with a general level of success.

If we look at the league table in terms of goals we see goals again are clearly good (obviously) but scoring lots and lots although helpful doesn’t tell us everything.

Lge pos Goals position Team W D L F A GD Pts
1 1 Manchester City 5 0 0 15 4 11 15
4 2 Arsenal 3 1 1 12 7 5 10
6 3 Liverpool 3 1 1 11 8 3 10
5 4 Chelsea 3 1 1 10 6 4 10
9 5 Watford 2 1 2 10 9 1 7
2 6 Everton 4 1 0 10 3 7 13
3 7 Tottenham Hotspur 3 2 0 8 2 6 11
7 8 Manchester United 3 0 2 8 6 2 9
18 9 West Ham United 1 0 4 7 13 -6 3
Now I have to admit quite often I play around with tables like this with a view to constructing an Untold article, and then I abandon the whole thing as really nothing much is proven apart from what was blindingly obvious.
But I have kept going with this one because of the whole thing last season about Arsenal needing to sign a top goal scorer, and my argument that top goal scorers often don’t win you the league.
And I thought of this yesterday watching the Tottenham game, and seeing Kane injured.   While I know that there are some Arsenal “supporters” who want Alexis injured so that Arsenal fail so that Wenger gets sacked, and there are others who are happy to see any Tottenham player injured, I think I managed grow out of wanting opposition players to get injured sometime around the age of 15.  I don’t want Kane hurt – I would be quite content with him losing the ability to score lots of goals.

However I was none the less interested to note the Kane injury.  Of course we don’t know how serious it will be, but the fact is that Tottenham were very dependent on Kane for their success last season.  He scored 25 of their 69 Premier League goals last season.  Dele Alli got 10.   Christian Eriksen got six.

For Arsenal the top scorer last season was Giroud with 16, second was Alexis with 13, and third Ozil with six.  Arsenal scored 65, four fewer than Tottenham which shows we had a number of other players who could happily pop up and score when Giroud wasn’t doing the business.

Now the point I am edging towards is that having one player who can knock in 25 in a season is great – we’d all love such a player.   But take out the player who scores 36% of your goals and you have a bit of a problem, unless you have others up and coming to take over.

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Arsenal currently have Giroud, Lucas Pérez and Alexis who could do the business.   So just out of curiosity I went and had a look at Alexis’ figures overall for Arsenal.

By the end of last season the top of our appearance list for current players looked like this:

Name Age Since Games Goals
Theo Walcott 27 2006 (Winter) 344 85
Olivier Giroud 29 2012 188 82
Aaron Ramsey 25 2008 265 43
Alexis Sánchez 27 2014 94 42

However I was struck with Alexis – who only this season has been played as an out and out striker.   He has been scoring one goal every 2.23 games.  Now that is not at at the Harry Kane level – and I have no difficulty admitting Kane is an exceptional player, but having one such dominant striker does give the club a problem, as I have said, if that player is injured for any length of time.

Such figures not only show exactly why it is worth considering Alexis Sánchez as a centre forward, but also why it is handy to have other goal scorers in the squad who can step up if the main man is injured, or as in Alexis’ case, comes back late from jollies with his country.
The point is made all the more strongly by looking at goal scorers so far this season.
R Player Apps Mins Goals G/min Assists Yel Shots/Game
1 Diego Costa / Chelsea,  5 440 5 88 1 3 3.2
2 Michail Antonio / West Ham,  5 412 5 82.4 1 4
3 Etienne Capoue / Watford,  5 436 4 104 1 1.4
4 Romelu Lukaku / Everton,  3(1) 297 4 74.25 1 4
5 Zlatan Ibrahimovic / Manchester United, 5 450 4 112.5 1 5.4
6 Alexis Sánchez / Arsenal,  4(1) 388 3 129.33 1 2.6
7 Leroy Fer / Swansea, 5 428 3 142.66 2 2
8 Raheem Sterling / Manchester City 5 420 3 140 2 1 2.6
9 Robert Snodgrass / Hull, 5 408 3 136 2.6
10 Sergio Agüero / Manchester City 3 261 3 87 5
West Ham have the most efficient goal scorer so far, and in terms of goals per minute Alexis Sánchez is good but not the best.   But as we all know he is far more than just a goal scorer, and as I have mentioned before no one quite knows what line up is going to face them before the handover of teams one hour before the game.  Tactically that helps.
To my mind having an obvious top scorer in your side is good – but it comes with the danger of what happens when he fails to keep up the stream of goals or he gets injured.   The fact that we have Alexis and two other recognised goal scorers is a particularly strong point for us this season.
I would also add to the mix the fact of what an astounding player Iwobi is becoming.  Already he is just one of just four players in the league with three assists to his name – and he has done it in three games.
Of course for many people he doesn’t count because he didn’t cost loads of money, but in terms of his assist rate he is quite extraordinary.
We are the second highest scorers in the league – and we all know that our defence has not matched this because of the start of the season with injuries to our centre of defence.    But there is a long way to go and after what I have seen thus far, I am quite happy.
# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 5 5 0 0 15 4 11 15
2 Everton 5 4 1 0 10 3 7 13
3 Tottenham Hotspur 5 3 2 0 8 2 6 11
4 Arsenal 5 3 1 1 12 7 5 10
5 Chelsea 5 3 1 1 10 6 4 10
6 Liverpool 5 3 1 1 11 8 3 10
7 Manchester United 5 3 0 2 8 6 2 9
8 Crystal Palace 5 2 1 2 7 5 2 7
9 Watford 5 2 1 2 10 9 1 7
10 West Bromwich Albion 5 2 1 2 6 5 1 7

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Anniversary of the day

19 September 1929: Cliff Bastin’s first game. He signed for Arsenal for £2,000 on 27 April 1929 after 17 games in the Third Division South for Exeter.  Arsenal beat Huddersfield 2-0 with Lambert and John scoring.  

14 comments to Arsenal after five games; the statistical analysis. (Hint: the number of shots doesn’t count).

  • johnie Njamio

    the four goals in the liverpool game was what did us. Lack of signings in good time. The game was winnable if you add 3points and remove two goals we would be no 2 with 5goals conceded, the next game against the foxes was a reverse we feared to concede that we didn’t score. Monreal is having a stinker of a spell. Wish Gibbs can give him competition. Next weekend watch out for Costa theatrics hope our players and ref don’t fall for him

  • para

    This is why AW wanted the team to be scorers, for if a striker drops out through injury, the team still scores.

    Arsenal could score more though from within, but they tend to try to find the “strikers” most times.

    This all does not mean we do not need a striker. A striker who does just that, strike and score, poaches and causes problems for the opposition defence while being integrated into the team too.

    So now we have 2 of them, Giroud and Perez, then there is Alexis and Theo both winger/strikers, and of course Iwobi and Akpom on the way to being just that.

    Theo knows he has to be a team player this season and also perform enough to keep his stay at Arsenal.

    Two seasons ago i predicted that some of our “pensioners” will be shipped out in the coming seasons and replaced with others who we can now afford unless they step up and show Arsenal they deserve the place.

    At the time i was thinking of Flamini, Arteta, Ox and Theo.
    So now we see Theo and Ox trying to get on a different level now and both must really know it’s their last season at Arsenal unless they shine.

    Alas, i think Alexis is not going to be a long term stayer at Arsenal, but i could be wrong.

  • Chrystom

    “Lack of signings in good time” We can never be sure of what goes on inside the club especially as it concerns transfer. Until there is an evidence to show that the club actually delays transfer on purpose, I will rather give them a benefit of doubt after all they have more stake than us.

  • Menace

    The Liverpool goals were not because of lack of signings. It was loss of focus. The drive in the team needs to be nurtured & was lacking for a while. It allowed the change in Liverpool to impact Arsenals lethargy until the team got control of the ball. It was a good wake up call & Arsenal has improved.

    However, I think the team has not yet gelled completely. It will take a few more games as they start to enjoy their amazing teammates & their support. There is the Chelsea game complete with Costa pain it the arse. It will challenge the Arsenal team behaviour & particularly with the PGMO sight test.

    Arsenal will come out of this match with a lesson in EPL methods. The new boys will become men & there is only strength to be gained.

    I will be there screaming support & knowing that Wenger has created & built a wonderful club.

  • Dear Menace

    You absolutely better believe it AW has ‘created & built a wonderful Club’.
    How would life be with just 100% predictability. Life is much better when nurturing,building, learning watching the fruits of your labour develop into something that you can appreciate.
    We the Fans/supporters have to be patience and enjoy this journey. our time will come wether this season or when it’s our time.


  • Andy Mack

    We do have a better ‘spread’ of scorers than most teams but that’s also been a problem. OG has spend seasons setting up chances for midfielders and wingers but they haven’t been scoring as often as they should have been. Ramsey, Jack (when fit), Ozil, Alexis etc have all been pretty wasteful for the number of chances they’ve had.
    For some reason that’s overlooked but OG missing some simple ones isn’t, even though I clearly remember Wiltord, Wrighty and Henry missing plenty of simple chances as well.
    Hell, even God missed a few sitters…

    As for opposition players getting injured, there are a few thugs I’d like to see injured enough to drop them down a league or two, and I’d be quite pleased to see Kane permanently carrying a lower back injury where the refs let their opposition knee him in the back whenever possible (like they do with OG). Just enough to slow him down a bit 😀

  • Mandy Dodd

    very interesting. Alexis is going well, Giroud hasnt even got going, Perez will hopefully build on his exploits in Spain, and we all know the likes of Rambo, Ox, Theo, Ozil, Kos are capable of getting the odd goal…Xhaka and Elneny can clearly strike from afar. Then, Danny will come into the frame later on.
    Healthy situation

  • ARSENAL 13

    It was funny seeing tiny totts cramping all over the pitch, with commentators singing the “european night hangover” song.

    Cant wait for Ox and Theo to get back their shooting shoes back. Must be that dutch skunk. Somebody show Ox the video of his crossbar hits. Should get him going again.

  • Polo

    Good article Tony. I think Spurs have Janssen as backup to Kane, however he haven’t performed well, so let see how he handle the EPL.

    The upcoming EFL game at Forest I wouldn’t mind seeing AW going back to a 4-4-2 with Perez and Akprom as strikers.

    Interested to see how this starting 11 will do:

    Debuchy Holdings Mustafi Gibbs
    Ox Beilik Elneny Adelaide
    Akprom Perez

  • Jambug


    Good call.

    I’d love to see how that team performs.

  • johnie Njamio

    Focus comes with experience the back four read like this Hector Holding Chambers Monreal. Kids bar Monreal who was even worse. Look at the game when Kosher came in Holding settled the back four had more experience and a leader. Mustafi is still not settled Early signings helps the player not only to settle on the field but also private life. Get a house move family look for amenities and good neighborhood get accustomed to culture food etc. all these affect the player performance.

  • Ben

    God never miss

  • Ben

    I think it will be, Ospina,Debuchy,Gibbs,Holding,Gabriel,Elnenny,Xhaka,Perez,Adelaide and Ox behind Akpom

  • Florian

    It’s interesting to note though that we are a bit of an outlier in terms of goals scored from shots on target, and that, surprise surprise, in a good way. We had 27 SOT, of which we scored 12 goals. We are 2nd in # of scored goals, only behind City (15), but only 6th in # of SOT. That means we are 4 positions above where we should normally be. Only Watford is above us (10 goals, shared 4th-6th positions, 5 places above on average), while City is 1 position higher. Not bad at all for a team whose shooting was so wayward last season. Keep it up Arsenal! 🙂