By Tony Attwood
The theme is that Arsenal do everything wrong. We buy our players far too late in the transfer window because Wenger can’t make up his mind and so dithers. Except maybe Chelsea are dithering a bit more and Tottenham have dithered so much they haven’t bought anyone.
And here’s another: we are far too wasteful in front of goal – if only we were more clinical we would be top of the league. I’ve already heard this one this season despite scoring four in the first match: we just need better strikers.
So I thought I would try and find a way of measuring this and to try and work out what is important.
To do this there are two measurements needed – goals per game and shots on target per game (the latter shortened to SOT). So in what follows I’ve created a list comparing last season with this season’s first game for the clubs that came 1 to 7 last season.
The order of the clubs reflects the number of goals scored per game last season – Tottenham were the top scorers so they are top of the list.
So the first question – which club had the most shots on target (data for last season from Footcharts). The answer is Tottenham, with Chelsea second. The shots on target positioning is very similar to the final position in the league. Interesting to note though that in the penultimate column (shorts on target this week) Arsenal are way out in the front – we were having great fun not just shooting but shooting on target.
|Team||Goals per game 16/17||SOT per game 16/17||SOT per goal 16/17||Goals this week||SOT This week||SOT per goal|
What is interesting is to see how close the shots on target measure is to the position in the league. Here’s a table to compares the various positions for last season – and we can see that although Chelsea won the league they were only fifth if we measure shots on target.
So maybe shots on target don’t matter.
|Pos||Team||Goals||Goal per game||Goals pos||SOT per game||SOT pos||SOT per goal||SOT/ goal pos|
Of course the only column that counts is the first one – where the club came in the league. But the point about the rest of the analysis is to ask this: is there a factor such as shots on target, or the number of shots on target per goal (or indeed anything else) which closely allies itself to the position in the league.
Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv
For quite simply, if there were, one could say, “improve factor X and you are certain – or at least fairly nearly certain – to win the league.”
The most simple measure – the number of goals scored is a good measure. It almost completely accords with the league position of the top seven clubs. Score more goals and you are more likely to be in a higher position.
That might seem ludicrously obvious, but it has not always been the case, as in days gone by some clubs that scored huge numbers of goals also conceded huge numbers. Now tactics are more unified.
But Chelsea were top of the league but fifth highest in terms of the number of shots on target. So simply getting the shots on target up doesn’t look like the most effective way of getting up the league.
However what about the measure of the number of shots on target per goal? If this is closely related to position in the league then one could say that if the club could be ever more efficient in its goal scoring, that is the way to win the league.
But sadly no – sadly because Arsenal were the second best team in terms of shots on target per goal last season. They were clinical. Although Chelsea won the league and were the most effective in terms of shots on target per goal – the most “clinical” team we might say – Arsenal’s position of being the second most clinical team shows there is no immediate link. Chelsea took 2.4 shots on target to score, Arsenal 2.59. Man U were woeful needing 3.89 shots on target to score a goal. Half as many again as Arsenal and Chelsea.
However if you want a shorthand note about winning the league the answer is score more goals – and you could say it really doesn’t matter if you need more shots than another team to do it. Except getting shots on target is not that easy – and it seems so wasteful if your strikers are good enough to get shots on target but not good enough to turn those shots into goals.
What these figures do suggest is that being a low scoring team with a rock solid defence – the George Graham approach in certain seasons – is not necessarily the best way to run the team. I’ll come back and present those figures when you have had a chance to recover from this bunch of stats.
But for now if you want a single factor that will deliver the title, it remains goals.
There is of course a lot of logic in this. If you have a dead tight defence and go all out to nick a single goal, that can of course work. But one single slip means the opposition might get their 90th minute goal, and suddenly the points total for the game is reduced obviously from three to one.
But setting up a team which sets up lots of quality shots on target looks to be the single best way to get results.
How to make Arsenal champions
Have more shots on target. We’re good at turning shots on target into goals (we were just behind Chelsea in that regard last season) – so lets have more of them. Which means
1: Let’s keep our goal scorers who scored in double figures last season (Alexis, Giroud, Theo). Yes there were three of them last year. Done that.
2: Let’s add another top goal scorer to work with them. Someone like Lacazette would be good. Yep, done that too.
3: Let’s have a couple of brilliant providers of assists who might put in the occasional shot on target. Ozil for example. Ramsey is another.
4: Let’s have another couple of good backup player who can feed the front line from the wing, like Iwobi for example, and another who can play wing or centre forward (Welbeck).
5: Let’s play with wing backs so they can get the ball up quickly to the front line. Maybe the Ox and Bellerin by way of example. Yep getting there.
6: Let’s have a midfielder who can turn up at unexpected moments to score. Someone like Ramsey. OK he’s counted twice, but I think it is easy to underestimate him.
That seems to be about right for me.
I’ll take a look at defensive issues and also at the number of disciplinary issues to see if aside from the obvious (keep the goals against down) there are any obvious findings. But for now, there is a simple factor in winning the league: more shots on target. Even if they are not all perfect curlers into the corner, they could well catch the defence out or hit a player en route and deceive the keeper.
Starting out with ten this past weekend is a pretty good way to begin.
- Would Arsenal have won, Chelsea have lost and Liverpool only drawn a year ago?
- Sky Sports writers have found the easiest way ever to con their employer with fake transfer news
- Funny moment on Sky Sport debating Chelsea takes the media spotlight off us for once
From the Arsenal History Society
On UntoldArsenalToday on Facebook
- Our series on football supporters is now being collected into one file on Untold. Yesterday we looked at the curious lingo at West Brom. Follow us on Facebook to catch today’s episode.