Arsenal have a shot-shy attack. Allegedly

“Nicolas Pepe adds welcome risk and directness to Arsenal’s shot-shy attack”

So says an article in the Daily Telegraph.  To find out how they justified this odd statement, if at all, one would have to pay the Telegraph a subscription fee, and at the moment I am trying not to give money to organisations that think that the UK leaving the EU without a deal is a good idea, so I’ll let someone else tell me what was there, if they do wish to give the Teleg people some dosh.

But the headline is enough to be going on with I think.  And I wondered, “did Arsenal really have a shot-shy attack last season, and if so, does it matter?

Let’s take the second bit first.   Shots are in a sense neither there nor here nor anywhere, because you don’t get points for shots.  What matters is goals.  Here is the top six from last season organised by goals scored…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 38 32 2 4 95 23 72 98
2 Liverpool 38 30 7 1 89 22 67 97
3 Arsenal 38 21 7 10 73 51 22 70
4 Tottenham Hotspur 38 23 2 13 67 39 28 71
5 Manchester United 38 19 9 10 65 54 11 66
6 Chelsea 38 21 9 8 63 39 24 72

Arsenal as we can see came third in the goal scoring chart – so on that basis could not be too heavily criticised.  Yes the gap between us and Liverpool was 16 goals – 0.4 goals a game, or less than one in every two games.  A big gap but one that could be closed.  And not enough to call us shot-shy.

But we must also note that Liverpool and Manchester Money were soaring away at the top of the league, Liverpool being 27 points above Arsenal, and 25 points about Chelsea in third.  Aiming to close that gap in one season is probably not a very sensible thing to do as it could mean too many changes too quickly.  But beefing up the attack could be a step forward.

So let’s focus on scoring more goals that the club in third place – Chelsea – and oh, look!  We did.   10 more in fact.  But seemingly we were “shot shy”.

OK, so let us turn our attention to the number of shots we had.   And yes, let’s be fair, we were quite a way down the league

Rank Club Shots
Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United
Leicester City
Crystal Palace
Wolverhampton Wanderers

Now here’s a funny thing.  Yes we were 11th – the other members of the top six in the league last season occupying positions 1 to 5.  So not that good.

Except, well, Chelsea had the second highest number of shots – a massive 140 more than Arsenal got.   Wow, that is bad news for Arsenal, although… come to think of it… Arsenal scored 10 more goals than Chelsea last season.  So maybe shots don’t matter that much.

In fact, shots is not what it is all about.   It is of course, scoring goals at one end and not letting them in at the other, and as I have mentioned in the past, this is not just down to having excellent defenders at the back.

You see, Wolverhampton, Newcastle, Everton and Leicester all conceded fewer than we did – but all ended up below Arsenal.  Newcastle you may recall were 13th.

And this starts to give us the clue as to what is going on.  One way of stopping goals is to have big solid defenders whom the opposition cannot get past.  Another way is to have such a frightening forward line that the opposition tend to pull further back to stop any of your three amazing forward players from running in on goal.

Now there is a certain attraction in this approach because it forces the opposition to rethink their own defensive tactics – and that can jolt them out of their normal pattern of play.

Also of course they don’t know who you are going to put into the team on which day, so they can only guess – which means if you have choice you can play with your tactics.   We have often seen Emery make substitutions early on in order to change the whole approach around, and with three flying attackers who can all score, this could certainly be something that could be done very readily.

There is one other thing to note in choosing Pepe as opposed to buying in another defender (in addition to having Holding back).  Arsenal drew seven games last season.   If one of those seven had actually been a victory we would have been in the Champions League once again.  That is how close we got.  

That draw to victory could have been achieved by a better defence, but also by an awesome attack.  And that is what Arsenal appear to be going for.   

Of course not everyone is happy.  The “supercomputer” (whatever that is) predicts that Arsenal will come sixth this summer, just as the Guardian has done.  Here is their prediction as revealed by the Daily Mirror, owners of FoLo.

  • 1. Manchester City
  • 2. Liverpool
  • 3. Tottenham Hotspur
  • 4. Chelsea
  • 5. Manchester United
  • 6. Arsenal

So I suppose if you believe that, there’s not much point going to any games this season.  On the other hand the Daily Mirror, which has taken a leading part with its FoLo site in running the anti-Arsenal media attack, with all the £40m limit on expenditure etc, thinks it is big news. 

So maybe we don’t need to worry.

How AST promoted the notion that Arsenal had a budget of £40m for transfers


13 Replies to “Arsenal have a shot-shy attack. Allegedly”

  1. Shot shy lol but having a Golden boot player in Auba and an 20 goal scorer in Laca Just goes to show we score more goals from less shots we were the 3rd highest scores in the league last season and now a 22 goal winger!! seems shooting more doesnt actually mean scoring more !! If you cannot convert them ! Arsenal have less shoots but score more enough said !! All this stuff is written by sour Trophyless Spuds !! lol pmsl haha

  2. If the officials in the Spuds game at Wembley had not allowed Vertonghen to encroach so far into the area for Aubamayeng’s penalty, then Auba would have certainly knocked in Loris’ parry. 2-1 to us +2 points for us -1 point for the Tiny Totts, more than enough to get us the 4th CL place

  3. The article isn’t in the print edition of the Telegraph and I’m certainly not going to look up the online version . Their coverage of Arsenal is never complimentary unlike their fawning over Spurs.

  4. These stats, like all stats, can be interpreted in many ways depending on the bias of the writer. For me, the stats only prove that Arsenal had the most EFFICIENT attact in the premier league last season! At least, of the top 6 ranked clubs!
    I believe this is a virtue a certain Mr Wenger tried to promote in discouraging wayward shooting from his strikers.

  5. Anthony Ikpo

    “I believe this is a virtue a certain Mr Wenger tried to promote in discouraging wayward shooting from his strikers.”

    Similar to the point I was going to make.

    I remember reading or hearing something from Wenger along the lines of:

    ‘our aim is always to make the pass that will give the ball to the player who is in the best situation to score a goal’.

    In other words rather than take a chance from long range, keep passing until the opportunity arises to give it to a player who is in a much better position to score, someone usually well inside the box and in front of goal.

    This particular style of play is how many top Spanish teams attack and the style has been given the name ‘Tiki Taka’, and it has been adopted to great success over the years.

    But of course when Arsenal adopted this style of play under Wenger it was used as an opportunity to knock him and Arsenal at every turn.

    But when it works that is the kind of efficiency it provides.

    It seems Emery, being Spanish of course, wants to continue in the same vein as Wenger, which is great news as far as I’m concerned.

    But again only when it’s Arsenal could having such a brilliantly efficient attack with 2 x 20 plus goal scorers be seen as a negative.

    Don’t forget when we won the Premier League unbeaten some pundits still critisised us for having too many draws. That’s how far they will go to find a negative in every single thing we do.

    The odious Ian Wright has used the signing to continue his abuse of Gazidis and Wenger.

    Beyond laughable.

  6. Anthony Ikpo and Nitram are quite correct. Given the number of teams who park the bus against us what is the point of trying to get a shot through a packed penalty area. The chances of the ball getting through all those legs and bodies to goal without hitting someone is extremely low hence our reluctance to use this tactic.
    Of course everyone loves a long range shot and on the rare occasion it does result in a goal it brings great excitement to the fans, but for us, given the way other teams play against us with so many men behind the ball it is not an efficient way to try to score.

  7. BarryL. You are correct in that that is the irreverence only.

    Of course, Auba should not have missed in the first place.

    On the other hand, we lost those 2 points because the scum cheated and the officials turned a blind eye.

    Or alternatively, the scum is in the Champions League as opposed to us, because they cheated.

    Also, how many of those points that Man$ity and Liverpool were ahead of us because of penalties gained from diving?

  8. Perhaps the Telegraph nicked the article from the BBC:

    Extract follows:

    “Although Arsenal finished higher than in their final season under Arsene Wenger, the club has a fair few problems to address.

    Even the most basic statistics are damning for the Gunners, as last season they became the first top-six side to concede more shots than they took themselves since Alan Pardew’s Newcastle in 2011-12.

    While Arsenal did score the most goals outside the top two, partly through creating the highest-quality chances in the Premier League, it’s unlikely the club’s attackers will be able to do so much with so little for a second season in a row.

    And after conceding 51 Premier League goals in each of the past two seasons – Wenger was criticised for failing to organise the defence well enough towards the end of his reign but Emery did no better last season in that regard – the defence needs considerable work.”

  9. Nobody has written about how the changes in law and introduction of VAR will effect the league. We will be the biggest beneficiaries of the change,if past history is of any value.

  10. The law changes are not to anyones benefit but just another excuse to manipulate the slope of competition. VAR will be exactly the same until an independant transparent set of officials take over from PGMOL & the FA. Selective vision is a priviledge of the officials. Until the corruption is exposed, there is little or no chance of getting change.

  11. @ Menace

    Absolutely spot on. There will, of course, be the odd blatant advantage we will gain from VAR but this will not outweigh the overall bias against the club. And no doubt the media will wheel out the time “Arsenal got lucky when they managed a win only as a result of VAR” whilst with their favoured clubs, such results will be seen as justice.

  12. Menace/Mikey

    Well said.

    I’ve been saying it ever since the introduction of VAR was muted.

    All it will do is give the corrupt b*****ds another opportunity to screw us.

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