By Tony Attwood
There is something of a feeling of elation after the win against Manchester United, as indeed there should be. For after five games without a win and indeed just one win in 16, a win against a traditional “top six” club was very welcome indeed. After all it stopped what seemed an inexorable slide down the table.
But is can be easy to get carried away, with some commentators suggesting almost that it is now going to be a straight charge up the table, accompanied of course by the inevitable array of new talent which as always will all be players that the correspondents of Football London etc have read about in obscure and previously unmentioned overseas journals.
The fact that such correspondents in the past have only got three predictions correct out of every 100 that they have made, is as ever ignored, and with the utter certainty of men (it always seems to be men who write these pieces) blissfully unware that of their past inability to predict anything at all, continue to write up tales of incoming players who inevitably never arrive.
But there is a problem – a problem much bigger than simply buying three or four new mega-talents while shipping out the unwanted to Turkey, France, Russia and Italy.
That problem arises with just how far down the table Arsenal has sunk, following the crowd-induced policy of replacing the manager four times in two and a half years. As Mr Wenger was replaced by Mr Emery, and Mr Emery by Our Freddie, and Our Freddie by Our Mikel, so the fixed view journalists and other opinionaters, have lost track of just how far down the league table their policy has taken us.
Indeed looking back at where we were at this moment in the last five years and comparing it with now not only reminds us of how far we’ve slipped but another very interesting statistic as well.
In the table below the second column (Pos) tells us where we were after 21 games, and the following figures gives the usual league table for that moment. The final column on the right tells us where we ended up.
|Year||Pos||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||End of season pos|
Now I would, if I may, draw your attention to one column in particular – the goals against column (designated of course by the usual letter “A”).
These last two seasons, at the 21 games point, have been the worst for our defence across the six years measured, with 30 and 31 goals conceded. But they are not grossly out of line with our position in earlier seasons. For example this season, letting in 30 goals thus far, we have let in five more than in 2015, and nine more than 2016, when we finished 3rd and 2nd respectively.
That is to say one more goal in every two or three games. Not one more a game, but one more in every two or three games. Not good, and indeed bad enough to send us out of the hated “fourth is not a trophy” position, but not a huge number.
But what has actually been a bigger cause in our slippage down the table this season in particular is the other end of the field – the decline in goals scored.
This season we have scored 28 so far, which is 20 fewer than this time in 2017,
Now of course there is not an absolute correlation between positions and goals scored but across these years before this season there is only an 11 goal difference at most by the 21 game mark. Fractionally fewer than one goal in two games.
So while the goals conceded by our apparently notoriously awful defence this season is worse than at any time across these recent seasons, the goals scored position is in much greater decline. To rise up the table from 10th we not only need to be turning draws into wins, and defeats into draws, we need to be scoring many, many more goals. Yes some tightening up in the defence will help, but getting the ball into the net at the other end is our key problem.
I get the feeling that somehow the return of the prodigal Arteta is seen as solving all things that are wrong, in a trice, and certainly the win over Man U was a great step on the road to recovery, but we still need more goals.
And not necessarily more from Aubameyang but from those around him such as Martinelli, Lacazette and Pepe and maybe Willock too
That actually is a bit harsh on Martinelli who is so young and new to the league, but what these players do need and what hopefully Arteta will give them, is a shorter period of time between scoring each goal. Here’s the current position for everyone who has scored 3+ goals this season…
- Aubameyang: 138 minutes per goal
- Martinelli: 112 minutes per goal
- Lacazette: 188 minutes per goal
- Pepe: 249 minutes per goal
- Willock: 157 minutes per goal
What we need are fewer minutes between each goal scored by those five. That will turn the season around.
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