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December 2020
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We’ve got the defence sorted. Now Arsenal need to shoot more.

By Tack Tishan

Last season in the league we weren’t that good.  We all know that.  We came eighth.  Other stats back that up.  We had the seventh best attack in the league, and the eighth best defence.

Over the last two summer transfer windows we have been right at the top trying to outspend the money trees.

And now the experts, the pundits and the bloggers want us to do the same thing again – spend more money.  Quite possibly some of these people who are demanding more spending are also the ones who claimed that the definition of insanity is to find something that doesn’t work and keep doing it.  They blamed Wenger for that.  (They also blamed Wenger for all our injuries, although they seem to have stopped doing that now – although the injuries haven’t stopped).

This season we have the 11th worst attack in the League.  Worryingly, around one third of our goals came in a single game against the worst team in the League.   But also we have the second best defence in the league.  And the one team that has let in fewer goals than we have is Villa, who have a game in hand.  If they let in one in that game in hand we’ll have  the joint best defence.  Let in two, and we’ll be out on our own.

So that’s one problem sorted: our defence works.  At least for the moment.

One explanation for our lack of goals could be that we have rubbish attackers and must go out and spend £millions.  That seems unlikely however.  More likely is the fact that the goals we scored were not that evenly spread…

  • Aubameyang got 22 in the league last season (27 in all competitions)
  • Lacazette got 10 in the league (12 in all competitions)
  • Pepe got 5 in the league (8 in all competitions)
  • Martinelli got 3 in the league (10 in all competitions)

Amy Lawrence, were she still in the front line, would undoubtedly say that Arsenal had only three players in double figures last season. (You need to be a long term reader of Untold to get the relevance of that).

But the point is that 22 of our 56 league goals last season were scored by one player.  That is 39%.  If he is not bursting with the form he showed last season, then we are bound to suffer.    Of course if we had a young thrusting up and coming forward who could come on with 20 minutes left and unsettle a defence that is starting to tire, then that could fix the problem.   But Martinelli is injured.

But we have got a player who has scored three goals in five – a rate of 60%.   Considerably better than Aubameyang got last season.

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So what is the problem with goals?

We are scoring 1.6 goals a game at the moment.  Last season we scored 1.47 goals per game.  So that’s better.  But Chelsea who came fourth in the league last season scored 1.82 goals per game.

So looked at this way we are travelling in the right direction but we have a long way to go.

Except for one thing.  In these days of no crowds many more goals are being scored than in the days with crowds.  That, as we have established elsewhere, is to do with the radical shift in the way that games are being refereed without crowds.

So although Arsenal have made goal scoring progress, 1.82 goals a game is no longer  the target, because everyone else has had made progress too as the game has changed.  Here is a league table based on goals per game this season…  (GpG in  the penultimate column in red)

Pos Team P W D L F A GpG Pts
7 Tottenham Hotspur 5 2 2 1 15 8 3.0 8
1 Everton 5 4 1 0 14 7 2.8 13
3 Liverpool 5 3 1 1 13 13 2.6 10
8 Chelsea 5 2 2 1 13 9 2.6 8
2 Aston Villa 4 4 0 0 12 2 3.0 12
4 Leicester City 5 3 0 2 12 8 3.0 9
9 West Ham United 5 2 1 2 11 7 2.75 7
10 Leeds United 5 2 1 2 9 9 1.8 7
15 Manchester United 4 2 0 2 9 12 2.25 6
16 Brighton and Hove Albion 5 1 1 3 9 11 1.8 4
5 Arsenal 5 3 0 2 8 6 1.6 9

Although we are doing a lot better than last season overall, the fact is so is everyone else, because of  the change in refereeing due to the lack of crowds.  But 1.6 goals per game is nowhere near enough.  In fact it is only a fraction over half of what we need.   Tottenham H, Aston V and Leicester C are all knocking in 3.0 goals a game on average.

That gap is large and although the return of Martinelli will help, I suspect we can’t wait for that (not least because players who are predicted to be coming back in the new year are often found not to be playing until the last three games of the season.

The response of the media of course is that we need to go out and buy more and more players in the vague hope that eventually we will get one who actually knocks the goals in.

Not all goals are scored by recognised shots.  Some are headed, some are tap ins, some bobble around and end up in the net.  But still those tap ins, and bobbles generally do start out as shots.  So how are we doing with shots?

This season rank Club This season shots Last season shots Last season rank
1. Liverpool 97 591 3
2. Brighton and Hove Albion 75 462 8
3. Tottenham Hotspur 74 444 11
4. West Ham United 71 417 13
5. Manchester City 66 745 1
6. Chelsea 65 625 2
7. Everton 64 469 7
8. Fulham 60
9. Aston Villa 58 457 10
10. Leeds United 58
11. Manchester United 57 544 4
12. Southampton 54 499 6
13. Wolverhampton Wanderers 53 461 9
14. Leicester City 49 540 5
15. Newcastle United 44 399 16
16. Sheffield United 43 353 20
17. Burnley 42 387 18
18. Arsenal 41 406 15
19. West Bromwich Albion 40
20. Crystal Palace 32 376 19

Comparing the first column (position this season in terms of shots) and the last column (position last season in terms of shots) we can see a close link.  The clubs that occupied 15th to 20th last season are by and large there this season (including us) – leaving aside of course those clubs that were relegated.

But we also can see that shots does roughly equate to position in the league.  Not exactly, but roughly.

So the fact that Arsenal were 15th last season with shots but are 18th this season so far is not good.  The fact that we managed to come 8th in the league last season with a position of 15th in the shooting league was an achievement based on our defence compensating for the lack of attack.

We might like a good laugh at Tottenham’s defence, as with this weekend but they are shooting more.  As are West Ham.  And in a league in which more and more goals are being scored because of  the effect the lack of crowds has on referees, we need to be taking note of that.

These figures show us the heart of  the problem, and we need to get it sorted.

8 comments to We’ve got the defence sorted. Now Arsenal need to shoot more.

  • Mikey

    It’s slightly misleading to try and conclude something from our first five games when two have been away at the teams most people would consider the current best in the premiership (if not Europe!). Let’s see what it looks like after a dozen or so.

  • Nitram

    Mikey

    That’s basically what I was trying to say yesterday with:

    Season 2019- 2020

    1 Liverpool (C) 38 32 3 3 85 33 +52 99
    2 Manchester City 38 26 3 9 102 35 +67 81
    3 Manchester Unt 38 18 12 8 66 36 +30 66

    We’ve played 5 games, won 3, lost 2. The 2 we lost were at the runaway champions of last year and the clear runners up. We wasn’t brilliant but neither were we embarrassed. It happens at these places and there’s absolutely nothing to be worried about. WE currently sit above Spurs Man City and Chelsea but hey, they’re all still miles better than us, obviously. Despite this the media have to make something of it, which is not fine but that’s what they do.

    What shouldn’t happen is the likes of Adams, who’s supposed to love the club, joining in. Not only him but our own blogg’s. What is it with these people?

    ——

    The fact of the matter is we haven’t set the World on fire, but we have been much much more solid, which was surely Arteta’s main priority. I think we are all hoping that once the foundations are laid and the team has the certainty and confidence that we will not be overrun no matter who we are playing, then the offensive game will develop, at least I think that’s what we all hope.

    It is, as you say Mikey, way too early to make any definitive assessments as to how we will ultimately do this season.

  • You are also forgetting that 2 of our wins were against the 2 poorest teams and the third was a lucky win against the run of play.

    If you are happy with 3 shots on target per game, then watch this space.

    I know that men cannot multitask and that whilst Arteta is supposedly concentrating on defence we cannot expect him to get involved in attack also, but surely one of the multitude of coaches can be delegated to show some interest in it?

    I suspect that problem is more that we simply do not have the caliber of player to make much of a difference.

    Now that our club has relegated itself to the gutter with the isolation of our best player and an attacking one as well, we should not be expecting any improvement in the football or the moral standing for the immediate future.

  • Nitram

    jjgsol

    As you for some reason seem to of taken an extreme disliking towards all things Arsenal, which of course is your prerogative, please excuse me if I choose not to take your incessant criticism too seriously.

    Lighten up bruv, after all we could be Spursy.

    Just imagine what it’s like to be told by the media year after year after year how this is going to be your year, yet no matter who they buy, who’s their manager, how well they play, they always manage to somehow f*** it up.

  • I like to be realistic.

    Too many of our colleagues seem, in my view to be living in a dream world.

    My comments are neither insulting, rude or disparaging.

    If you think that I have been any of these to you then I apologise as it was not intended.

    I think it is better to call a spade a spade and not a large gold encrusted spoon.

    Enjoy the season if you can.

    I doubt if I will even if I can build up sufficient enthusiasm to to too interested.

    At the end if the season let us exchange notes and see who is right. I hope that it is you.

  • Nitram

    jjgol

    I didn’t suggest you were rude, I just think you seem to of lost your perspective. Calling a spade a spade is one thing but you seem to be unhappy with absolutely everything, which you are entitled to be if you want, but it all seems a bit extreme tome.

    We are not perfect, but such is life. Neither is any other club. If it’s perfection you want, or even something remotely close to it, you are going to be very disappointed.

    2 things.

    You say: Too many of our colleagues seem, in my view to be living in a dream world.

    I’m not sure what ‘dream world’ you think people are talking about ? Tony’s lead article seems to be anything but in a ‘dream world’. I cant say I’ve read any poster even suggesting we are anything like title contenders, let alone the CL. The most I see people, including myself, having any realistic hope of is another cup run and a much better stab at the top four. I see nothing ‘dream world’ in that, so what ‘dream world’ are you talking about ?

    You ask: At the end if the season let us exchange notes and see who is right. I hope that it is you.

    I don’t even know what I would be right about. All I said above is that Arteta has addressed our defensive frailties (which he appears to of done) and that I’m sure we all HOPE he gets the offensive side sorted. Hardly predicting another invincibles is it?

    I actually feel sorry for you, to of lost so much faith and to be so devoid of enthusiasm for a team/club you clearly love is sad.

  • Nitram

    Sorry, Tack Tishan’s lead article obviosly, whoever that may be 😉

  • Menace

    Tack Tishan is truly a comic moniker.
    The issues that face Arsenal are simply speed of transition. The transition from defence to offence is far too long. Play the ball out of defence quicker past the midfield into the opponents last quarter for our players to work for possession.

    The midfield will get the ball if the offence cannot create a position to shoot.

    The midfield should not pass the ball backwards but will always be better off puttin the ball out for a throw in the opponents half.

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