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Arsenal v Leeds: the Arsenal problem with goal scoring.

By Bulldog Drummond

As we have noted many times, the problem this season is not at all to do with defence – we have one of the best defences in the league.  Our problem is entirely in attack.

The league table of Premier League clubs arranged by goals scored (created at 5.30pm last night so not 100% up to date, but good enough as an example) shows us that we are 11th.

We have scored 27 goals, the same number of Crystal Palace, and 15 fewer than Leicester who currently occupy the fourth is not a trophy place.

In terms of a Europa League spot from the goals point of view we are 11 behind Chelsea and Leeds United with 15 games to go  Unless other teams stop scoring we are going to end up way down the goal scoring table.

Pos Team P F A GD
1 Manchester United 23 49 30 19
2 Liverpool 24 45 32 13
3 Manchester City 23 43 14 29
4 Leicester City 24 42 26 16
5 Chelsea 23 38 24 14
6 Leeds United 22 38 38 0
7 Tottenham Hotspur 23 36 22 14
8 Aston Villa 21 36 24 12
9 West Ham United 23 34 28 6
10 Everton 21 34 28 6
11 Southampton 22 29 37 -8
12 Arsenal 23 27 23 4
13 Crystal Palace 24 27 42 -15
14 Brighton and Hove Albion 23 25 30 -5
15 Newcastle United 23 25 38 -13
16 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23 23 31 -8
17 West Bromwich Albion 23 18 54 -36
18 Burnley 23 17 29 -12
19 Fulham 22 17 31 -14
20 Sheffield United 23 15 37 -22

Yet as I say, in terms of defence we have been lurking between second and fourth all season.   The defence is sorted, it is doing its job, and most teams in the league envy our defence.   We just need to score more goals.

And the reason for this attacking decline is of course that Aubameyang has lost his touch, before having some compassionate leave.  If he could get his touch back we’d be fine, because the defence is already in place and the midfield has had the boosts of Smith Rowe evolving and Odegaard joining.  If Martinelli is now ready to return to form many of our problems will be overcome – but for now it is really not too good – as the shots on target chart shows…

Rank Club Shots on target
1. Manchester United 136
2. Liverpool 131
3. Manchester City 124
4. Aston Villa 120
5. Leeds United 118
6. Chelsea 117
7. Leicester City 108
8. Tottenham Hotspur 100
9. West Ham United 98
10. Southampton 93
11. Arsenal 92

Everything confirms that 11th is where we should be.  We are there in terms of points, goals scored and shots on target.

But the point is that if we improve our shots on target, we’ll likely as not improve our goals scored, and improve that and we’ll move up the league table.  (That might sound obvious but it is not always the case – sometime a club down the league table has a fairly high number of shots on target, suggesting not that the build up that is lacking, but the end result).

So to repeat the point, our figures imply one simple thing – we need to be getting more shots on target.  Do that and the likelihood is that we’ll score and move up the table.

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It is also worth comparing this season with the past.  The goals we have scored per season since 2009/10 have ranged from from 56 last season to 83 in 2009/10.  At the moment we have scored 27, and at this rate we will end the season with 45.

If that is what we got it would be the lowest ever number of goals for Arsenal in the 38 game a season Premier League era.

It would also leave us with 52 points, worse than anything this century.

 
Season Played Won Drawn Lost Goals scored Lge position at end
2009/10 38 23 6 9 83 3rd
2010/11 38 19 11 8 72 4th
2011/12 38 21 7 10 74 3rd
2012/13 38 21 10 7 72 4th
2013/14 38 24 7 7 68 4th
2014/15 38 22 9 7 71 3rd
2015/16 38 20 11 7 65 2nd
2016/17 38 23 6 9 77 5th
2017/18 38 19 6 13 74 6th
2018/19 38 21 7 10 73 5th
2019/20 38 14 14 10 56 8th
2020/21 now 23 9 4 10 27 11th
2020/21 end* 38 15 7 16 45 12th

* This is of course an estimate based on current form continuing.

To get to a Europa League position we will need to get somewhere between 59 and 70 points, which is obviously a long way ahead of the projection given, which is based on the rest of the season being the same as the season thus far.

That means getting 33 points or more from 15 games.  That, in turn, means 10 wins, three draws and two defeats – which given that our record so far is nine wins four draws and 10 defeats seems rather unlikely.  Which makes it seem rather likely that unless we win the Europa this season we will not have Europe next season.

The last time that happened was 1995/6 when we came fifth, but just as more recent supporters kept telling us fourth was not a trophy, fifth in those days was not a European spot.

We have to face that fact that the most likely outcome is no European football next season.  But that should not stop us trying in games like today’s to redeem past short comings and rise up  the table, if nothing else but to point the way to next season.

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