Do Arsenal need a new attack next season?

by Tony Attwood


I have often argued that talk of our needing a new defence is ludicrous as we had the third best defence in the league last season.   So let’s look at the attack. 

This table is ordered by goals scored (marked in bold) and here we can see Arsenal were  only three goals behind Chelsea.  But that was our lowest number of goals since 1995/6 so clearly we need to improve.   

And a one season is improvement is possible for in the season before Mr Wenger we got 49 goals and in the first season under him we got 62.  A 13 goal improvement which would take us up to the level of Liverpool (which is worth remembering in the light of what follows).

Actual  lge pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 38 27 5 6 83 32 51 86
2 Manchester United 38 21 11 6 73 44 29 74
3 Liverpool 38 20 9 9 68 42 26 69
5 Leicester City 38 20 6 12 68 50 18 66
7 Tottenham Hotspur 38 18 8 12 68 45 23 62
6 West Ham United 38 19 8 11 62 47 15 65
9 Leeds United 38 18 5 15 62 54 8 59
4 Chelsea 38 19 10 9 58 36 22 67
8 Arsenal 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61

We can see Arsenal were  only three goals behind Chelsea.  But that was our lowest number of goals since 1995/6 so clearly we need to improve.

And a one season is improvement is possible for in the season before Mr Wenger we got 49 goals and in the first season under him we got 62.  A 13 goal improvement which would take us up to the level of Liverpool (which is worth remembering in the light of what follows).

A look at the table of goalscoring during our brightest era shows just what is possible if this side of the game is focused on.  At the foot of the table we have our position last season

Season Goals scored League pos Top scorer Goals by top scorer
1998/99 59 2 Nicolas Anelka 19
1999/00 73 2 Thierry Henry 26
2000/01 63 2 Thierry Henry 22
2001/02 79 1 Thierry Henry 32
2002/03 85 2 Thierry Henry 32
2003/04 73 1 Thierry Henry 39
2004/05 87 2 Thierry Henry 30
2020/21 55 8 Alexandre Lacazette 17

That table seems to shows the problem – although throughout the summer we have had journalists and others claiming that we need to tear up the defence and replace it all.   Either they are utterly stupid or that has been a deliberate attempt to create a negative story and then report an Arsenal failure.

But we know last season was a campaign of two parts.  The first third was a disaster and left us 15th in the league, the last two thirds measured alone showed us second in the league.   But still, do we need to rip up the attack?

We can look at this using last season’s league table and comparing Arsenal with the top teams not just on the whole season but how we did in the first third of the season, as the tactical revolution was under way and the last two thirds, when it was in place.

To make the comparison we need to see goals per game and I have added that as the final column in the table below.  This table relates throughout to 2020/1.   GpG = goals per game.

Time Team Games F A GD GpG
All season Manchester City 38 83 32 51 2.18
All season Manchester United 38 73 44 29 1.92
All season Liverpool 38 68 42 26 1.79
All season Chelsea 38 58 36 22 1.52
All season Arsenal 38 55 39 16 1.44
First third Arsenal 14 12 18 -6 0.86
Last two thirds Arsenal 24 43 21 22 1.79

What we see is that in the last two thirds Arsenal were scoring 1.79 goals per game.  Better than Chelsea and equal to Liverpool, but behind the Mancunian duo.  We were performing like a club in third place in the league.

Given that it was the first third of the season that was so poor we could easily take a set of games within that spell and imagine that in a period when the players were not learning a new tactical system they might have had a better set of results. For example, look at this set of six games in 27 days…

Date Match Res Score Competition
22 Nov 2020 Leeds United v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
29 Nov 2020 Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 1-2 Premier League
6 Dec 2020 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-0 Premier League
13 Dec 2020 Arsenal v Burnley L 0-1 Premier League
16 Dec 2020 Arsenal v Southampton D 1-1 Premier League
19 Dec 2020 Everton v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League

One goal against Leeds and a second against Southampton, plus two goals at home to Burnley, would have given us the points required to take us up to fourth.  And such results would hardly have raised eyebrows.

Certainly no changes were needed in defence, where we conceded fewer than Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, not to mention the wannabes such as Leicester, West Ham and Everton.  (And that to be clear is across the whole season, not just the last two thirds).

So although I would say the defence is in fine shape, maybe either the attacking midfield or the attack itself could be better.

Of course one way to do this is keep Lacazette and Aubameyang and have that third source of goals coming from an attacking midfield player or wing man.

Our top scorers chart for last season shows the possibilities in this table derived from the BBC which covers all competitions.

Rank Name Goals Goals per 90 mins Goal Conversion Shot Accuracy
Alexandre Lacazette
17 0.62 31% 65%
Nicolas Pépé
16 0.49 22% 49%
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
15 0.45 21% 49%
Bukayo Saka
7 0.17 15% 52%

The point here is that Pépé and Saka were improving dramatically last season and could well improve again when it comes to goal scoring.  Changing the attack may not be so necessary after all.  We will need to replace Auba and Laca soon, but it might be a good idea to see just what Saka and Pépé can do on the attacking front.

And I haven’t even mentioned Martinelli.

Now the media are getting desperate in their battle against Arsenal

6 Replies to “Do Arsenal need a new attack next season?”

  1. Spot on. You are a fervent arsenal fan. Auba and Laca have to be replaced. Auba more especially. He is not the same player. He is not aggressive enough and that’s why we have suffered in front of the goal.

  2. Am hoping that this present crop of players will click and start scoring the required goals , while we shut out our goal. We have the speed in the wings to hit teams on the break.
    While Xhaka lofts crosses in from the deep . Am hoping too that Martinelli and others do contribute their share while staying injury free.

  3. Auba lost his mother, had problems with injury & illness, he was playing in a different position, this season should be better for him. It will be interesting to see how Balogun is intergrated into the team as well. ESR I think will have a more productive season as well.

  4. Abanks perhaps it would be a little more to the point to say “Andrew Banks” again, for while I do write regularly about how the media ignores certain factors in order to argue that a specific line of thought, I do at least put the point under my own name. That way anyone who has read my commentaries before will know the general direction of my football writing and know to avoid it if they don’t like it.
    You however hide under a variety of nom de plumes, and (if memory serves) a variety of email addresses and ip addresses, regularly writing in to criticise my commentaries in short statements such as that above.
    Being a fairly liberal kind of chap I tend to let a lot of them through, but one thing strikes me.
    You know what you are going to get when you come to Untold Arsenal, and yet you repeatedly come here, and then make comments like “Blah blah blah”.
    Clearly you think this is worth doing, otherwise you would not do it so often, and clearly it must be of some importance to you, to seek to put me down, but, if you think I am that silly and/or insignificant, I wonder why you do it and why you don’t have something else to do with your time.
    I can justify what I do easily: the media take one view, I think there are other approaches which are better at both describing and explaining what is going on, but few other people are describing them. I put all the articles in Untold Arsenal so that those who disagree with what I write can readily avoid the site and read something else – or indeed nothing at all. The number of hits the site gets suggest that there is still quite a bit of interest. Indeed even if half our readers thought it all gibberish, there would still be a lot of people who find it interesting.
    But you – what on earth reduces you to the level of changing your name and making these little comments all the time? Is there really nothing else in your life?
    Anyway, I’ll do an article about you and your approach to Untold at some stage in the future, simply because it strikes me as an interesting approach to life, and an interesting type of personality revealed which is not widely mentioned in most books on the topic.

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