How can Arsenal up their goalscoring this coming season?

By Tony Attwood


Arsenal were ninth in the goalscoring table last season, which doesn’t sound that good – although maybe what you would expect that since we finished the league season in eighth place.

But it perhaps is also slightly less ungood than you might imagine when you note that we only scored three fewer goals than Chelsea – who got the “fourth is not a trophy” slot.

However 55 goals in a league campaign is not what we expect from Arsenal.  The only times we have scored fewer goals in the Premier League were in the four Premier League season BW (Before Wenger).  Here are those pre-Wengerian seasons, and at the foot of the table this past season.   The interesting column (goals scored – “F”) is in bold.

Season P W D L F A Pts Pos Top scorer Goals
1992–93 42 15 11 16 40 38 56 10th Ian Wright 30
1993–94 42 18 17 7 53 28 71 4th Ian Wright 35
1994–95 42 13 12 17 52 49 51 12th Ian Wright 30
1995–96 38 17 12 9 49 32 63 5th Ian Wright 22
2020-21 38 18 7 13 55 39 61 8th Lacazette 17

Of course you will notice that in the top three seasons in the list above (the first three of the Premier League, in fact) there were four more games each season than now.  (In 1994/5 four teams were relegated and just two promoted from the Championship to reduce the number of games a season). 

And yet we managed more goals this past season in 38 matches, than we did in those 42 match seasons with Ian Wright at the top of his game.  So this goalscoring lark is not as directly related to success in the league as we might imagine.  Indeed in two of those Ian Wright seasons, we also finished 10th and 12th in two of those campaigns, which is a bit demoralising. 

But this does show that although having a top goal scorer in the squad is always fun, by itself it is not a guarantee of success.   There is no direct relation between the number of goals we get as a club and the number of goals our top goal scorer gets.   Indeed just consider the last four seasons:

Season P W D L Goals scored Top scorer Top scorer’s goals Top man’s percentage of all goals
2017–18 38 19 6 13 74 Alexandre Lacazette 17 23%
2018–19 38 21 7 10 73 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 31 42%
2019–20 38 14 14 10 56 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 29 52%
2020–21 38 18 7 13 55 Alexandre Lacazette 17 31%

The joy of having a 30 a season man in the side is that there is always the feeling that a goal can come at any time.  But there is also the danger that if the 30-a-season man is injured, then a sense of panic may be introduced by the media, who ask, in their simplistic way, “where will the goals come from?”

It is the type of media headline that is loved by journalists and copy editors because it creates a simple panic-laden appeal without any need for research beyond looking at the league table.

And this approach sounds as if it ought to be true: take out your 30 a season man and “the worry is where the goals will come from”.  But as can be seen above, Arsenal moved from a 29 goal top scorer to a 17 goal top scorer but only reduced the goal-scoring by one goal.  In short a 30 goal a season man is not a panacea.

Now let’s try another perspective – that of the Premier League Champions last season.  Manchester City scored 83 goals last season and their top goal scorer was lkay Gündogan with… 13, the same as Lacazette.

And how about this: two of the ten most prolific scorers in the Premier League last season are now in Arsenal’s squad for the new season.  That’s not something you’ll read about much in the media – if at all.

We find this statistic by looking at the top ten of strikers in terms of goals per minute on the pitch and it does make interesting reading…

  1.  Gareth Bale (Tottenham) – one goal every 99 minutes
  2.  Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) – one goal every 113 minutes
  3.  Diogo Jota (Liverpool) – one goal every 123 minutes
  4.  Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – one goal every 136 minutes
  5.  Harry Kane (Tottenham)  –  one goal every 136 minutes
  6.  Edinson Cavani (Manchester United)  – one goal every 136 minutes
  7.  Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – one goal every 146 minutes
  8.  Jesse Lingard (Manchester United) – one goal every 148 minutes
  9.  Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) – one goal every 156 minutes
  10.  Joe Willock (Newcastle on loan from Arsenal) – one goal every 160 minutes

Of course we’re not the only team with two of the most prolific scorers in the top ten: Liverpool have two, Tottenham have two, Manchester United have two.  And this is the trend – moving away from the one man knocking in all the goals, to a combination of players.

And here’s something else that might cheer you up if you are worried about our goal scoring.

P Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 24 20 0 4 62 20 42 60
2 Arsenal 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47
3 Manchester United 24 13 8 3 43 21 22 47
4 West Ham United 24 13 5 6 41 28 13 44
5 Chelsea 24 12 6 6 29 22 7 42
6 Leicester City 24 11 6 7 42 33 9 39
7 Liverpool 24 11 5 8 32 23 38
8 Tottenham Hots 24 11 4 9 43 31 12 37

That is the league table for the last two thirds of last season.  The period after Arsenal got their defence sorted out.  By not getting astronomical numbers of yellow cards, we were also able to play smooth attacking football at the same time.

In those 24 games we scored 43 goals – the second highest in the league for that last two thirds of the season, equal to Manchester United and Tottenham.  In fact we also had a defensive record equal to Man U during that period.  It is equivalent to 74 goals a season which is what Man U got through the whole season, in 2020/21.  So we were operating at a top-four level, which is obviously the first target.

Looking at current situation, the team with the concerns must be Tottenham who had the issue of a single striker who got most of their goals – (the now absent Mr Kane with 34%)

Manchester City were at the other end of the scale.  They had two players in double figures: Stirling on 10 and Gündoğan on 13.   Yet they still knocked in 83 goals as a team.

The point is, having one player who knocks in endless goals can be dodgy if he gets injured, or the opposition or referees rumble a ploy being used (as with Vardy in the early part of last season where he was endlessly getting penalties.  When that tactic was publicised, suddenly the refs were alert, and the number declined.)

We could well be travelling in the right direction.

19 Replies to “How can Arsenal up their goalscoring this coming season?”

  1. Stop the media stuff. Can’t you write just one article without going on about the media? Just one???????

    You must wake up in the middle of the night sweating about the dastardly media.

    It’s embarrassing.

  2. I just want arteta to sell off the 6 deadwood players for as much as possible (runarsson, Cedric, Kolasinac, Torreira, Elneny, willian)

    With that cash I would purchase the best goalkeeper we can to challenge Leno.

    Sure I would like to see us add goals, but I strongly believe that if we changed to a 433 we could achieve that, by using the players we have left.

    Keepers – Leno, new keeper, okwonko

    Defence- Chambers, Bellerin, White Holding, Gabriel, Mari, Tierney, Tavares, Rekik.

    Midfield – Saka, Partey, Smith-Rowe, Willock Xhaka, Lokonga, Maitland-Niles

    Forwards – Pepe, Aubameyang, Martinelli, Nelson, Lacazette, Nketiah, Balogun

    That is a 26 man squad I have put goals and creativity into the midfield using Willock, Saka and Smith-Rowe to give us that.

    Up front Nketiah would challenge Martinelli for that left forward position, though pretty much any of the forwards can play there and like wise the right forward.

    Can we improve that squad? Of course we can, if Man City can improve their squad then anyone can.

    The squad is very young and packed out with under 21s and homegrown players. If we can afford to improve the squad after offloading the 6 deadwood players we would have room for up to 8 non-homegrown signings. Obviously if we signed 8 players we would then be able to loan out many of our “weaker” players or even sell one or two.

    For me those weaker players are, Leno, Bellerin, Rekik, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Nketiah and Balogun.

    One thing I don’t think Arteta needs is a bigger squad than 26 With only 3 competitions that is more than enough.

    So for example in defence if we can replace Bellerin with a better right back choice then we should do so. Rekik is currently my 9th defender, obviously if we could sign a more experienced versatile defender to cover all positions then we should do so. In midfield Maitland-Niles is my 7th midfielder and Xhaka is what I would consider the weakest. If both can be improved upon then we should do so.
    However, I think it’s up front where we could most improve that squad.

  3. the trouble is, defining a player as “deadwood” and then moving on without explanation doesn’t help. I see Elneny as a really valuable member of the squad, and clearly Arteta does too.

  4. Andrew: there are many things about you that are revealed through your notes to Untold – like your occasional desire to change your email address. But your instructions to me on what I should write are among the oddest of all your oddities. “Stop the media stuff” – why?

    I find the topic interesting, no one is forced to read, you most certainly are not, and at the moment Untold is getting over 2 million page views a year, so some other people are finding it interesting too I guess. True the topic is not bringing in as many readers as in the days of the “Wenger out” campaigns, but still 2 mil is not bad. And surely they can’t all be like you: people who find something on the media that they dislike profoundly and then go on and on not only reading it, but also writing in to complain about it, over and over again.

    Now as it happens part of my paid employment has a fair amount of psychology within it, so I stay up to date with the study, but I don’t know and can’t find a word for a person who not only keeps on doing something he or she hates, but then gets embarrassed by it.

    If it weren’t for the embarrassment you suffer I’d say it is just a simple toxic personality syndrome, but then you are embarrassed – hmmm.

    Anyway I’ve answered you before, but I don’t mind telling you again, as maybe you have forgotten. My view is fairly standard among people who study the effect of the mass media: it can influence and manipulate the way people think about the world, and if a lot of the media joins together in one view of certain issues, it can influence some people into thinking that this is the only way these issues can be seen.

    That’s fairly standard as I say, and indeed it seems to me that the media in relation to football is a classic case of representing one view without even recognising others exist. So, because Untold is called, well Untold, I write about the way the media represents Arsenal – a way that misses out huge amounts of interesting detail.

    So there you are, you have it again. I do hope you find that helpful.

    Oh and one other thing: you imaginary view of my sleeping habits is not right. Fortunately I rarely wake up in the middle of the night and when I do, I don’t find myself thinking of football, the media or anything else in particular. but thank you for your concern.

  5. thanks for the stats about the goals per minute – the only one that truly pays justice to laca’s performances in the red and white
    and of course it highlights joe’s amazing efficiency as well
    sometimes when i browse through arsenal blogs or twitter accounts, i find myself wondering: does joe willock really exist?
    because now that partey’s injured – or so it seems – most of them consider either lokonga (who must have completed the grand amount of 20 or so beautiful passes in his burgeoning arsenal career – which is nice, i’m not saying it isn’t!!), or ben white, our brand new £50m CB, to deputize in midfield …
    what’s very strange is that some even bother to implement very elaborated theories about how joe’s scoring run at newcastle will never happen again, or about his passing’s so-called poor quality, or about his defensive weaknesses (just watch the way he retrieved the ball from shelvey who had just dispossessed him, under emery, who literally went beserk on his sideline), etc.
    i often ask myself whether other clubs have to cope with so much negativity about their own players, “fans” for whom “the grass is always greener …”: joe is an extraordinary young player, on a par with bukayo-emil, what he did at newcatle is blinding evidence, not only of his talent, but also of his … well, fortitude: it sure takes some to do what he did over there, right after being undeservedly kicked out by his childhood club
    if people bothered to look at stats before writing players off, they could see that his goalscoring stats (for a midfielder) are only matched, first by aaron ramsey, and then by … michael thomas; that, to me at least, looks like some big legendary shoes the lad has been able to fill indeed
    whatever happens to joe’s career, which fans, in their right mind, can brush off the possibility of having such a player in our starting XI, will always remain a profound mystery to me

  6. I also dislike the term “deadwood” applied to people in any context and especially to any Arsenal player. I also share Tony’s view that Elneny is a valuable member of the squad and I recall Cedric having some very good games last season.

    The mention of twin strikers brings to mind the exploits of Radford and Kennedy in the 1970/71 Double winning season. They were an effective pair of strikers, and were able to complement each other. We also had good scoring contributions from Charlie George, and midfield players George Graham, Eddie Kelly, Peter Storey and winger George Armstrong.

  7. @JohnL

    I agree with your comments on the word ‘deadwood’. I just think it is incredibly disrespectful and unkind to use that word with any of our players. The only things that would really make me dislike a player are a visible lack of effort or actions that embarrass the club and by extension, me.

    If a player is not performing well or doesn’t have the technical ability then I trust that the gaffer will make the decision necessary to improve the team. I also must keep in mind that we don’t always know about all the contributions a player makes to a squad (leadership, etc.) or who is actually available for a match.

    But, I do feel, that while a player is wearing our sweater he is a member of our club and must be supported.

  8. I like the optimism that infects Arsenal fans before start of season. Of course not all. But what do I expect, when hope is lost, dread and despair reign supreme and that’s not pleasant.

    But for proper introspection reality has to be faced and at times it’s not pleasant.

    Watching Chelsea game it was apparent Arsenal has not made any new signings. And yes I know there has been 3 new additions.

    For there to be progress additions have to be an upgrade on the present.

    Tavares has been brought in as back up. Lokonga is promising but I doubt he’ll instantly transform the team. White will walk into the team. Will he transform the team like VVD, probably not, but then it’s VVD. Very few defenders have made such a case for Ballon d’ Or.

    Last season Arsenal finished 8th. Their transfer dealings haven’t added much, maybe solved a few problems. I may be a pessimist but any optimism borne out of Arsenal situation has to be informed on drawing convenient conclusions from selective statistics. Hopefully Arteta has some magic in store

  9. Atid

    One of the mistakes that people make when they talk about getting deadwood out is that it takes two to Tango. In other words if the player saysI have a contract which I am happy with so sorry I am not going anywhere what do you then do with a player on over say £100k a week? The days of sending them to the reserves is long gone
    The next and possibly the most relevant is where would they go to in terms of clubs being able to finance expensive “deadwood” ?
    Perhaps the most missed point when people call an experienced player deadwood is they totally underestimate the impact these players have as mentors and leaders
    Whilst I doubt many supporters will miss David Luiz on the pitch it’s at the training ground and in the dressing room players such as himt have seen it all can add so much value.
    As for Willian he is a seasoned professional who is on top wages with two years left on his contract.
    Willian chose Arsenal because he wanted to remain in London that and the financial package so why on earth would he agree to leave unless it suited him ? Would you ?

    If Arsenal went for the squad you list Arteta would be signing his own dismissal letter.

    Tony talks about more goals and probably some of the youngsters may improve their goals to game ratio but it would be one hellava risk to rely on Saka, ESR and Willock to deliver extra goals from midfield indeed including Willock purple patch at Newcastle those three players have delivered 17 goals from 135 appearances.
    When you look at Nketiah, Martinelli,Nelson and Balogun they have just 88 Pl appearances in total between then( Balogun has yet to appear in the PL) with a return of 17 goals.
    Of course they all could score more but their individual experience is limited.
    Hey it’s a romantic notion that you can do without players like Eleney but you really shouldn’t underestimate just how valuable these type of players are to a squad

  10. One of the great things about comments like that made by Kem is that it speaks volumes about Kem, and who he, she or it, actually is. The notion that an insult can be novel or of interest after 13 or so years of publishing this site is a bit odd, but the fact that the individual will find the site of such importance that the individual takes time to write says a lot more. Keep it up Kem. We might or might not publish anything you say, but we will learn a lot more about you with every word you write.

  11. Kem.

    As most on here will know I am far from an Arsenal fan and disagree time after time with Tony’s articles and indeed other posters comments but I am a visitor here and have never hidden my agenda so respect for me has to be a buzz word.

    It’s all too easy to tap away on a keyboard no doubt alone in a darkened room but no one and mean no one bar you will give any credit to the type of comment you made.

    If you think the article is c**p put your case forward. Argue your point of view.

    It’s football and whilst many of the comments on here are understandable and seen through red and white glasses every so often Tony digs up a story that is thought provoking and offers a different perspective.

    I have never ever had a post censored on here and it would have been very easy for me to respond by way of posting insults to some who disagree with my views but what would that achieve.?

    Time for you to grow up methinks!

  12. @ Mike T

    The problem with some of our “supporters” (often young and only started following for the glory) is that many of them are totally certain they know how to manage a professional football club whilst demonstrating the thought processes of someone yet to be left in charge of a market stall without close supervision.

  13. Mike T

    As you say you often disagree with Tony and others, including me, but you rarely, if ever come here without at least something statistical to support your point of view.

    I for my part don’t always agree with you but it is obvious to me you are well informed, intelligent and do your research.

    Overall, by far the most idiotic, baseless posts that turn up on Untold are from Arsenal supporters, if indeed you can call some of them that.

    As you suggest, the above is a prime example of what I’m talking about.

    Best of luck for the new season (well, sort of) and I look forward to crossing swords once again.

  14. Nitram

    Thanks for that

    My wife bought me a sign for my man cave which reads

    Retired person lives here knows everything about everything and has plenty of time to tell you about it

    I don’t know what she means !

    Ditto re your season

  15. Mike T

    I’m only on the verge of retirement but already my wife says something similar.

    As you can see on here, I already have too much to say. I think she’s dreading the day I have even more time on my hands. Ah Bless !!!

  16. Hope you are not going to praise Arsenal for that dire performance against Brentford. The players clearly don’t want to play for Arteta. Don’t think I watched a single good performance last year. They started tonight with more of the same. At least Auba and Laca had the good grace to,pull a sickie. I wouldn’t want to turn up for this team either.

    How on earth did we manage to engineer getting Xhaka back? And we gave him a pay rise! One of the least inspiring Arsenal players of the last 5 years.

    Two players looked like they wanted to be there, Tierney and Emile SR. I wonder how long before even they lose interest.

    Oh well, at least we won on the not tackling stat that you trumpet so often.

  17. So glad to see these comments. The toxicity among our MOTD/match highlights fanboys, the sheeple fanbase, and to exhausted, seasoned supporters can be so dispiriting.

    To say only ESR and Tierney were playing for the manager is just parroting the Sky Sports commentators.There didn’t appear to be much psychological leadership in attack/midfield or in defence for that matter.

    Extending Xhaka’s contract doesn’t seem right.Yes Roma were unwilling to fork out a fair amount, but someone who will keep him on the bench until he brings the same passion he shows for his national team is what’s needed.

    A very harsh and humbling start to the season. I agree the deadwood moniker has never sat well with me. None of our players, not even Willian deserve that level of disrespect. But they say it’s 21st century sensibilities.

    If the rumoured drive to stipulate increases in home grown players is to be believed, it will explain the Ben White purchase, as well as the rumouree Maddison and Ramsdale pursuits.

    Thankfully I can keep calm again and keep SUPPORTING Arsenal!

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