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The one simple factor that Arsenal need to sort out to be in the top four

Here’s the worrying figure (so you don’t have to read the whole article to get to the central fact – although it would be nice if you did).

Only four Premier League teams require more shots to get a goal than Arsenal: Norwich, Leeds, Southampton and Tottenham

The good news is that if we could sort that one problem out and we’d certainly be in the top four.

Overall there is no doubt that our current problem is goalscoring.  It is not so much that we are tenth in the goalscoring chat – half way down the league for number of goals put away – but that we are not very good at turning shots into goals.  (And the problem is the media keep tipping us to sign players who are really not going to make that much difference).

In a league table based on shots Arsenal are currently seventh in the league – so only a little behind our league position.  But when we look at how many shots are needed before we score a goal, we are very much at the bottom, in the company of Southampton, Leeds and Chaotic Tottenham which is not good news.

Here is a list of some of the clubs that are really making life difficult for themselves by taking much larger numbers of shots to get a goal, than the high flying teams.  By way of comparison, Liverpool and Chelsea are shown at the end.

Club Shots Goals scored Shots per goal Conceded
Norwich City 112 5 22.40 26
Leeds United 157 11 14.27 18
Southampton 137 10 13.70 12
Tottenham Hotspur 111 9 12.33 16
Arsenal 154 13 11.84 13
Liverpool 215 31 6.94 11
Chelsea 170 27 6.29 4

In essence, Arsenal are taking getting on for twice as many shots to score a goal as Liverpool and Chelsea.  But are more able to convert shots into goals than clubs such as Tottenham, Southampton and Norwich,

It is not so much that if we could get that accuracy rate up, we would get more wins (maybe one or two as our two draws are converted to wins) but we could feel more comfortable about winning and have a better goal difference.  And provide more entertainment.

Goals conceded

When we look at the goals conceded column we can see that there is not that much difference between Arsenal and Liverpool, and that is after that poor start to the season in which we let in an average of three a game in the first three fixtures.  So again, it is the goals scored and how many shots are needed to get a goal that is the problem. 

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For example, if we had Liverpool’s accuracy rate in turning shots into goals, we would have scored 22 goals this season rather than 13!

Compare this with goals conceded we can see that in our last six league games we have conceded four goals in total – a record that would have given us a total of seven goals conceded in the league so far this season if we had maintained that from the start.   In fact, it would have given us the third-best defence in the league – which is exactly what we had last season.  And by that, I don’t mean just the last two-thirds of last season, but the whole of last season, including when we were having a really difficult time sorting out the “no tackles” policy in the first third of the season.

So the point I am laboriously working my way toward is that our defence is ok.  Where we are slipping up is in attack.  This is not to say the attack is a disaster, because just three more goals would have taken us up to sixth – still not breaking into the stratosphere, but looking better.  But we need more goals.

This raises the question – are we improving our attacking?  For this, we need to turn once more to the last six games table.

Arsenal goals in the last six games

We have scored 11 goals: the fourth-best team in the league in this regard behind Liverpool (19) Chelsea (15) and West Ham (12)

The defence is even better.  In the last six games, we are the second-best club in the league conceding four.  Only Chelsea has gone one better and conceded just three.

More goals per shot!

So now we’ve got there.  What we need is nothing to do with our defence.  Nor do we need to shoot much more often although an increase in shots could help somewhat.  No, we primarily need to be more accurate in our shooting.  We need to get the shots per goal down from almost 12 to around seven or eight.  That’s all we need for that would really set us solidly in the top four.

Here are the figures for the whole season… 

  Shots Goals scored Shots per goal Conceded
1. Liverpool 215 31 6.94 11
2. Manchester City 195 22 8.86 6
3. West Ham United 172 23 7.48 13
4. Chelsea 170 27 6.30 4
5. Manchester United 165 19 8.68 17
6. Leeds United 157 11 14.27 18
7. Arsenal 154 13 11.84 13
8. Everton 149 16 9.31 16
9. Southampton 137 10 13.70 12
10. Brentford 135 13 10.38 13
11. Leicester City 131 16 8.19 18
12. Brighton and Hove Albion 130 12 10.83 12
13. Aston Villa 129 14 9.21 20
14. Wolverhampton Wanderers 125 11 11.36 12
15. Burnley 123 11 11.18 17
16. Crystal Palace 122 15 8.13 13
17. Newcastle United 118 12 9.83 24
18. Watford 113 12 9.42 19
19. Norwich City 112 5 22.40 26
20. Tottenham Hotspur 111 9 12.33 16

2 comments to The one simple factor that Arsenal need to sort out to be in the top four

  • porter

    We have been somewhat powder puff in front of goal for some time. We were always accused of trying to walk it in which was just a way of saying we tend to score five a side goals.
    The trade mark Henry open the body and bend it or Pires draw the keeper and sidefoot it home seems to be the techniques our forwards aspire to .
    Wrighty was different , he scored outrageous less predictable goals and back in the day keepers used to give the impression that they got out of the way if MacDonald was shooting such was the power.
    Training as a schoolboy I was told by Brian Bedford at QPR to hit the ball as hard as you can .one yard or 5 or 10 it doesn’t matter a deflection counts just the same. It was Lampard’s technique and it certainly worked for him.

  • DougW

    Might I suggest my Canadian countryman Jonathan David, centre forward now at Lille? Goals per shot this season of 0.3 (Vlahovic 0.12, even Haaland 0.26, Kulusevski 0.12). Goals per 90 of 0.8, compared to Vlahovic’s 0.67 and Kulusevski’s 0.19 (but Haaland’s 1.0). And in the 92nd percentile for pressures, which I think we want from a centre forward now. Yes, it’s Lille, from whom we got Pepe, but I think he’s worth a look. Age 21. Now at his highest value of £31.5m.

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