By Tony Attwood
Journalists don’t do statistics, as we know, so they make up stories to knock us with, but they are slowly running out of options. And stats are available – those used here come from the Premier League’s own data.
We are the sixth highest-scoring team in the league, and have the fifth-best defence in the league, which rather makes it sound as if we should be fifth or sixth in the league table, as we are, although that might be changed a bit when our games in hand are played.
In this regard comparisons with the past don’t help much because the shape of the league varies from season to season. For example, last time we came fourth at the end of the season in 2016, after 24 games we were top of the league.
But that of course does not mean we ought to be top of the league now in order to come fourth at the end of the season.
We can’t even say we are on a good run (it’s a mere four without defeat), although it is just one defeat in nine in the league. (Mind you a journalist with two seconds to spare could actually see that we have only won four in the last nine in all competitions, and so will probably knock Arsenal with that in the coming days).
Fortunately, journalists, by and large, can’t do statistics, and certainly wouldn’t be seen dead reading Untold Arsenal, so they are not likely to pick up on either stat, but should we not be a trifle worried by either the number of goals conceded or the lack of goals scored this season?
Indeed is it not obvious we need more goalscorers? Certainly with Lacazette and Eddie going at the end of the season, it would seem so, although Lacaz is actually doing better with assists at the moment. Or maybe we need to take more shots… And come to that how does the number of shots that a club has in the league relate to their league position? Or what about passes?
In fact, come to think of it, is there any statistic that can help us understand just where a club needs to improve an individual position? After all, as noted above we are the sixth highest-scoring team in the league, and have the fifth-best defence in the league, and we are fifth in the league, so they seem like fairly accurate reflections of how well we are doing.
Let’s look at goals conceded
|Lge Pos||Team||P||Goals scored||Goals/ game||Goals Conceded||Goals Conceded /game|
|6||West Ham United||26||45||1.73||34||0.76|
So as we would expect goals conceded per game are a rough indicator of where one is in the league – but we are still conceding more goals per game than we should be. But we have only conceded four in the last six games, and seven in the last ten, which is an improvement. So the defence is moving in the right direction as the last six and last 10 games tables that we so often run, show.
Let’s try another…
This is where it starts to get curious, for in the upper half of the table organised by the number of passes we have Brighton, Palace and Leeds.
|Rank||Club||Passes||Lge position||Played||Passes per game|
|4.||Brighton and Hove Albion||13,566||10||26||521|
|10.||West Ham United||11,017||6||26||423|
And although the passing is not bringing Brighton (10th), Palace (11th) and Leeds (16th) league success it might well be a strategy that is keeping them higher in the league than they might otherwise be. But certainly passing alone is not the way up the league.
|Club||Shots||Pl||Shots per game||Lge pos|
|8.||West Ham United||329||26||12.65||6|
|9.||Brighton and Hove Albion||323||26||12.42||10|
Again shooting helps, but the position of Leeds at sixth in the shooting table shows once more on its own it is not the absolute key to success.
But consider this: Arsenal get in four fewer shots per game than Liverpool. Arsenal make 152 fewer passes per game than Liverpool, and we are scoring fewer and conceding more than the clubs above us.
Arsenal changed its approach dramatically under Mr Arteta in order to stop the club being top of the yellow card league. I don’t have the stats to show our passing level in the last 10 games, but from simply watching the matches I really do thing our passing level is on the up and that is contributing to our success recently.
We are in fact, constantly changing the tactics, and I believe it is the number of passes and number of shots that are on the up given that we have got the rest of the statistics right.
- Talk Sport: isn’t it time for an abject apology over your Arsenal prediction?
- The idea that Man U have the advantage over Arsenal in the run in, is twaddle