Arsenal score more without Aubameyang than with him, and what it’s usually like after 28 games.

by Tony Attwood

Looking at Arsenal’s progress after a set number of games allows us to see how this season compares with others, and how teams that were fourth after 28 games normally finished the season.  It also allows us to see how much impact the removal of Aubameyang has had by comparing goals scored so far this season, with goals scored by this point, with Auba in the side.

Now the media, in general, were very interested in this sort of analysis, comparing Arsenal this season with Arsenal in previous seasons. 

But curiously they were only interested in this for a while.  For while the media en masse compared Arsenal after the first three games of the season with our position after three games in previous years, as soon as Arsenal started winning and rising up the league, the media lost all interest in this form of comparison.

Isn’t that odd?

I suppose one has to put it down to the lack of ability by football journalists to focus on one subject for anything more than a couple of minutes.

Yet there have been some pretty gruesome starts for Arsenal across the centuries.  Take 1909/10…

1909/10 first nine games

Date Opponent Venue Score
1 September 1909 Aston Villa A 1–5
4 September 1909 Sheffield United H 0–0
11 September 1909 Middlesbrough A 2–5
18 September 1909 Bolton Wanderers A 0–3
25 September 1909 Chelsea H 3–2
2 October 1909 Blackburn Rovers A 0–7
7 October 1909 Notts County A 1–5
9 October 1909 Nottingham Forest H 0–1
16 October 1909 Sunderland A 2–6

After that Sunderland defeat the foot of the table showed we had conceded 34 goals in nine games and we were well and truly bottom.

1909/10 table after nine Arsenal games.

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
17 Tottenham Hotspur 8 2 2 4 11 17 0.647 6
18 Bolton Wanderers 10 2 1 7 12 19 0.632 5
19 Preston North End 8 1 2 5 9 14 0.643 4
20 Woolwich Arsenal 9 1 1 7 9 34 0.265 3

That season we finished 18th and so avoided relegation as at that time only the bottom two went down.

But despite the worst start for any football team in any division ever since the dinosaurs stopped eating plants and moved into journalism, this season after nine games the table showed us 1oth with more wins than defeats.

But let’s move on and ask, how do we compare now with other teams which have been fourth after 28 games?  What does fourth place normally look like after 28 games?  Are we doing better than most teams who were fourth at this stage, or is this a very feeble fourth place we occupy?  

Fourth after 28 games table

So here I’ve looked at what the record of the club that was fourth after 28 games looked like, and then seen where that club ended up.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End pos
4 Arsenal 2022 28 17 3 8 44 31 13 54
4 Chelsea 2021 28 14 8 6 44 25 19 50 4th
4 Chelsea 2020 28 13 6 9 47 39 8 45 4th
4 Arsenal 2019 28 17 5 6 60 38 22 56 5th
4 Tottenham Hot 2018 28 16 7 5 53 24 29 55 3rd
4 Liverpool 2017 28 16 7 5 60 35 25 55 4th
4 Manchester C 2016 28 15 5 8 52 31 21 50 4th
4 Manchester U 2015 28 15 8 5 47 26 21 53 4th

So what do we learn?  The range of points needed to achieve fourth place over the last eight years is 45 to 56.   Thus at 54 points we are in the upper reaches of the number of points for this stage in the season for the fourth-placed club.  Any thoughts journalists might have of suggesting that, “Arsenal have had it easy this year” can be dismissed.

In three of the last eight seasons, the fourth-placed team has had either 55 or 56 points – a tiny increase on what Arsenal have this season.  Tiny indeed compared with Chelsea who achieved fourth place after 28 games with just 45 points in 2020.

Second, in every one of those seasons except one, the club in fourth after 28 games was fourth or better at the end of the season.

Thus our situation looks rather good, but still, the media is going on, day after day, about how it will be tough for us to stay in fourth.   

But there is no consideration of how Arsenal have improved under Mr Arteta – presumably because after three games most of the media was demanding that Arteta had to go.

So let’s compare Arsenal this season after 28 games with Arsenal in previous seasons, in order to see if we really are making progress.

Arsenal after 28 games year by year

Pos after 28 Year W D L F A GD Pts Pos after 38
4 2022 17 3 8 44 31 13 54
10 2021 12 5 11 37 29 8 41 8
9 2020 9 13 6 40 36 4 40 8
4 2019 17 5 6 60 38 22 56 5
6 2018 13 6 9 51 39 12 45 6
6 2017 15 6 7 58 36 22 51 5
3 2016 15 6 7 44 28 16 51 2
3 2015 16 6 6 53 30 23 54 3

Of course, none of this proves that we will make fourth, but what we can say for sure is that only once after 28 games in the past seven years have we had more points than now.  And only once in those years have we gone down a place between 28 games and the end of the season.  That was 2019 when we sank from fourth to fifth.  We missed fourth by one point and a poorer goal difference.

The Aubameyang influence.

And we might also note that despite all the fuss about not having a centre forward we have actually scored more goals this season after 28 games than we did last season or the season before after 28, when we had Aubameyang playing at centre forward.  Removing Aubameyang has increased our goalscoring capacity.

8 Replies to “Arsenal score more without Aubameyang than with him, and what it’s usually like after 28 games.”

  1. As much as I like Aubameyang, I believe that at some point defences started understanding how to stop him.
    Right now, they need to stop too many players all at once.

    And I have the feeling – but don’t have the stats – that each of Saka, ESR, Odegaard, Martinelli, Lacazette not only score, but are providing assists.
    So stopping one of them, if it works, is not the perfect solution. And with them youngsters relishing one-on-ones and daring the opposition to try, it gets difficult. And stopping most of them becomes quite a task.

    And if you look at who Arsenal have lost against, you find mostly the top teams, with the more experienced and better organised and/or coached defences. Let the youngsters get more experience and the balance is going to shift. The ‘wolf pack’ that Arsenal’s offence is becoming will be winning more of those top games in the future. They are young. The more experienced defences are getting older. I hope Arsenal keep this core together for many years.

  2. Chris

    “And I have the feeling – but don’t have the stats – that each of Saka, ESR, Odegaard, Martinelli, Lacazette not only score, but are providing assists.”

    Yes you do, well for 3 of them at least, because I’ve put them up more than once, the last time being just a week ago, usually when this question of the requirement for a high scoring number 9 comes up. As you will see I made comparisons with who would of been their closest equivalents in our last title winning team.

    The idea being that if we want to win the premier league that is the level they will need to reach:

    This is what I posted back on the 24th of March and when you see the comparisons and read the conclusions, you will see that despite some good returns in certain fields, they are lacking in others.

    Anyway this is what I put up a week ago showing their stats for goals and assists with my conclusions:

    I find this question very interesting because without doubt there is more than one way to skin a cat so to speak. It isn’t essential to have a 20 plus main striker to achieve what you want, but it helps. But if the rest of the team all contribute in sufficient numbers then there is no need.

    We had similar debates to this back in early February where I did a comparison between our current young Guns and our incumbents the last time we won the Premiership, Henry, Bergkamp and Pires

    As I said at the time, as good as these young players are, are Martinelli, Sake, and Smith Rowe going to score enough goals to be able to, and I really hate this phrase but I don’t know how else to put it, take us too the next level.

    If Martinelli is going to be our new main striker (Our Henry), Sake our new attacking wide player (Pires), and Smith Rowe our new creative attacking midfield player (Bergkamp) they are not only going to match them ‘skill’ wise, but goal scoring and assists wise as well.

    So I did a comparison back then, and as much as the young guns figures have slightly improved and as good as they are they are still short of where they need to be if they want to reach the level of those 3 icons. A level that did indeed win us the Premier League.

    All numbers Per Game.

    HENRY: Goals = 0.68
    MARTINELLI: Goals = 0.26

    Martinelli needs to more than double his return in this regard.

    HENRY: Assists = 0.42
    MARTINELLI: = 0.16

    Martinelli needs to almost treble his return in this aspect of his game.


    BERGKAMP: Goals = 0.28
    SMITH ROWE: Goals = 0.23

    Smith Rowe is already up there with Bergkamp. Exceptional for someone so young.

    BERGKAMP: Assists = 0.30
    SMITH ROWE: Assists = 0.13

    Smith Rowe needs to more than double his return in this regard.


    PIRES: Goals = 0.31
    SAKE: Goals = 0.17

    Sake needs to almost double his return in this regard.

    PIRES: Assists = 0.20
    SAKE: Assists = 0.15

    Sake compares very favorably with Pires in this regard, again remarkable for someone so young.

    But the fact remains out of 6 parameters measured, our young pretenders only match our past heroes in 2. Smith Rowes Goals and Sakes assists. In the other 4 parameters our young guns are still a long way short of where we need them to be if we are to challenge for the title.

    Matinelli is a fantastic prospect, of that there is no doubt, BUT his return in goals and assists is miles away from where it needs to be.

    Will he get there, that is the question. I hope so but it is by no means a certainty.

    Smith Rowe is already a fantastic talent. He already matches Bergkamp for goals but needs to double his assists return.

    Given his age that is without doubt achievable.

    Sake too is already a fantastic player and just about matches Pires for assists but again he has to double one aspect of his game as well, and score more goals.

    Our 3 most outstanding young guns have some way to go to reach the level of our past heroes that were good enough to bring us our last title.

    We have a choice as a club and as fans.

    1) Are we going to be patient and wait for the 6 months, season, or even 2 seasons it may take for these guys to reach the level required, assuming they do ?

    2) Are we going to supplement them with ‘ready made’ though expensive additions to the squad ?

    3) Even replace them altogether with a raft of ready made and proven, again expensive players ?

    It’s an interesting dilemma and there is no easy answer.

    The fact is we cant afford option 3 anyway, but hey it IS an option.

    Option 2 is probably the most likely to happen.

    Option 1 Would simply be amazing, in more ways than one.

  3. PS: Sorry for the Saka typo. I had a brain fart the first time I put the numbers up and keep forgetting to correct it.

  4. And this is how Odegaard compares to Ljungberg

    LJUNGBERG: Goals = 0.20
    ODEGAARD: Goals = 0.15

    LJUNGBERG: Assists = 0.12
    ODEGAARD: Assists = 0.12

    As you can see those 2 are very similar, but even so Odegaard still needs to slightly up his scoring.

  5. @Nitram,

    yep, the numbers may not look like they ought, that is accepted. But we are seing ‘team-forming’ for the first time since way back. Even Mr Wenger and the invincibles did not have that many youngsters starting their career in the team. And if I am not wrong, I’d say it is the first full normal PL season for pretty much all of them, I mean where they are full starters playing under normal circumstances.

    I’m not even sure that even when Wilshire-Walcott-Oxlade-Chamberlain were touted as the next big thing, the age average on field was as low as the one we see regularly this season.

    So I believe they need patience on our part, I believe Mr Arteta and his staff will supply all the know-how and environement they need. And I guess that this summer, they will get a few additions that will be as good as those of the last break. Trivia question : which player who joined Arsenal last summer did not make it to the first team ?

    So right now, just numbers are not my worry. The arc, the vector of where the team is heading are the most important element. There are a few gaes left….none of them easy, but this is what growing up as a great team requires : winning more and more. It’s about time they start tying the games against big teams.

  6. Chris

    As you mentioned Saka, ESR, Odegaard, Martinelli, Lacazette I thought I’d try and pair all of them up to what I thought was their closest match from our last title winning squad.

    The figures are still goals and assists per game, although I have swapped a couple of the comparisons around in an attempt to make good match ups.

    With 5 players from each squad and 2 sets of data, goals and assists, that means 10 statistical comparisons which are as follows:

    HENRY: Goals = 0.68 Per Game
    LACA: Goals = 0.36 Per Game

    HENRY: Ass = 0.42 Per Game
    LACA: Ass = 0.17 Per Game


    BERG: Goals = 0.28 Per Game
    SAKA: Goals = 0.17 Per Game

    BERG: Ass = 0.30 Per Game
    SAKA: Ass = 0.15 Per Game


    PIRES: Goals = 0.31 Per Game
    E S R: Goals = 0.23 Per Game

    PIRES: Ass = 0.20 Per Game
    E S R: Ass= 0.13 Per Game


    LJUNGBERG: Goals = 0.20 Per Game
    ODEGAARD: Goals = 0.15 Per Game

    LJUNGBERG: Ass = 0.12 Per Game*
    ODEGAARD: Ass = 0.12 Per Game*


    J A RAYES: Goals = 0.23 Per Game**
    MARTINELLI: Goals = 0.26 Per Game**

    J A RAYES: Ass = 0.30 Per Game
    MARTINELLI: Ass = 0.16 Per Game

    As you can see in only 2 out of the 10 comparisons do our current players equal* or better** the players from our last title winning squad.

    In all the other comparisons the old guard perform better, in some cases a lot better.

    I am only doing this to demonstrate that as good as our current players are, especially for their age, overall they have a fair way to go to reach the level I feel is required to challenge for the title.

    This is not a criticism. The average age and experience of this current group of players is totally different to the average ages and overall experience of that past group of players.

    In all honesty it is a harsh comparison as that particular group of players was one of, if not the best squad Arsenal have ever had. Never the less I still think it is interesting to see where this current group of players are and where they need to be, but at the rate they are improving, and with the experience they are gaining every week, there is no reason at all why they cannot reach the kind of levels reached by the old guard.

    We will need to be patient though. I know that is not a problem with a majority of ‘Untolders’.

    Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the media who constantly try to agitate our fans in to discontentment, and sadly, more often than not succeed in doing just that.

    I honestly believe Arteta is the man to lead this group of players to the very top.

  7. Chris

    I was researching and typing up whilst you put up your post.

    “Even Mr Wenger and the invincibles did not have that many youngsters starting their career in the team. And if I am not wrong, I’d say it is the first full normal PL season for pretty much all of them”

    As you can see I agree.

    “So I believe they need patience on our part, I believe Mr Arteta and his staff will supply all the know-how and environment they need”

    Again, as you can see I agree.

    Over all I think we are on exactly the same page. It’s just I am a stats guy and enjoy looking in to them because they do tell you a lot. Not everything but a lot.

    Of course, as we are both obviously well aware, my comparison is not like for like in the sense one group had vast experience and one has very very little.

    But I believe what it does show, and what I wanted it to show, was where this fantastic group of players needs to get to if they want to achieve what they did.

  8. Well, it’s always encouraging to see these tables of yours Tony. But as the defeat of Chelsea by brentford has indicated, we don’t need to be complacent even in the tables assembled above, we can see that it was ARSENAL THAT CHOKED FINISHING 5 WHEN AFTER 28 MATCHES WE HAD 56 POINTS. So that choking alone make feel scared

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