The early promise last summer which saw us win the FA Cup and the Charity Shield, our hopes for the season just gone soon turned into disappointments. Whatever the reasons might have been, and I know we’ve already discussed some in our comments, the reality is, Arsenal finished in a position which neither you or I hoped for at the beginning of the season.
The defensive department saw us concede 39 goals in 38 matches. Bettered only by Manchester City with 32 goals and Chelsea with 36 goals. Our defence stood firm twice against Man utd (2nd) and once against Chelsea (4th). We ended the campaign with 12 clean sheets. So one fourth of the clean sheets came against two teams who finished in the top four.
One might ask, how did we finish in eight place just a mere 6 points away from fourth place, which in Arsene’s philosophy, is a trophy in itself?
The answer does not lie with the defence. We conceded 20 goals in 22 games (since January 1st) and 19 goals in the previous 16 games. There were matches where a mixture of howlers committed by defensive personnel along with VAR decisions which contributed to Arsenal losing games which in all fairness should have won. Those mistakes cost us around 12 points in my opinion.
Does the answer lie with the performances we saw from the attack?
The League table shows that Arsenal scored just 55 goals in 38 matches, the 9th best attack in the EPL. Even Leeds, who finished below us scored more goals. Our goals were split between Lacazette (13), Pepe (10), Aubameyang (10), Saka (5), Nketiah (2), ESR (2), Gabriel (2), Martinelli (2), Own goals (2), while Elneny, Tierney, Odegaard, Luiz, Bellerin, Willian and Xhaka all finished with 1 goal each. These statistics show that those who played in attack contributed 43 goals between 7 players. The most noticeable let down being Willian with just 1 goal and 5 assists. The midfield as a whole managed just 5 goals between them as did the defence.
If one was to compare the teams of Arsene Wenger between 2007 until the day he left one would see that the chances Arsenal created were much higher than they are now. The problem we had was profligacy in front of goal. Many were the games in which we created enough chances to secure 3 points, a goal difference of +100 at the end of the season, the top scorer of the EPL and so on. Many were the games were I had the feeling that someone was going to be on the receiving end of a thrashing, only to be disappointed at the end of the game by the lack of goals scored.
Last season there were certain matches during which we struggled to create clear cut chances. Sometimes we could only muster up a single shot on target and maybe a couple off target during the entire first half. It was simply tedious never ending passing, and very rarely would the players shoot from outside the box. It has to be pointed out that whenever any of the players shoot (Elneny, Xhaka, Odegaard) the chances are that the ball is either close or else a screamer hits the back of the net. Do the players shoot enough? In my opinion the answer is no.
It is true that from January onwards our form improved and we began picking more points than we did before the Boxing Day win against Chelsea. However, whenever Saka and/or Tierney didn’t play the team struggled to get behind defenders and cross. Even when the two managed to get behind defenders and cross the ball, often there was no one in the box to meet it. The look on Tierney’s face whenever he did all the donkey work only to be let down with no one meeting his cross always spoke volumes.
Even though much of the foundation stones are already in place, (Saka, Pepe, ESR, Martinelli etc) Arteta and Edu have a lot of work to do with regards to the attacking department, including the need for a creative player and a striker who can not only score but can link up with the others for the benefit of the team.
In my opinion, we need also need a deep lying creative defensive midfielder who will offer the team better options in attacking areas.
Basically, next season Arsenal have to create and score a lot more goals if we’re to finish higher in the League.
Written by Devilgunner.