After a 2-2 draw at the Emirates against Hull City, you’re probably looking for some good news and you’re in luck…. I have good news!
The good news is that Arsenal are shooting more!
That’s right, after two years of heavy spending in the forward position, buying Özil (£40m), Sanchez (£32m), and Welbeck (a bargain at £16m), Arsenal are starting to reap some reward and have seen their shots per game rise from 13.8 (9th in the League) last season to a much more respectable 15.75 (3rd in the League) this season.
Welbeck is leading the Arsenal charge with 3.6 shots per game — an improvement over last season’s leading shooter, Olivier Giroud, who only managed 3.1 per game. Tied for second behind him are Ramsey, Sanchez, and Cazorla who each average 2.3 shots per game. The contrast here with these players over last season isn’t so much in the per game numbers but rather in the number of minutes played. Most of Arsenal’s top, per-game, shooters last season (Ox, Walcott, Podolski, Gnabry, and Ramsey) had injury shortened seasons. Most of Arsenal’s top shooters this season have not.
So Yay! It’s all better!
Except, it’s not.
After 7 games, many of them difficult opponents, Arsenal aren’t struggling to get shots, they are struggling to get goals. Why? Because they are taking too many shots from distance and they are apparently terrible at taking shots from distance.
These are all League numbers, so don’t spit out your dummy about the Alexis goal in the League Cup.
Most teams convert shots from outside the 18 yard box at a rate below 5%. So, if a team takes 100 shots outside the box we’ll probably see somewhere between 3-5 goals scored. For Arsenal last season they converted just 3% of their shots from outside the box: 203 total shots from distance and just 6 goals. They buoyed this terrible number by lashing it to an impressive 19% conversion from shots in the box. And they took 61% of their shots from inside the box.
“What’s wrong with them shooting more from distance this season?” I hear you say “Arsenal need to shoot more from distance! Have a crack! Work the keeper!” And I agree, Arsenal should be working the keeper with their distance shots but they aren’t.
In the League this season, Arsenal have taken 64 shots from outside the 18 yard box and 51% of our shots this season have been shots from distance. Worse, 41% of our distance shots have been blocked. And worstest (it’s a word today), Arsenal have only even bothered the keeper on 19% of those distance shots, scoring ZERO! Here is a chart comparing last season to this in terms of all the numbers above:
Arsenal used to be the most conservative team in the League when it came to shots from distance. Last season they were 17th in the League in long distance shots and only took 39% of their total shot output as hopeful pokes from outside the box.
This season Arsenal are number one with a bullet. I wouldn’t normally mind but these shots from distance have been particularly terrible this season. Here is a shot diagram from two of Arsenal’s most vexing draws: today’s match against Hull City and the match against Leicester City.
Sure, take shots from distance, but let’s try to get some near the keeper.
Part of the reason Arsenal have missed so many shots² is that they have had an extraordinary number of their shots blocked already this season, 33% of the total compared to 26% last season. 41 of Arsenal’s 126 shots have been blocked, 26 of those 41 have been shots from outside. So, it’s little wonder, then, that Arsenal’s distance shots haven’t been working the keeper: they are being hunted down before they get to the keeper.
Interestingly, Man City, Chelsea, and Everton have only combined for 5 of the 41 blocks against Arsenal’s shots this season. That means that the lion’s share of Arsenal’s shots that have been blocked have come from games like Hull and Leicester. Hull had 10 blocks today.
I suspect this is happening because those teams are playing Arsenal in the “low block”. In other words I think teams want Arsenal to shoot from distance while they have a crowded box. We will have to keep an eye on this as the season progresses to see if this is a permanent change at Arsenal or a phase.
The other problem is a return of the old Arsenal problem of allowing the opposition to score off just a few attempts. So far this season, Arsenal have conceded basically the same number of goals as they have scored¹ — 11 conceded, 12 scored — and they have conceded those goals on less than half as many shots — 57 to 126.
That stat is mostly explained by the fact that 4 of Arsenal’s 7 games this season have been come from behind matches. In other words, the opposition have scored on their first or second shot and then have looked to defend while Arsenal have been forced to take shot after shot.
The result is that Arsenal have taken a lot of shits from the outside, missed a lot of shits, and are basically shitting all over the place while the opposition takes one shit and smears it in our faces.
Wait… I mean shots. I think. Ugh, it’s early in the season and a lot of this could change very quickly but that is the deplorable state of the Arsenal at the moment: 13 goals scored, 11 conceded, lots of useless shots boomed hopefully from long range and just 10 points off 7 matches. UGH.
As Arseblog put it, today’s match was a bag of shit.
¹When counting conversion rates we don’t count Own Goals. So, Gibbs’ cross-cum-shot-own-goal against Villa isn’t counted.
²Every time I type “shots” my finger wanders over to “shits” I swear this is purely accidental. I’m sure Arsenal don’t take a lot of shits from outside.