I don’t really feel like talking about the number of headers Song won (he was 4/4 but one led directly to a goal) or passes in the final third first half v. second half, etc. Because the reality is that neither Arsenal nor Norwich were very good at much, except the one thing that really matters; Norwich converted 13 shots into 3 goals. That’s a rate of 23% and high conversion rates are a hallmark of this Arsenal team over the last few years.
With that in mind, let’s do this:
622 – Arsenal shots this season¹
231 – Shots on goal by Arsenal
71 – Goals by Arsenal this season
31 – Percent of shots on goal that Arsenal score
170 – Shots by Robin van Persie
82 – Shots on goal by Robin van Persie
30 – Goals by Robin van Persie this season
37 – Percent of Robin van Persie’s shots on goal that he has scored
17 – Percent of Robin van Persie’s overall shots that he has scored
149 – Shots on goal by players not named Robin van Persie at Arsenal
41 – Goals scored by players not named Robin van Persie at Arsenal
28 – Percent of those players’ shots on goal that they converted into goals
9 – Percent of those players’ overall shots that they converted into goals
27 – Percent of Arsenal’s shots taken by Robin van Persie
35 – Percent of Arsenal’s shots on goal taken by Robin van Persie
381 – Shots conceded by Arsenal in 2011-2012
47 – Goals conceded by Arsenal
12 – Percent of Arsenal shots conceded that the opposition convert into goals
562 – Shots conceded by West Bromwich Albion
47 – Goals conceded by West Bromwich Albion
8 – Percent of WBA shots conceded that the opposition convert into goals
Graphs of Arsenal’s worsening defense:
So, the numbers above indicate that Arsenal’s offense mostly runs through Robin (duh) and that the defense is quite leaky. Not that you needed my numbers to prove that. But problematically, Arsenal’s defense has gotten steadily worse since 2007-2008 while Arsenal’s offense is staying mostly steady.
The chart above is Arsenals League goals for and against during all of Arsene Wenger’s tenure. What’s worrying is that for the first 11 seasons there wasn’t a clear pattern defensively, the line zigs and zags all over. But in the last five years Arsenal seem to have been found out and teams have become better at exploiting Arsenal’s weakness, thus the red line is steadily rising.
Focusing in on those last five years we can look at conversion rates and see that Arsenal have been conceding more goals on fewer chances. The conversion rate is simply the percentage of shots on goal that the Arsenal or the opposition convert into goals. The gold bar is Arsenal’s offensive conversion, the blue line is the opposition. As you can see, five years ago Arsenal only allowed 17% of the opposition’s shots on goal to be converted and now the opposition are converting at a 37% clip.
Not only that but the gold bar used to be above the blue line and over the last two years that has changed. Meaning that Arsenal’s opponents are better at taking their chances than Arsenal are.
A similar pattern appears if you look at the number of goals conceded per shot (just any old shot) which has climbed from just under 9% to almost 13% in the last 5 years. As I wrote in the numbers section of the column, WBA have allowed 181 more shots than Arsenal have this season and yet WBA’s opposition have only scored 47 goals.
To put that into perspective, if Arsenal allowed the same number of shots that West Brom has and kept the same conversion rate, the opposition would have score 69 goals. That’s because Arsenal concede goals on 12% of the opposition’s shots. That might not seem like much but Bolton Wanderers have conceded 73 goals on 623 shots for a similar 12% defensive conversion rate to Arsenal.
In a game of very small margins, the difference between 4th and 6th place is often down to just a few tenths of a percentage point.
Farewell Pat Rice
1964 – Year Pat Rice joined Arsenal as a player
1980 – Year Pat Rice left Arsenal for Watford
528 – Appearances for Arsenal as a player
2 – FA Cup medals (1971, 1979)
1 – League Title (1971)
1 – League and cup doubles (1971)
1 – Appearances in “Five minute finals”
1 – The top song of 1980 was “Call Me” by Blondie
4 – Years he played for Watford
1984 – Year he returned to Arsenal as Youth Coach
2 – F.A. Youth Cup titles as a coach (1988, 1994)
3 – League Titles with Arsenal as assistant coach
4 – FA Cup medals with Arsenal as assistant coach
∞ – Respect I have for Pat Rice and his 44 years of service to The Arsenal
Don’t know if you really want to follow anyone on twitter but I’m there @7amkickoff and also on 7amkickoff.com.
1. League play only in this section