33 Shots FC

After a 33 shot performance against Man U, an 11 shot performance against Soton, and a 22 shot performance against West Ham, Arsenal have now scored just two goals in their last three games and taken a whopping two points for their efforts. All totaled, Arsenal have taken 302 shots in the Premier League this season and have scored just 30 goals – a 10% conversion rate, or what the stats folks call “average”. Meanwhile Man City are pumping in nearly 17% of their chances, Man U 16%, Leicester 14% and Chelsea 12%. I can’t think of a time when Arsenal have been so wasteful, unless I go all the way back to 2015/16.

That was the season Leicester won the League and that was also the season I was certain that Arsenal would overtake them. Arsenal created a league leading 97 big chances that season but only converted 38% of them, below the 45% average we expect to see and well below the 50%+ we see from top teams.

Using expected goals I can also go back and see exactly which games our terrible finishing cost us the title in 2015/16:

West Ham (H): 2.05-0.5 (0-2) – Cech error
WBA (A): 1.46-0.26 (1-2) – Arteta OG, missed pen
Soton (H): 3.44-0.86 (0-0) – 5 Big Chances, 4 saved
Swansea (H): 2.02-0.84 (1-2) – error Cech
Palace (H): 2.22-0.32 (1-1)
Sunderland (A): 1.42-0.54 (0-0)

This season, Arsenal’s poverty finishing is killing them once again. This year I count the shots differently than I did in 2015/16 but the same pattern is already emerging, Arsenal are just wasteful with the chances they create.

Stoke (A): 1.87-0.96 (0-1)
Man U (H): 4.07-1.78 (1-3) – 33 Shots FC
West Ham (A): 1.36-0.46 (0-0)

That’s only 8 points, it wouldn’t make Arsenal title contenders but it would put them comfortably in second place on the table. Meanwhile, the Gunners are in 7th.

For those of you who like this sort of thing, here are the week 17 graphics to argue over. Take note of Arsenal’s saves data: I’m calling it, Cech is done. Anyway, have fun, don’t be jerks to each other and I’ll check back during lunch.

Man U are the luckiest team in the League right now. They have conceded nearly twice as many shots as Man City (211 v. 106) and nearly twice as many big chances (29 to 16), but de Gea has rescued them so far and their defense only allows 5% of their shots past them. Note also Chelsea, who allow a ton of shots as well. And Burnley. These teams should correct at some point!

Here’s the conversion table. Most teams convert about the same rate as Arsenal, so we are average. But Arsenal’s defense is actually also a problem, allowing 13% conversion. Meanwhile, Tottenham also have a conversion problem but their defense is outstanding.

I think it’s down to keeper for Arsenal. I’ve heard there’s this young guy, plays for Juventus, Rumor has it he wanted to come to Arsenal.



  1. Agree that goal keeping is an issue. Just don’t think it’s THE issue. Still think our biggest on-field problem is midfield – at least from what I can tell from the eye test. The biggest issue is off the field.. you know… the one who struggles with the zipper on his jacket.

  2. “Man U are the luckiest team in the League right now. They have conceded nearly twice as many shots as Man City (211 v. 106) and nearly twice as many big chances (29 to 16), but de Gea has rescued them so far and their defense only allows 5% of their shots past them. Note also Chelsea, who allow a ton of shots as well. And Burnley. These teams should correct at some point!”

    Last time you talked like this about a team; that season ended up with same team running away with the league…

      1. But you were right: their offensive production DID normalize. Only, as I recall after that, they started getting just as lucky at the other, the defensive, end with big chances not being converted by the teams they played. It was a double bag of luck. And imagine, there were people in the world who thought Claudio Ranieri was some sort of mastermind all of a sudden.

  3. 1. Cech was awful last night. It’s like all of our most solid defenders have collectively decided to feel their age at the same time.
    2. Agree midfield is still the problem, though last night the tweaking of the midfield (which worked!) had the knock on effect of making our attack awful, with no one staying wide or making “Theo runs” in behind (oh, and Giroud, who Wenger absolutely definitely didn’t start to appease before the January window).
    3. We’ve had a lot of shots, but last night at least, most of our chances were poor.

  4. Wasn’t Lacazette supposed to help fix this? After years of not having a proper striker, now we have one, but we still can’t finish our chances at a normal (for a ‘top’ team) rate. What’s going on? Why is this? Are the big chances created not good enough quality, or do Wenger’s players just lack the famous ‘mental strength’?

    1. Shots/Goals/Conversion:

      Alexis – 49/4/8%
      Ramsey – 40/3/7.5%

      Lacazette – 36/8/22%
      gX – 35/0/0%
      Ozil – 21/2/9.5%
      Iwobi – 18/1/5.6%
      Giroud – 17/4/24%
      Bellerin – 16/0/0%
      Welbeck – 15/3/20%
      Kolasinac – 15/1/6.7%
      Monreal – 12/2/17%

      1. You have two players with 7 goals on 89 shots (Alexis and Ramsey) or 8% finishing and three players with 15 goals on 68 shots (Lacazette, Giroud, and Welbeck) or 22% finishing. You also have Granit Xhaka (gX) with 0 goals on 35 shots.

        Arsenal have also been supremely wasteful with shooting from distance. Alexis, gX, and Ramsey have the most shots from outside the 18. They have combined for 70 of Arsenal’s shots outside the box. They have not scored a single goal from there. In fact, Arsenal have just one goal from distance, Lacazette.

        Man City have 9 goals from outside the 18, United have 6, Tottenham 5, and Liverpool and Chelsea 4.

      2. I know it would never happen, but wouldn’t a front 2 of Giroud (24%) & Lacazette (22%) be more productive?

        1. Mattei, I’ve often had this thought. I think we might see that more often if Ozil and Sanchez really do leave the club. Until then, those spaces between striker and midfield that would be occupied by such a front 2 belong to them.

  5. Does anyone else find themselves watching Cech and thinking, “Whatever happened to Peter Shilton, anyway?”

  6. Have to say that Xhaka was one of those who caught the eye against West Ham. He had a good game defensively, and looked useful going forward too. Time for the back 4 to make a permanent comeback?

    Cech was punching away balls that he should have caught. Was it the formation switch that made him nervous?

    On Giroud, I thought exactly what PFo did. “Keep him sweet” time. He was completely ineffective.

    I know there are high expectations of Iwobi, but the quality of his finishing continues to frustrate. As Tim’s stats show.

    1. 1. Yes to the back four.

      2. Cech’s “punching” was bizarre. Is it just that his legs have gone?

      3. Iwobi’s got massive potential. I know it’s fashionable to say, but if someone like Pep got a hold of him he’d be one of the best players in the league in 1-2 seasons. But his decision making, positional discipline, and, especially, his finishing needs A LOT of work.

      4. On the topic of shots outside the box: how bad are we at this? I know Arsenal fans moan about our reluctance to “have a pop” from distance, but if this is the result of us shooting, then we can see why Wenger discourages it. Of course, it must be that our failure to practice long-distance shooting hurts our performance of this skill in games, right?? We’ve been terrible at it for ages.

      1. On the formation: from an attacking perspective, there wasn’t a lot wrong with the West Ham performance that…
        1. Replacing Giroud with Lacazette
        2. Bringing Ramsey into right midfield asap, moving Jack to the left where Ozil played, and pushing Ozil up front on the right where Iwobi was (supposed to be) playing (or in the meantime, Iwobi and Ozil just swapping positions)
        3. Sanchez deciding to care again, or else being replaced by a top quality left winger in January
        4. Our fullbacks looking dangerous on the overlap again (in the short term, replacing Hector with Debuchy is an option, as is bringing in Kola and swapping AMN to right back)
        wouldn’t fix.
        I know that looks like a long list, but, with the possible exception of the Alexis one, all those points are relatively straightforward tasks for Arsene to do. Will he do any/enough of them? Of course not.
        And it still wouldn’t solve our defensive issues, mind…

    2. I think that’s a little too cynical. Giroud is good enough to start these sorts of games and I don’t think he was as bad as you say. We created enough to score in this match and a lot of that game through Giroud.

      The back 4 makes sense in this sort of game against a very reactive side but against teams who actually come out a little I still think the back 3 gives the inevitably porous midfield more cover, even if the numbers don’t necessarily bear that out.

      1. The midfield is more porous with the back three though, so at best it’s just shifting the problem from one place to another (there’s no doubt many metaphors for that phenomenon, but I’m too tired to think of any right now).

        It’s not that Giroud isn’t “good enough” to start (though I personally think his extreme usefulness in certain situations doesn’t change the fact that he’s a very, very limited player). It’s that we’re rarely “good enough” when he starts. He’s much more effective coming off the bench with 15-20 to go. We don’t have (enough of) the players suited to wanting to play the way Giroud requires us to play, for 70-90 minutes. Jack, Ozil, Alexis, Iwobi, all want to play quick, technical, interchanging “small ball,” which benefits from a mobile CF. And Wenger absolutely has previous for giving starts to Giroud and others in order to “appease” them when they’re clearly itching for more playing time.

        1. Yes, I think you hit on the important point there: Giroud will inevitably come to the ball for combinations during periods of sustained possession in the opponents’ final 3rd, make diagonal near post runs during breakaways and counters, or drift to the back stick to get on the end of crosses. Lacazette is a completely different player and the team has to adjust dramatically to the difference between them. That said, you still have to start Giroud in some games and there are enough players in the squad still who played when he was an every day starter that it’s not like completely starting over.

          I will say having Giroud accepting the substitute’s role is an embarrassment of riches for the club at a position where we have been thin and short of quality since RVP. Although nobody is confusing him for that caliber of player, he would probably start for all but the most exclusive clubs in Europe because he has a unique combination of finesse and strength that you don’t find growing on trees. We’re lucky to have him.

          1. I completely agree we’re lucky to have him. But I disagree with the suggestion (not that you’ve made it, but you hear it from gooners from time to time) that Giroud’s too good to be a supersub, or that somehow we owe him starts.
            In response, we can add to your claim that all but the elite clubs in Europe would have him as a starter, the (even more plausible) observation that not a single other elite club in Europe would even *entertain* the serious possibility of making Giroud their starting CF for more than about 5 seconds. Yet somehow he was ours (more or less) for four years!
            I get that he’s a very effective player, and an ambitious one, but he’s basically got two options: he can go to a good upper-midtable club (e.g. Everton) and be their starter, or he can stay at an elite club and be a backup. He’s found his level.

  7. I’ve been thinking about Utd. De Gea made 8 saves the other day – against Bmouth. Against us he made the most saves in a PL game ever. And it wasn’t us against Derby or some other terrible team – this is Man Utd.

    Is this really luck? Or is it strategy? I don’t watch their games, so I can’t say. It sounds like a terrible strategy to expose your keeper to so much, but at the same time (a) goals conceded is super low, and (b) this is Mourinho, he can coach a defense. So I wonder if there’s something we’re not seeing.

    I’m reminded of Dyche, who has confounded xGA models for a few years now. Perhaps there’s something the data is missing about these two men and their styles of play.

    Also, we’re taking a lot of shots. But against West Ham and Soton, we didn’t even look like scoring. These shots suck. And Lacazette, our 50m striker, is not shooting enough. What’s his conversion rate? I think he’s averaged 3 shots a game or something before joining, and that hasn’t gone up I think. Meanwhile people like Alexis and Ramsey (and Xhaka…) are killing us with bad shooting. But then again, at least they’re getting the shots. So what’s the solution?

  8. I know this is going to sound trite, but are we back to asking questions about mental toughness? Gaffes on defense and inabilities to finish chances on goal. Inconsistent performances from individuals and the team as a whole. It’s deja vu. All we’re missing is Alex Song, Gael Clichy and Manuel Almunia to round out the return to good times.

  9. When Cech ‘punched’ the ball all of three feet, and basically gave it to Arnautovic, I actually laughed. It wouldn’t be Arsenal if we didn’t at some point revert to comedy goalkeeping. Channeling the spirit of Almunia! I know I’ve said this before, but one of the funniest moments I’ve had following Arsenal was watching Vito Mannone attempt a desperate scissor kick clearance/save against Olympiakos…when it would have been easier to catch it. Oh, how I cried with laughter.

  10. Tim, I noticed over on Arseblog you get a totally different style of response to your posts. Pretty much everyone uses the word “stats” in a semi-pejorative way, at best patting themselves on the back for their perception being in agreement with the numbers, or otherwise generally making it sound like numbers are not useful when we can all just see what is going on on the pitch. It may not bother you but it did bother me.

    I agree with you on Cech. I think this should be his last season as #1 at Arsenal, the old warhorse.

    1. Hahaha…. add a goalkeeper to the shopping list for the summer? In addition to replacing Ozil, Sanchez, Wilshere, Mertesacker and possibly Walcott, Ramsey, Welbeck, Giroud and Mustafi? Maybe throw Bellerin into that discussion since Barcelona may come back for him again, and why would he stay with a 5th or 6th place team?

      Now we need to go looking for a first team goalkeeper?

      Cech better be able to last another 2 years at least.

      1. The Arsenal world will keep turning, Jack. Keeping Cech as #1 is not a disaster but this is the first season where the divide between him and top keepers on contending clubs has become self evident. He’s still a commanding presence who makes good decisions, but physically he will keep slipping. We’re into latter day Lehmann territory with him and no heir in sight.

  11. If you don’t like Olivier Giroud I don’t like you.

    He is a very good footballer who, despite not taking enough of his chances over the years, has still come up big for Arsenal and remains an important player for us.

    We are lucky he decided to stay and fight for a place at the club. Huge props to him in the mercenary world of pro sport.

  12. PLEASE a 4-3-3 v the The Geordies.
    Our high press and fleet footed wing backs should split them wide open. Ozil and Co to pass at will..3-0 by halftime.

  13. Quick observations :

    * on field performance aside, financial management of the club has been shocking. Players are inventory and their values are poorly managed eg Sanchez and Ozil not sold in the last TW; how many running into last year of contracts soon?

    * other than being wasteful in front of goals, Sanchez, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil,etc don’t seem to hone their shooting techniques. What they do in training is a mystery. Don’t take a pop when should; and shoot straight into an opposition when it’s clear to me (in front of tv) that wouldn’t have worked. Thought wenger wanted ‘intelligent’ players??

    * hardly anyone making penetrating moves. Who runs at the opposition defence anymore ? Pass side/ back/ across and repeats…. the few times we did the final balls were poor (eg Sanchez, Iwobi, Ramsey, Giroud). Most ‘hoLlywood’ types they probably practice @Colney all day but won’t work in real matches.

    * Giroud…. he isn’t rubbish but it takes two to tango. In the West ham game did you recall the near headers Giroud had? All due to decent crosses from AMN from the left. I recall 2, max 3. Grioud needs decent crosses and we fucking pass outside the 18 all day so other than standing still what’s Giroud going to do?

    * Laza is lethal but somehow something isn’t right. Don’t know what but other than the frenzy in the Man U game, he seems off for periods of the game always. Not to mention being sub’ed at 67″. Laza seems to be able to create a half yard and shoot but doesn’t do enough.

    * Kos. Disappointed. Since tat stupid cross field pass in the ManU game, he did it again in West ham near the end and almost costed us. Watch it and u know what I mean. Is Kos not comfy playing the ‘RB’?

    * young players eg AMN, willock, Nelson, Eddie. All cool except that I don’t like the lack of aggression (controlled of course) these young lions have on display. AMN did well on his PL debut but where’s the hunger? Played/passed in lazed manner and as a wing back not driving forward when Monreal had his backside covered? All down to the @Colney laid back culture I suppose. Don’t think they’d play like tat under Pep though.

  14. Bet 5:1 to Arsenal, you say Tim.
    Why not. You’ve been right on the money recently so if I win , I’ll split the winnings with you.
    Keep your fingers crossed.

  15. Only the mighty Arsenal can make 3 points and a clean sheet feel like a soul sucking 90 minutes. WTF. Was that??

    1. Not a soul-sucking 90 minutes: we were decent in the first half, I thought (though to be fair, they made us look good).
      We got worse and worse and worse as the game went on.

  16. Even though I had money on it, I actually dozed off for a while during the game.
    Sorry Tim, you missed out on a $125 payout.

    Then I watched the City /Tottenham game and wow!” Lucky “ City did again and got away with two possible leg breaks.
    Kane and Alli – two red cards.

  17. Man City lead the second place United by 15 points ( goal difference included) .

    Typical Guardiola , only interested coaching in one club leagues – wanker!

  18. Guardiola has turned the Premier League into a one horse race because the rest of us are wankers.

  19. And if $h*tTy lose the FA, Carab, and CL, along with one LOSS-is it a wonderful season?
    Especially if the Arsenal with the Shield, FA and Europa?
    Just askin’?

  20. The penalty notwithstanding, Spurs were completely outclassed & outplayed despite their fouling tactics. I can see why some Gooners are uncomfortable with City looking like becoming an Invincibles this season and probably crashing through the 100 point barrier. Even knowing everything that I know about City (the ‘money’) and including the manner of their league wins over us I can’t help watching them with admiration. Either they are the perfect Premier League team or the rest of us are absolute crap.

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