This “article” is going to be posted over several days. If you’re not into that sort of thing, cool. Come back later this week and I’ll try to post a brief recap. However, if you want to argue with the smart people who comment on every article then stick around and have fun. Remember, just don’t attack each other.
If you recall my season preview, I said that I would follow several key stories. These were the points I was going to look at to see how Emery and Wenger differed and how Emery has changed the Arsenal. The points were kind of simple:
- (Özil/offensive players) and their defensive stats
- How the defense will change (Wenger teams were always very “interception” oriented)
- Torreira (specifically, I thought he would be like Kante)
- How Laca and Auba score 40 goals
- Total shots created
- Big Chances
- Cech’s clangers
- Individual errors
- And I added one more after the season started “Douzis”
I’d like to jump right in but we are dealing with a lot of topics here and it should also be noted, a paucity of data. We are 11 games in and some players haven’t been given optimal roles, some players have been played out of position, and Emery has radically changed the way that this team plays football.
I say all that to give you permission to latch on to the stats that you like with the fervor of a Trump supporter at a Trump rally and also simultaneously dismiss any stats that you don’t like for “small sample size” the way that, uhh.. Harry dismissed Falstaff after the fat knight claimed he’d been waylaid by dozens of bandits, “These lies are like their father that begets them–gross as a mountain, open, palpable. Why, thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch—”. I will also say that I’m not going to get through all of these points today because I have to take the dog for a walk in 30 minutes.
So, let’s start with the easy ones!
One of the reasons I thought this would be important is that Laca and Auba typically need shots to score. Lacazette is typically more economical (he’s never had a 100 shot season, in league play) but if both players were going to score 20 goals each I thought that they would need somewhere around 200 total shots. Last season Arsenal took 593 shots (5th in the League), and if Lacazette and Aubameyang were going to get 200 total shots, I reasoned that Arsenal would need to increase our total shots output.
Well… I was wrong (so far).
Arsenal are currently sitting 12th overall in shots taken with 12.3 per contest and if they keep up at that rate, Arsenal will take 120 fewer shots than last season. But while we aren’t creating many shots, Lacazette and Aubameyang are already off to a great goalscoring start, with 12 combined (league) goals on 50 shots.
Auba and Lacazette are on pace to take 173 shots this season. That’s pretty close to the 200 shots I thought they would need to bad 40 goals. And with 12 goals in 11 games they are well on their way to 40 goals combined as well.
What has happened is a massive shift in who shoots at Arsenal. Last season’s most prolific shooter was… Alexis with 69 shots. Ok, so, throwing him out 2nd was Lacazette with 68, third was Xhaka with 66, and 4th was Ramsey with 56.
Ramsey averaged over two shots a game last season (2.33), Xhaka averaged 1.72. Combined, they pulled in 4 shots a game. This season, they combine for just 1 shot per game.
There is a definite switch in the way that Arsenal attempt to score, from the more open way that Wenger’s side played with Ramsey told to get into the box on nearly every play to the more forward-oriented way that Emery’s team are told to play, with both Aubameyang and Lacazette on the end of the play. With the focus on them, it’s no wonder that the forwards are having so much fun.
One unintended consequence is that Arsenal’s total shots taken are way down. This is happening because Auba and Laca are converting at a 24% rate. That’s higher than normal, but not really irrationally high for them: both players have converted 20% for the last three to four years of their careers. And forwards often have high conversion rates.
Ok, that covers two pretty big topics (forwards and shots) and that’s all I have time for today. Come back tomorrow, where I will probably have some big chances data for you. Or maybe I’ll write about something completely nuts.
Don’t forget that today is election day and that you should vote.
Have a good one.