The 2021/22 Index (matchday 12)

Arsenal have scored 13 goals in 12 matches this season, 14th best (worst?) in the League.

Arsenal have an expected goals of 14.8, 13th best (worst?) in the League.

Arsenal have conceded 17 goals, 8th best in the League.

Arsenal have an expected goals against of 20.9, 17th in the League.

Arsenal have a -4 goal difference, 13th in the League.

Arsenal have a -6.4 expected goal difference, 17th in the League.

Arsenal are -1 point in like-for-like matches over last season, when Arsenal finished 8th.

538 predicts Arsenal to finish 6th this season, with 58 points, tied with Man U, and a -1 goal difference over the season.

Arsenal finished last season with a +16 goal difference, and +9.2 expected goals difference.

Arsenal have 6 assists this season, 19th in the League.

Arsenal have 9.3 expected assists, 16th in the League.

Arsenal’s opponents have 16 expected assists, 2nd best in the League.

Aaron Ramsdale leads the League in post shot expected goals saves, +2.5.

Emi Martinez is one of the worst keepers in the League in post shot xG saves, -2.8.

Arsenal average 13.7 shots per game, 7th in the League. And they also average 4.33 shots on goal per game, 6th in the League.

But, Arsenal average 0.08 xG per shot (0.10 is average for all shots in football) which is 16th in the League.

Arsenal are 18th in progressive passing total distance.

Arsenal are 16th in progressive passes made.

Arsenal’s opponents are 5th in progressive passing distance, and 7th in progressive passes made.

Arsenal have just 7 through balls this season, tied with 6 other teams for 18th.

Arsenal have the fewest passes blocked and are 16th in passes intercepted but 3rd in passes offside.

Arsenal are 2nd in shot creating actions from defense.

Arsenal are 17th in tackles and 19th in tackles won and 15th in tackles in the opposition final third.

Arsenal are 17th in pressures, 20th in successful pressures, and 8th in pressures in the final third.

Arsenal are 19th in pressure success rate.

Arsenal are 4th in blocked shots, 5th in blocked passes, and 12th in interceptions.

Arsenal are 13th in carries, 12th in successful dribbles, but 8th in progressive distance carried.

Though, Arsenal are 16th in progressive receptions.

Arsenal are 9th in touches in the opposition final third and 12th in touches in the opposition penalty box.

Arsenal have only won 47.5% of their aerial duels, 16th in the League.

Arsenal lead the League in errors with 9.

Arsenal are third in the League in offsides.

Qq

Source: fbref.com

27 comments

  1. I’ve defended Arteta, mainly because I’m not sure who we’d manage to attract that’s better and would be willing to work within the current structure. I like the youth movement and long may I hope it continues, I like that we are fielding almost weekly the youngest starting XI in the league. I like Saka and Smith-Rowe and Odegaard, I like Tomiyasu, Gabriel and Ben White. Ramsdale has been an inspired purchase. ​Even though they had a disastrous second half, I like Tavares and Sambi. Tierney is a future captain.

    But at this point, especially after the Liverpool fiasco, what are we? I’m getting increasingly bummed at how drab it is, even when we’re winning. Even West Ham with the prime-pragmatist Moyes at the helm is more exciting to watch. Lacazette in the #10 is like having a pick-up truck in a Formula 1 race – sure it does a lot of work and has utility, but that’s not the place for it. It seems, and looking at the stats, like Arteta’s grand plan is just to manage games, keep them close and then wait for ESR, Saka or Auba to provide one or two moments , a stellar 15 minutes so we knick the game. We’re not even top 5 in any positive sense statistically. Ugh

    1. Yeah, we are tough to watch.

      I would say that at least I have other teams that I like watching but Marseille and France are having huge problems with fan violence. And weirdly Atalanta just doesn’t tickle me. I don’t know what’s going on.

      1. The last 10 games look like progress to me because we seem to play more centrally, which is a technically ambitious way to play.

        This isn’t reflected in the stats, which is a fair point. However – is xG a good way of measuring attacking ambition, when it cumulates shot scores? Wouldn’t this bias the stat in favour of teams who take a large number of medium/low-medium value shots?

        The xG scores from Burnley or Brighton I think suggested the other team were basically unlucky to not walk away with the game – which was absurd to someone who watched the kinds of ‘chances’ they were generating.

        To some extent this is addressed by the average xG score, but does seasonal xG for “good” (top 4) teams actually match their goals scored? Seems to be a crapshoot, with 10ish goal deviations from seasonal “expected” quite common.* I’m guessing match-by-match ‘scores’ are even more all over the place.

        100 points for inclusion of Emi Martinez statistic – good goalkeeper, but seems to run his mouth about Arsenal quite unnecessarily in recent months.

        *From here – https://understat.com/league/EPL/2018

        1. Not sure about xG suggesting Burnley and Brighton should have walked away with it. 1.12 xG in the Brighton match. 538 gave that a 37% win chance for Brighton, essentially a dead tie. And Burnley, they gave Arsenal a 44% chance to win, that’s probably because of the big chances we created.

          As for whether we are trying to play more in midfield we had two of our worst matches in terms of touches in midfield during this run of wins/draws: Brighton and Leicester. We are also WAY down on midfield touches this season compared to last from 308 to 250 per match, which is almost entirely because we are missing Xhaka.

          I think it all comes back to the fact that Arteta is just an extremely conservative coach. Some would call it “defense first”. This isn’t necessarily a criticism of him, if you win games it doesn’t really matter.

          1. It’s possible I saw results from a different xG model or metric then, because at least one stat posted on social media suggested Brighton were on track to score 2 and we were on track to score much less than 1.

            Agree Arteta’s conservative (especially last season, which I just gave up on watching at some point), but “extremely conservative” doesn’t seem to match what we’re seeing recently.

            As for Xhaka contributing to our midfield touches, similar concern – are the kind of touches that Xhaka had (ponderous, inviting pressure, often resulting in a pass to a wide area) really the kind that an attacking team should be looking for? How exactly are these stats being built?

            I realise those questions can fill books and this is a comments section. You generally offer these stats with enough caveats and context, but I’m not sure the stats culture generally uses them the same way (e.g. the bizarre temporary consensus that Granit Xhaka was the most important part of Arsenal’s attacking ambitions, which has mercifully sort of subsided).

          2. I’m wrong on the 2 xG for Brighton, it was “@xGphilosophy” on twitter, which posted “Brighton (1.31) 0-0 (0.38) Arsenal”

    2. We have spent 140 million Sterling this season highest in Europe. If Conte knew how supportive the Club was, even he would be salivating to manage AFC.
      Would he get to spend 140 million ?
      Unlikely , since he is a bit abrasive in communication, unlike the con artist who apparently has access to Papa Kroenke

  2. How can Arsenal sit as high as 5th when most indicators show the team’s pretty meh?

    What is it we do well? I’d say in attack when we can dominate possession against weaker sides the front four are very fluid, dynamic and skilful. First half vs Spurs and vs Leicester being the best we’ve seen this season.

    Defensively an outstanding keeper and a back four that block well. XGa suggests over performance but better a lucky than unlucky team.

    The front-foot, rapid-start, nick the first goal tactic is sound. And maybe it will be enough for a top-6 season. It won’t be the sexy football many desire and I can’t help but think this is Arteta’s ceiling.

    I guess we have to let the season play out. He’s got his players, no midweek distractions and oodles of time for coaching, practice and recovery. Anything less than 6th place really would be unacceptable.

    1. We have created a lot of goals from set pieces. I think we are 2nd in goals from set plays with 6 of our 13 coming from that situation.

        1. Daydreaming on the train on the way in as usual this morning.

          This thing I’ve seen elsewhere about us having 3rd best xG when scores are level is interesting. Because it implies that game state is a big part of how we’re being coached.

          That plus all Tim’s really lovely detail – solid (albeit dangerously passive) defending, scoring goals from set pieces – I dunno, maybe if we’re looking for a one-word identity for Arteta’s style, it’s “ultra-pragmatic”.

          Hardly sets the pulse racing.

          But it’s a bit of a lightbulb for me if it explains why our league position is way ahead of our underlying performance stats. The focus is to do the things, and only the things, that really matter – at the time that they matter. Get the first goal. Don’t let them score after that. Don’t overcomplicate anything. Don’t give away fouls. Invite them into making a mistake.

          In a way this approach is welcome after all the years of playing attractive football and losing. But still.

          I hope that he’s just trying to establish a platform from which we go on to rip things up, but maybe there’s nothing else up our sleeve and this is all we can expect.

          1. I think you’re bang on the money Greg. I think everybody expected a student of Arsene and Pep to serve gourmet football. Instead we’re getting egg and chips 😂

            And if anyone says there’s a routemap from Allardyce to Guardiola football they’re taking out of their earhole.

          2. I have a jaundiced approach to the game state thing because we are very rarely in the level scores game state.

  3. Great stuff Tim. Thanks for the research. I suspect most would believe that we have played better football and been a more effective team this season. I also suspect the majority of fans believe that Arteta has done a better job this season.The unbeaten run and the fact that this season we are 5th compared to being in 15th place last season should be proof that we are playing better. The fact that most of the stats are so underwhelming may indicate the actual predictive value of the stats is not what we expect and some in some cases the stats may be misleading with regards to the effectiveness of what we are doing.

    The one thing I will point out is despite playing more effective football we are still struggling to score. We are currently on pace to score only 41/42 goals this season compared to scoring 55 last season. The difference is last season Laca and Pepe scored 23 total goals and this season I think they are on pace to score 3 goals between them for the whole season. The drop off from those 2 players may be part of the reason those attacking stats look so underwhelming. The bottom line is no matter what type of football you play you need players who are good at scoring and when you lose the production of your leading scorers there is no way to compensate and you simply can’t score many goals.

  4. Man City was averaging more then 100 goals/season the last 3 years when Sergio Aguero was their leading scorer. Last season they scored 83 and this season they are on pace to score 79. I don’t think Pep has changed tactics or become a more defensive manager but his teams scoring is down more then 20% compared with 2017-2020. The only difference I can see is Aguero hit his age 32 season and Father Time caught up with him last year and Pep has not been able to replace his scoring. Same thing happened at Real Madrid the first couple seasons after Ronaldo was sold.

  5. The stats that Tim put up show the advantage of the relatively easy run we had between the three losses to start the season and the Liverpool match. We are still very much a mid-table team. We will absolutely go back down to where the stats show we should belong unless we improve markedly in our own third and the opposing third. We need to improve defensively while increase our goal-scoring. Not going to happen with the status quo. What’s going to change?

  6. These stats don’t look good.
    And I don’t think the biggest blame should go to our attacking players.
    For instance, are our attacking players worse than that of Newcastle? We’ve scored fewer goals than them.
    Are our attacking players worse than that of Ajax? This is a team that plays free-flowing football and scores lots of goals.
    I think our biggest issue is our attacking system.
    Most times, our players don’t know what to do once they get into the opposition’s half.
    How many clear-cut chances do we create in a game.
    Our play just looks so edgy even when we’re winning.

    1. Our tap-in artist needs passes maybe just ahead of his runs for the 30 odd goals he was scoring. Arteta’s rigidity to play top crosses in numbers but without purpose , maybe prevents his additional 18 or so goals. Going through the details one can see the devil

  7. The reason that almost anything happens in a team sport is multifactorial however some problems are more important then others. Chance creation, progressive passing dribbling success, total number of shots are all important pieces of the puzzle with regard to how many goals a team scores. However, having a critical mass of players who are good at scoring goals is the single biggest factor, IMO. I think the biggest single reason we are struggling to score right now is last season we got 33 total league goals from Auba, Laca and Pepe. This season in 12 games Laca and Pepe have scored 1 total goal in over 800 minutes of league playing time and the trio of Auba, Laca and Pepe are on pace to score about 15/16 total league goals. We have lost more then 50% of the total production from last seasons leading scorers and there is absolutely no one on this squad who can replace that lost production.

      1. CR7. He’s scoring, but he’s pretty much broken everything else in their attack.
        Going to be interesting to see what happens with Rangnick and our match in 2 weeks.

        1. Right, but how does that fit with Bill’s single narrative? I thought it’s almost exclusively about having proven goal scorers and they have a lot of them.

          Two seasons ago Martial, Greenwood, and Rashford scored 44 goals among them. The next season, they all dried up. This season it’s back but only because of Ronaldo, who is too old. And they have a worse record than Arsenal.

          I’m just trying to get him to say that there’s more to football than just having proven goal scorers.

  8. “This season in 12 games Laca and Pepe have scored 1 total goal in over 800 minutes of league playing time”

    How many of those “800 minutes of league playing time” have Laca and Pepe played?

    Pepe isn’t getting games. Laca didn’t for much of the early part of the season. You can’t score from the bench.

    That said (and here’s where I kind of support your point), we’re not getting enough goals from either our principal striker or other forwards (hot as Emile has been). Or the midfield. It’s a problem for sure

    1. We aren’t scoring goals because we aren’t getting good shots and we aren’t getting good shots because we struggle to get the ball forward and keep it forward.

      Against Leicester, Brighton, and Burnley we had fewer than 20 touches in the opposition 18 yard box.

      Now, maybe that’s a “game state” thing. We did get an early goal against Burnley and two early goals against Leicester. But Brighton was a 0-0 draw and we created just 8 chances. I wonder if more teams will look at that match as a blueprint for how to play against Arsenal.

      What they did was flooded our passing lanes, they blocked or intercepted 28 passes and it was one of Arsenal’s worst passing games where we only completed 76%.

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