The following is a tweet from Orbinho @Orbinho from just before the Wolves game………………….
Arsenal seemingly worse under Emery than during Wenger’s last season in everything apart from actual goals scored and conceded (and therefore results). It’s enjoyable so far, but if things don’t change there’s probably a correction around the corner.
For weeks I’ve been reading articles from stats chaps who have predicted that Arsenal will eventually start to get results of a level corresponding to the performance level being achieved (that is, lower than at present). We all know that football is a simple game, the result being decided by the team which scores the most goals. If your team keeps pulling positive results out of the hat, even if it is slightly against the run of play, all is well and good with the world.
So, what’s changed at Arsenal this season compared to last? We have two more points after 12 games; we also have 3 more goals than the 22 we had after 12 games last season. In effect, two defeats have been turned into two draws by those extra goals. From this simplistic viewpoint virtually nothing has changed.
The stats guys suggested that Arsenal’s league place wasn’t sustainable because we weren’t creating enough decent chances and were actually conceding more. Games against Watford and Everton (plus Wolves more recently) have seen Emery’s Arsenal confound the stats. We all know that the better team in a game of football doesn’t always win, but generally it does and only the odd exception proves the rule.
Last season under Arsene, Arsenal were creating both more chances and having more shots on goal. Is this season’s difference that the strikers are more clinical? I still believe that if Auba had scored on Sunday (when it was harder to miss), we’d have gone on to win in similar fashion to how we’ve closed out other games.
Are the stats analysts beginning to be proved correct with our last few results? Once we stop taking decent and difficult chances with such precision, will we start to slide?
I can’t really see much wrong with creating slightly fewer efforts on goal if you’re going to put a higher percentage away. What does worry me is that we’re actually conceding more chances but still, somehow, managing to concede less goals (16 goals conceded 17/18 compared to 14 conceded 18/19).
This isn’t intended to be a negative assessment of Unai Emery’s first dozen games managing The Arsenal, just an attempt to rationalise what’s going on. We can all see the differences in personnel and patterns of play – things are changing. Team structure and tactics are also bound to be very much a work in progress and probably will be for the rest of the season.
I must admit I am seeing similar aspects of our play from the Wenger era which I’d assumed would be phased out by now. Things like……
- Fullbacks being caught too far forward with no adequate cover (even the Terrier is struggling to get across sometimes)
- Centrebacks being prone to both poorly thought out passes and ill-advised, lunging challenges
- Midfielders giving the ball away in our own half leading to opposition goals
- The front 4 players not recognising the damn huge whole in the team between them and the back 6, especially in the first half of matches
The draw against Liverpool was creditable but those two performances against Palace and Wolves were as equally dire as some from last season – the only difference being that we didn’t lose.
Are our xG chickens finally coming home to roost?
Maybe some of you more tactically astute commenters can soothe my furrowed brow and give us all some good reasons to be more optimistic? After all, we can only get better as the season progresses, can’t we?