Can Emery’s Arsenal maintain our current League position?

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?



21 Responses to Can Emery’s Arsenal maintain our current League position?

  1. LBG says:

    Statistics! Bah, humbug! Don’t try to rationalise. Enjoy and remember Leicester. ( Sorry Chas if not a very progressive reply! Hope you don’t have to type such an article out from start).

  2. chas says:


    You mean the Leicester game where could have been 2 or 3 down before we woke up?

    I wrote the article, so yes, I typed it out from the start.

  3. LBG says:

    Well you definitely need an Interlull ( correct this time) with all that typing.
    No I meant Leicester winning the Premier League. ” Anything can happen….in the next half-hour”. Now there’s a blast from my past!

  4. fred1266 says:

    Great article chas

  5. Rasp says:

    Thanks chas, that’s a really well reasoned and presented article .. and there’s not much that I could disagree with.

    The things I would add are:

    The spirit in the team is better and they’re working harder (arnie’s stats from yesterday show we’ve covered more ground than any other team). I attribute this improvement to Emery.

    The players seem to be enjoying it more and the supporters definitely are … again down to Emery although the fact that we know things are changing is helping and that is down to circumstance.

    We are getting the ball forward more quickly at times and we’ve scored a lot of beautiful goals.

    Lastly I’d also say that several established players from the old regime have improved significantly.

    So, as you say, very much a work in progress. And cause for optimism.

    Speaking purely personally it was the depressing predictability of the last few years coupled with the knowledge that AW was not going to change anything was killing my enthusiasm for football. I’ve found that again thanks to Unai so I’m 100% behind him.

  6. Rasp says:

    Here’s another reason for optimism …

  7. Aaron says:

    Repeat after me: the back four need to be solidified, the back for need to be solidified!
    Only Hector and Holding have been playing with regularity and that is not good enough. Need all 4 to play together as a cohesive unit.
    Until that gets settled it won’t matter as the Arsenal will regress to the mean.
    And all the Nelson hype needs to mellow a bit, watched him play in 1st team and he is not strong or fast enough yet to play in the EPL.
    Eddie has a much better chance of replacing him, unless Emery goes and buys a real winger or Welbeck type of player.

    Enjoying the front press when the Arsenal push it, and Leno out back.

  8. LB says:

    Thanks for the read Chas

    There is something in drafts that probably needs a bit more work than usual. Remove the first para if you want or chop, change, add as you see.

  9. chas says:

    Thanks, LB. ☺

  10. John Mathews legend says:

    Hello all.
    Having read recent comments about readers only reading but never participating, I thought it was time to get my little sixpence in (ooh er missus…..)
    I have been following this blog for a few years, and have never commented on any blog besides Gunnersorearse a few times a couple of years back. One, because he lives an hour south from me in France, two, I wanted to encourage him in what he was doing. Don’t know what’s happened to him…seems to have vanished.
    Don’t really know what to write about, am no expert in football analysis, so my contribution will have to be a ‘how I became an arsenal fan’ type post. Here goes:
    Born at the tale end of ’63 in a house on a side street off the Holloway road. Earliest memories of watching full matches on TV were the ’70 world cup and the 69/70 cup final between Chelsea and Leeds. My older sisters* were Chelsea fans…something to do with being trendy,fancying Ian Hutchinson and knitting seven foot long scarves.They tried to turn me into a Chelsea fan, and I cheered them on in the final(s) which ended up only encouraging me with my hatred of Leeds, because:
    My brother, a year and’arf older than me, saved my life!
    We went to OLTSH school, I was probably still at the Westbourne Rd branch whereas he’d moved on to Eden Groovy.
    He showed me the flats where Charlie George lived, and explained that this was Arsenal territory, and that I can’t be a Chelsea po*f!
    So, we went on to the 70/71 season with George Graham my fave player (Bro had rights on Charlie) and happened what happened.
    (Was gutted that GG only pretended to get that Eddie Kelly goal though)
    On to 71/72 when Rick** the huntchbacked postman (who fancied one of my sisters) took Bro and I to our first match at Highbury against f*cking Stoke….0-1, hate John Ritchie to this day! The walk out into the stadium in the clockend remains one of my most wonderful childhood memories.
    * They also used to use me as a doll when I was very young and dress me up in women’s clothes….that didn’t influence my later life neever, although I do think my legs would look good in Stockings and sus……shut up John!
    ** Anyone remember him?
    So there you go, a bit of input from a blog reader that will probably only know how to send in a few anecdotes, mainly from the ’70s.
    I still get to maybe one game per year, when I get back to London, through my Bro who has a ST.
    Last one was Stoke last season. Ticket GIVEN to me by one of his mates, against a beer at half time…got the beers in and thanked him for the ‘freeness’ of the ticket……
    Enjoying the season so far.
    Ps; sorry for the log comment…..

  11. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi John – nice to hear from you, stay around and become a regular blogger.

    I’ve been out all day on some wretched appointments but once again Chas has written a super post to keep us all involved.

    Sounds like Danny is gone for the season, that’s very sad as he was becoming an important part of the team.

  12. LB says:

    That was a really good read John, don’t be a stranger come back even if it is for a few words here and there.

    All opinions are equal on here apart from mine being slightly more equal than others but as a regular reader you probably already knew that 🙂

  13. chas says:

    Nice memories, JML.

    I’d almost completely forgotten about John Matthews. What a handsome devil he was!

  14. chas says:

  15. LBG says:

    Hoping Laca and Aubang “injuries” are not significant.Will Eddie get a chance if not? Hope the Greek boys are ready to play after the Interlull, and Nacho.
    Almiron or Dembele to replace Ramsey?
    And finally and most importantly for me, get the Terrier, Ouzi, A M-N ‘triangle’ going against an attacking team like Bournemouth, at least to start the game.

  16. LBG says:

    Is it true Fellatio is only 4’11?

  17. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Thank you John for your comment. You must be eternally grateful that your brother saved you from becoming a Chav, still it could have been worse, your sisters could have been Spurs 😀

  18. Big Raddy says:

    John. Where in France do you live?

  19. Big Raddy says:

    Shame that David Wagner at Fulham has been sacked though I will enjoy their struggles with Tinkerman

  20. chas says:


  21. chas says:

    Sorry, BR, thought your 7:34 would be your last comment for a bit.

    David Wagner 😆

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