Proof that Arsenal will score more goals this season.

September 5, 2011

Someone questioned on the blog yesterday whether our new line-up would be able to score enough goals, so I thought it would be interesting to compare the goalscoring prowess of the new players against those who have departed based on past performances.

Now I realise that stats are generally just a way of manipulating figures so they masquerade as facts. There are many factors such as playing in a different league, in a different team etc. etc. which completely undermine the validity of the comparison, but I decided to persevere with this lighthearted analysis because we should all be excited by the prospect of a new look Arsenal with more bite in the final third.

I believe the benefits of having a team packed with players who want to prove themselves, who want to play for Arsenal and are unsullied by the grubby attentions of billionaire suitors means that we will at last possess the much vaunted yet ultimately fragile team spirit that evaporated completely in the latter stages of last season.

The following stats are based on the player’s time at Arsenal for those who have left, and games played at their previous club for those have just joined (Benayoun’s stats are from Liverpool as he hardly played for Chelski).

gpg = goals per game.

Likely first team replacements:

Samir Nasri: 18 goals in 86 games = 0.21 gpg

Gervinho: (Lille) 28 goals in 67 games = 0.42 gpg


Cesc Fabregas: 35 goals in 212 games = 0.16 gpg

Mikel Arteta: (Everton) 27 goals in 161 games = 0.17 gpg


Gael Clichy: 1 goal in 187 games = 0.006 gpg

Santos: (Fenerbahce) 10 goals in 52 games = 0.19 gpg

Assuming that Gervinho, Arteta and Santos will start most games in place of Nasri, Cesc and Clichy, their combined gpg is as follows:

Ex-Arsenalplayers = 54 goals in  585 games = 0.09 gpg

New Arsenal players = 65 goals in 280 games = 0.23 gpg


Goals from the bench:

Niklas Bendtner: 22 goals in 98 games = 0.22 gpg

Park: (Monaco) 25 goals in 91 games = 0.27 gpg


Henri Lansbury: 4 goals in 22 games (on loan to Norwich City) = 0.18 gpg

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain: (Southampton) 9 goals in 36 games = 0.26 gpg


Yossi Benayoun may well be used as an impact sub as a more attacking option to Ramsey or Wilshere, he also represents a greater goalscoring threat with stats of  29 goals in 133 games = 0.22 gpg

Wilshere: 1 goal in 37 games = 0.03 gpg

Ramsey: 4 goals in 37 games = 0.11 gpg


So the results are conclusive as you can see – we’re going to score bucketloads more goals with the new line-up.

The defence is also more solid so we should also be shipping in far fewer goals. We at last have a worthy No.1 keeper. Vermaelen is back (how we’ve missed him) and we have the added experience and height of Mertesacker and the class and pedigree of Santos.

The squad has greater depth and balance than we’ve seen since 2006. We have players like Park and Benayoun who can come off the bench and change games, and the emergence of Jenkinson, Oxlade Chamberlain and Miyaichi to keep everyone on their toes. The squad suddenly looks able to fight on all fronts and will need to do just that to keep everyone involved.

We also have 2 more players who can take a free kick in Santos and Park and hopefully we won’t have the ridiculous situation of our leading goalscorer taking corners instead of getting on the end of them.

Forget the first 3 games of the season, we were still reeling from the effect of the long drawn out departures of Cesc and Na$ri and the squad had been decimated by injuries and suspensions.

The new players will make a difference. Our season starts again this Saturday against Swansea.

Written by Rasp

Arsenal Pays The Price For Project Youth …… Twice

June 28, 2011

It is widely acknowledged that the strategy of bringing through young players was the only way for Arsenal to try to maintain their prominence at the top of the Premiership whilst paying for the Emirates Stadium.

It worked brilliantly, mainly due to an exceptional balancing act by Arsène Wenger. We did not flatter to deceive – we deceived, and for 5 years we proved the critics wrong. Managers are often applauded for bring their club up a division; well Wenger’s feat certainly ranks as highly.

I don’t believe the term ‘Project Youth has ever been used by AW or the club and is seen by some as an indictment rather than an accolade, but for the purposes of discussing past and future recruitment, I shall continue to use it here whatever your personal feeling is about it’s efficacy.

Arsène Wenger was the architect of the plan and in truth he was just being pragmatic because he had few other choices. He cites many advantages to bringing through young players together, but it is apparent that his growing frustration in the latter part of last season was due to his disappointment that it had not brought all the rewards he had envisaged.

The sad truth about P.Y. is that there is a sting in the tail. Now that we have established a stable financial model, the team built around Fabregas is beginning to crumble and reinforcements are required.

Herein lies the problem. The wages paid and the erratic performances of some of those players has meant that suitors are not exactly queuing for their services, and when they do, the valuation often falls short of what the club would expect.

From past dealings, it does not appear that Silent Stan is likely to throw 30 million at Arsène for a marquee signing and I doubt the manager would spend it if he did, so the club is in the predicament of either hanging on to players who have disappointed or selling cheaply and therefore reducing the funds available for ‘quality’ replacements.

Arsenal is a top European side who perennially feature in the Champion’s League. We generate vast amounts of money on the pitch and commercially but we play a different game from the other clubs and personally I’d rather buy within our means if SK keeps his promise not to saddle the club with debt. If we had debts like Barca or Manu, I’d be more happy for us to spend money we don’t have – what the hell!!,  but when you’ve trodden one path so successfully for so long, why change?

And so we are in a waiting game. Waiting to see what kind of offers (if any) we will get for the likes of Bendtner, Clichy, Eboue, Almunia and Denilson. Waiting to see who of those we have been scouting are still available if and when we sell. Waiting for Barca to come up with the right offer for Cesc …… which may happen sooner rather than later if  recent reports are to  be believed.

There is a world of difference between selling a player who is no longer wanted in which case the buyer knows he can call the shots; and selling a player who you want to keep. In most cases, you are in the driving seat when you don’t want to sell. Unfortunately, when that player only wants to go to one club, even that advantage is diminished.

I expect Cesc’s departure will trigger the purchase of a replacement midfielder, most likely Ricardo Alvarez, in the same way as Bendtner’s sale will create the funds for the possible signing of Gervinho or A. N. Other striker. Balancing (reducing) the wage bill is every bit as important as finding the money to buy players.

The power lies largely in the hands of others. The clubs we are dealing with know this and it gives them the upper hand. So prepare yourselves fellow Gooners for a frustrating summer. Project Youth was the only choice we had in 2006 and it continues to restrict our choices in 2011.

Written by Rasp

Time to move on ……..

December 16, 2010

Thursday morning and the inquest into Arsenal’s latest big match disappointment rumbles on. Arsenal fans the world over are rightly disappointed that we have now gone 11 games without victory against either United or Chelsea. Whilst I find it difficult to say that you can take positives from any defeat, I do think it’s worth noting that we didn’t lose in the same manner as we have in many of those 11 games. This was a game, bad pitch or otherwise, that saw an alarmingly low technical level from both sides. United came away victorious but they did not outclass or outplay as. There is a big difference between disappointment and humiliation.

The reasons given for this defeat have been many although none seem to hit the nail on the head.  There have been many criticisms of Clichy, criticisms which I believe are largely valid. There is no doubt that he could have closed Nani down quicker for the goal however, it should also be remembered that he did a lot of good work, on his own, against one of the Premierships best performers. Certain voices have criticised the whole defence, argued that player for player they are not good enough. Even Sagna has come in for stick in some quarters. This seems to be a knee jerk reaction. Whilst I would have preferred Djourou to Koscielny, he and Squillaci actually did well against Rooney. None of the chances we gave away, only 2 good ones to my memory, were the fault of the back four.

Alex Song has come in for his usual criticism. It seems to be received wisdom these days that he, in keeping with our ethos, goes forward too much. This clearly was not the case for him or the rest of the side on Monday. Song joined in when possible but basically stayed at home and, as a result, limited United’s opportunities. In post match anger and disappointment I expressed the view that we should be more circumspect in these games. It seems that tactically, we had tried to be just this. Take Samir Nasri’s comments post match:

“In the first half, we sat back and waited for them a bit. We didn’t want to push too high up, because they always find each other in space, whether it’s Park or Wayne Rooney playing on his own up front.

“We wanted to sit back and wait for them and we held out well until we conceded the goal four minutes from half-time.

So, on reflection then, we were actually set up ok tactically. We didn’t try to blow them away and then get caught on the break which has led to our undoing in so many games in recent years. Effectively we were beaten by a fortunate goal. Without the deflection it would not have found Park’s head and we would most likely have gone in 0-0 at half time. A 0-0 draw would have seen a different response from the media and fans a like. As it stands, we are rueing defeat by a very slim margin.

Whilst I don’t think we should all just smile and get on with it we should also try to look forward rather than back. This defeat was not symptomatic of our usual perceived short comings. At worst, we lacked the invention and creative spark to create an opening but, on balance, it’s not like United carved us open too often either. Defeats are always painful but we must keep our heads, as a set of fans and a club in general. This defeat was not men against boys, it was the sort of result that happens in big games. This may sound strange but had we not been burdened by this awful record we would not be picking over the bones of this defeat with quite so much fervour. Unfortunately, we do have this awful recent record and people are understandably disappointed.

I would argue that we can now put to bed the idea that we don’t have anyone physical enough to stand up to opponents or that we aren’t committed enough. We were just as physical as them and that is not where the game was lost. As I’ve already written, this defeat also wasn’t the direct result of a bad goalkeeper or a fragile defence. I can’t argue that the result could have just as easily been 1-0 to us as we offered very little going forward but, we do have gifted forwards so it’s not unreasonable to claim that on another day we might have done better. The main factor we lack as a team is self belief. The players appear nervous and, in this pivotal season, so do the fans. We need a good result in one of these games soon, to prove that we can do it and the harbingers of doom are not correct. In truth, we were far closer to a positive result here than we have been for some time. What better Christmas present than a home win against Chelsea? In that game we must forget what’s gone before and show togetherness, players and fans alike.


Where’s the grit and determination?

December 15, 2010

Yesterdays blog saw some great discussion following the defeat at Old Trafford and SharkeySure picked out a couple of comments that spurred(!) him on to the following rant.

26 May – “it really annoys me to see our players not matching the energetic determination of their opponents”

Mike – “Thirty minutes to go and I see very little urgency or intensity from any of them. There is no spirit, no real grit and determination”

My overriding thought from Monday night’s game is that with two minutes of injury time left, we have a free kick deep in our half that is passed to our keeper and three more shortish passes ensue before RVP puts a cross into the box which leads to Theo’s tame (wild?) effort.

A winning mentality would have the keeper waving his troops into the box and strarting a mini Alamo. We really are the only side that I can think of who will continue to probe for an opening with so little time on the clock. We’ll also still have a back four in our half marking no one, or at best, one fat granny shagging striker.

Ok we’re not Stoke, but would it really hurt to push Squillaci up front and start an aerial bombardment for the duration of injury time..?? After all, Theo’s effort came from a weak headed clearance !

Scratched record alert !!!!

For all of Song’s misplaced passes on Monday, I still look at his approach to games and can’t help but think that if we had more players with his attitude we would see a real upturn in our fortunes.

He’s strong, he’s quick (out paced Evra!!), he’s normally a good passer, and one of our best in the air.

For all he gets told to stay back by so many, he has scored vital goals this season and been heavily involved in a fair few of our recent goals.

Personnel and circumstances dictated that he guard the back gate for most of the 2nd half on Monday, but I for one was cursing that we had no Denilson out there to allow him to push on a bit.

So I agree with Neamann re Song and Denilson, Neamann prob got the idea from a comment of mine from Monday night !!  In all seriousness mine was a bit of hindsight insight if you like, based on how ineffective I thought Rosicky was.

Clichy is also much maligned, I thought he played Nani very well for the most part. He’s another one with the right amount of guts and determination !!!

Last point on Song. Give him credit for never hiding away. Misplace two passes, and he’ll still want the ball under pressure, yeah he might then misplace a third, but then again he might not.

Why do so many people completely overlook the great defensive work he does for us..??

Written by SharkeySure

Sunk By Our Former Comrade But Its Far From A Disaster

November 4, 2010

So Eduardo scores against us again!

Not as nice a feeling as last time around. Then we were cruising, had the three points in the bag and it was just a weird added bonus that Eduardo scored. Last night his goal meant we lost and failed to secure the win we needed to progress to the knock-out stages with two games in hand.

It was only a minor blip and not a disaster. I said after the game in London that the Ukrainians were a far better side that what they showed when we thrashed them, that it seemed they were willing to lose at the Emirates and go for the win at home, and so it proved. Of course it would have been nice to go through and let the kids out to play in the last two games, but with a stronger team we can go to Braga and win, and we should definitely beat Partizan at home regardless of the players available.

Once again the defensive worries popped up last night. Young Craig Eastmond had a torrid time of it – he never protected the back four and the game passed him by. He’s a game lad and has proven he’s a decent player, but be it lack of match time or just out of his depth, last night was one to forget for him. The much more experienced Eboue and Clichy have just as much blame, if not more, than Eastmond. Willian made a fool of Eboue time and again down the right, and it lead to Eboue giving away the free-kick that they scored from. Then Clichy foolishly played around with the ball instead of hacking it clear and Eduardo scored the second that proved the winner.

We really missed Song and Fabregas, both as a unit and individually. We failed to really get a hold of the ball and Shakhtar really pressured us and closed the spaces last night. We had a few chances to equalize at the end, most of all from Squidgy but he didn’t connect right with the header.

Not a nice feeling to lose but no need to get worked up – I know I won’t be. We have a massive goal difference on the other sides in the group and its still only a matter of winning one of the two games. Look at it this way – if we won tonight we wouldn’t really mind losing the last two games and letting the kids play, instead we just have to give the grown-ups one more run out to finish the job, its hopefully just prolonging the inevitable – we progress.  We are still top – just have to make sure the Ukrainians don’t pip us for first.

Player Ratings

Fabianski (7) – Thought he did well over all. Couldn’t do much for either goal.

Eboue (5) – Oh dear. Got caught out and had to give away a free kick where he got booked and they scored. Not a good night for EE.

Djourou (6) – Did well enough, got in a few timely tackles but too many gaps appeared between him and Squillaci.

Squillaci (6) – Same as Djourou. Should have done better with the free header.

Clichy (5) – Just hoof the blasted thing Gael.

Eastmond (5) – He kept going and is a earnest young man but he needs to start stamping authority on the game.

Wilshere (7) – Good showing again by Jack but again should have done better with his chance. Couple of way ward passes, still feisty in the tackle.

Walcott (7) – Terrified them with his pace for a while and then that avenue was plugged. What a turn of pace for the goal and cool as you like finish.

Rosicky (6) – Did a lot of donkey work and linked as usual but not as effective as we are used to.

Nasri (6) – Involved in all our play and tried to get us moving forward, couple of bad decisions in and around the box though.

Bendtner (5) – Not match fit. Didn’t play much of a part.

So far so good. Part 1. The Defence – written by BigRaddy

September 8, 2010

Written by BigRaddy

The Interlull (tm Arseblogger) allows assessment of the season so far,  and despite the paucity of games, we have much to discuss.

I would like to start with our esteemed manager. Apart from the GK blip, Wenger has been very good with 3 top class signings in close season. In my opinion the biggest signing of the summer (or of any summer) was the renewal of Mr. Wenger’s contract. To agree such a long contract (4 years) at his age shows an enormous commitment by a 60+ year old and the level of his love of the club.

It should be remembered that AW could have gone to any club in the World and yet has chosen to stay; for all their wealth and glory neither Barca nor Real Madrid have managed to co-erce him away. Ask yourself this, had AW chosen to take the France manager’s position that he was offered, would France have so badly under-performed and would we be one of the top 6 teams in the World (we currently rank 4th in UEFA’s listings)?

In the games so far we have seen nothing new where substitutions are concerned. At Anfield, 2 subs on 60 mins and RvP on at 76 –  Blackpool 3 subs within 3 minutes on the hour, and Blackburn, 3 subs , two through injury/tiredness and one to give Jack a runaround as he was annoying AW by playing with his gameboy.  I have to say that I have been infuriated in the past with AW’s subs but this season he has changed things when the need has arisen. Taking off two attacking MF’s and replacing them with Vela and RvP at Liverpool was a very positive move and one which eventually brought results.

Mr. Wenger’s tactics have been spot on as well. The first half at Anfield was the template for what we have seen since, the classic Wengerball of possession, changes of pace, overlapping fullbacks and a high defence.

Almunia. Too much has been written about him, but in my opinion he has played as he always does, pulling of some fine saves but being inconsistent on crosses. The Liverpool game encapsulated Almunia – great saves followed by coming for crosses he had no chance of catching and in my opinion a mistake for Liverpool’s goal – I hate to see a GK beaten at his near post, no matter how hard the shot is. That said, he played a blinder at Ewood, and he is our GK.

The new signings are always under the microscope and I believe we have much to be grateful for. Koscielny’s baptism at Anfield was always going to be difficult, yet he passed with flying colours looking confident and comfortable, linking well with TV and covering Sagna when he attacked. The sending off was extremely harsh, though his first yellow for a full bloodied tackle was a delight to see. He is clearly a tough man, to come back after that dreadful tackle by Cole (as deserving a red card as any we will see this season) shows a determination to succeed at his new club. How he would have fared against a fully fit Torres remains to be seen. He wasn’t bullied by Blackburn and more than held his own with the aerial attacks, but he got badly turned by Hadj Diouf (spit spit) for Blackburn’s goal.  One mistake in two games for a newbie is very acceptable.

The signing of Squillaci is very good. I cannot recall seeing him play, but the stats are very impressive. A man with huge experience, played in a CL final and a regular International. I believe he will be the first choice CB ahead of Koscielny in the big games. We have definitely strengthened in the centre of defence, by replacing the creaking limbs of Swiss Phil, WG and Sol with younger players with top flight experience.

Our two full backs have had differing starts. Sagna is in great form, both in attack and defence. One could say that he went missing for Blackburn’s goal but if he is to be an attacking threat (particularly with Theo going central), he is reliant on coverage from others. His is an awkward position because of Theo’s attacking skills outweighing his defensive abilities. How does Sagna choose when to go forward? As he is such a potent weapon both in adding numbers on the right side of attack and in allowing Theo to move centrally , his choices have to be perfect. The space behind him has to be filled by Song or Diaby, and he is dependant upon their awareness of Sagna’s forays.

Clichy has been criticised  for his continuing poor form and many call for the emergence of Gibbs, but I think he needs more games to re-establish himself as one of the world’s top left backs. He has been turned too often for comfort and his distribution has been poor, in particular his crossing.  However,class will out and Clichy is a class performer. Some of his interplay with with Arshavin is excellent as they become an effective team, I love to see Gael with the ball at his feet in a tight situation and with AA in front of him – they contrive to play almost magical football in turning defence into attack. It is also interesting to note that Blackburn were a non-existent threat down our left.

Vermaelen. Excellent as always. What a find this guy is, already the rock upon which our defence is built. Hard as nails, athletic and a fine reader of the game.  The Blackburn game was the test to see if we had learnt to defend continual long balls and he led the defence in a manner the great TA would have been proud of. The signing of Squillaci has extinguished my fears should  TV  get a long -term injury, at last we have decent cover for this wonderful defender.

3 games. Two goals conceded. We look tight and secure and the communication appears to have improved. The only negative is no defender has scored yet.