Monday, 22 October 2012

An Unwarranted Arrogance

I think it's pretty safe to say that Saturday was up there with some of the worst, if indeed the worst Arsenal performance under Wenger's leadership. We lost to side that hadn't won a league game this season. A side that had conceded seventeen goals, yet they ran out deserved winners on Saturday but they played against a side with little imagination, laughable moments in the final third and most importantly a lack of shots on target.

Our arrogance on Saturday was that befitting of the invincible side but the difference being, the invincible's worked extremely hard and once they'd matched the efforts of the opposition that's when talent and skill comes into play, this side doesn't have that. We have a magical Spaniard who will do his utmost to create but if he has an off day, like on Saturday, who steps up to the plate? Imagine if Cazorla were to pick up a knock? It's say to assume we'd struggle. The preparation for games like this is key Wenger admitted pre-game that there are no easy games and yet post-Norwich he admitted that we might have underestimated the opponent. So either Arsene is just rolling out the old cliches or his side doesn't listen to him. I have a feeling it was the former but he included Wilshere on the bench despite earmarking Reading in the Capital One Cup as his return date. The truth is Wilshere wasn't brought on because the match was intense, he wasn't brought on because we weren't cruising to victory against one of the worst sides in the league. Arrogance, even over the selection of subs. There are a lot of players who were in that side on Saturday who deserve a place on the bench for a few games Mannone, Santos, Vermaelen, Ramsey, Gervinho and Giroud to name but a select few. Yet sadly, they'll probably all start against Schalke but then accountability for poor performance isn't Wenger's thing, unless it's Arshavin.

Anyway, enough of that and time to focus point in this blog, shots on goal. I believed prior to the kick off of this Premier League campaign that we would see the return of a free flowing and scoring Arsenal. However, the Premier League hasn't gone to plan and I couldn't have been further from the truth. We aren't winning games because we aren't clinical and our shots on target makes grim reading.

Team Goals Shots on Goal On Target Off Target Blocked Shot/Goal Ratio Shot/Target ratio
SAFC 0 23 3 10 10 0% 13%
SCFC 0 17 2 11 4 0% 11%
LFC 2 11 5 4 2 18% 45%
SFC 4 23 9 8 5 18% 40%
MCFC 1 11 4 5 2 9% 36%
CFC 1 17 4 10 3 5% 23%
WHUFC 3 21 7 6 8 14% 33%
NCFC 0 14 5 6 3 0% 35%
Average Per Game 1.375 17.125 4.875 7.5 4.625 8% 29.5%

We average under five shots on goal per game, that's a shot on target every eighteen minutes. Just under 30% of our attempts at goal actually hit the target and only 8% of our attempts on goal actually find the back of the net. You'd have thought we were Norwich or QPR if you forget for one second that this is about Arsenal. If you factor in our inability to keep clean sheets it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out why were are well below par. We can't go into every game needing to score two goals to win every game. We won three games against Chelsea, Sp*rs, Man Utd and Man City last season. Only once did we win and keep a clean sheet and on the other two occasions we had to score five goals to the games. That is not the way top sides operate and it shows the lengths this side has to go to in order to secure three points. We opened the season at home to Sunderland and we could only muster three attempts on goal, three! We tied our season high twenty three attempts against Southampton but managed to score on four occasions and thankfully they also put through their own goal twice. Another standout stat is that we've only managed to test the opposition keeper over five times on two occasions, against Southampton and West Ham, both of whom were promoted last season. It smacks of a flat track bully attitude and even then we've have a come a cropper with that mentality on Saturday.

So we have all of these stats but what does it equate to? Well, lets have a look at our players minutes to goal ratio

Team Gervinho Podolski Walcott Cazorla Koscielny Giroud
SAFC 90 64 77 90 0 26
SCFC 72 72 18 81 0 90
LFC 0 82 0 90 1 90
SFC 75 75 15 90 0 15
MCFC 90 72 18 90 90 18
CFC 90 67 23 90 90 23
WHUFC 61 85 29 90 5 90
NCFC 90 65 0 90 0 90
Total Minutes 568 582 180 711 186 442
Minutes/Goal Ratio 189 291 90 355 186 442

If Theo is reading, he might want to take this to his contract negotiations because it makes horrible reading for the side. We've only had six scorers this season and whilst four are attackers, one is from centre midfield, when we play three and the other is a centre half who now finds himself on the bench. So let's break this down

Gervinho - Our current Premier League top scorer with three goals. This is a man opposition fans laugh at and he has played central striker on. He's scored in two games out of seven starts and he comes in as our third most efficient goal scorer.

Podolski - Lukas has an ankle knock and to be honest it's affecting his ability to contribute to the side. He's not completed a full ninety minutes in an Arsenal shirt. If he has a knock, why not take the opportunity to let him recover? Well that window of opportunity has passed as we have the likes of United and Sp*rs on the horizon, games where we need our best players on top form. I feel we don't do enough to get Podolski involved on games and he only has one goal from open play as a result.

Walcott - We he comes out of this with some praise but he's only started one game. Clearly there are things going on behind the scenes because when he has been fit there isn't anyway Chamberlain or Gervinho should start ahead of him. His finishing has also been impressive, he slotted home well against West Ham to give us the lead and he showed composure that has been lacking on occasions.

Cazorla - The magnificent Spaniard but a player who has never managed over ten league goals in a season. That said it isn't his main attribute but the trouble is those who he is supplying just aren't putting the ball in the net.

Koscielny - A centre half and one struggling to find his feet this season. He's current third in the pecking order at centre half despite the poor form of Vermaelen.

Giroud -  Then there's Olivier who has that one goal at West Ham. I like Giroud and like all players I want him to succeed but if he doesn't have the confidence to shoot then how can he ever succeed. One goal in over seven hours of play as Arsenal's centre forward simply isn't good enough. We can't afford to carry players at the moment and he is our main goal threat and he needs to turn the corner fast.

Overall, I think this smacks of a lack of quality in current squad. We know they are capable of better but yet last Saturday doesn't surprise anyone because we've seen it many times before. We have two huge games upcoming in our next four matches and this could well determine how this squad evolves because it would be nice to see it brimming with confidence but at present that seems a long way away. It's amazing how many good things can come from a shot at goal. If you don't believe me ask Grant Holt...


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