Arsenal’s penalty problems

Wednesday. Another lead thrown away. Another penalty given away.

It felt like deja vu for Arsenal fans. 2-0 up only to give away a penalty. And if it felt like history was repeating itself, it is because it was.

Last weekend, 2-0 up, penalty conceded.

Against Watford earlier in the season; 2-1 up. Penalty conceded. That follows penalties against Tottenham and Liverpool.

5 penalties conceded in 15 games this season. 1 penalty every 3 games.

And it is not a new problem.

Back end of last season we gave away a lead against Brighton having given away a penalty. In the Europa League final, 3-1 down but back in the game, we gave away a penalty.

Arsenal have a huge problem with giving away penalties. Last season it cost us a place in the top 4 and it killed our chances of an epic European come back. This season it has already cost us 4 points against Watford & Palace and seen us knocked out of the League Cup.

Back in 2015/16, Arsenal conceded just one penalty in the Premier League. Since then the statistics do not make pretty reading:

27 penalties conceded in the last 3 and a bit Premier League seasons. That is 1 penalty every 4.5 games – or every 413 minutes.

It is 15 more than Manchester United; and 20 more than Chelsea.

Why are Arsenal conceding so many penalties?

Laurent Koscielny was much maligned during his time at Arsenal for giving away penalties.

In 2014 a lot was written about him for giving away more penalties (6) than any other player since 2010.

It would be unfair, however, to blame him for the recent trend. Koscielny had only given away 1 penalty from 2016/17 through to 2018/19.

Granit Xhaka is the man who has given away the most penalties in the Premier League during that time with 5. That is 3 more than Petr Cech, Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal; all of whom have conceded 2 during that period.

David Luiz also has already conceded two penalties in the Premier League since joining.

It feels like our defenders are just doppy, making poor decisions in the box.

Too often we see situations like Chambers against Palace where he leaves a leg dangling; inviting a forward to go over it.

Then we have the mistime time challenges, often by Granit Xhaka.

I have never seen a player dive in and misjudge a tackle like Xhaka. He clearly does it without thinking. And even in the box he does not have the self-control to stop going to floor.

At 5 penalties, Xhaka has only conceded 2 less than the entire Chelsea team over 3 and a bit seasons.

Ill-disciplined defending is costing us.

I also think a big problem is the midfield.

So many of the penalties are when an opposing winger or midfielder are running into the box at pace, and face a defender one on one. A quick shift of the ball and they are over. Penalty.

The problem is the midfield is not covering the defence. This is allowing opposing attacking players to get up ahead of steam with the ball and attack our box; facing static defenders.

These situations should be cut out before the players enter the box.

Midfield cover will dispose them, or at lease slow them down. But the lack of cover is giving them a free run at the defenders.

It is becoming frustrating how often we are cruising in a game, only to give away a penalty and end up dropping points.

Unai Emery is not the only one to blame as the problem was under Arsene Wenger as well.

As it stands, our biggest threat to finishing top 4 this season is penalties conceded.

Keenos

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