Under Unai Emery, one of the most concerning statistics coming out of every game was how many attempts we were conceding against opponents.
Whether it was 18 at home to Burnley, 24 against Wolves or 31 against Watford. It was simple too easy for opposing sides to get a shot off against us.
Sides found it very easy to carve through our midfield and defence to see the whites of the keepers eyes. Only Bernd Leno’s brilliance saved us from conceding more in many games this season. Too many shots conceded was a huge part of Emery’s downfall.
In just a handful of games, Mikel Arteta has addressed the situation.
Against Crystal Palace, Arsenal faced just 6 shots. That was our lowest in the Premier League this season and just 1 more than our lowest in all competitions (we conceded just 5 shots against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup).
Whilst it was frustrating to come back from South London with a draw, there was plenty to be optimistic about, especially in the way our players battled for the ball.
Arteta has the team defending from the front.
He has also got Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira battling for every ball in the middle again. No longer are we seeing opposing midfielders run away from Arsenal players. They chase them down, win the ball back. Gone is the lazy running and half-hearted covering,
We have also seen Sokratis and David Luiz step up their game at the back. Now moving towards the ball and engaging with the attackers rather than standing off.
The fact is, the less shots you concede, you reduce the chances opponents have of scoring. When you let you opponents have 31 shots at goal, like Arsenal did against Watford, there is always a high chance 1 or 2 will go in.
In the Premier League under Unai Emery, Arsenal were showing relegation form when it came to chances conceded to opponents. In just 4 games Arteta has turned that around and we are now showing top 4 form.
Whilst Arteta wants to be playing free flowing, attacking football, he knew his first job was to come in and fix Arsenal’s leaky defence. Key to that was to reduce how many chances we concede to opponents.
Arteta’s Arsenal concede 40% less shots than Emery’s. A huge improvement.
With 2 clean sheets in the first 5 games under Arteta, Arsenal’s defence is moving in the right direction – Emery’s Arsenal had kept just 5 clean sheets in all competitions; 3 of which were in the cups.
The rest of this season is going to be about rebuilding the structure of the team. Getting us tactically proficient and raising fitness levels. Once Arteta has sorted out that aspect of the game he can then encourage the players to be more extravagant in attack.
Arsenal are becoming harder to score against. There is still some way to go but we are now moving in the right direction.