Arsenal’s biggest problem this season has been scoring goals.
32 goals in 25 Premier League games equals 1.28 goals a game. Only 3 times during 28 years of Premier League football have Arsenal averaged less goals per game – the peak years of George Graham’s “boring boring Arsenal” – 1992/93, 93/94 & 95/96.
Arsenal added £72million Nicolas Pepe to a strike force of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in the summer.
The trio cost Arsenal nearly £200million and last season scored 57 league goals between them – with Nicolas Pepe’s 22 coming in France. This season they have just 22 league goals; 14 of which were from Aubameyang. It is just not good enough.
Despite the 3 being below par this season, they are not actually underperforming as goal scorers.
To score goals, you need to get the opportunities, and the fact is this season Arsenal have not created enough changes.
For Arsenal to be 17th in “big chances created” according to the Premier League’s own statistics shows just how bad the problem has been this season.
If Mikel Arteta wants his side to challenge for top 4 next season, he needs to get the side creating more chances.
Mesut Ozil has been our chief creator this season, leading the way with 2.3 “key passes” per 90 minutes. But this output is his worst in an Arsenal shirt – and well below his Arsenal career high of 4.3 key passes per 90.
It is clear the Ozil’s influence is on the team is dwindling. He is no longer the consistent creator he was a couple of years ago. But this blog is not going to turn into an Ozil-bashing one.
In the past Ozil has been backed up by Santi Cazorla (avg 2.3) & Alex Sanchez (2.5) and even Alex Iwobi (2.8).
Last season Ozil was 4th when it came to key passes per 90 behind Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Saed Kolasinac. All 4 averaged over 2 key passes per game. This season Ozil is the only man above 2, and his next nearest is Nicolas Pepe at just 1.9.
Arsenal need to try and get some creativity into the team.
Aubameyang on the wing might get a few goals, but he does not create much – averaging less than 1 key pass per 90 minutes.
Arsenal need to add 2 creators to the squad – one to play wide left and one to potentially replace Ozil who is no longer reaching his high levels of 4 seasons.
So who is out there?
In an attempt to find a gem, I have gone all money-ball. Looking at players who actually create a lot of chances rather than those big names we think create a lot. It is also important to look at those players who create through “short passes” rather than both short and long.
Focusing on short passes ensures we exclude those who create chances through corners (James Maddison) and focuses our time on those who create chances in and around the box.
I have also added the criteria of being “under 27” so that we do not go big on a player who is at his peak, and will unlikely remain beyond the initial 4 year contract.
This is my findings:
We saw against Newcastle how having a more progressive midfield can transform the team.
Whilst Dani Ceballos might not be the long term answer, Arsenal do not to look at getting in central midfielder who is a better passer than Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira.
We used to have the likes of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla playing from deep. We have missed someone who can contribute from a deeper position alongside our problems to create from up top,
- Aubameyang is not a winger
- We need to buy (or promote) at least 2 players to provide competition and support for Mesut Ozil and Nicola Pepe (or in Ozil’s case potentially replace)
- We need to sign a central mdifielder whose first thought is passing forward