After the disappointment of not winning at home vs Liverpool, there was the expected emotional reaction by many pundits and fans who have concluded after the first three games of the season that Arsenal cannot contend for the title.
1-Win, 1-Draw and 1-Loss and we are already out of the runnings.
In this rush to judgment various justifications are offered. The most popular thesis is we lack a world class striker, ergo we shall fail to score goals. To back up this argument there is a virtual panic over our goal-scoring so far. I will admit that after three games the figures (compliments of Squawka) are ugly:
|Total Goals Scored||2|
|Avg Goals Per Game||0.66|
|Total Chances Created||49|
The implication, by those already running up the white flag of surrender, is at the current rate Arsenal will end the season with only 39 goals and a shot accuracy that will barely surpass Aston Villa’s infamous strike rate of 44% in the 2014-15 season.
Obviously these pessimistic projections are nonsensical and unrealistic for a team of Arsenal’s quality, unless you are a blatant fear-monger. Whilst not every pundit or blogger goes to these extremes, on a repetitive and consistent basis, the fear is being sown that we do not have the strikers to score enough goals to win games. As would be expected, hopefully by readers of this blog, the record speaks a totally different story.
Just take the past three years, which by the way, concurs with Giroud’s arrival at the club and assumption of the role of main striker.
|Total Goals Scored||72||68||71||70|
|Avg Goals Per Game||1.89||1.79||1.87||1.85|
|Total Chances Created||461||404||470||445|
The figures demonstrate that based on Total Chances Created we are consistently a 70 goal per season team. Furthermore with our non-world class strike force we have a team which will consistently score from 16% of chances created.
Yet there is very little attention in the press, and obviously none can be expected from the fear mongers, to the fact that so far this season Arsenal is creating chances at the rate of knots. For the season-to-date we are creating 16 chances per game which, if the rate is maintained, will total 620 for the season. If we sustain our 3-year average conversion rate then we should score 99 goals for the season. Rosy projections obviously but the figures suggest we should exceed Total Goals Scored if we sustain our average. Any professional forecaster would probably plump for a figure somewhere in the middle and project 84 goals for the season.
Arsene Wenger is obviously not in panic mode. In his pre-Newcastle presser he made the following observation:
“Maybe we are not firing on all cylinders at the moment. By definition, the finishing is a little bit cyclical and it goes in cycles. Finishing qualities come and go and you do not always know why, but certainly at the moment we want it so much at home that we’re trying to force it a little bit.
Somebody needs to remind the White Flag Brigade it is still August. The race has just started and far from decided. We are 8th in the tables, ahead of the defending champions by goal difference. The team is creating chances at a mega rate. History guarantees that as sure as night follows day the goals will come. Roll on Newcastle.
Postscript: Almost a full hour after I signed off on this blog and submitted it for publishing, a story appeared online by Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph here which was directly sourced from the club and not made on background under the cloak of anonymity, where Wenger made it clear he is concerned about the speculative attacks on the club which are not fact based.
“The only thing I want is that when people have opinions, it is documented and worked out before … especially when it is football specialists.”
Without trying to ride on Wenger’s coat-tails, I must admit some satisfaction that Positively Arsenal is one of a few blogs that has been trying to use publicly available data to counter some of the damaging, baseless propaganda that is put in the public sphere not only by the club’s adversaries (PL rivals, greedy-agents, self-serving journalists, etc) but by its own (ex-players turned pundit, Arsenal bloggers and podcasters). Given the easy access to the internet, it only takes a few minutes of research to unearth tons of information proving that Gary Neville, Thierry Henry, Jaime Carragher and company are often talking a load of bollocks and simply giving comfort to the malcontents (George) and those suffering from dysphoria (Andrew Nicoll). We have said it often, on this and another blog which many of us once frequented, that this mindless negativity affects the team, especially in our own stadium. Now we have confirmation by the boss:
“What is a concern is that it puts pressure on players. I love that they [former players] go on television, but what I would like is for them to help people to love football even more. The first mission is to educate people. That is fantastic because the guy can explain things that the guy who has not played at the top level can understand and to get people to really love the game. Some do it very well. The other way I don’t like so much.”
I think he has given us more than enough reason to do our little part in countering the narrative of the White Flag Brigade.