Remember how we blitzed Napoli almost five months ago? 15 minutes of fantastic, high-tempo and aggressive football and the game was more or less in the bag with two fine goals by Ozil and Giroud.
And what about our recent away match at Villa: two goals in equally as many minutes – in the 34th and 35th minute by Wilshere and Giroud – and the game was practically won (although we still made it hard for ourselves in the second half).
But these examples are among the few exceptions to the rule, as Arsenal tend to start slow and seldom score during the first third of our games.
Of all our Premier League goals, only 20% are scored during the first thirty minutes of the games; and between the 30th and 60th minutes we score 28%, which is relatively low as well. So, believe it or not, 51% of our PL goals are scored between the 60th and 90th+ minutes.
This raises the questions why this is the case, and whether it is good or bad.
Looking at our title rivals this season, it becomes clear Arsenal score more goals in the final third than the other teams by a margin, and we are the least prolific of all the teams in the first and second thirds of the games in the 2013-2014 season (stats from http://www.premierleague.com):
|Team/Period of games when PL goals are scored||First third||Second third||Final third||Total PL Goals||Total PL Goals Conceded|
What is also quite interesting to note is that simply scoring a lot of goals is no guarantee for success, as MC and Pool demonstrate: both have scored significantly more than Arsenal and the Chavs and yet they are not in the lead.
This season, Arsenal and the Chavs play a more defensively solid game and both teams score the majority of their goals in the third part of their matches (especially Arsenal). MC and Pool play a more ‘full on attacking’ style of football and score more goals, but also concede more.
Despite Arsenal having conceded almost as many goals as MC – mainly skewed by the losses to Pool and MC – we have managed an impressive 46% of clean, whereas the Northern Oilers only achieved 36% of clean sheets (Chavs 42% and Pool a meagre 27%).
As the above demonstrates once again, there is a fine balance between attacking and defending and non of the current top four clubs have been able to get it right until now, which in my view is the main reason why it is still so tight at the top.
So, just for a bit of fun, here are some questions for a ‘heated debate’ 🙂 :
- Why do Arsenal score relatively so few goals early on, and so many late in the game?
- Is this good or bad, or does it not matter at all?
- Should Arsenal start more aggressive/take more risks in games and try harder to score more goals early on?
- What would be the overall effect?
- What would you do for the rest of the season, to remain defensively solid and yet score more goals?
- How should we play against the ‘top teams’ to get more points in these games?