What is the point of having the PALs Firepower without the King of the Key Pass Silver-serving them?
It is still early in the season which makes it hard to pull conclusions. But still, for the sake of having something to talk about during the inter-lull, let’s have a look at our attacking and defending stats until now.
Arsenal played four games and despite our awesome attacking options with the power of PAL, we managed to score just 1.5 goals per game. The whole team scored as many goals as MC’s Aguero, and one more than Sterling and Finland’s finest and surprise of the start of the season, Pukki, until now. We have some heavy hammers in the team but who is providing them with the nails to bang them in? For this we need assist-providers and, as we all know, it’s key passes that lead to assists.
At Arsenal the key passes providers until now are:
- The underappreciated Xhaka (1.7 per game);
- The explosive Nicolas Pepe (1.5);
- The currently dumped Nelson (1.5);
- The fastly growing in status Ainsley MN (1.3);
- New boy Ceballos (1.3).
Liverpool and Man City have each two players in the top ten of PL key passes providers, with Kevin de Bruine producing a dizzying four per game at the moment (and leading all in the PL). He sent Ozil, this decennium’s PL King of the Key Pass, a message the other day saying ‘hey it is lonely at the top!’ 😉
I bang on about this, but it really is no point to have a great attack without having a great midfield as well. And the same goes for the defence…
We conceded six already: 1.5 goals per game. Okay that includes the Pool away game and if we take that one out of the equation, we are conceding a goal per game. Emery wants to play attacking football and outscore our opponents, so conceding a goal per game on average is not the end of the world, but then we really have to step up the goal production.
What is interesting is that according to Whoscored there is not a single Liverpool or Man City player in the top-10 for the categories of ‘Tackles’, ‘Interceptions’, ‘Blocks’ and ‘Clearances’. Yet they both conceded only half the number of goals Arsenal conceded: 0.5 goals per game.
Their best defence is of course their focus on attacking and keeping the opponent hemmed in their own half. City have the highest ball possession and pass accuracy stats of all the teams, which will come as no surprise. But it is also their ability to defend as a team and control space that makes them so solid at the back; they don’t really need to make a great deal of tackles and blocks but simply force opponents to make mistakes by crowding them out/denying them space. Arsenal, as was so painfully obvious again during the first half v the Spuds at the weekend, just don’t know how they deal with turnovers and counter-attacks AS A TEAM, leading to kamikaze defending and individual mistakes. We are a world away from Pool’s and MC’s approach to team-defending.
Our next game is at Vicarage Road against relegation-zone placed Watford: how many of you feel comfortable that we will get a win there?
For me it will be the biggest test until now. I was happy with the opening win against Newcastle and the hard-fought victory over Burnley, and the Pool loss and Spuds draw were predictable and somehow acceptable. Our top-four finish competitors (excluding Pool and MC) have done worse than us, which is of course welcome.
But it is games like our next one that will show what we are worth. Arsenal need to leak less goals and score more and for that we need to get the midfield right. It’s time for no more nonsense re Mesut Ozil and the likes of Nelson and Ceballos also need to get more chances. We are desperate for better and more key passes and thus providing the PALs with much better service.
Emery has a fantastic squad of players to work with and now it is time to get the balance in midfield, and with that in the whole team, right.