40.6% Shot Conversion Rate, but Do Arsenal Feed Him Enough?

Individual achievements and performances in the 2020-2021 – Part III. – Offensive statistics

Following up the general statistic summary and the defensive attributes earlier this week, here are the best players and their Arsenal counterparts with regards to offensive skills and contribution. I will highlight (with bold) if we have our players in the TOP20. Still, every data is from WhoScored.

Offensive statistics

Since the number of goals and assists were already covered among the general attributes I will not repeat the statements/discussions. If interested or have missed that post, please visit it using the link above.

Shots per game:

There is a reason I didn’t mentioned in the lead that I would expect to see an Arsenal player in the TOP20, maybe even in the TOP10 of every statistic. Besides the negative indicators (like yellow cards, own goals, successful dribbles against a player) there are neutral stats where leading the charts is not necessarily desirable. For me shots per game falls in this category. While I don’t doubt that Tottenham and Liverpool fans are proud of Kane and Salah sitting on the top with 3.9 and 3.4 shots per 90 minutes respectively I think this is a sign of being selfish and often making the wrong decision, as I appreciate a smart pass or a cheeky dribble instead of shooting from every possible opportunity. Similarly it is debatable who is considered the better striker, the one who scored more goals, or the one with the superior goals per shots statistics. I wish there were available data on the latter, but apparently I have to research it on my own.

Kane: 23 goals in 134 shots = 17,1% conversion ratio

Salah: 22 goals in 116 shots = 19,0% conversion ratio

Fernandes: 18 goals in 114 shots = 15,8% conversion ratio

Son: 17 goals in 63 shots = 27,0% conversion ratio

Aubameyang: 10 goals in 52 shots = 19,2% conversion ratio

Lacazette: 13 goals in 32 shots = 40,6% conversion ratio

Pepe: 10 goals in 30 shots = 33,3% conversion ratio

I didn’t make a full comparison, but Lacazette (and Pepe) obviously stand out. Would you request it in the comments, I can make similar calculations for a few more players.

Key passes:

An important statistic I have the impression we seriously neglect under Arteta both on the individual and the team level. De Bruyne and Grealish are the key pass machines of the PL with 3.2 and 3.1 major chances created per game. Our best passers are Odegaard and Smith-Rowe with 1.4 each, which gets them to #34-36 position, behind players like Cresswell, Digne, Westwood or Moutinho – who are less known for their creativity.

Dribbles per game:

I consider this an important skill to have for wingers and midfielders, but I don’t insist on having multiple players in the top20. So I’m quite pleased with Saka (#42 with 1.4 dribbles), Partey (#62 with 1.2 dribbles), Ceballos and Pepe (#79-87 with 1.0 dribble), and I expect this stat to slightly improve next season. Traore and Saint-Maximin sit on the PL’s throne with 4.1 and 3.8 dribbles per 90 minutes, with Anguissa & Grealish following with 2.7.

Fouls against:

Another indicator where the top 2 sit way up high – Grealish with a shocking 4.2 figure, then Zaha with 2.9 – and the rest of the PL come after quite a gap. And we have a player in the top: Saka was fouled twice every game (on average) making him the 10th most frequent victim of faults. Based on my subjective recollection of Arsenal games I’m not surprised. However this is a statistic I would happily swap for places in the key passes top10.

Offsides ’lost’ per game:

I’m not sure whether this statistic is something to be minimized – like yellow cards – or an indicator that implies predatory instincts that could still improve. Vardy and Mané are the offside collectors with 1.1 ans 0.9 rules against them per 90 minutes. Aubameyang (0.6) and Saka (0.5) take the #14 and #19 positions.


Another negative statistic; but don’t confuse this with the technical abilities (see next one), as this rather shows that the player is taking or more than he can deliver. A signature Alexis Sanchez statistic, if you remember the late Wenger years. The 2 persons dispossessed the most were Sterling and Zaha with 2.7 and 2.6 per game (with a large gap behind them). Our only player dispossessed too frequently is Saka with 1.3, and he is only at #41, so I think the coaching team does a quite good job in this department.

Unsure touches a.k.a. bad ball controls per game:

This last offensive statistic confirms that our squad is well equipped technically – unless we consider the low figures a sign of an unhealthy balance n the discipline-creativity scale. But again, we have a single player in the top 50, young Bukayo saka takes the #24 position with 2.3 bad controls. Zaka leads with 3.6, then Lookman, Salah, Watkins and DCL follow with 3.1 clumsy touches each.

Similarly to defensive statistics these figures don’t tell the whole story either. However there are a few of conclusions I can draw. Firstly that we underappreciate Lacazette big time. His insane shot conversion ratio shows that he has the brains to decide when to shoot and when to pursue different options. Were he playing every PL minute, he would have shared the Golden Boot with Kane – reaching 23 goals assuming a similar 1.5 shots per game ’temperament’ and a 40% conversion rate. The other conclusion is that we are behind in the critical offensive indicators, and only competitive in the less important statistics. However this is quite common knowledge, as we have already discussed that Arsenal has a capable defense, now we have to focus on more creative and efficient attacks, including chance creation and long shots.

My last last thought concerns Saka. Since TA gave the title of the last piece ’defensive stats showing one clear winner’, this post might lead to a similar conclusion that Saka is the weakest link since he leads most of the dispreferred or unfortunate offensive statistics within Arsenal. Doesn’t that contradict him being the player of the season? I believe it doesn’t. Most of these statistics can be explained by the combination of youthful exuberance and Saka often being the only player trying to create things even when the rest of the team is in apathy. Nevertheless it shows that Bukayo is far from being a complete product, and him being our player of the season as well as the most valuable Arsenal player should be strictly interpreted in the context of his young age, as Pepe seems to be ahead of him in almost every skill and statistic. Risking to see a lot of challenging comments I sign off with a controversial idea that there might be some bias behind Saka’s comet-like popularity, but this is absolutely fine for an academy player who just turned 19 and has a great attitude and personality.

This was the third batch of statistics.

What is your opinion? Where shall we improve individually next season?

Assuming that WhoScored has no anti-Arsenal bias, where/why do you think it under- or overrates players?

Part IV. will deal with passing statistics.

By PBarany

69 thoughts on “40.6% Shot Conversion Rate, but Do Arsenal Feed Him Enough?

  • Fine post, PB. Those shot conversion stats for Laca and Pepe are great. Let’s feed them the ball more in key areas.

    Not sure what you are trying to say about Saka with the use of stats? So I will not respond! 😉

  • Morning all,

    I’ll be out today watching the game with my son, I’ll catch up tomorrow.

    Let’s hope England don’t assume that the Ukraine game is a pass into the semi final’s!!

  • Very interesting. Let’s hope that Laca is still with us next season and that MA gives him the minutes which he deserves!

  • The Saka stats are not very useful unless you include the denominator. IE: if he has the ball more often than other Arsenal players then it renders the observations meritless.

  • Very helpful stats PB. Just from observing I’ve been so impressed with how accurate Son is in shooting. The Lacazette number i would have guessed was better than most, but surprised me how high it is.

  • Valid point, G, but the ball possession statistic will only be covered in the next part – some time early next week. So far we should assume that these statistics are comparable for similar positions. While I wouldn’t hypothesize that a winger has similar ball receiving statistics than a central midfielder, I hope it’s safer to assume that those figures for Willian, Saka, Pepe, Martinelli (maybe even Smith-Rowe) are close enough to make the comparison somewhat meaningful.

  • Great analysis PB. The shot conversion stat is revealing. It’s an.arguement for our strikers for taking more shots and our creators are not creating enough to warrant a shot. It’s also an indication that we pass the ball slowly in the final third that we don’t have clear passage for shots. Either ways more intensive passing is what we need next season.
    This is something that I noticed last year. You see in all the matches the strikers indicating where they need the ball. I have observed it always and when I see the old videos of Bergkamp and Cesc with Henry etal you never see Henry indicating where he wants the ball. All he does is males runs and DB10 and cesc laying on the path. So that indicates that the players are still not sure about each others movement. This is one more thing
    for me to watch next season.
    On Saka what is exciting is that the many upside to his game that is yet to be realised. That’s how I see Saka and yet he was the standout last season. Isn’t that exciting. Same with ESR.

  • Fine report, PB. Stats are an interesting subject; some live and die by them, when it suits a narrative, while others scoff at them …..for the same reason. For me, stats have a place in understanding the game and value of the players we root for or slate (read scorn). Personally, I like them and do refer to them when I have to.

    The Laca stats above are spot on about the man. I did post about him being a shooting technician; Laca is deliberate with his shooting; the reason he rarely blazes so far wide. He aims to “kill” when he decides to shoot and that’s why he steadies himself and opens himself to potential blocks as he is guilty of giving defenders too much time to stand in his way. When he gets a free pass to shoot, the keeper is either making a great save or picking the ball from the back of the net.

    Having said that, he does need to be a bit more speculative and take a lot more shots to give him a chance at increasing his goal scoring rate, instead of waiting to get an opening before shooting.

    Auba is different and would try shooting as opportunities arise. The numbers shown reflect that.

    As a group, we need to improve on the creative outlets we have, beyond Saka and Tierney. Pepe needs to step up really well after having his first pre-season at this club. Our full/wing backs must be allowed some freedom to bomb forward on occasion to add to the creativity, especially when playing clubs who defend in blocks. Whoever we bring in for Bellerin or as back up to Tierney have to possess the qualities which serve us in this regard.

  • What is impressive about Laca is his precision combined with his incredible work rate. I would change nothing and hope for another great Laca season. The one who needs to step it up is Auba of course. We need to get him back firing again.

  • Congrats to all the England fans. Denmark is all neutrals favourite. So game on.

  • Morning all.

    Here are the results of our Euro competition:-

    For the Quarter Finals:-

    1st Kev with 3/4 plus 2 points one correct score plus 2 points for share of most correct predictions = 7 points
    2nd PB with 3-4 plus 2 points for share of correct predictions = 5 points
    3rd GN5, Eris, TA, & Stu 2/4 = 2points

    For Euro 2020 to date :-

    1st GN5 with 39
    2nd Eris & Kev with 37
    4th Stuart with 31
    5th TA & PB with 28

  • Now we move on to the Semi Finals
    Please give me your predictions prior to July 6th.

    July 6th Italy v Spain *
    July 7th England v Denmark *

    1 point for a correct prediction – home or away
    2 points for a correct score
    4 points for most correct predictions
    In the case of penalties add one goal to the team you predict to win

  • Hello in there, GN5. Just been waiting on any injury updates. Spinnazolla’s loss is a big one, however I still fancy those Italians to meet England in the final.
    Italy 2 Spain 1
    England 2 Denmark 0

    Thank you, Total for your high and undeserved praise. The British gave our far flung nation many things which we treasure, their language being one of them, and some things which we both treasure and improved upon, sheep farming and the sport of rugby being our prime and proud examples.

  • While we are waiting for the semi finals here is my micro-analysis of the Ben White situation.

    I’m personally terrified of the possibility that we are about to sign him. But this is subjective, and I am loyal to the club’s current defenders, Holding, Mari, Gabriel as well as Mavropanos and Saliba. Not just as they aI haven’t been following closely either him or Brighton as a team.
    My first approach to th

  • Why do we need Ben White? Our defense was not the problem last season. Have we wrecked any chance of having a future with Saliba? Mavropanos any good? I was pleased with Gabriel, Mari , and Holding. Is Chambers not usable at centre back? Aren’t these players still drawing salaries too? Should we commit a pile of cash to a defender, and possibly partly fund it by selling a proven Holding ?

    Use cash to fix this weak midfield please and work on creativity around the box.

    Maybe I’m wrong and he’ll be the next great defender in the world, but we really need the next Vieira or Cesc much more. I wish we still had Sven. Unless Stan and Josh are going to seriously increase capital expenditure.

  • Sorry for the half message above. I don’t know what could have happened…

    While we are waiting for the semi finals here is my micro-analysis of the Ben White situation.

    I’m personally terrified of the possibility that we are about to sign him. But this is just me, and I am loyal to the club’s current defenders, Holding, Mari, Gabriel as well as Mavropanos, Saliba and Ballard. Not just as they are Arsenal players already, I consider them really good defenders, way beyond White’s capabilities. But I have to admit that I haven’t been following closely either him or Brighton as a team.

    My first approach to the topic is to answer these 2 questions:
    1. Does White worth £55M?
    2. If we have £55M to spend on a single player, should it be a central defender.

    My answers to both questions are big fat ‘Hell, no!’, but I acknowledge, that the first is kind of subjective. You may have a different opinion, and it is possible that Arteta or Edu happened to know better. (I know it sounds arrogant, but after the signing of Willian or Rúnarsson, and the treatment of Saliba, Martinelli, Torreira, Guendouzi and Nelson, I feel generous enough to give them the benefit of the doubt.) But the second question is pretty close to be a matter of fact. If there is any truth behind Rennes is willing to sell Camavinga for £26M – and we are no longer actively pursuing a deal for the teenage star – then there is something seriously rotten in Denmark.

    Coming back to the first question. Still accepting that it is a topic of individual preference, here are my 10 arguments to support that White is insanely expensive for £55M (most data from https://www.whoscored.com/Players/322036/Show/Ben-White):
    – According to TransferMarkt his value is only £25.2M (Camavinga’s market value is £50M – just for comparison)
    – As a Euro 2020 squad player he was recently evaluated (and increased). But only a little more than a year ago his worth was below £5M
    – He is only 182 cm tall, making him as high as Chambers, and 11 cm smaller than Saliba and Mari
    – Based on his WhoScored profile, Ben is strong in passing, interceptions and concentration, but weak in heading and crossing
    – He was only the 11th best player of Brighton in this Premier League season with an average WS rating of 6.60 (Bissouma was the clubs second highest rated player with 6.98)
    – He was never awarded MotM (a Brighton player was nominated MotM 13 times – just about every third game)
    – During his 36 games and 3200 minutes he didn’t register a single goal or assist. Arsenal has 2 defenders with 0/0 stats, but Mari played just 900 PL minutes, with Mustafi only 45
    – All of the Brighton central defenders have higher ratings than Ben! That’s either extremely alarming or showing that WhoScored ratings are not that reliable. But nevertheless Veltman, Dunk, Webster and Burn seem to have a better year than White
    – He might be comfortable with passing, but when it comes to clearances not only the above mentioned 4 defenders did better, but apparently Bissouma outperformed him in this department
    – While he is in the spotlight due to being in the England squad, he didn’t play a single minute in the Euros (made the bench only twice in 5 games), and has only 2 international appearance in 2 friendly games: 1:0 against Austria (19 minutes) and another 1:0 against Romania

    I know it is uncool to hypothesize on why many supporters demand Arsenal to sign Ben, but based on everything above I have no better theory than most fans just want to see Arsenal splashing the cash, without actually supporting arguments. For many it is appealing – or even sexy – to be on the list of the most expensive CB signings ever (£55M would put White at #5 behind Maguire, VvD, de Ligt and Laporte), but for me it is quite unacceptable to break records for a position where we simply don’t need reinforcements, when we don’t have the funds for proper midfielders as club property are destroyed on a regular basis in the form of loan player devaluation and ceasing existing contracts.

    To sum up my view on Ben White: I seriously hope that Everton, Chelsea or Manchester City outbids us and we can spend the money better.

  • Sorry, for coming on late, GN5. Here are my predictions:

    July 6th Italy v Spain (3-2)
    July 7th England v Denmark (3-1)

  • PB, that in-depth analysis of Ben White, in trying to understand the valuation of the man, just speaks to the concerns of every Arsenal fan now. We have been mugged off once too often by English (and foreign) clubs that you start to wonder what stats we rely on at the club in reaching these decisions. I will admit I didn’t know much of White until we started to show interest, starting at such a high fee. It gives the impression we really do rate him, perhaps for his ability on the ball, but surely, not for £50m!

    We all have an idea how these things work: agents seeking a big pay day; potential for enrichment for some officials; English player commanding an inordinate sum as transfer fees and the influence of the media in creating anxiety where there should be none. I am not sure there are other clubs really pushing to gazump us, should we not stump up the cash.

    I feel we need to do a re-think on this one and the fact Brighton are stalling should be our “walk away” chance.

  • I’m glad I’m not alone on Ben White !

    I’d rather see us spend the money to buy a Torreira type player, or a midfielder with some Guendouzi skills, or at least a big young defender with a high ceiling who costs much less than White, maybe like… Saliba? Or maybe a backup keeper who could challenge an unhappy Leno. Oh wait, we have had all of that, and need to replace all of them now.

    I almost forgot a tricky winger to replace Nelson. Let’s hope we don’t have to replace Smith Rowe in a couple seasons.

    Yes, this is a dig at Arteta. The only way he’ll convince me is to have us overachieve next season and maybe not make so many players want to leave.
    I honestly think the only shot we have is if we add something unexpectedly fantastic to improve our midfield and creativity. The clock is ticking.

  • Guys who are in England , what do you make of ESR rumours. It’s annoying to say the least and you wonder why either the player or Arsenal comes out with a credible message.

  • Madhu,

    I can’t speak for all of the English BK bloggers but I for one would be shocked if we were to sell him.
    I see him as one of most gifted young players and to sell him would leave me wondering what our clubs intention was, he along with Saka in my opinion are a part of the bed rock that the club should be building around.

  • Madhu,

    Although I’ve lived in North America for most of my adult life I’m proudly British and Highbury born and bred.

  • Madhu,

    I’m sure that ESR will have been told by his agent and/or the Club to say nothing. The agent would take that line to make Arsenal think that ESR might leave if he is not offered enough. Arsenal might be keeping quiet for all sorts of reasons but I really hope that they are not considering selling ESR there would be a considerable backlash from the fans. We made a mistake selling Emi to Villa, let’s not repeat the error. P.S. Did you see how many penalties Emi saved for Argentina the other night?

  • Here are the results of our Euro prediction competition:-

    For the Semi Final’s:-

    1st Stuart with 2/2 plus 2 for a correct score and 1 point share of most predictions = 5points
    2nd GN5, Eris & Kev with 2/2 and 1 point for a share of most predictions = 3 points
    5th PB with 1/1
    6th TA with 0/6

    For the Euro’s to date:-

    1st GN5 with 42
    2nd Eris and Kev with 40
    4th Stuart with 36
    5th PB with 29
    6th TA with 28

  • No I missed that Madhu, I’ve been too engrossed in England’s games and some family matters.
    I was really upset when we sold Emi as I considered him to be a superior goal keeper than Leno.
    But obviously his coaches and management had more in mind than skill set – money?.

  • Here you go gents – the Final predictions for Euro 2020

    July 11th Italy v England*

    1 point for a correct prediction – home or away
    2 points for a correct score
    In the case of penalties add one goal to the team you predict will win

  • Hey guys. It is the weekend again and promises to be an exciting one with the finals of both the Euros and the Copa America taking place same day. The Copa has a 3rd place game today, between Colombia and Peru; maybe the Euros should consider a “losers’ final” too. Just to spice things up.

    Transfer rumours suggest we should have two new signings over the line and announced by next week; also secured the long term signatures of Okonkwo and Kido-Taylor, with ESR set to sign a 5 year extension. Hopefully, we are able to get, at least, one signing that will provide true excitement and cheer amongst the fans and players, while sending chills down the spine of opponents.

  • Colombia won the 3rd place 3-2. **

    The Euros final is such a tough one to call as either team is well capable of winning it. My heart says England, but my head tells me Italy, both by slim margins. Guess I go with the heart….

    Italy v England – 1-2.

  • Morning all.

    I’m really concerned about Italy’s all round ability especially their defensive prowess but I will put my trust in England to win their first trophy since 1966…………….

    Italy v England – 1-2.

  • Morning guys, I am enjoying the absence of Arsenal news and calm, around the club. Yet I am also looking forward to the new season kicking off in five weeks. There will be some friendlies which we can watch on Arsenal.com for £7 a game….

    I cannot call tomorrow night’s game but the Wembley advantage is huge so I went for an England win.

  • Ah! Didn’t realize the club had announced Nuno Tavares, at the time I was posting the transfer rumour comments I made above.

    Welcome to the Arsenal, Nuno Tavares.

  • Thanks GN5. We only had him for the two seasons at Highbury, but what a striker PM was. Arsenal.com also reminds us that he filled in for David O’Leary at Centre Back. Big, brave, good in the air and fast. The classic English striker of that and earlier era’s.
    Italy 1 England 2
    Enjoy the game.

  • Thanks Stuart. I will enjoy the game along side my son and grandson – great company and hoping for a great result.

    Take good care………….

  • I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about watching England, I will be very nervous and I hope that the teams don’t bore us to death with negative defensive football. I fear the worst if it does turn out to be a battle of defensive’s.

    I remember well 1966 and the euphoria that swept through the country. let’s hope it happens again.

    I was fortunate to be with my son in a private box behind first base when the Blue Jays won the World Series in both 1992 & 1993 and they were incredible moments – I Hope my son & grandson great to experience the atmosphere of an England win at Wembley with the crowd singing and shots from pubs around the country…………….

  • It is going to be nervy for sure. Been regaled with stats, omens and signs, even a hex. But, in the end, it is all about who wants it the most and, sometimes, who the bounce of the ball favours.

    Good luck to all the fans of England on here. The nation deserves some joy after so long.

  • Yes, unfortunately that is on the coach. You don’t put that pressure on young lads. Bukayu doesn’t take them for his club, so why is he placed in that position?
    A sad end (unless you’re Italian) to a great tournament.

  • Gonna unload here. I was crying along for/with Saka.

    A couple facts. England with home games in the tournament, including the final. They got to play who? Ukraine? Denmark without their best player? And needed a typical Sterling dive to get past the latter.

    But the coach putting on 2 ice cold players in the final seconds. I didn’t like the look of that, they didn’t touch a ball since the warm up…,,, and they both missed, since they’ve hardly played all tournament. Then have a kid who has never taken a penalty for his club under that pressure.

    Southgate made good calls all tourney. Not today.

  • Commiserations to English fans. All I can say is that you have to question southgates tactics. England never expected to score so early and probably didn’t understand what to do. Italy themselves were stunned and did what any team would do without testing England Gk. Then the penalties and the choice of players are bizarre.
    Saka will stronger after this and kudos to him that he didn’t flinch taking the final penalty. It’s part of the game to miss but you surely have to question coach’s choice.
    I was saddened by the racial abuse but expected it. Nothing surprises me anymore. The hate that’s there in the world is unbelievable. I see in my own country every single day the abuses and insults Muslims are subjected. Iam ashamed to call myself human being but the haters don’t feel any remorse. They just attack with evrn more force. This tribalism will destroy the whole world. It was good to see that G Neville slamming British PM. I can’t think of any of my sporting celebrity ever slamming Indian PM for his bigotry. Pathetic world we live in where abuses are hurled due skin colour, organized religion they follow rather than looking at human being as one.

  • Well said Madhu.
    I think Southgate bottled it. He should have made substitutions early in the second half when it was obvious that the Italians were on the front foot. Having suffered so much from his experience in ’96, I thought he would have gone for a win instead of seemingly hoping for a flash of inspiration from a tiring team or accepting the seemingly inevitable lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
    Mount was largely anonymous after the first half and should have been replaced by Grealish early on. I love Saka but, he is much better when he starts games and he struggled to get into the game when he came on, although if he hadn’t been wrestled to the ground by a bit of old fashioned Italian thuggery things may have turned out different. So, I was shocked when his name came up to take the last penalty. The last-minute substitutions, whilst about to defend a corner, were bizarre. If Sterling wasn’t going to take a pen, why not take him off? Why not take him off earlier and test the tiring Italian backline with the speed and skill of Sancho?

  • Morning guy’s – my heart bleeds for poor Saka some people are just f***ing morons – they disgust me.

    Frankly I also feel for Southgate the abuse that he is getting is over the top.
    Like any coach – in a given moment he can only use his best judgement and he also has a group of experienced coaches to lean on. He’s the first manager to get England to a final and should be applauded for his efforts and not bombarded with abuse.

  • Here are the results for the Euro 2020 final.

    1st PB with 1/1 plus the correct score = 3 points
    The rest of us 0/0 = 0 points

    For the Euro 2020 competition in total:-

    1st GN5 with 42
    2nd Eris & Kev with 40
    4th Stuart with 36
    5th PB with 32
    6th TA with 28

    Thanks for joining in guy’s it’s been a lot of fun and ended up to be a very close race..

  • I feel a bit of a hippie today, but I wouldn’t blame everything on the same party, but at the same time I avoid not putting any blame at all.

    While England has an Arsenal player – and Italy only a wannabe if the form of Locatelli, at least I’d like him to become a gunner, yet it is not particularly likely – I rooted for the Azurris. Mostly because of my dislike towards Southgate, who had the best bunch of players, yet – in my opinion – failed to develop a strategy that demonstrated this superiority, or managed to tailor the tactics to the opponent. It wasn’t a terrible or mediocre (Arteta-level) performance of a manager, but unless you were emotionally involved with the three lions it wasn’t particularly exciting to see them play, they didn’t seem to have a character (at least a likeable one), but they had a strong – seemingly impenetrable – defense, and the attacking players were always capable to score a goal or two, even without a clear concept of building up attacks. Yet I have to agree with GN5 that he got more abuse than he absolutely deserved. (And the racial side of the attacks are also disgusting.) They reached the final, which is indeed a respectable performance, albeit playing all but one game in the Wembley, and the fact that the only major team they faced was Germany kind of limits the scope of admiration. Nevertheless it seemed Gareth had a strategy to the penalties. A strategy that happened to backfire, but a conscious approach nonetheless. I don’t think they has practiced the shootout properly, though.

    I kind of agree with those who don’t blame this on the players, and a bit with those who do. Anyway, I definitely don’t blame Rashford at all, as he sent the keeper the wrong way and even after that he tried to place his tame shot far from the middle. Would he have aimed better by a single inch, it would have been an unstoppable shot. That cannot be said about Sancho’s and Saka’s penalties which were really very poor shots, and would have required meters of improvement – an entire redesign – to go in. Unlike Rashfords, although the end result was the same. I don’t think it would be fair to expect a player to score every penalty. Most of the lads have the skills, but the (often) 120 minutes in the legs and the pressure the huge stake puts on their psyche justifies the 70-80%. And that is perfectly fine. What I would rather expect from the players is not necessary the perfect Auba-like penalty all the time, but at least a mindful effort (like Kane, Maguire and yes, Rashford), that even if the goalkeeper gets the direction right it should still be difficult to parry. They don’t have to do it on their own: there are a bunch of support staff to help them including coaches, assistants and sport psychologists, but such extremely poor penalties like Jadon’s and Bukayo’s should be eliminated just like loose backward passes leading to goals conceded.

    I appreciated the many goals of the tournaments, but I wasn’t impressed overall.. Probably neither of the teams deserved to win the cup a 100%, but at least the least undeserving could brought it home.

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