Arsenal 20-21: Artetenal and/or Kia Joorabchian Futebol Clube

67YAZ

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This is very interesting to watch. It’s obviously a very strong valuation for the club, but I think the American owners - like Kroenke and Henry - who value the club as part of a portfolio, price the club much higher than as a stand alone asset.

A few years ago, £2b figure was enough to get FSG to sit down with Mansour’s cousin, Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan. But then Nehayan couldn’t meet the deadline to offer proof of funds, a trick he repeated soon after with Newcastle.

There’s also been rumors of a £3b offer for Liverpool from the Middle East earlier this year that FSG swatted away. But that was before the ESL debacle and while the RedBird investment was being negotiated.

I doubt this bid is enough to get Kroenke to sell, and if the Rams history shows us anything, it’s thy he doesn’t give a shit about fans hating him.
 

Tuff Ghost

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Sky Sports has brought us into the Bill Brasky phase of Daniel Ek's character study. The season has not been entertaining, but I am very much enjoying the spectacle, plus daydreaming about the Kroenkes being gone is fun. (Even though, in my opinion, the Kroenkes are more likely to move the team to Los Angeles and rebrand them the Los Angeles Gunners than they are to ever actually sell due to fan pressure.)

Kaveh Solhekol @SkyKaveh
Daniel Ek is said to be Arsenal obsessive who even watches live games on his laptop during Spotify board meetings. Watches every Arsenal game and has been to Highbury and Emirates Stadium many times
Daniel Ek went for a job at Google after he left school. They told him he wasn't qualified. They told him to go and get a degree. He went home and built his own search engine. That wasn't a success so he set up Spotify
View: https://twitter.com/SkyKaveh/status/1386732938788753408?s=20

View: https://twitter.com/SkyKaveh/status/1386745828165963781?s=20


He has 228,000 Twitter followers, for those wondering.

Presumably forthcoming tweet:
“Did I ever tell you about the time Eksy took me out to go get a drink with him? We go off looking for a bar and we can’t find one. Finally, Eksy takes me into a vacant lot and says, ‘Here we are.’ Well, we sat there for a year and a half. Sure enough, someone constructed a bar around us. Well, the day they opened it, we ordered a shot, drank it, and then burnt the place to the ground. Eksy yelled over the roar of the flames, ‘Always leave things the way you found them!'”
 

Tuff Ghost

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I've been thinking about the failings of Arsenal this year and it really seems like a season of squandered opportunities. They often have spells in which they control play for 15-20 minutes at a time, but it seems more often than not, they do not get enough in the form of actual results, i.e. goals.

Leno has been getting a lot of blame placed on him recently, but while he admittedly has made some tough mistakes, Arsenal are actually third in the Premier League on Post-Shot Expected Goals minus Goals Allowed per 90:
  1. Aston Villa: +0.25 (Emi!)
  2. Fulham: +0.20
  3. Arsenal: +0.17
  4. Liverpool: +0.14
  5. Leeds: +0.12
  6. Tottenham: +0.12
Goalkeeping has not been perfect the past couple of weeks, but it definitely is not the heart of the problem this season.

If you look at the Arsenal attacking players, the difference in goals scored (non-penalty kicks) versus npxG is not pretty, with the exception of Lacazette. I love Saka and he makes the team worth watching and he absolutely creates things from nothing when no one else is, but I have felt that his finishing has been his single biggest area that needs improvement. I was not surprised to see his goals vs xG data was not great.
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(Premier League only numbers from fbref)

Perhaps the biggest difference-maker in Arsenal not being in a top-4 or top-6 battle right now and instead being stuck mid-table is Aubameyang. Historically, he has been clinical and over-achieved his expected goal numbers, but this year he is not. If he performed at the level he did last year, he'd have another 5 or 6 goals, and maybe that is enough to get them a couple more wins. At his age, it is worrying, and hopefully it is just a lost season and he's back next year, but he has to be the biggest disappointment. (Willian has been poor and is a worse player, but the expectations for him were lower. Aubameyang has been so good and crucial to the club that him having a mediocre year is more damaging, in my opinion.)

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I think it's tough to blame Arteta for all of this. The players need to convert their chances. If you look at Arsenal xG and xGA the last 3 years, this probably should have been their best recent season:
  • 2018-2019: 57.2 xG, 54.6 xGA (+2.6)
  • 2019-2020: 49.2 xG, 56.6 xGA (-7.3)
  • 2020-2021: 47.4 xG, 39.4 xGA (+8.0)
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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I think your numbers match the eye test very well. Last year Aubameyang was finishing at a far higher rate than was expected for the opportunities and he's just missing a half touch this year plus has missed a lot more playing time. Lacazette has been a pleasant surprise as he's always felt the opposite in failing to convert on opportunities where he was well set up.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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When you're talking about the teams grouped from 3rd to 10, the margins are just really fine. A lot of Arsenal's underperformance relative to the rest of the clubs in that group can be explained by underperforming XG plus having players sent off in four matches against bottom 10 sides. Most top half clubs are getting guys sent off in maybe 1-2 matches a year, and often in situations where it doesn't affect the outcome. If you have somebody sent off against Man City in the 65th minute when you're already losing 3-1 it doesn't really matter because you're almost certainly losing that match anyway, but having players sent off and consequently getting 2/12 points in four winnable matches is a real killer. I don't know how many expected points were lost there in total but if you ballpark it at 6 that's roughly the difference between Arsenal being right in the mix with everybody else for top four (and with a very favorable schedule during the run in) and needing to win the Europa League to qualify for Europe at all.
 

Tuff Ghost

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I think your numbers match the eye test very well. Last year Aubameyang was finishing at a far higher rate than was expected for the opportunities and he's just missing a half touch this year plus has missed a lot more playing time. Lacazette has been a pleasant surprise as he's always felt the opposite in failing to convert on opportunities where he was well set up.
One interesting thing that I noticed while reviewing the numbers earlier is that Lacazette has actually been more consistent at converting than I personally would have guessed. I have been down on him at times in the past, but the conversion rate on his xG numbers are pretty solid throughout his time at Arsenal. He's never had an Auba 2019-20 type of year, though.

40634
 

BostonJack42

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Red cards are mentioned above , but I think we would also need to throw in some very dubious VAR calls as well as a reason for our current place.
 

shaggydog2000

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Red cards are mentioned above , but I think we would also need to throw in some very dubious VAR calls as well as a reason for our current place.
It's luck. And Arsenal simply aren't good enough to overcome bad luck in individual games, and aren't deep enough to overcome bad injury luck.
 

Tuff Ghost

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With the implications of Europe being crucial to how this Arsenal season is viewed, I thought I'd take a quick peak into what Unai Emery and Villarreal have been doing. Emery's long history of Europa success has continued so far this season. In the knock-out phase, they have faced RB Salzburg, Dynamo Kyiv, and Dinamo Zagreb, and they've been pretty dominant, winning all six matches.

Europa Knock-Out Phase - Villarreal:
----- Goals Goals Allow. xGoals xGoals Allow.
Overall 11 2 9.9 4.9
Per Match 1.8 0.3 1.7 0.8

I should note that they have scored twice on their two penalty kick attempts (npxG/match = 1.3). The +9 goal differential has seen them pretty comfortable throughout.

In La Liga, they are sitting 7th with 49 points, but that does seem to be a bit unfortunate for them. They have a +12 goal differential and +14.9 xG differential, yet they sit behind Betis (50 points, -3 GD, -1.3 xGD) and are 21 points behind 4th place Sevilla who have a slightly worse xG differential than Villarreal (Sevilla: +14.7 xGD).

The player who jumps off the page this season is Gerard Moreno. He leads the team in goals (26) and assists (9) across all competitions. It is definitely worth noting that he does have the benefit of being their primary penalty taker, as 11 of his 26 goals are penalty kicks. His xG/90 dramatically increased this season compared to prior seasons:

Gerard in La Liga xG/90:
2017-18: 0.42
2018-19: 0.37
2019-20: 0.44
2020-21: 0.67

But again, a big difference is the amount of penalty kicks he is taking (and converting). His npxG/90 is more in line with his career:

Gerard in La Liga npxG/90:
2017-18: 0.38
2018-19: 0.34
2019-20: 0.39
2020-21: 0.41

The Guardian has an article about Gerard today in which they sensationally refer to him as "arguably Spain's best player right now" (I'll take Messi, thanks).

This matchup seems like it should be a challenge for Arsenal. Here's to some good football and hopefully some Arsenal success.
 

shaggydog2000

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That didn't start well, and kept getting worse. But somehow they did just enough to keep hopes of a final alive. I don't know if that's good or bad.
 

Tuff Ghost

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TIerney is so important to the club. Him being out directly led to a exploitable weakness at LB and a weakness in the midfield. Xhaka is tentative and too slow playing out of position at LB, but I do appreciate everything he does for the club and his flexibility. The drop-off from Xhaka's consistent, if unspectacular, midfield play to Ceballos is dramatic. The team loses cohesion with Ceballos out there.

I think I would have preferred Bellerin or Cedric at RB, Chambers at LB, and Xhaka paired with Partey in the midfield from the start.

The striker-less approach was oddly timed in that this was a hugely important game, but with Lacazette and Aubameyang not fit for 90 minutes of play, it mostly just shows how little he thinks of Nketiah at this point. Martinelli also can be used there, but I think he prefers him out wide. I hope Balogun turns out to be an option next year. I really want him to get some playing time in the last few Premier League matches this year, but I doubt he does.
 

shaggydog2000

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TIerney is so important to the club. Him being out directly led to a exploitable weakness at LB and a weakness in the midfield. Xhaka is tentative and too slow playing out of position at LB, but I do appreciate everything he does for the club and his flexibility. The drop-off from Xhaka's consistent, if unspectacular, midfield play to Ceballos is dramatic. The team loses cohesion with Ceballos out there.

I think I would have preferred Bellerin or Cedric at RB, Chambers at LB, and Xhaka paired with Partey in the midfield from the start.

The striker-less approach was oddly timed in that this was a hugely important game, but with Lacazette and Aubameyang not fit for 90 minutes of play, it mostly just shows how little he thinks of Nketiah at this point. Martinelli also can be used there, but I think he prefers him out wide. I hope Balogun turns out to be an option next year. I really want him to get some playing time in the last few Premier League matches this year, but I doubt he does.
The double down-grade of Tierney to Xhaka at LB and Xhaka to Ceballos in midfield is just so massive. Hopefully Tierney can be back for the next leg. I know if it was up to him he'd just duct tape his body back together and head on out there. Also playing Chambers at RB over Bellerin and not playing a striker blunted so much of the attack that I don't know how Arteta thought they would score in this game.
 

teddykgb

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I am not really pro or against Arteta but Arsenal have cycled through a few managers now with similar results. Isn’t most of the problem that the limited investment has gone into attackers who haven’t driven results? Willian was an awful signing even on a free. Aubameyang has been poor. Lacazette is maybe playing his best football in England but he hasn’t been a difference maker.

You can fire Arteta but I don’t know that a new manager has a lot to work with. That you were linked with Aouar and didn’t go get him is crazy to me. Especially if you’re going to hire someone who is playing some derivative of Pep ball you need to invest in those 8s and ball playing defenders. Just seems like a manager change only dooms you to more chopping and changing of players.
 

Tuff Ghost

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You can fire Arteta but I don’t know that a new manager has a lot to work with. That you were linked with Aouar and didn’t go get him is crazy to me. Especially if you’re going to hire someone who is playing some derivative of Pep ball you need to invest in those 8s and ball playing defenders.
Odegaard was their attempt at a player of this nature, plus Smith-Rowe has helped in that regard.

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https://theathletic.com/1890403/2020/06/25/arsenal-mesut-ozil-transfer-targets/?amp
 

Tuff Ghost

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Big night for Arsenal. I am curious to see how Arteta chooses his squad. I am hoping for something attack-minded, but I fear it will be too conservative. I don't think Lacazette, Tierney, and Luiz will be fit to play, so I doubt we see them unless they are doing better in training than expected. I also fully expect Arteta to keep his Xhaka at LB experiment going, which has me fearful he'll go with Elneny in the midfield with Partey (Ceballos is suspended for the match), making for a lot of slow, safe passing.

I'd like to see something like the following to get the best players out there (I'd prefer not to have Xhaka at LB, but I think it is a given). I doubt Arteta wants Saka (or Smith Rowe) partnered with Partey or to be playing with two 8s; he prefers two holding midfielders, so this is probably just wishful, amateur, fantasy-style decision making on my part.

Leno
Chambers - Holding - Mari - Xhaka
Partey - Saka
Pepe - Odegaard - Smith Rowe
Aubameyang

I also hope Martinelli is subbed on early in the second-half if they still need a goal or more.

I was going through some of the Arsenal data for the season and I thought their top-5 in Shot-Creating Actions/90 and Goal-Creating Actions/90 were interesting:

Shot-Creating Actions / 90 min Premier League:
Player SCA/90
Odegaard 4.33
Saka 3.65
Willian 3.49
Martinelli 3.34
Ceballos 3.04

Goal-Creating Actions / 90 min Premier League:
Player GCA/90
Smith Rowe 0.56
Willian 0.55
Pepe 0.53
Odegaard 0.41
Saka 0.39

The much maligned Willian appeared on both lists somewhat to my surprise. He does have the benefit of taking the most corner kicks on the team, but if you separate goal-creating actions/90 to only open-play passes, he is still 3rd on the squad. If he was a younger player without the history of playing for Chelsea and having a relationship with Kia, he probably would have been treated better, but alas, he is who he is.

The other interesting fact that I saw is how Martinelli generates shot-creating actions / 90 min with 0.53 dribbles leading to shots, which is easily first on the team. Obviously, his pace and explosiveness are ever present whenever he is out there, but this stat compares quite favorably to Saka (0.31 dribbles) and Pepe (0.27 dribbles), certainly by a greater amount than I expected. Of course, Martinelli's sample-size is extremely small and thus could easily change with more minutes, but still interesting.

They'll have to play a lot better than they did in the first-leg, which was completely controlled by Villarreal until the penalty:
Villarreal: 1.7 npxG, 6 shots on target (2.5 post-shot xG)
Arsenal: 0.5 npxG, 1 shot on target (1 post-shot xG including the PK)
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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That was a pathetic performance.

I am firmly Arteta Out at this point. I thought there were real signs of hope in the second half of the season but it just hasn't been sustained in the least. The team we sent out tonight had more than enough talent to at least put some serious pressure on the Villarreal goal and we got that insipid performance in arguably the biggest game of the season. Arteta may be a good tactician in the abstract but he just hasn't shown the ability to get the most out of any of his players.

This captures my thoughts pretty well.

View: https://twitter.com/Stillberto/status/1390410748178878467
 

blueline

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It's not just Arteta that should be gone, but Edu and Vinai Venkatesham as well. 10th in the PL, losing to Emery in the Europa League semifinals with 4 shots on goal over 180 minutes, no European competition next year, the Super League embarrassment. There are multiple people that have caused this calamity of a season. Bring in a technical director and chief executive with experience and credentials that actually know what they're doing. Of course the real problem is that the Kroenkes themselves have no idea what they're doing and don't really care anyways.

But the problem with getting rid of Arteta is that the big managerial names have already moved. Nagelsmann, Rose, Tuchel...is there anyone actually exciting out there? Who would even want to come?

I have a feeling nothing will change. Arsenal aren't a club where there are consequences for failure.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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It's not just Arteta that should be gone, but Edu and Vinai Venkatesham as well. 10th in the PL, losing to Emery in the Europa League semifinals with 4 shots on goal over 180 minutes, no European competition next year, the Super League embarrassment. There are multiple people that have caused this calamity of a season. Bring in a technical director and chief executive with experience and credentials that actually know what they're doing. Of course the real problem is that the Kroenkes themselves have no idea what they're doing and don't really care anyways.

But the problem with getting rid of Arteta is that the big managerial names have already moved. Nagelsmann, Rose, Tuchel...is there anyone actually exciting out there? Who would even want to come?

I have a feeling nothing will change. Arsenal aren't a club where there are consequences for failure.
Completely agree.

If Ek actually manages to buy the club, we could see some changes. Otherwise I think everybody stays because Arteta's failure is also Edu's failure is also Kroenke's failure and so the easiest thing to do is to pretend that its all a process, things are actually going well, etc etc etc.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Arteta, Edu, and Vinai are all basically rookies at their current jobs. And no one above them really has any sort of knowledge of the game.

Look at the Arsenal board, which of them knows anything about football at this level?
https://www.arsenal.com/the-club/corporate-info/the-arsenal-board

Does Edu even have the authority to fire Arteta at this point? And why would anyone want him to pick the next manager? But who else could pick another manager? Vinai has no knowledge of or experience with on-field issues.

They did recently bring in Richard Garlick from the Premier League to be Director of Football Operations, but he's basically a lawyer who is supposed to make contractual deals:
https://dailycannon.com/2021/01/richard-garlick-to-become-director-of-football-operations-at-arsenal/
Sounds like he will be working under Edu, not above him.

There's a crazy lack of experience and knowledge in the entire hierarchy of this club.
 

Lukiewerle

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Arteta, Edu, and Vinai are all basically rookies at their current jobs. And no one above them really has any sort of knowledge of the game.

Look at the Arsenal board, which of them knows anything about football at this level?
https://www.arsenal.com/the-club/corporate-info/the-arsenal-board

Does Edu even have the authority to fire Arteta at this point? And why would anyone want him to pick the next manager? But who else could pick another manager? Vinai has no knowledge of or experience with on-field issues.

They did recently bring in Richard Garlick from the Premier League to be Director of Football Operations, but he's basically a lawyer who is supposed to make contractual deals:
https://dailycannon.com/2021/01/richard-garlick-to-become-director-of-football-operations-at-arsenal/
Sounds like he will be working under Edu, not above him.

There's a crazy lack of experience and knowledge in the entire hierarchy of this club.
I have zero faith in Edu leading any sort of squad overhaul
 

67YAZ

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Just here to say I can’t believe Arsenal screwed up with Mislintat. He’s got Stuttgart in 10th with a +1gd first back in the top flight with half the squad age-22 and under. Sure, the EPL is a different beast but they pushed the wrong guy out.
 

Tuff Ghost

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Just here to say I can’t believe Arsenal screwed up with Mislintat. He’s got Stuttgart in 10th with a +1gd first back in the top flight with half the squad age-22 and under. Sure, the EPL is a different beast but they pushed the wrong guy out.
I was disappointed when Mislintat left, but looking back, even his time at Arsenal was not great. The club seems to get the worst out of everybody. His 8 signings were:
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - great (not exactly an undiscovered talent, though, coming off great years at Dortmund)
  • Dinos Mavropanos - perpetually loaned
  • Henrikh Mkhitaryan - ugh, but it was a swap of two bad options (Alexis Sanchez)
  • Bernd Leno - nice signing, in my opinion, although he has been losing fans lately
  • Sokratis - fine stop-gap defender who served his purpose, but not great playing out of the back
  • Lucas Torreira - seemed like an exciting potential central midfielder for a while, but was not in favor w/ Arteta and has not performed while on loan at Atletico Madrid
  • Matteo Guendouzi - mercurial & has some talent, doing okay at Hertha Berlin, not missed by me
  • Stephan Lichtsteiner - free full-back at the end of his career, fine
Anyway, one big failure of Arsenal this season is their inability to finish. They are like the expensive version of Brighton. If 2019-2020 Aubameyang was out there, he definitely finishes one of those shots where he hit the post last night and everyone is happy and Arsenal is through. Not this year, though.

Premier League Shots On-Target %:
14. Wolves - 32.8%
14. Burnley - 32.8%
14. West Brom - 32.8%
17. Sheffield United - 30.5%
18. Arsenal - 30.3%
19. Fulham - 28.9%
20. Brighton - 26.8%

They do fine in possession, but lack creativity in the final third, show hesitation, and miss their chances. Their non-penalty expected goals numbers are pretty decent, so in some ways, I find it hard to blame Arteta for all of this. If the players cannot score and the opportunities are there, sometimes its just crap luck or less than clinical players. The line of success is so thin. I am not yet fully Arteta-out, but I am also not fully trust-the-process any longer.

Premier League npxG / 90 min:
1. Manchester City - 1.77
2. Liverpool - 1.71
3. Chelsea - 1.44
4. Manchester United - 1.41
5. Leeds United - 1.38
6. Arsenal - 1.32 (tied w/ Aston Villa)
 
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Tuff Ghost

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Arteta was pretty blunt with his assessment of the squad yesterday.
“The squad needs changing,” Arteta told Sky Sports ahead of Sunday’s clash with West Brom.

“There were already a lot of changes in December, something that has not been done in years, but it tells us where we were. Things are going to have to change and the owners are going to back it up.”
-Quote via Arseblog News

One name that keeps popping-up and was mentioned again in a football.london article today is Yves Bissouma from Brighton. Chris Wheatley mentions that Arsenal are hoping to be able to sell enough players this summer to bring in £60 million. It's an interesting financial environment right now, so I am not sure what to expect, but that seems ambitious.

There has been talk that Brighton would definitely want more than £40 million for Bissouma (article from The Athletic), so if Arsenal were to actually make a deal for him, I'm guessing that would take up a considerable portion of their budget. Arsenal are not the only team interested, so it would not be unexpected if the price got higher than they'd want.

I like Bissouma, but I do wonder if he is worth a big expenditure for Arsenal. I am not convinced he is the difference between mid-table and Champions League, certainly. I think Arsenal probably need to be looking for younger and more cost-efficient signings at this point.

Bissouma is a strong defender in the mid-field, but not exactly a huge threat on the attack. Looking at some of the numbers in the EPL this year, it seems clear that Bissouma is good at tackling, strong in aerial duels, but not a huge contributor to the attack.

Tackles + Interceptions / 90 min:
Bissouma: 4.94, Partey: 4.39, Ceballos: 3.58, Xhaka: 3.01, Elneny: 2.30

Tackle % vs Dribbles:
Xhaka: 52.5%, Partey: 40.9%, Bissouma: 39.1%, Elneny: 31.3%, Ceballos: 26.5%

Aerial Duel Success:
Bissouma: 63.8%, Xhaka: 56.6%, Partey: 54.8%, Ceballos: 36.8%, Elneny: 31.8%

He does pass long at a higher rate (per pass) than the Arsenal mid-fielders, but being at Brighton, he also attempted less passes overall per 90, so it's not a perfect comparison:

Long Pass % with (Completion %):
Bissouma: 18.6% long (78.7% complete), Ceballos 18.4% (74.8%), Partey: 18.3% (75.7%), Xhaka: 17.5% (83%), Elneny: 15.2% (85.7%)

His shot-profile would fit right in at low-percentage Arsenal; he makes Partey look like a sniper, unfortunately. His average shot distance is 25 yards (similar to Xhaka 24.9, but not quite Partey's 28.0 yards).

Shots on-Target % (Shots/90 min):
Xhaka: 27.8% (0.67 shots/90), Elneny: 22.2% (0.59), Ceballos: 16.7% (0.67), Partey: 11.5% (1.58), Bissouma: 7.9% (1.2)

Maybe a Partey and Bissouma partnership would sure up the middle of the pitch and let everyone else get more adventurous. I'm not sure, but there is a lot that needs to be fixed at Arsenal and without any European competition revenue next year, I am not sure if Bissouma will be the best buy for them at over £40 million. A more balanced spend on some young-talent may be most prudent, but with jobs on the line, I think Edu and Arteta want players who can step-in instantly. It's just hard to picture them being one Bissouma away from success, but maybe growth from the young-players, some stabilization in their xG vs actual goals, and another year under Arteta will make this year look like a low-point. *Shrugs*
 

Tuff Ghost

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Orbinho tweeted a positive Arsenal stat (rare occurrence) showing how Arsenal have the 4th most points in the Premier League since 12/26/20:
@Orbinho
Premier League points since Christmas Day
57 Man City 44 Man Utd 39 Chelsea 38 Arsenal 37 West Ham 36 Leicester 33 Leeds 31 Spurs 29 Everton 26 Liverpool
That obviously does not factor in how many games each team has played, but I took a quick peak to confirm some numbers and things certainly did turn-around after matchweek 14 for Arsenal.

Arsenal Matchweek 1-14:
4 wins, 2 draws, 8 losses (14 points)
1 point / match
12 goals, 18 goals allowed (-6 goal differential)
15.7 xG, 17.4 xGA (-1.7 xG differential)

Arsenal Matchweek 15-35:
11 wins, 5 draws, 5 losses (38 points)
1.8 points / match
37 goals, 20 goals allowed (+17 goal differential)
34.7 xG, 23.4 xGA (+11.3 xG differential)

In Arteta's first full season, in a year with no real pre-season, at least there have been signs of improvement as the year has gone on (especially with some tough injury luck affecting their Europa run). It's easy to be negative about them, but for about 20 Premier League games now, they've been pretty solid, playing at a pace that would accumulate about 68 points in a full Premier League season at that level. Maybe a full pre-season and no European competition next year will help them take another step forward.

It should also be noted that 3 of their 4 Premier League matches with red cards occurred in the first 14 matches (matches 9, 12, 13, and 22).
 

mikeford

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Arteta could not motivate his side for a European semi final and we're gonna talk about some arbitrary line at Christmas?

The whole season counts. Arsene used to say "judge me at the end of the season". Well, seasons over and its our worst season since George Graham got sacked. Not to mention it looks like Arteta has had a falling out with the highest paid player at the club (again).
 

Tuff Ghost

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Arteta could not motivate his side for a European semi final and we're gonna talk about some arbitrary line at Christmas?
Yes, I thought a solid 20-game stretch during the latter-half of a pandemic-affected season was worth mentioning as a point of consideration. I will leave the posts about imminent relegation due to Arteta to you; you’ve got that covered quite comprehensively. I understand it to be your preferred topic, but we cannot all doom-post one-liners with your eloquence and constancy.
This club will be battling relegation in 2021-22 if he remains in charge.
This club could only get more embarrassing to support by getting relegated next year.
 

mikeford

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Aug 6, 2006
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Why is what happened before Xmas not important? Why isn't it indicative of future any more than beating Chelsea 1-0 in a game that doesn't matter is?

Like I'm sorry but we saw the guy's mettle as a manager in a tie that mattered and he got NOTHING out of his squad. I don't know how you can possibly watch the matches and think this team is an any way improved.
 

The Gray Eagle

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That Chelsea game was when Emile Smith Rowe started playing regularly. He's made a huge difference. That's why it's legit to use that game as a dividing line.
 

Tuff Ghost

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@mikeford, I do truly understand that is easier and safer to feel cynical and pessimistic about Arsenal (and most things in life). It hurts to get your hopes up, put yourself out there, and be disappointed. However, your argument against a 20-game sample-size being arbitrary and small is interesting when you seem to be saying that the results of a Europa two-legged semi-final demonstrate all that you need to know.

Injuries may sound like excuses, but when you do not have the squad depth of a title-contending team, then injuries and fitness can greatly affect what happens. For Villarreal, Arsenal had a post-malaria Aubameyang, half of a Tierney (did not look like he should have played that 2nd leg), and injuries to Lacazette, Luiz, and Xhaka. That is 5 of the 11 expected names on the team-sheet, so it was not ideal conditions.

Here is their 5-game rolling average of xG and xGA since 2018. There is a purple-star indicating 12/26/20.
41137

Hey, they are just numbers, but to me it looks a little like a team that had its best stretch of play in the past few years recently. The expectations probably got a little out of whack when they won the FA Cup last year and had some surprising victories. This is a team that is absolutely in a rebuild, though. Look at those prior two seasons. Look at how they've tightened up defensively. The attack started coming around, too, once they introduced some playmakers (Smith-Rowe & Odegaard), and they did not lose the defensive gains as a result of the improved attack.

There is progress. It is slow. They are not the team that I wish they were and it's hard to see them sit mid-table, but I believe it is made slightly easier when you can see gains being made in the underlying data. Maybe a somewhat more regular off-season helps, maybe the young players take another nice-leap next season, maybe a lack of Europe helps them focus on the Premier League- I don't know, but I am certainly not expecting relegation in the foreseeable future.

Finally, breaking each of the past 3 seasons into 18-game halves, here we can see that they have been performing better:
41138
 

Tuff Ghost

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652
One of the most obvious problem areas for Arsenal last season (2019-20) was how many goals they conceded on set pieces, so when they hired Andreas Georgson as a set piece coach last summer, I was curious to see how it would play out. He had established a little bit of a name for himself at Brentford doing the same role.

Just looking at the goals allowed on set pieces this season versus last, the results are much improved. Squad changes are pretty important in this area, too, so it's difficult to weight how much a set piece coach could come into play here, but it seems to have been positive just looking at these numbers:
41165

They went from allowing 14 goals on corner kicks, set pieces, and direct free kicks in 2019-20 to allowing 5 goals so far in 2020-21. In 2019-20, 29.2% of their total goals allowed were from these set plays, versus 13.2% in 2020-21.

However, the results did not translate on the attacking side; they scored less frequently this season, mainly due to a six goal drop on corners.
41166

If you look at the actual goals allowed versus xG Allowed on set plays, the results are also less drastic. Last year, they allowed 0.4 less goals on set pieces than xGA predicts, and this year they've allowed 1.8 less goals on set pieces than xGA predicts. Another sign of improvement, but not as dramatic.
41168

All of this is a long way of saying that the data points to Georgson helping with defending set plays, but because the results do not show an improvement on attacking set plays, his net-benefit to the team is probably inconclusive for now. Based on the eye-test, I can at least say that I've felt safer watching them defend set plays this season.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Jul 2, 2006
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Do we actually want to play in the Europa Conference League? This didn't seem like even a possibility a few weeks ago but here we are. We could still technically finish 6th unless West Ham wins today, which I think we would obviously want, but the far more likely scenario is potentially finishing 7th, which seems a bit more questionable.

Pros

-No idea how it compares to regular Europa in this regard, but there must be some money in it.
-Development time for younger and fringe players.
-Important to keep up our UEFA Club Coefficient, which will become a backdoor into the CL in a couple years. Getting zero coefficient points in a year is a killer.

Cons

-Lots of travel and Thursday games.
-Less time to practice and prepare for Premier League matches.
-First XI players inevitably get drawn into some games, takes a toll physically.
-Lets be honest, its a bit of a tinpot competition. The best other clubs as it currently stands will be Roma, Real Betis, Lens, and Union Berlin. With all due respect to those clubs and the many many far smaller clubs that will make up the bulk of the field, I think there's a reasonable question about whether we want to be spending our Thursdays traveling around Europe playing them.
 
Last edited:

shaggydog2000

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Apr 5, 2007
11,933
Do we actually want to play in the Europa Conference League? This didn't seem like even a possibility a few weeks ago but here we are. We could still technically finish 6th unless West Ham wins today, which I think we would obviously want, but the far more likely scenario is potentially finishing 7th, which seems a bit more questionable.

Pros

-No idea how it compares to regular Europa in this regard, but there must be some money in it.
-Development time for younger and fringe players.
-Important to keep up our UEFA Club Coefficient, which will become a backdoor into the CL in a couple years. Getting zero coefficient points in a year is a killer.

Cons

-Lots of travel and Thursday games.
-Less time to practice and prepare for Premier League matches.
-First XI players inevitably get drawn into some games, takes a toll physically.
-Lets be honest, its a bit of a tinpot competition. The best other clubs as it currently stands will be Roma, Real Betis, Lens, and Union Berlin. With all due respect to those clubs and the many many far smaller clubs that will make up the bulk of the field, I think there's a reasonable question about whether we want to be spending our Thursdays traveling around Europe playing them.
West Ham just won and pretty much clinched 6th. So now finishing 7th might give us the sister's kiss of European football, but it also would lead to a St. Totteringham's celebration, and that holiday still means something in this house.

I'm sure it pays something, and means something for our Club coefficient, but those may not be worth the cost of extra squad players to cover the extra games. It's a real tossup on whether it's worth it. But winning is always better than losing. And having to play in a final in order to go to the Europa League feels like a big step down right now, but if that is our only way in next year, I think the team would be happy to play in it.
 

swiftaw

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Jan 31, 2009
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West Ham still need a point to confirm 6th since Spurs have a much superior goal difference.
 

shaggydog2000

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Apr 5, 2007
11,933
West Ham still need a point to confirm 6th since Spurs have a much superior goal difference.
Spurs would have to beat Leicester on the road and West Ham would have to lose at home to Southampton, so the odds are slim, but it could happen. Even a tie for West Ham puts them ahead, so I think their odds are really good.
 

Tuff Ghost

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Jul 15, 2005
652
I think a year out of Europe is probably best for this team if the other option is the Europa Conference. My ideal finish is now to get St. Totteringham’s, but miss Europe with the below standings. Simple pleasures. Look at me, so reasonable, I won’t even ask for Leeds to beat West Brom by 15 and pass Spurs… actually, let me think on that.

6. West Ham- 63 or 65 pts (win or draw vs Southampton)
7. Everton- 62 points (win vs City)
8. Arsenal- 61 points (win vs Brighton)
9. Spurs- 59 points (lose to Leicester)
 

mikeford

woolwich!
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Aug 6, 2006
30,255
St John's, NL
St. T's in our worst season in like 50 years would be very funny.

Definitely NO interest in this 3rd rate bobo competition. Wonder if we could just decline the invite.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Obviously Everton could get 7th as well but if it comes down to Arsenal or Spurs then the UEFA club coefficient issue is pretty high leverage given that those two clubs also project to be among the most likely contenders for the backdoor into the CL starting in 2024-25.

For 2024-25, the UEFA club coefficient will be calculated based on the 19-20 thru 23-24 seasons. Arsenal are on 33 points from the 19-20 and 20-21 seasons, Spurs are on 31 points. Assuming the club coefficient is calculated similar to the Europa League, going deep (semis or final) of the conference league next year is probably going to be worth in the neighborhood of 22-26 points. Meanwhile, being out of Europe completely is worth 0 points.

Long story short, whichever club plays the tinpot competition this year will have a big club coefficient advantage over the other, such that if both clubs finish in the 5-7 range in the 23-24 season (or any other season afterward in which points from 21-22 still matter), that club that went to the Conference League will have a very good chance of getting into the CL (assuming they stay in Europe in some capacity in 22-23 and 23-24) whereas the other is going to have a hard time.

Arsenal could obviously make this moot simply by making the top four regularly in those seasons. But I'm not holding my breath.
 

Tuff Ghost

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Yesterday's win featured six players in the starting XI who were age 25 or younger, and the game-winning goal was by a 19 year-old substitute (Martinelli), assisted by a 22 year old substitute (Odegaard). I know I am more of a glass half-full fan than most, but I am enjoying watching these young players grow.

Ages of starting XI players 25 & younger:
  • 19- Saka
  • 20- Smith Rowe
  • 23- Gabriel
  • 23- Tierney
  • 25- Holding
  • 25- Pepe
I have also come around to accepting that a year in the Europa Conference League would be fine. @Morgan's Magic Snowplow makes a good point about the UEFA club coefficient, and it also is a good chance to get the next batch of young players some good experience (Azeez, Balogun, etc.).

St. T's in our worst season in like 50 years would be very funny.

Definitely NO interest in this 3rd rate bobo competition. Wonder if we could just decline the invite.
And while I may see a glass half-full, mikeford assuredly sees only a glass teeming with wastewater. While it makes for a nice melodramatic exclamation, this is not Arsenal's worst season in 50 years, even if you are only going by Premier League standings. They already have more points than they did last year (yes, I know there is no FA Cup this time around) and with a win on Sunday, they'll be right around Wenger's last season (61 points this year versus 63 points then).

Under the hood, their goal differential (+14) is better than last year (+8). Their xG Differential (+8.3) is better than last year (-7.3) and the previous year (+2.6). They are playing more young players, so there is hope for future improvement. They have also improved since introducing Smith Rowe and Odegaard.

And for those curious, here is the past 40 years of Arsenal's points/match results before the Brighton match Sunday:
41263
 

Tuff Ghost

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Jul 15, 2005
652
Do we think Odegaard will be back next season? (I assume we would want him back if we can get him?)
I think it is possible, but hard to predict based on what Real Madrid want. Arteta seems to like him and Odegaard apparently has enjoyed playing for Arsenal, so it is a nice match, but the finances make it hard to predict. There are also rumors about Sander Berge and Odegaard wanting to play together, but that is probably a small factor, all things considered.

Here are my best predictions on squad movement this summer:

Officially Gone:
Luiz
Ceballos

Likely Leaving (50% chance or above):
Bellerin
Kolasinac
Mavropanos
Guendouzi
Torreira

Possibly Leaving (Less than 50% chance):
Willian (they'll try, but he is expensive)
Willock (only if the price is right, after an incredible hot-streak at Newcastle)
Maitland-Niles
Xhaka
Lacazette

There is some possibility to make a little money there (Bellerin, Lacazette, Willock, Guendouzi). If they recoup enough, I think they need to bring in a quality midfielder and left-back at minimum.

Possible incomings:
Martin Odegaard (will come down to price and Real Madrid)
Sander Berge (supposedly already placed a bid, but was short of what Sheffield United want)
Yves Bissouma (too expensive, I expect)
Ryan Bertrand (fine, uninspired choice as backup fullback, but I think they avoid the 30+ year old players this time around)

Unlikely Incomings that we'll hear rumors about:
Eduardo Camavinga
Emiliano Buendia
Ridvan Yilman (19 year-old Besiktas fullback who said he wants to play for Arsenal)
Emerson Royal