Many things are constant in life. The sun rising daily, the clock ticking per minute and the moon shining at night. It would appear the words “Arsenal” and “defensive errors” have also been a constant over recent years. The manner in which the Gunners surrendered a 2-0 lead in their last Premier League game against Watford only further highlighted their defensive struggles.
It seems to now be a weekly routine as they have made defensive errors at the back literally every week since their 1-0 win over Newcastle on the opening day of the season. That game has also been the Arsenal’s only clean sheet since then.
It’s no wonder Arsenal are leading the statistics on the wrong side of things.
14 – Since the start of last season, Arsenal's players have made a combined 14 errors leading to opposition goals in the Premier League, at least two more than any other club in this time. Calamitous. pic.twitter.com/uylQrhAHHs
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 15, 2019
However, a more worrying stat emerged in the wake of Arsenal’s disappointing draw against Watford. One that could now further suggest aren’t any better than they were last season.
31 – Arsenal faced 31 shots in their 2-2 draw against Watford, the most they have ever faced in a @premierleague fixture since Opta began collecting such data in the division in 2003-04. Barrage. pic.twitter.com/v6HET8uuEx
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 15, 2019
As per Opta stats in the tweet above, Arsenal witnessed something for the first time in more than a decade. The fact that the 31 shots conceded against Watford was the most of any side since Opta started collating data since 2003, it shows that even in previous defensive calamities over previous seasons, the Gunners have never had it this bad.
If signing David Luiz was room for optimism in the Gunners backline, reverse has been the case as Arsenal look even more prone to errors and a “David Luiz” moment that could surface anytime.
And now the Gunners are now the best side in Europe’s top five leagues – in a negative aspect.
Arsenal have faced 96 shots this season, more than any other side in the PL, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 & the Bundesliga. Some effort that.
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) September 15, 2019
To think that Arsenal were bad defensively last season and that narrative could now be worse is worrying for a side striving to get back into the top four.
Let’s take a further look from stats last season and attempt to see if Emery has improved the side defensively.
As per the stats from the info-graphic above, Arsenal had a goal expectancy of 52.03 and went on to concede 17 more at 69 goals(in all competitions). Those numbers also saw the Gunners concede 470 shots in the process.
Taking this season’s numbers into consideration, Arsenal have conceded 96 shots in five games already. Meaning that number multiplied by seven (which will make 35 games – close to 38 which is the total number of league games for the season) will mean Arsenal would have conceded 672 shots in the process.
A staggering increase by 202 shots even with three games to spare easily highlights how much of a decline the Gunners back-line currently look from last season.
Furthermore, Arsenal conceded five penalties last term but have already conceded three in five games already. With a certain full-haired Brazilian still in the lineup, it won’t be surprising to see Arsenal hit double figures for penalties conceded come the end of the season.
The only room for optimism remains that for all of the bad stats highlighted, the Gunners have conceded one less (8) than they did compared to the same number of games last season (9).
The message is simple and it simply implies that Arsenal aren’t doing any better defensively and they need to fix up or even face further risk of conceding more goals than they did last season.
The return of Rob Holding from injury gives Emery something to ponder about and he must make a decision quickly or the Gunners might even see themselves fall out of the top six this time around. Arsenal will score goals and that’s a given but the injustice at the back could easily thwart all efforts if improvements are not made in due time.