The big Arsenal weakness Mikel Arteta has to solve which also reveals a surprising strength


Arsenal once completed an entire 38-game campaign without suffering defeat. The Gunners are the only club in Premier League history to achieve such a feat, but they have since fallen from grace.

The team scored the most goals in the division with 73, while also boasting the best defensive record having conceded just 26 goals.

Mikel Arteta is the man who has been tasked with restoring former glory, with the latter strength, in particular, proving to be problematic in recent times.

After 32 matches played this season, Arsenal place ninth for goals conceded. Crystal Palace, Wolves and newly-promoted Sheffield United rank amongst the teams that prevent their opponents from scoring better than the Gunners do.

If Arteta is to instil the offensive and dominant brand of football that he desires, he will have to upgrade the foundations from which his team attack.

However, once analysing the numbers behind the current campaign, the foundations at the Emirates don’t appear to be the primary area of concern.

Of the 41 goals shipped, only 23 have came from open-play, For perspective, that is the fourth-best in England’s top-flight, it’s just six fewer than Liverpool’s figure, and it’s the same number that Manchester City have conceded.

Arsenal rank fourth in the Premier League this season for goals conceded from open-play
Arsenal rank fourth in the Premier League this season for goals conceded from open-play

Their goals allowed from open play equate to just 56% of the goals that Arsenal have conceded in total, so where are the rest coming from?

Arsenal have conceded a lower percentage of their goals from open-play than any other team in the Premier League this season
Arsenal have conceded a lower percentage of their goals from open-play than any other team in the Premier League this season

The findings indicate that Arteta’s outfit have suffered significantly from penalties, set-pieces, corners and direct free-kicks. Roughly 44% of the goals that Arsenal have conceded have derived from scenarios that could easily be deemed as avoidable.

Penalties often occur as a result of recklessness, mistakes or poor judgement, while goals afforded from dead ball situations are commonly associated with organisation, aerial prowess, chemistry and homework.

The Gunners have demonstrated an inherent flaw when it comes to conceding from plays rather than actual footballing combinations or attacking patterns, which presents the question of where would Arsenal be in the table if they could cope with set-pieces adequately?

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Arteta seems relatively unlikely to devote much of his immediate attention to this weakness as he’s technically only coached his players for around three to four months since being appointed in December. As a consequence, it’s reasonable to suggest that the Spaniard will place a greater emphasis on improving the quality of his team in open-play before delving into more specialist departments.

The fine details of Arsenal’s problem with set-pieces and the like are expected to continue impacting results in the short-term, but if Arteta wishes to establish the club that he once captained as champions once more, then it will have to be tackled eventually on the training pitch and perhaps in the transfer market.





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