Football Features

Six stats mind-blowing enough to make neutrals think Arsenal will win the Premier League

By Harry Edwards

Published: 15:34, 27 February 2024 | Updated: 10:28, 1 March 2024

We have a three-horse Premier League title race on our hands.

A lot of the focus right now is on Liverpool and Manchester City, who sit first and second respectively, and Opta’s AI-powered season predictions make it a 85.64% chance that the title will go to one of those two. But don’t count out Arsenal.

Gunners fans won’t mind being left out of the conversation after their close run last season, with opposition fans happy to call the club bottlers. But now they aren’t leading the race, there may be less pressure.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t genuine title contenders though. They very much are.

Talking of his own side’s title changes, Man City manager Pep Guardiola said of the rivals: “How they [our opponents] are playing, even Aston Villa but especially, Arsenal and Liverpool.

“They are scoring three, four, five goals a day. So that means they are almost unstoppable.”

And while Guardiola’s positive comments can sometimes be taking with a pinch of salt, there’s definitely some truth to it here. We’ve picked out some of the best stats to show just why Arsenal could win the Premier League title this season.

The best defence of 2024

When Arsenal beat Newcastle 4-1 at the weekend, a lot of the focus will have naturally been on their attack. The Gunners had 18 shots in total and hit the target eight times, a stark contrast their struggles in the Champions League a few days prior.

But that shouldn’t take away from their expert defence. Newcastle’s attack was practically non-existent, because the way Arsenal play allows them to negate opposition offences. The Magpies had just three shots, all coming in the second half, and did manage to score from one. In total they had an xG of just 0.16.

And that’s been the story of Arsenal’s year so far. Since the turn of 2024, Arsenal have faced just 1.88 Expected Goals Against in the Premier League, the best record in the division by some distance. Man City are the second-best in the Premier League with an xGA of 6.83, while other title rivals Liverpool have an xGA of 9.99. Newcastle have the worst defence, with an xGA of 20.51.

Expected Goal Difference kings

Keeping in the spirit of xG, while goals are what matters, xG and xGA across a season can be a barometer of the quality of chances a team has and gives up. And in Arsenal’s case, it makes for very good reading.

The Gunners have the second-best xG in the Premier League this season at 53.94, only bettered by 58.76. However, they have the lowest xGA in the division at 18.52, ahead of Man City’s 24.86.

In total, Arsenal have an Expected Goal Difference of 35.42 this season, the best in the Premier League (Man City are second on 27.82, while Liverpool are third with 26.52).

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Unbelievable scoring streak

Ending 2023 on a low with back-to-back league defeats against West Ham and Fulham, Arsenal have not been messing about this year. It’s now six wins in a row in the Premier League, including four in February.

But there was something even more incredible about that run in February, which saw them score 18 goals. Starting with the second half of their 3-1 win over Liverpool, Arsenal have scored at least two goals in seven consecutive halves of Premier League football — the first team to do so in the competition’s history.

There were also four goals in the first half against West Ham, two in the second; two in the first half against Burnley, three in the second; two in the first half against Newcastle and two in the second. In fact, they’ve only failed to score two goals in two of their 10 halves of football in the Premier League in 2024 — in the first halves against Nottingham Forest and Liverpool.

What European hangover?

One of the things that people usually use to discount a team’s Premier League title hopes is participation in European competitions. Teams often struggle to balance both the Premier League and Champions League/Europa League, so one has to give way, or so it goes.

But Arsenal? It’s no problem whatsoever. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 21 Premier League games that have come after playing in Europe in midweek, winning 17 and drawing four.

The last time they failed to win in the league after a European game came in February 2021, when they were beaten 1-0 by Man City just days after a 1-1 draw with Benfica in the Europa League last 32. That season, in fact, they lost in the league after six of their 14 European games.

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Who needs a striker?

Another specific problem people use to discount Arsenal is the fact that they are missing an Erling Haaland-esque striker. Gabriel Jesus was brought in last season to provide some goals, but he was never the killer finisher.

It’s something that has been brought up on a few occasions this season, as being the barrier between Arsenal and the Premier League title. But they’re doing alright. The Gunners have scored more goals this season after 26 games (62) than they have in any league campaign since 1963/64, when they netted 69.

However, Arsenal fans may not want to know that — despite being the third-highest scorers in the First Division with 90 goals in total — the Gunners finished eighth.

Set piece genius

If Arsenal win the Premier League title this season, Nicolas Jover may deserve a statue alongside Herbert Chapman. As manager between 1925 and 1934, Chapman led Arsenal to four league titles in five years, revolutionising football with development of advanced diets, fitness and tactical approaches.

Jover, for those who still don’t know him, is Arsenal’s set-piece goal. Jover joined Arsenal in 2021, having done the same job under Pep Guardiola at Man City. Since 2021 there has been a slow but very clear improvement in Arsenal’s set pieces. And now they are truly reaping the rewards.

The Gunners have scored more goals from set pieces (19, excluding penalties) and more goals from corners (13) than any other side in the Premier League this season. This is a team that can do it all.