Football Features

Five damning stats from Arsenal’s loss of top-four form

By Chris Smith

Published: 13:33, 6 May 2019

Arsenal’s horrendous run of domestic form continued on Sunday with a languid 1-1 draw against Brighton at the Emirates.

The Gunners toiled against a side sat 17th in the Premier League table, with one point in seven games prior to their trip to north London, and fired just eight shots on target despite controlling the game with over 70% possession.

This latest slip up means Unai Emery’s men have lost three and drawn one of their four games since a 1-0 win away to Watford saw them sneak into the top four. Any hopes of being in that position after next Sunday’s final game have now been ended, barring a remarkable eight-goal swing.

But what exactly has gone wrong at Arsenal since that result at Vicarage Road? What has changed to consign the Gunners to another season outside the top four and place even more emphasis on this week’s Europa League semi-final second leg with Valencia?

Here are five damning stats behind Arsenal’s recent collapse.

1. No Auba, no goals

Following their Europa League double-header with BATE Borisov in February, Arsenal went on a run of just one defeat in seven Premier League games – 1-0 away to Everton – including the victory over Watford that saw them take the top-four initiative.

The Gunners scored 13 goals during that run – a rate of 1.86 goals per game – with seven different players getting themselves on the scoresheet.

Since then, though, it’s fair to say things have dried up in front of goal. In the four Premier League games since the Watford win, Arsenal scored just four goals, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang responsible for half of them.

Aaron Ramsey’s season-ending injury certainly hasn’t helped in this regard, with the Welshman vital in creating both space and havoc with his well-timed runs. Meanwhile, Alexandre Lacazette is without a league goal since Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Newcastle at the start of April.

Aubameyang may have had a stellar season in front of goal but the burden cannot solely be placed upon him to deliver for Emery.

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2. Bernd blunders

During their recent four-game blowout, Arsenal made four errors leading to shots, level with Huddersfield Town and Manchester United as the highest in the Premier League, while they only sit behind the Terriers (4) on errors leading to goals, with three.

Of those four errors leading to shots, goalkeeper Bernd Leno has been responsible for three of them and, despite making a number of saves, the German has been anything but convincing.

Arsenal’s three-goal shippings against Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester don’t make for pretty viewing for Leno, whose efforts to come and claim the ball in his box have been Sunday league at best.

Of course, the defence in front of Leno hasn’t been pulling up any trees but a goalkeeper can go a long way to restoring calm during times like these, the ex-Leverkusen man has only served to add to the madness.

3. Not-so-clean sheets

That leads us on nicely to our next point. Where the hell have the clean sheets gone?

During the seven Premier League games prior to this torrid run, Arsenal kept four clean sheets, conceded just three goals and didn’t concede more than one goal in any of those matches, equating to a very impressive rate of just 0.43 goals conceded per game.

Since then, however, the Gunners have leaked an eye-watering 10 goals in four games at a rate of 2.5 per game, with not a single clean sheet in sight.

Those aforementioned errors from Leno didn’t help but neither did the loss of Ramsey, who made 3.33 tackles per 90 minutes during their seven-game resurgence.

Furthermore, Shkodran Mustafi, who has come in for an incredible amount of flak from the Arsenal fanbase, has gone from losing 1.6 aerial duels during those seven games, to losing three per 90 minutes during Arsenal’s last four outings.

4. An unwanted record

Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat away to Leicester was undoubtedly one of the lowest points of the season and possibly the Gunners’ worst performance of the Emery era.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ red card on 36 minutes certainly put Arsenal on the backfoot but their lack of a plan B and total inability to readjust after going a man down was frightening.

The Arsenal defenders allowed 24 Leicester shots that day and were outpassed by the Foxes 610-293 and had just 32% possession – their lowest total in the Premier League era.

Surrendering the ball time after time, it probably would have been less embarrassing for Arsenal fans had their team just waved the white flag, packed up and gone home for the day.

5. Winless

At times, it’s felt like nobody has wanted to finish in the Premier League’s top four.

Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Man Utd have all been absolutely terrible in recent months and, as a result, have traded the Champions League spots like a hot potato.

For the Gunners, in particular, they will feel like this has been an opportunity squandered after failing to register a win against any of Crystal Palace, Leicester, Wolves or Brighton in their last four games. With the possible exception of their trip to Molineux, these are all games they would have expected to win.

Furthermore, this four-game winless run is their longest in the competition since a 0-0 draw with Southampton in February 2016 rounded off another quartet of failures. That run, however, included the much more sizeable tasks of facing Liverpool away and Chelsea at home.