Football News

Why Arsenal’s attack has been just as important as their defence in Premier League title challenge

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:22, 25 April 2024

A lot has been made about Arsenal’s defence of late, but their attack has been just as important as they challenge for the Premier League title.

The Gunners boast the best defensive record in the Premier League this season with just 26 goals conceded and 16 clean sheets. Ahead of their trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend, Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in each of their last six Premier League away games. They last conceded away from home in the league against Nottingham Forest at the end of January.

Only two other sides in Premier League history have kept clean sheets in seven consecutive away games, with Chelsea doing so in September-December 2008 and Manchester United matching the feat in November-February 2009 — both in the same season. As the saying goes, defence wins you titles. But it helps to have a fantastic attack as well.

One of the reasons given for Arsenal not winning the league last season was the fact that they didn’t have an out-and-out goalscorer, a striker to get them the goals when it mattered most. That argument was backed up by the fact that Erling Haaland broke all sorts of Premier League records en route to the Premier League title with Manchester City.

Arsenal are still without a natural striker, but at the moment they seem to be faring well enough.

As well as boasting the best defence in the Premier League this season, Arsenal have scored the most goals. The Gunners have netting 82 goals in their 34 games so far, already matching their tally for last season. That averages out to 2.41 per match (level with last season), not averaging higher under Mikel Arteta so far.

In Premier League history, Arsenal have only scored more than 82 goals in four seasons, with last year’s 88 their record to beat.

Delving slightly further, Arsenal are third in the Premier League for shots (586) and shots on target (206) this season, only behind Liverpool and Man City for both. But they do have a better conversion rate at 13.99%, only behind Newcastle United and Aston Villa in that regard.

But were Arsenal excel in particular is outscoring their xG. The Gunners have record xG of 68.55 in the Premier League this season, the second-highest in the division. But they have scored 82 goals from their chances. That’s a remarkable difference of +13.45. Only one other team (Aston Villa – 11.63) have outperformed their xG by more than 10 in the Premier League this season. In fact, no team in Europe’s top five leagues have outscored their xG more than Arsenal this season.

Thanks to their goals in the 5-0 thrashing of Chelsea on Tuesday, both Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard broke the 10-goal mark in the Premier League this season. Havertz moved up to 11, while Trossard has hit 10, joining Bukayo Saka and his 14. No team in the Premier League has more players on 10+ goals so far this season, with Liverpool (Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota) the only other side with three.

If you lower the limit a little further, Arsenal’s sharing the love has been crucial to them. The Gunners have had seven players score at least five goals in the Premier League this season, more than any other side. Those seven players — with Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Declan Rice and Eddie Nketiah joining Saka, Havertz and Trossard – make up 73.2% of Arsenal’s total Premier League goals.

Up against a Tottenham team on the verge of conceding 50 goals for the second successive season, the Gunners’ attack may be licking their lips as they continue to pile the pressure on Man City and Liverpool in the title race.