This post came at the recommendation of a Twitter friend of the blog Bill Richardson (@wrichardson123). He asked about the number of possessions that Arsenal have that turn into a final third entry (he specifically asked about ones that start with the ball in the back 4 but I don't have that super handy so we will just all), how effective Arsenal are at turning that possession into shots and then how well Arsenal did to turn those shots into shots on target.
Overall I think that this is a really interesting thing to examine, but I decided to add another thing to look at along the way, looking at a teams ability to get the ball into the box and turn that into shots.
Before jumping into the numbers, I want to point out a couple limitations of the data that I am using. First I am looking at things on a per possession basis (possessions are groupings of possession chains/sequences, where a team is in control of the ball) but my final third entries are on a per chain basis, this can lead to some double counting. If this was more than a blog entry I would go back and correct that but I would rather spend the time writing than go and back and cleaning data, I will probably make this a change going forward and sometime go back and update others but we will see. For passes into the box it is similar but that can have multiple passes into the box per chain so there could be even more double counting. With that out of the way lets look at the stats.
Arsenal have 209 final third entries this season, averaging 41.8 per match, ranking 7th in the Premier League at getting the ball into the final third, overall Arsenal have touched the ball 816 times in the final third which is 8th most. For Arsenal this is a bit of feast or famine, against Brentford (58), Norwich (60), and Burnley (50), Arsenal are averaging 56 final third entires per match and against Manchester City (21) and Chelsea (20), Arsenal are averaging 20.5 final third entries.
Overall Arsenal have moved the ball into the final third on 54% of their possessions this season. That ranks 7th in the Premier League this season, the teams above them are who you would expect and a couple maybe you wouldn't. The teams above Arsenal are Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Wolverhampton(!), West Ham(!), and Chelsea.
Taking things the next step in the progression towards shots, lets look at passes and carries into the box. Arsenal have entered the box 89 times this season, good for 17.8 per match which is tied for 4th (with Chelsea) in the Premier League. Like the final third entries, this has been heavily dependent on who Arsenal have played. Against Brentford (29), Norwich (33), and Burnley (14), Arsenal are averaging 25.3 box entires per match and against Manchester City (8) and Chelsea (5), Arsenal are averaging 6.5 box entries.
Overall Arsenal have moved the ball into the box on 23% of their possessions this season. That ranks 3rd in the Premier League this season, with only Manchester City and Liverpool doing more. I find this very encouraging but maybe with a hint of concern, that I will talk about a bit more in the next session.
The next step along the progression is taking deep possession and turning that into shots. Arsenal take 0.24 shots per final third entry and 0.56 shots per entry into the box. These rank 11th and 17th respectively. This isn't too out of the ordinary as the other teams that are towards the top of number of enteries are in the middle and lower half of the shot per entry tables as well.
What is a major concern for me is that Arsenal have been very poor at turning the good possession into clear cut chances. Arsenal have created just 0.05 xG per entry into the box, that is the second lowest of any team in the Premier League. This is well below the league average of 0.09 and miles behind Liverpool who create 0.12 of expected goals per entry into the box.
The last thing is the accuracy of the shots that Arsenal have taken. This may or may not be surprising but Arsenal have the worst on target percentage of any team in the Premier League, with just 29.8% of shots on target so far this season. This helps explain some of why Arsenal have underperformed their xG so far this season.
Ultimatley, what I am taking away from this is that Arsenal have been pretty good to maybe even good at getting the ball up the field and then into dangerous locations. Once they have gotten into these positions, Arsenal have not been good at turning this into good chances and they have been bad at turning the chances that they have created into shots on target.
I am hopeful that this is something that comes down to the small sample of just 5 matches and that Arsenal are able to start creating more clear cut chances.