Sorry everyone for missing last week, my day job got very busy and last week's newsletter on how Arsenal should address their injury crisis will just have to remain half-finished (spoiler alert I would not have gone with the Xhaka at left-back strategy).
Anyway, today we are going to another cheery topic and look at how Arsenal's production from the striker position compares to Arsenal's rivals and how it has compared historically.
Arsenal's Striker Production
One of the biggest obvious weak spots for Arsenal at the moment is at striker.
I think everyone is pretty well aware of this, with this being a concern for the team in January (before ultimately rolling the dice without bringing in a backup) and the rumor mill of links heating up for the summer when the two players currently on the team will both become free agents.
The question remains still of what is the team actually getting from this position and how does that relate to other teams?
To try and answer this I have updated my team level Radars and Crab Cakes to take the data at a team level for each position's total production as the point of comparison. This isn't perfect because right now I have the limitation where it is based on a player's primary position that they start with but this should be a minor subset of minutes.
So starting as a baseline this is what the production for Arsenal's strikers looks like this season.
There are some obvious areas of concern but maybe it is still hard to get a good read on the different skills where things are "good" or "bad". On the Crab Cake I have added a ton of categories and broken them out into rough areas.
This gives a better holistic view in my opinion.
At shooting (blue top right) the Arsenal forwards are okay, but with the biggest issues being turning xG into goals and deep possession into shots.
At creativity (red middle right) the Arsenal forwards look pretty good, with the opposite of shots where the key passes have turned into more assists than expected but with still solid numbers supporting them.
At passing (grey lower right) the Arsenal forwards are again pretty good. The Arsenal forwards do a lot of passing, but it is generally safer and easier than other team's forwards.
At progressing with the ball at feet (blue lower left) the Arsenal forwards are below average. They haven't done a lot of progressing and what they do, is just done at an average level.
Looking at ball receiving (red middle left) the Arsenal forwards are good but still a bit mixed. They have very good involvement in buildup towards goal but they are not really an outlet for progressive passes or final third entries.
Finally, we have ball winning (grey top left) where I think is a reflection of Mikel Arteta's tactics. Arsenal as a team don't do a lot to jump passing lanes, ranking low in interceptions generally. The Arsenal forwards do press but that is better reflected in pressures, tackles, and blocking initial passes aimed downfield.
Comparison to Arsenal's Rivals
Looking at this I would say that Arsenal's forwards are worse than the teams ahead of them on the table currently but (this is a subjective comment) about equal or maybe better than the teams below them.
Arsenal's forwards over time
The slide in production over the last five seasons is very noticeable and traces pretty well with the general confidence in the fanbase's opinion of the position, going from a strength to a liability/concern.
There are only eight matches remaining so Arsenal will have to make do with what they have but hopefully Arsenal can find a way to get more production from striker or compensate with continued growth from the team's attacking midfield.
Matchweek 33 Odds
The number of matches this weekend are limited with the FA Cup semi-finals taking some of the top teams out of the running but there still are six matches scheduled and ready for us to review.
As an Arsenal fan, I am dread watching Tottenham vs Brighton (but not really because I am not a glutton who likes to wake up at 4:30 am to be disappointed for non-Arsenal matches). After Arsenal lost at home to Brighton perhaps this will also be a stumbling block for Spurs. They will come into this match as pretty strong favorites (almost 64%) but hey so did Arsenal. All I am saying is that I might be the leader of Graham Potter's Blue and White Army.
The 7am kickoffs outside of the Arsenal match aren't that interesting to me. Watford are looking like they are essentially relegated (96% in my latest odds) and it would be a truly amazing escape if they stay up at this point. Manchester United should also be able to bounce back against Norwich.
Sunday's matches are more of the same in my opinion. West Ham are pretty big favorites and can put Burnley into even bigger danger if they are able to get the expected win. The Leicester vs Newcastle match doesn't have much in the way of stakes, Newcastle have a 2% chance of relegation with Leicester looking at 2% chance of getting into the Europa League, but maybe that will mean "defense optional" and some free-flowing attacking performances.
Southampton vs Arsenal
Southampton are not an especially good team ranking 12th overall, with the 8th best attack and the 18th rated defense.
Over their last 10 matches, it has been much of the same with some okay performance sandwiched around some big losses.
If there was a team for Arsenal's attack to face to try to get right this is probably it but it will come with some challenges. The first and biggest issue is that Southampton are a high pressing team and that has been an issue for Arsenal this season.
Mikel Arteta's team selection is going to come under scrutiny again and hopefully, he can find a way to arrest the slide from becoming a full-on crisis, with two tough high intensity rivalry matches following over the next week.
Odds for the remaining matches
Just a couple of links to plug this week:
The transfer rumors are starting to pick back up now that the summer is within view. There was a fresh one around Victor Osimhen so I did some stats scouting of him ($).
I continued the striker theme looking at Lacazette's performance against Brighton ($).
I did a check-in on the current state of the top-four race.
Thank you for reading.