Premier League

Creation myths: Arsenal need more than Ozil to climb the Premier League

Arsenal have created more chances in the Premier League this season than Manchester United, highlighting there are other areas of concern.

10:06pm on Saturday 19th December 2020
Robin Bairner

Mesut Ozil’s exclusion from Arsenal squads for the Premier League and the Europa League was always going to cause a stir.

The German, loved by some, lamented by others, is one of the most prolific creators of goals in recent English top-flight history.

So with Mikel Arteta’s side foundering in 15th in the Premier League table, five points above the relegation zone, having scored only 12 goals in 12 matches, it is easy to point to his absence as the reason for the club’s struggles.

Following each of Arsenal’s eight league defeats this season, he has been probed over this apparent lack of creativity in his ranks.

On Saturday, following a 2-1 loss to Everton at Goodison Park, he seemed too wearied to argue the point too intensely.

“I think the first half the first phase was slow,” he said. “Whether it’s because players are restricted and they are afraid to make a mistake, or just because we felt that it was comfortable to do it.

“But the second half it was much better, we talked about it at half time that people has to be quick, the intention the movement to attack the spaces and we did it much more efficiently but it wasn’t enough to score more goals.”

A look at the statistics suggests that he is right to argue his point.

Premier League chances created 20/21

3Man City94
5West Ham78

It’s true that Arsenal have not been devastatingly creative, but neither have they been so poor as to expect a position on the periphery of the relegation battle.

Looking at the figures before Saturday’s matches, Arsenal had created 71 chances over the course of the season. That a figure a little above average – and notably higher than Manchester United’s, despite the persistent praise Bruno Fernandes earns for his exploits in the No.10 role at Old Trafford.

Where things get sticky, though, is in chance conversion. Arsenal’s 15% rates as the third lowest figure in the league – only Sheffield United and Burnley are worse off.

Premier League % of chances converted 20/21

RankClub% of chances converted
17Man City19
19Sheffield United13

Furthermore, Arsenal have an xG per goal of 1.4 in the Premier League this season. In layman’s terms, this means that each time Arsenal score a goal, the average team would score 1.4.

While this would carry them to something in the region of 17 goals, still a fairly modest tally, there is clearly a problem with chance taking as well as creation.

Premier League xG per goal scored 20/21

RankClubxG per goal scored
19Sheffield United2.2

And allied to the third-worst xG per goal scored in the league, Arsenal have the second poorest xG per goal against, which points to a goalkeeper who is not stopping as much as he should.

“It’s a lot of things happening at the same time so when that happens it’s difficult,” Arteta pointed out after Everton. And he’s right.

Welcoming back Ozil in January might help to improve Arsenal, but as the statistics show, it is not a silver bullet that is about to transform their season.

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