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xGunners: Arsenal’s declining shot difference

Arsenal were out shot last season, it has gotten worse in the opening five matches of this season

Watford FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

One of the biggest stories coming out of the Watford match is that Arsenal gave up more shots than they had ever allowed in the Premier League era. They have also given up the most shots of any team in Europe (4th most on a per match basis with a few Italian team worse but with less matches played).

Arsenal Premier League Shot Difference by match going back to 2012-13

What makes things even worse is that they haven’t done much on the offensive side to make giving up shots less of a big deal.

In the five matches that Arsenal have played, they have been out shot in four of them and failed to create more than 9 shots in three of their five matches. The failure to create shots combined with the massive amounts of shots allowed spells bad news. This is a trend that has started last season and has only gotten worse this season.

Shots aren’t the be all end all statistic but they while they are a relatively simple statistic that don’t give you information about the quality and can be effected by the score of matches, the trend that good teams create more (generally quite a bit more) shots than the teams face is very strong.

The chart below has the 5 match moving average for Arsenal’s shot difference going back to the 2014-15 season. The black line is the overall average for each season and the dotted line is the trend line.

During Arsene Wenger’s last few years Arsenal averaged between a positive 3 and 5 more shots for than they allowed during his later years. There were times (mostly during injury crisis) where his teams would dip into the negatives but he always seemed to pull the team back into positive territory.

Even in his last season that was arguably one of the worst teams of his tenure he managed to get his team to create more shots than his opponents.

During Unai Emery’s first season Arsenal were out shot and outside of his big winning run Arsenal spent most of the year in negative territory. This year things have taken that trend and made it even worse.

It is one thing to be a pragmatic coach but if the results don’t come, it is very hard to stay behind a manager that doesn’t inspire great attacking football.