The takeaways from Arsenal’s 2-2 draw in the North London derby are a mixed bag. On the positive side:
- Arsenal didn’t quit and showed they have the ability to fight back.
- Alexandre Lacazette proved yet again that he has the passion and leadership skills worthy of being named team captain.
- Matteo Guendouzi put in a Man of the Match performance and displayed the type of commanding composure that belies his young age.
Unfortunately, the defensive problems that have been plaguing the Gunners in recent seasons were once again on display.
In the tenth minute, Christian Eriksen was gifted a goal. Bernd Leno’s initial save was spilled back into the path of the Dane whose simple tap in gave the visitors an early lead.
The most egregious defensive error came courtesy of Granit Xhaka. It’s unclear what exactly he was thinking, but when he slid in on Son Heung-min in the box, he had needlessly given away a penalty which golden boy Harry Kane easily slotted home.
Late in the match Kane and Sokratis got entangled and the Spurs player did what he always does; hit the dirt. Luckily the league is wise to Kane’s predilection for going down at the slightest touch and ignored the player’s call for a penalty. Hopefully the Greek defender will learn from this incident and be more careful in the future. Under other circumstances, a spot kick could have been awarded.
Longtime Arsenal fans remember the famous chant, 1-0 To The Arsenal. It was sung regularly during the days of Arsenal’s rock-solid defense with players such as David Seaman, Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Martin Keown.
In looking back at Arsenal’s defensive statistics since the 2003-2004 Invincibles, there are some alarming drop offs in many areas. Led by players such as Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Kolo Toure, Patrick Vieira and Gilberto that team kept 15 clean sheets and conceded just 26 goals throughout the entire campaign.
The Gunners have conceded 51 goals total in each of the past two seasons. That is the highest number of goals allowed by the club in the Premier League era. They also recorded the lowest number of clean sheets in 2018-2019 with just eight.
Here’s a look at some other telling statistics:
- Tackle success was first calculated during the 2006-2007 season. Arsenal’s percentage generally averaged between 74% to a high of 79% in 2012-2013. It dropped to 73% in 2015-2016, 70% in 2016-2017, 68% in 2017-2018 and shockingly to a low of 60% for the 2018-2019 season. We’re just four games in this year but so far, the team average is 51%.
- In 2006-2007 the stat Errors leading to goal was established. That year Arsenal committed 0 errors and scored just one own goal. In 2018-2019 the Gunners made 13 errors leading to a goal and scored two own goals.
- Number of tackles. In 2006-2007 Arsenal recorded 998 tackles. Since then, it has gone down consistently: 739 in 2014-2015, 709 in 2015-2016, 673 in 2016-2017, 623 in 2017-2018 and an all-time low of 609 last year.
- Clearances. The Gunners recorded their highest number in 2007-2008 with 1840 clearances. Last year the team made 762 total.
- Interceptions. In 2008-2009 Arsenal made 872 interceptions. The number dropped to 412 last season; the club’s lowest ever.
The club made a statement of intent during the most recent transfer window with some key signings and acquisitions. It’s evident that a defensive upgrade is a must if the Gunners are going to truly challenge the league. The time for action is now.