Date:Wednesday June 6 2007
In the forensic examination of last season's performance a number of different remedies solving imagined problems are made daily. Do we need more width or just use the width better by moving the ball and getting into position quicker? Is our play slow and over elaborate or the natural consequence of young players not yet fully familiar with each other and in need of more playing time together? In other words wouldn't width and tempo improve as a normal consequence of greater understanding and not necessarily indicate a need to replace players?
One simple statistic convinces me the latter of these is closest to the
truth - our current style of play is creating plenty of chances. We had 512 shots on goal last season, only Liverpool (540) and Manchester United (552) had more. Of these 226 were on target with only United doing better. Our shot accuracy was 44% bettered only by Uniteds 46%. We are doing most things right. Whether we over elaborate or play narrowly at times we are getting a lot of shots in and they are pretty well on target. Where it falls down is in the goals scored from these shots on target. Eight premiership teams did better than our 28% scored including Chelsea at 30% and United at 32%.
This is no great surprise to any gooner but why aren't we finishing as many chances as others? Are our strikers not good enough or are we not creating the quality of chances that would improve our conversion rate? Obviously the injuries to Henry and van Persie were key factors with both only managing 42% of the premiership season. With Baptista playing a third of the premiership season and Adebayor virtually three fifths, often as a lone striker, our second string played much more often than our first choice. When you consider that, this season, RvP averaged a premiership goal every 133 minutes he played and Henry every 148 minutes then as valuable as it was Adebayors contribution of a goal every 250 minutes was significantly lower and Julio's goal every 381 minutes way behind. At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious we would have scored more goals if RvP and Thierry had played more often. Less obvious is the role they play in creating chances. With van Persies 10 assists and Henrys 8 (plus 5 partial assists) according to Arsewebs statistics, which includes non premiership games, the pair were just as important in creating goals as scoring them. But even without them on the pitch as often as we would have wanted we still managed a good number of goal attempts without the ball ending up in the net.
Noting that even teams like Reading and Bolton converted more of their chances than we did I think this is the old issue of familiarity and consistency rather than poor finishing alone. The greater understanding which comes from playing regularly together ensures that the ball arrives a split second sooner and at the right weight and placement to give a few milliseconds more to get a shot away, perhaps place it more accurately and give the keeper less time to react. With players that have good technique and passing ability then pace and tempo will improve, with experience, enough to make that 10 or 15% improvement in converting the chances that we make in abundance to win a greater number of games.
A strike force with RvP and Henry is as potent as any in Europe. Adebayor is well-balanced support, his 12 goals overall coming 4 from his left foot, 5 from his right and 3 headers. Of RvPs 13 goals 12 were from his left foot so Ade does indeed give us something different. Bendtner and Walcott are unproven, exciting back up but 2007/2008 is the time to take our chances.
Article submitted by Amos
Articles submitted by Vital Arsenal members are based on the opinion of the member and not necessarily the view's of the network itself.
Date:Wednesday June 6 2007
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