On Sunday in front of a ruckus Selhurst Park, Arsenal ended their 11-game winning streak with a laboured 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. The Gunners came out of the game feeling aggrieved as the Eagles scored both their goals through penalties, but they were as a result of erratic defending from both Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka.
The draw resembles the first time the Gunners have dropped points in all competitions since mid-August. However, despite the unprecedented streak of wins, this Arsenal side have showcased the same weaknesses of the years before.
Here’s why Arsenal’s winning streak has masked their poor performances.
First of all, let’s put this ‘winning streak’ into perspective. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with winning, in fact, it’s what every football team aspires to do, but we as fans must not overrate Arsenal’s achievements. Every single one of the games within that streak, on paper, are games the Gunners should be winning if they want to finish in the top four.
- West Ham (3-1)
- Cardiff City (3-2)
- Newcastle (2-1)
- Vorskla (4-2)
- Everton (2-0)
- Brentford (3-1)
- Watford (2-0)
- Qarabag FK (3-0)
- Fulham (5-1)
- Leicester City (3-1)
- Sporting (1-0)
Perhaps you could argue that Watford and Everton are decent opposition at best, but still, even at that, they’re both teams that Arsenal should be comfortably beating. So, when you give this list the once over, it’s hard to see what’s so spectacular about this 11-game-winning run.
Even with the poor calibre of teams, the Gunners were playing against, they still managed to concede nine goals in eleven games – that’s not title-winning form. It’s no secret that the Gunners have always been free-flowing in attack, it’s their defence that critics have constantly highlighted as their Achilles heel.
In those 11 games, Arsenal’s defence was shaky, discombobulated and displayed some schoolboy behaviour. Behaviour that reminds us this is a team still in transition and the 22 years under Arsène Wenger doesn’t disappear within a few months.
According to WhoScored, Arsenal has conceded on average 13.5 shots per game. Now look at the list above one more time and you tell me whether a good side concedes so many shots a game to such teams.
Even at the other end, despite both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette scoring goals for fun, Arsenal’s attacking flair has paled in comparison to their top-four rivals. Premier League stats show Manchester City to be the most creative team in the league thus far this season with 26 big chances created, Chelsea – 18, Tottenham Hotspur – 16, Liverpool – 14 and all the way down in 14th place is Arsenal with 9 big chances created this season.
That figure puts them below the likes of Fulham, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Even with supposedly having the best no.10 in the world, there are 13 other teams in the league that have created more clear-cut chances than Unai Emery’s team.
The aim of this article was not to downplay the achievements of Emery’s Arsenal but to perhaps relax the frenzy surrounding their achievements. With Liverpool coming up on Saturday, the Arsenal fanbase could soon come crashing down from cloud nin- eleven!