Can Arsenal Spring(field) back into goalscoring form?
Good morning everyone, hope you’re well today. I woke up at 2.30am and found it hard to get back to sleep, but then I lapsed into a kind of doze in which I was dreaming about Mathieu Flamini having the body of a shark and it wasn’t very restful at all.
I think I’m quite worried. Not about losing to Barcelona particularly, although I’m still finding the manner in which we conceded a bit irritating. On the whole though, there’s no huge shame in being beaten by the best team in the world with goals scored by the best player in the world. I was there when he scored 4 against us at the Camp Nou, so this is like 2 better, or something.
I remain worried, however. Not even about our defence, or the lapses that cost the goals against Barcelona. I mean, they could have done better, but when you’re having to concentrate that hard against a team who have so much of the ball, it’s easy to switch off for a second or two, and no team can punish you with such ruthless efficiency as this Barcelona.
Did I mention I was worried though? I am. Worried and concerned. Worried, concerned, and disquieted. Worried, concerned, disquieted, and fretful. Worried, concerned, disquieted … well, you get the idea. I am anxious and perturbed. Why? WHY? Do you even need to ask?
Goals. That’s why. Goals.
I feel like Fat Tony from The Simpsons.
“I’m afraid I must insist. You see, Arseblog, he has been most vocal on the subject of the goals. “Where’s the goals? “When are you going to get the goals?” “Why aren’t you getting the goals now?” And so on. So please – the goals.”
The goals. Where the bastarding hell are they? When are we going to score them? And who is going to score them? Because, you know, we kinda need them. As a wise man once said, and I’m not going to name him because Michael Owen is getting really precious about people assigning made-up quotes to his name, “If you don’t score goals then you don’t score goals and unless you score you won’t score and if you don’t score then you can’t win unless they score an own goal but that’s still a goal for you even if it’s not one you haven’t scored yourself my cat’s breath smells like cat food.”
Here are the frightening statistics, folks. Since scoring 3 against Liverpool, we have played 8 games. In those 8 games we have scored just 6 goals. 2 of those goals came against lower league Burnley in the FA Cup. We have failed to score in 5 of those 8 games.
Are you joining me in Worried Town yet? Pull up a pew. Like my moccasins? Have them. I’ll continue.
Of those 8 games, 5 of them have been in the Premier League. We have scored 4 goals, 2 against Bournemouth and 2 against Leicester (thank you Danny!). In those 5 games we have had 86 attempts on goal. That’s more attempts than I’ve had hot dinners in the last 86 days (sometimes I take a salad, although you don’t win friends with salad).
Now, of course not all those attempts are what you’d consider chances, or great chances, to score, but it still suggests there’s a great deal of inefficiency in our attacking play. So, what about our attacking players, how are they doing? Well, not great is the answer to that one. The goals have kinda dried up for some of them.
- Olivier Giroud is still our leading scorer, but hasn’t scored since a brace against Liverpool on January 13th (although he has provided a couple of crucial assists, to be fair).
- Theodore P Walcott, lightning fast whizzkid and all-round nice chap, has 2 goals in his last 21 games.
- Alexis was out injured, and has come back a shadow of his former self. He’s got 1 in 7.
- Mesut Ozil, bearing in mind he’s more the creator than the scorer, has 4 in 15.
- Joel Campbell, soup baron, has 3 in 19.
- Aaron Ramsey, the only deeper midfielder likely to get us goals, has 5 in 19.
Can you see why I am worried, concerned, disquieted, fretful, anxious, troubled, perturbed and, dare I say it, overwrought? We are not scoring very many goals, and in order to win the Premier League you usually need to score very many.
Where do they come from? How do they come from? Me fail English? That’s unpossible!
Well, we do have Danny Welbeck back, someone who provides us with a different option and fresh legs, having not used them at all this season up until a couple of weeks ago. He’ll have plenty in the tank, a lot to make up for, and he’ll be full of spunk and valour as he tries to cast those dark days of injury behind him.
Do we play him up front and give Giroud a bit of a rest? The Frenchman has shown in the past that he’s a jolly good option from the bench, and also that when he goes through these droughts of his, a bit of time out of the side usually helps him recharge.
It is worth revisiting the Walcott up front thing? If you read regularly you’ll know I remain a bit of a Walcott sceptic, both as a striker and certainly as a wide man. As poor as some of the stuff Oxlade-Chamberlain did when he was on the pitch on Tuesday night was, I don’t think anyone could argue that we weren’t more solid when he was on the right hand side. After he’d gone and Walcott came on, there was more space for Neymar Jr Jr Jr to do his rather impressive stuff.
It’s a risk, because Walcott’s form has been fairly woeful, but there’s always the chance with him that the kind of chaos he creates when he runs about, not always knowing why he’s running about, can prove difficult for the opposition defence. His best performances, and I know there weren’t many, came when he was played up front this season. You think of United at home, now that’s a paddlin’. Is it possible to recreate that, or was it just a perfect storm on the day?
I wish I knew. All I do know is that if we persist with the same personnel doing the same things, then chances are we’ll extend this period of goallessness, and with just 12 Premier League games remaining, that would be a bad thing. A very bad thing indeed. There’s a genuine need to do something, to change something, to try something else. Quite what, I don’t know, that’s down to Arsene Wenger.
However, there’s simply no doubt in my mind – if we are to embiggen our league position, then we must find a cromulent solution to this goalscoring problem.