I would normally do a riposte article to the xG counter-argument that went off yesterday… but there wasn’t need for one, I think most people seemed pretty fine with the reality of our messy data this season.
There were two common comebacks.
‘You just don’t like data that doesn’t align with the project’
MOST IMPORTANT METRIC: 5th in the league.
‘Stop manipulating data to suit your agenda’
MOST CLEAN METRIC I HAVE: 5th in the league.
You can get angry that I put some context on the xG, but the most important metric right now is that we are 5th in the league. If you’re using data to delegitimize a young team doing really well under tough circumstances, may I show you a delightful bin you can get in.
Some other interesting metrics.
We’re averagely conceding 12.77 attempts at our goal per game with the new defence, with 4.2 shots per game on target. Skewed quite heavily by bad days at Brighton and Liverpool away. Plenty of work to do there, Chelsea and Liverpool are conceding 9.7… City, and incredible 6.3. But, not bad considering the newness of the defence.
To be honest, I actually thought the most interesting splicing on data was the table since the new team started.
5th for goals scored.
3rd best defensive record.
Joint 2nd for points accrued.
That is quite spectacular when you consider:
1) It was basically 6 new players.
2) They were all under the age of 24.
3) The mood around the club was absolutely grim.
Our attack really needs to kick up a gear. There’s no denying that.
There are two ways that is going to happen.
1.Auba is going to click with the system and start getting into the right positions. Arteta can gamble on the 2018-19 superstar coming back to his best. He’s said a few times that the goals will come. How long will he hold out? Things are so bad, he’s even missing penalties this season.
2.Arteta is going to try something different.
The Liverpool game showed the way for other teams. Lacazette dropping deep has been a huge part of our resurgence over the the last 3 months. His 95th minute goal saved a point against Palace and after that, we never looked back. He set the tone for aggression, his confidence and experienced allowed for him to seamlessly link defence to attack, and he made a difference.
Liverpool sussed that at the weekend and we didn’t really have an answer.
Is it time for something different?
We haven’t seen much of Martin Odegaard this season, the form of an older head playing for his future has been too much for the Norwegian. He’s not a sulker though and he is more than capable of opening up teams on his best days. Could he be used to make us a bit less predictable in build up play over the next month?
Nico has been sat on the bench, for good reason, but it’s hard to deny that on his day, he also offers us something we’re lacking: Final ball and finishing. He always delivers good numbers, even if he is generally very inconsistent and infuriating. He was nothing at the start of last season, then he came back into contention hard. He’s also not a sulker, he works hard, can we roll the dice on him again?
Gabriel Martinelli has been poor this season. He’s been given chances. He hasn’t taken them. But we know there’s a player there. Every young player goes through a slump. It’s about time he came out of his. What can he offer to our attack? He’s a relentless presser of the ball, even though we haven’t seen much of that in the last 6 months. Can he find that spark? Can he work with this team? Can he be the tip of our spear we lack?
There are two other options.
Eddie, who I thought was exceptional during the preseason games, but hasn’t been given much in the way of love. He’s not a fan of Arteta, I’m pretty sure he’s signaled he won’t do a deal, so the club might be resigned to losing him in January. Could we use his newfound confidence? Would it be worth a go?
Folarin Balogun has been in rip-roaring form in the U23s. His attitude has been so good. The horror show against Brentford cannot be laid squarely at his feet, he had no prep for that game either. Is there something he could do? Does he have the power? Is there an ESR moment for him?
December is the month for heroes. Last season, Smith Rowe broke the first team and never looked back. He did it against Chelsea. He showed the doubters what he was all about and now he’s an England player.
Who wants to be a hero this month? December is going to need the full squad. We play Newcastle (H) on Saturday, then we’re up against United (A) on the Thursday, followed by Everton (A) on then Monday. There will be minutes going around. Who will get them? Who will make a statement with them? How will this young squad deal with a 3 game week?
First, we have to deal with Eddie Howe taking to the dugout for the first time in his second game. He has a helluva job to do there. He has Steve Bruce players which don’t map to his system at all. The one thing they have going in their favor is that all of those players want to be there for the dazzling riches that are coming their way. It’s a big game for us. Will we be on our knees feeling sorry for ourselves like teams of the past? Or do we have the minerals to deal with disappointment?
We shall see…
We’re recording a podcast this afternoon, stay tuned to your phone for that when it drops, because it’ll be a damn cracker let me tell you.
BUT, before you listen to that, may I invite you to jump in on our latest after the Liverpool game. Matt and Pedro chatting the Liverpool game. We hope you enjoy it. x