Arsenal are more likely than average to avoid shooting when under pressure from opponents, waiting instead for a low-pressure opportunity to have a go at goal.
It’s an age-old cliché about Arsenal’s style of play that the team like to ‘walk it in’, but apparently the belief is actually supported by the statistics.
Opta have been gathering data on shots, in terms of ‘clarity level’ and ‘pressure level’. Clarity level refers to the number of players between the shooter and the goal. One player (usually a goalkeeper) makes the chance ‘high clarity’. Two players is moderate clarity and more than two is low clarity.
Pressure level refers to how close those players are to the shooter. If there are no players within four metres of the player, it’s low pressure. If a defender is between two to four metres away, it’s moderate pressure, and if they’re less than two metres away, it’s high pressure.
When you look at Arsenal’s graph of shots for the 2017/18 season, you can see that less than a quarter are taken under high pressure.
In addition, when compared to the Premier League average, Arsenal take a total of 8% fewer shots under high pressure than their English rivals.
The difference isn’t quite as stark with low clarity shots (shots taken with more than two players between the shooter and the goal), as Arsenal are only 1.4% below average in that regard.
Nonetheless, it’s clear Arsenal do prefer to wait for a better chance to present itself. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and probably partly explains why the Gunners are finishing a higher percentage of their chances than most teams in the league. As long as they keep scoring and winning, I don’t think most fans will care how they go in.