Despite Arsène Wenger’s insistence that Arsenal are creating “many different good opportunities”, there is a statistic that suggests otherwise.
Wenger made the comments after the match against West Ham, but not everyone agrees that the problem is finishing.
Arsenal had 70% of the possession and 22 shots on the night, which makes it seem like they were on top, but James Benge of the Evening Standard disagrees:
Arsenal's last three games have produced 66 shots on goal, 25 on target (16 vs Man Utd) and 2 goals. Expected goals is around 7 but 5 of them were against Man Utd.
Lot of talk from Wenger about finishing being the problem but at the moment they aren't creating good chances.
— James Benge (@jamesbenge) December 13, 2017
As he points out, Arsenal’s expected goals was close to five against Manchester United (it was 4.56, to be precise). They were creating a lot of great chances, but not managing to finish them off.
Expected goals is a better measure than counting shots when it comes to the quality of the chances you’re creating. Twenty shots from outside the box will give you a very low score, shots from five-yards out will give you a very high score.
That’s just like in reality, where Granit Xhaka can blast them from 30 yards all day and most won’t go in, whereas if Alexandre Lacazette picks up the ball in the box you expect him to score.
However, even though Arsenal had 67% of possession and 11 shots against Southampton, their expected goals score was only 0.68.
So that day, the Gunners were lucky to even get one. It was the same story against West Ham, although I don’t have the exact expected goals figures for the game yet.
You know how when Arsenal have 90% possession they don't win? Anyone considered we aren't very good with the ball?
— Lee Hurley (@HLeeHurley) December 13, 2017
As mentioned, Arsenal had 67% against Southampton, and 70% against West Ham. But they just haven’t been creating opportunities from that possession like they did against Manchester United, and they’re being punished for it.
That’s the problem.