As Arsenal have racked up just 13 Premier League points in their first 11 matches, the Gunners look like a shell of the team that beat Manchester City and Chelsea on the way to their record 14th FA Cup. While the team is obviously sputtering, there is more than one reason for their place in the table. Let’s take a look at three specific causes for Arsenal’s current struggles.
1. Lack of Creativity
Most, if not all, Arsenal fans will undoubtedly agree that the Gunners are not creating enough chances to score goals. Arsenal have made just 71 total key passes through their first 11 Premier League matches of the season, currently tied for 17th along with Leicester City. It gets worse though. When taking out corners, free kicks, throw-ins, through balls, and crosses, Arsenal actually have the fewest key passes in England’s top flight (39). This would basically include regular passes in open play.
Arsenal’s total amount of goals in the league are obviously suffering from this lack of creativity. The club’s 10 goals in the Prem are only better than the three teams currently in the relegation zone: Burnley, West Brom, and Sheffield United. While the Gunners are usually known for their slick passing and impressive goal-scoring record, things will have to turn around quickly if they are to make it back to a place in a European competition.
2. Aubameyang’s Goal Drought
Partially due to the team’s lack of service, star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has managed just two Premier League goals so far (one being a penalty). Despite the fact that partner Alexandre Lacazette receives much more criticism, the French striker has more goals in far fewer minutes on the pitch compared to the Gabon international. The team’s overall anemic offense is certainly a chunk of the reason for Aubameyang’s lack of goals. However, there is more to the story than just key passes.
Aubameyang is actually averaging more targets by his teammates per 90 minutes compared to his prolific 2019/20 campaign, yet his total touches are slightly down. This essentially means that his fellow teammates are trying to get him the ball, but the outcome just isn’t as effective as usual. However, the Gabonese striker is averaging just 0.8 fewer touches in the opposing penalty area per 90 minutes compared to last season. Is this number really that much of a difference to fully blame for Aubameyang’s drastic drop in goals? Not exactly.
Arsenal’s star striker hasn’t looked like his normal prolific self for most of the current season. Lethargic and stagnate, Aubameyang isn’t making his usual killer runs into dangerous areas on the pitch. Surely the lack of creativity by his teammates hinder his chances, but Aubameyang isn’t exactly doing himself any favors at the moment.
3. Arteta’s Stubbornness
The Arsenal manager has frustrated many fans by snubbing playmaker Mesut Ozil. The midfielder has yet to feature since March, despite the club desperately needing an injection of creativity. Although Ozil’s numbers have slowly declined over the last few years, he could still be an asset to this team. The former Germany international led the club with 2.3 key passes per 90 minutes in Premier League play last season.
Along with Ozil, Nicolas Pepe (prior to his red card) was also not given much playing time in the league as well. The Ivory Coast international was just behind Ozil in key passes in 2019/20 with 1.8 per 90 minutes. Without these two players, Arsenal have clearly struggled. The team’s current leader in key passes is Willian with 1.3 key passes per 90 minutes. That’s a fairly significant drop off between seasons.
Arteta’s style of play also appears very slow and methodical. Long gone are the days of slick one-touch passing and quick movement. This Arsenal team appears far too slow and stagnate when in possession of the ball. It also seems as if opposing teams know this and put extra defenders behind the ball when the Gunners have possession. This makes it very difficult to break down and create a sufficient amount of goal-scoring chances. The young manager has clearly helped solidify the team’s defense, but it appears as if the offense has been affected in the process.
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