A picture is a worth a thousand words, it really is. Just look at that beautiful viz.
This article is a snippet into Arsenal’s recent history, milestone moments and the rise of a new superpower in world football.
The xG v xGA chart starts off with the 2019/20 season. Arsenal have had a horrendous start to the season under Unai Emery. It has been 18 months since the ex-PSG manager was made head coach of AFC. But his philosophy and style of play is still unclear. There are rifts between the coaching staff and the big name players and the starting 11 for every game seemed like it came out of a lottery system. Rightfully so, the Spaniard was sacked and about a month or two down the line, the Arsenal hierarchy took a chance on a rookie young coach/ex-player/Pep’s cone-man. This decision (imo) will prove to be just as important as signing Arsene Wenger from Japan or Henry from Juventus.
Arteta arrives and within the first 6 months helps lift the FA cup trophy for the 14th time (nobody has won it more times than AFC). Auba, his star player and captain played a crucial role in this magical run scoring against London rivals Chelsea and favourites City in the semi final and the final respectively. But what was immediately clear was that Pep’s cone-man had a plan, a philosophy and certain non-negotiables.
Next season starts off very slow. The club is now conceding very few goals but due to the club refusing to play Ozil, the side is devoid of any creativity. Its sideways pass after a sideways pass and an unholy amount of nil nils and one ones. All of this changed when ESR was brought into the first 11 on boxing day against Chelsea. Arsenal kept up their defensive record but now also had some impetus to their attack. They reinforced their creative prowess by signing a certain Norwegian attacking midfielder from Madrid. The second half of 20/21 showed a lot of promise for what was to come.
In the subsequent summer window, the board spent more than 150 million strengthening the squad while also getting rid of deadwood and toxic personalities. After consecutive 8th place finishes, lots more was expected of Arteta who had now had more than 18 months with the squad as well as some expensive signings. But the start of 21/22 season couldn’t have been worse. Arsenal faced a myriad of Covid and injury issues leading to the worst start to a season in the history of Arsenal football club in god knows how many years. The Arteta Outers were in full force. The fans were divided. And during these tumultuous times the club showed absolute faith in Arteta and extended his contract.
Around November time, a misfiring and our of focus Aubameyang was stripped off his captaincy and banished from the squad. In came everyone’s big brother Lacazette. The Frenchman’s technical qualities allowed Arsenal to finally play the football, Arteta had been chasing for so long. Arsenal were dominating games, winning matches, thrashing opposition and miraculously climbed up the table from 15th to looking like a sure shot for the 4th spot. But luck was to rear its ugly head again. The club were hit with key injuries + suspensions at the exact same time. Namely Partey, Tierney, Tomi and White. The depth was dodgy and Arsenal lost 3 games in a row and then the NLD; somehow failing to lose out on a CL spot which looked as good as in the bag before the Rob Holding red card.
But this small blip was not going to get in the way of this generational manager or this young super team. The club continued to invest, bringing in world class quality in Jesus and Zinchenko. Saliba finally returned to where he belonged. All of this combined with the continuous growth of the team’s young core has led to Arsenal leading the Premier League table after match week 19 for the first time in a very long time. Super exciting times are ahead. The club is looking to add more firepower to the attack in the face of a Ukranian assassin. A player who looks more explosive than any other human being out there.
Data suggests Arsenal have been playing at a title contention level since the past January. You don’t even need to look into the data or results. The performances themselves validate the point. But obviously, data helps. For the most part of the last 12-14 months Arsenal are producing on average at least 2 xG per game while conceding less than 1 xGA per game. These are elite numbers. These are the numbers that separate champions from the pack. And Arsenal have been putting them up for quite some time.
Arsenal being 1st on the table with the youngest starting 11 in the league is no coincidence. This has been brewing since the day Arteta walked in as the head coach. Its now time to reap the rewards. A new Superteam has been born.. There is a new energy around the Emirates stadium. The fans haven’t been on the same page like this since the days of Highbury. The players are ready to die for the club and the spirit of the “Arsenal Family” has never been more clear to me before. This is Arsenal football club and we are coming for Everything.
Performance | Recruitment | Data Analyst.
Working in football for the past 2 years. Gunner through and through.
About to start an MSc in Sports Performance Analysis in Sept/Oct 2022