Arsenal’s unlucky goal contributors should get the credit due.

In the stats driven world we live in, when it comes to attacking players on the pitch, goals and assists are your bread and butter. Often when it comes to comparing players against each other, comparing players based on their own previous campaigns, or seeing how valuable one player is to an individual team goal contributions is arguably the go to metric.

However, I’ve always had an issue with how these two measures are credited. Often, a player can perform an action which directly leads to a goal and receive no official recognition in the data. The easiest example of this is a player shooting off-target and having the ball deflected into the goal. Own goal. The shooting player is given no credit for this action even though that shot caused the goal to be scored.
I’m here to change that. As a forward player growing up, I would happily claim an own goal as my own provided I was within 20 yards of the unfortunate defender whom the ball went in off, and have often thought that forward players should be given more credit to help boost their stats. 

With this in mind, I have looked through every goal Arsenal scored this past season, and have looked to credit players with more goals and assists providing their action is what caused a goal to be scored. I have now awarded assists for actions such as winning a penalty, having a shot rebound into a goalscorer or having a pass or cross deflected into the path of a goalscorer. A player shooting leading to an own goal is now the player’s goal, which may also provide an assist for the teammate who served the scorer the ball. Similarly, if a player clearly crosses the ball and a defender scores an own goal, the crosser gains himself an extra assist. One caveat is that this season Arsenal had two instances where the player who won the penalty went on to take and score the spotkick, in this instance the player was credited no assist.

So, which Arsenal players made the most goals happen this season despite getting no official credit? Does it change the way we look at their season at all? Let’s take a look!

Saka NLD


  1. Bukayo Saka + 1 Goal + 5 Assists

The Arsenal starboy was already by far and away the clubs leading goal contributor this past season hitting 34 in all competitions, and remarkably was responsible for 6 more on top of that. It was his deflected shot that gave Arsenal the lead in the first North London Derby of the season for his one additional goal. Against Sheffield United and Brighton, he had a corner deflect either off goalkeeper or defender into the path of the goalscorer for two more assists. Then again against Sheffield United and Tottenham in the reverse games, the number 7’s crosses went in off defenders, giving him another two. Then finally against Newcastle at home, under our new rules the first goal is now credited to Gabriel instead of an own goal, in which Bukayo will claim that assist. Against West Ham he also won the penalty he went on to score, so we will keep him as just the scorer here.

New Season Total – 40 Goal Contributions

What more can we say about Bukayo Saka? Arsenal scored 113 goals in all competitions this season and he had a direct hand to play in 35% of them. Unbelievable.

Martinelli for the win


2. Gabriel Martinelli + 4 Assists

It’s fair to say Gabriel Martinelli had a bit of a down year given the heights he reached in the 22/23 season, but he still had a sizable contribution when you consider he scored winners against Manchester City and Liverpool. Maybe his numbers would have been a little more positive had my rules been in effect. His 4 new assists include what is most definitely the harshest incident of the lot. In the 5-0 away win against Burnley, GM14 cut the ball back to the skipper who smashed it in to make it 1-0. Due to a small, but apparently large enough, deflection, no assist was credited to the Brazilian. Nonsense. I’m here to correct that. Also, against Fulham and Lens, his shots were saved straight into the path of Bukayo Saka, to tap home, so that is two more assists for Gabi. He also won a penalty against Lens.

New Season Total – 17 Goal Contributions

13 didn’t look so great, 17 is a little better, and shows that even on a down year he had a more than reasonable contribution to the team. 


Credit: @premierleague on

3. Martin Ødegaard & Kai Havertz + 3 Assists

The skipper won a penalty against Bournemouth, had his shot saved into Saka again who scored against PSV and provided Bukayo with the ball for what was previously the Romero own goal in the first NLD of the season. 

King Kai had his shot saved into, yet again, Bukayo Saka’s path against Liverpool. He also won a penalty in the Bournemouth home game and had a deflected touch away at Burnley for a Trossard goal. 

New Season Totals 

  • Martin Ødegaard – 25 Goal Contributions 
  • Kai Havertz – 24 Goal Contributions 

Both players recorded fantastic seasons this year, and have each been provided with a nice little boost in numbers with this new system. 


(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

4. Declan Rice, Eddie Nktiah & Gabriel Jesus + 2 Assists

Eddie won two penalties in his early season run in the starting eleven. Declan Rice had a shot rebound Ben White’s way against Chelsea, and provided the captain with the ball when he took two bites at the cherry to score against Wolves at Molineux. Jesus also won a penalty this year, and also had a header deflect off the post against Bournemouth into guess who’s path?…

New Season Totals

  • Declan Rice & Gabriel Jesus – 18 Goal Contributions
  • Eddie Nketiah – 11 Goal Contributions

Gabriel Jesus, for one reason or another, never really got going this year, but still has a healthy return. Let’s hope there’ll be more to come next year. Declan Rice has been superb. Can we take him out of the number 8 role if he can offer near 20G+A?

Gabriel's perfect teeth

5. Gabriel + 1 Goal & Ben White, Emile Smith-Rowe, Fabio Vieira, Leandro Trossard, Mohamed Elneny, Takehiro Tomiyasu & William Saliba

Big Gabi gets another goal as mentioned earlier on, taking him to 5 goals for the season. Impressive numbers for a centre half. Vieira and Trossard both won a penalty. Smith-Rowe provided a cross which caused an own goal. Saliba headed off the bar before Zinchenko volleyed the rebound home. Tomiyasu provided the long ball forward leading to Martinelli scoring against Liverpool. And Elneny provided a flick on which deflected Tomiyasu’s way against Sheffield United. 


What can we take away from this?

Ultimately this was just a little bit of off-season fun, but the main takeaway is surely just how reliant we are on our number 7. Bukayo makes over a third of our goals happen, and without him, our threat level is significantly decreased. Is this a worry and something we should be looking to address in the transfer window? 

The other topic regarding Saka we can see from this analysis is how many rebounds he scores. He has a knack for being in the right place and this should be a real incentive for those around him to take their shots.

It’s also interesting that those leading the way in, let’s call them, “unofficial goal contributions”, are those who we would expect. Our attacking players. Yet, Leandro Trossard who is 4th for G+A in the squad this season, only gains 1 assist to his existing 19 goal contributions. This could speak to just how clean and deliberate his actions are. Whereas Martinelli may have his shot saved into another’s path, Leo’s shot finds the corner. 17 of those contributions were goals after all. 


Do you share my opinion that stats should be more generous in crediting the attacker when goals are scored? Let me know what you think below!

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