Yesterday I was having a chat via Twitter with a fellow Gooner and serial podcaster, known on the internet as @RamblinGooner, about the upcoming winter transfers window and how Arsène Wenger will strengthen our squad.
Will he sign a defender? Will he sign a defensive midfielder? Will he sign both?
Then suddenly I found myself picturing the manager ignoring our blatant needs at the back and possibly bringing in another diminutive attacking midfielder and/or another striker instead.
It started like a joke (and I hope it is one) but that made me think about some interesting numbers:
|Club||Goals Scored||Goals Conceded||# of Clean Sheets|
Apparently what is currently holding us back in the league is partially our shambolic defensive unit but it’s mainly our poor attacking vein.
Despite some unforgivable errors, some silly goals conceded and some very poor performances so far, we conceded only two goals more than Chelsea and one more than Manchester City.
Our back line has been slated by pundits and experts several times this season already, and deservedly so, but in the end the huge difference between us and current league leaders is down to goals scored, not conceded.
Chelsea scored 28 times already, eight more than the Arsenal and six more than Manchester City – who conceded one less than us and one more than Chelsea themselves.
We kept as many clean sheets (3) as Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, which should suggests that our defensive line has as many issues as any of our rivals’.
Alexis Sanchez brilliance was not enough to keep us in touch with other contenders, we are missing those extra goals Chelsea are scoring at the moment.
I guess it is fair easy to understand that those missing goals could have made a huge difference in our current campaign: I am thinking about Leicester away and Tottenham at home, of course, because we had chances to win both games but could not convert them.
Add four points to our current tally and we would be on par with Manchester City; still eight points behind Chelsea but also far away from the current crisis everyone is crying out.
Reasons behind that are multiple: the new 4-1-4-1 formation introduced by Arsène Wenger, injuries that prevented the manager to field the same players on a long run and poor form from key players due to injuries or World Cup campaign are some but, in my opinion, quality of our attacking players should not being counted among them.
We already have players able to score goals at any time, in any way.
Alexis Sanchez is showing us his unbelievable skills, Danny Welbeck is getting used to his new teammates and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is coming to age with more and more consistent displays; we will soon have Mesut Özil, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott back at full strength as well, while Santi Cazorla will surely find his scoring boots at some point and Lukas Podolski – shall he stay beyond January – won’t fail to bring his part of goals.
So if, as numbers seem to suggest, our problem lies in the attacking half of the pitch, I will stay cool and wait.
There are goals within our team, plenty of them.
I am quite sure that, as soon as we start scoring goals, suddenly our defensive issues will appear less critical and less important.
There will be errors, there will be silly goals conceded and we will still be mad at this or that defender but, in the end, we will win those matches that have contributed to build the big gap between us and current league leaders.
Note to Arsène Wenger: we still need an additional defender, though. Please do not forget it.