Gunner Thoughts

Title or No Title, Arsenal’s Attack Is the Mark of a Great Team

“More firepower” was the call from Arteta and more goals were delivered. Arsenal boast a stat that is certainly the mark of a great team.

Well, Arsenal’s time back at the top of the table was short lived as Manchester City rolled through a Declan-Rice-less West Ham 3-0. I don’t think the result will surprise anyone. The most Arsenal can do at this point is continue to win their matches and push this title as close to the end as possible. Taking the title fight the distance matters.

As I checked the final result — obviously I didn’t subject myself to the disappointment of watching — there was a brief moment where that thought crosses your mind that this result is a direct difference from Arsenal. City waltzed past West Ham 3-0, Arsenal went up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes and couldn’t kill it. 3 points versus 1 point.

In this same game, Erling Haaland scored his record-breaking 35th goal of the Premier League season. With 5 matches left to play, he writes himself into the record books. Frankly, I predicted he would score 40 so I’m not surprised. Mostly, I am surprised there were actually people that didn’t think he would tear up the league like this.

But what’s interesting about Manchester City, is the dichotomy between them and Arsenal as two teams racing for the title and scoring 15-20 more goals than the third best attack. Manchester City, have Erling Haaland scoring 35 goals, 40.2% of their team total, and no other players with 10 goals in the campaign (although nothing to turn your nose up at Foden’s 9, Alvarez’s 8, or De Bruyne’s 7).

Arsenal on the other hand, currently stand at the only team in the league with four different 10 goal players:

  • Martinelli – 15
  • Ødegaard – 14
  • Saka – 13
  • Jesus – 10

It’s an impressive feat. An achievement that harks back to last summer. Even late in the transfer window, Arteta was giving interviews expressing his desire to supply this team with “more firepower”. He had been adamant since the end of the 2021/2022 season that “to be with the top teams this season you need to score 90 to 100 goals at least”.

He wasn’t — and isn’t — wrong. That’s the state of this current Premier League. But as I watched Arsenal finish that season in 5th with 61 goals, it felt impossible to believe this was a goal within reach. In time? Sure. Within the next 12 months? Seemed far fetched. Even Arteta had some doubts about where an addition 30-40 goals would come from.

“Somehow you need those goals in the team. Don’t ask me how, but you need them. They have to come. That contribution, how it’s done and how possible it is to happen, you have to find the right pieces to do it. But it’s a non-negotiable.”

An intriguing non-negotiable for a coach that has spent significant funds on his backline, although two easy explanations for that:

  1. He is keenly aware of the role that building up from the back and defenders with ball control and technical ability play in a successful attack
  2. Hedging his bets that if the team couldn’t hit 90 goals, they could raise clean sheet total to collect wins.

Arteta added to this statement with, “You look at the Barcelona team that won six titles; they scored 100 goals for three years”

“If you don’t need that then you need to have 30 clean sheets.”

But Arsenal have just about done it. The leap in goal quantity and attacking quality has been astounding. It has made this season beyond enjoyable to watch. 81 goals in 34 matches, 2.38 goals per match. Not to mention, a lead striker with 10 goals in only 22 appearances.

Last week I wrote about the absurdity of people’s belief that Arsenal have blown their only chance as a title. Being the only team — for now — with four different double-digit scorers, is the mark of a quality team. Even at the end of the year, Arsenal are likely to be one of two or three teams that boast this statistic. The company they keep is favorable: City and maybe Liverpool, with Newcastle, Brighton, and Manchester United having outside chances of reaching this in the final stages.

Title or not – this bodes well for the future. Saka being a player supplying 25 G/A, Martinelli with a shot at 20 goals this year, Ødegaard supplying goals from the midfield unlike any Arsenal players has since Cesc Fabregas – exciting times. It’s been 12 years since Arsenal surpassed 80 goals and this team have a chance as surpassing Wenger’s best goal total (87) from 2004/05.

I can’t help but think this is just the beginning for this team that WILL add quality and depth this summer.

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