Do Arsenal Have A Title Winning Attack?
What a result that was. It was superb to see Arsenal dominate the opposition again and maintain focus for 90 minutes to ensure a clean sheet.
The thing that probably pleased me most about that performance was the spread of goals and the fact that was our highest scoring Premier League game in over 2 years.
I was included in a conversation the other day about goalscorers and the desire to have two 25+ a season goalscorers in your team. I was on the side of the fence that whilst in theory it’s a lovely idea, in practice, it is rarely achieved and never consistently.
Top scorers thrive on the fact they are the main goal-threat and in that conversation I expressed how I believed Arsenal have a better quality of goal spread by having one main goal-threat, like Alexis, and 5-6 players who can hit double figures dotted around the team.
In the past 14 seasons there has only been 3 occasions where a team has had two players score 25+ goals in all competitions. Teams have come close such as Liverpool last season with Suarez on 31 and Sturridge on 24 (not included in the graphic), Chelsea in 2002-03 and arguably Liverpool in 2000-01 with Owen and Heskey (yes, Heskey) coming close however neither player actually reached the magic number of 25.
Two times that team has won the title and once, in the case of Manchester United in 2001-02, that team finished potless.
It is not a given that having two 25+ goals players in your team guarantees you trophies although on average it has yielded silverware. The thing that sticks out for me is that it has largely been unsustainable. Notwithstanding what may or may not happen at City this season it has not happened this century – no team has sustained two 25+ goal scorers for more than a single season.
Interestingly in the case of United they followed up that season with a title winning campaign spearheaded by Van Nistelrooy as the primary goal-threat and four others hitting double figures. Chelsea followed theirs up with a season with five players hitting double figures but the returns were quite modest and they finished without silverware.
After 6 seasons with Henry as their top goalscorer Arsenal went through a period of one-season wonders but most intriguingly the top scorer has generally been the previous season’s second top scorer.
Chelsea never truly replaced the consistency of a fit Hasselbaink upfront, instead turning to the consistency of Frank Lampard. Chelsea too followed up high returns from their two main goalscorers with more modest campaigns and the bane of Arsenal, Didier Drogba, only had two stand out campaigns amongst his usual return of 15-ish goals.
City’s first stand out campaign to win their first Premier League title was followed up with modest double figures from their top scorers and last season’s double 25+ season is looking unlikely to be repeated as although Aguero has 19 goals in all competitions so far their next top scorer, Yaya Toure, is yet to hit double figures and Aguero’s regular supporting goalscoring act, Edin Dzeko, has only the four goals to his name this season. Fewer than Giroud with over 150 minutes extra under his belt so limited game time is not the best excuse.
Generally speaking most successful league campaigns have seen either seen 4 or more players return 10+ goals with at least 2 hitting 13 or more, or there has been an exemplary goalscorer through which the majority of the goals have gone who has been supported by at least 2 other players scoring double figures.
It is rare and mostly unsustainable to have 25+ goals in all competitions from two players in your squad. It is hard to have a player scoring 30+ goals on a regular basis with at least one other player backing that up with 10+ goals but when that happens the returns are usually of the cup shaped silver kind.
Arsenal’s golden period under Wenger, 2002-2005, saw Henry score at least 30 goals with his deputy scoring no fewer than 16 goals. In the double winning season of 2002 – a season which I believe saw a more exciting brand of football than 2004 and I think most who are not blinded by or have their memories of that season blurred by nostalgic romanticism would agree – Arsenal had Henry score 32 goals with Wiltord and Ljungberg each supporting him with 17 goals and Pires (13) and Bergkamp (14) chip in with double figures too.
Five players with double figures and Arsenal cleaned up in the league and FA Cup. A memorable double won comfortably with the help of an incredible defence and an outstanding attack with one major goal-threat and four more modestly potent scorers to spread the load.
Manchester United have had similar periods with shared goal responsibilities and one focal point. The only real exception to the rule is Chelsea under Mourinho part 1 where he won two titles with superb defending and 4 players scoring between 10 and 20 goals a piece.
The long winded point I am making is that I don’t believe it is possible to sustain two players scoring 25+ goals a season as the natural tendency to channel your goals through one player will ultimately affect the return of the other.
That said, I believe the perfect and most sustainable goal spread is to have one player scoring 25+ in all competitions, one getting close to 20, somewhere around 15-20 and at least 2-3 more scoring 10-15 each and this current Arsenal team has that ability.
Giroud has already proven himself capable of scoring 20+ and that is even when he has been without the support of Mesut and Ramsey who he has fed off brilliantly in the past two seasons.
Alexis so far has 18 goals in 32 appearances which is a return of 0.56 goals per game and with at least 18 fixtures remaining depending on how Arsenal fare in the cups he will bag another 10 at that rate. Just 7 more goals will make him our 25+ player.
Theo Walcott has, in the season he was fit most and not required to feed everything through Van Persie, scored 20 goals. He has scored 2 goals in 7 appearances already, scored 6 in 18 last season and 21 in 43 the season before that. His return since we moved to a more collective approach to goalscoring has been roughly 1 in 3 to 1 in 2 which equates to approximately 20 goals in a 40 game season which he should easily achieve with Arsenal.
Welbeck has form with United for getting around 12 goals and has 7 already with Arsenal. He is quite easily a 10 goal a season player, possibly more with the talent he has to feed him.
Ramsey, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Özil each have the ability to get 10 goals each.
We have at least 8 players who can score 10 goals plus. Two can easily get 15-20 and one can get 25+. That is a title winning goal spread and Theo was right when he spoke about the goal threat in this team as I mentioned here.
Of course a lot of this hinges on players being fit and the defence doing their job but all the signs are there – we’re getting closer.
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