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Statistical Analysis: Arsenal's Improvement This Season

Betting Strategies | Article posted on December 19th, 2013
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Arsenal’s start to the season has come as a surprise to some. Today Barrie of Barrie’s View offers his thoughts and compares the Gunners’ start to 2013/2014 with last season.

3 points separate the top four in the Premier League heading into the final game before Christmas. A victory for Arsenal at home to Chelsea on Monday would guarantee the Gunners that top spot on Christmas Day, but defeat would leave Arsène Wenger’s side anywhere between second and fourth.

Arsenal have led the table since mid-September – an improvement on last season when they were not in the top places at any point. Here is a look at how Arsenal have improved on last season.

This Season, Last Season

Points After Matchday 16

Arsenal have won 11 of their opening 16 matches, losing just 3. The Gunners rebounded from a surprise home loss to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season with five consecutive victories, including a 1-0 win over North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

A draw at West Brom following a Champions League victory over Napoli but Arsenal continued to add to their points tally with three consecutive victories which included a 2-0 win over high-flying Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium.

A sub-par performance at Old Trafford handed Arsenal their second defeat of the season in matchday 11 before three victories to nil followed.

Everton proved difficult opposition at the Emirates in matchday 15, taking a point away with them. Roberto Martínez’s Toffees themselves have made an impressive start to the season.

Last weekend saw Arsenal thrashed 6-3 at Manchester City – the bookmakers’ favourites for this season’s Premier League title. Wenger’s side becoming the eighth team to lose at the Etihad Stadium this season – in the eight home matches Manuel Pellegrini’s side have had.

Comparing this to last season’s start and Arsenal are already up an incredible 11 points – that’s 0.69 points per game better than this stage this season, or a 46% increase. Here’s how Arsenal performed up to this point in 2012-13:

Points After Matchday 16 Last Season

Arsenal opened last season with goalless draws against both Sunderland and Stoke City who both ended finishing in the bottom half of the table.

Victory over Liverpool included goals from new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. Their season finally appeared to be underway when they followed that up with a 6-1 thrashing of Nigel Adkins’ Southampton.

Tough fixtures followed and a deserved point was earned at Manchester City before losing at home to Chelsea.

Defeats at Norwich City, Manchester United and at home to Swansea City followed, whilst points were dropped at home to Fulham and at both Aston Villa and Everton. Arsenal won 6 of their opening 16 games last season, leaving them in 7th position.

But how good does this season’s start compared to the same fixtures last season?

Arsenal’s points per game was actually better in the corresponding fixtures last season – 2.30 compared to this season’s 2.19. Based on this, Arsène Wenger’s side will need to improve on their results against the likes of Chelsea (home), Norwich City (away) and Tottenham Hotspur (away) who all beat them.

Arsène Wenger hasn’t made a great deal of changes on the pitch, bringing in three new players and sticking largely with the team that finished last season on a high.

Transfers In/Out

Mesut Özil (£42.5m from Real Madrid)

Arsenal did good business on the final day of the summer transfer window when they were able to bring in Mesut Özil for a club record fee from Real Madrid. Questions have since been raised as to why Manchester United and Tottenham didn’t come in for the highly-rated German international.

With the exception of a handful of games, Mesut Özil hasn’t disappointed the fans at the Emirates Stadium – with 4 goals and 7 assists in his 13 Premier League appearances and a number of man of the match performances.

Mathieu Flamini (Free Transfer from AC Milan)

A free transfer from AC Milan whom had left Arsenal five years earlier for Italy, Mathieu Flamini has largely been solid in protecting the back four along with Mikel Arteta this season.

Interestingly, the French international is averaging a yellow card every 141 minutes this season, compared to one every 494 minutes during his first spell in Arsène Wenger’s side.

Yaya Sanogo (Free Transfer from AJ Auxerre)

20-year old striker Yaya Sanogo has seen just 10 minutes of Premier League action this season as a late substitute during Arsenal’s 3-1 win at Fulham in August.

Goalkeeper

Despite a number of Arsenal fans suggesting Wojciech Szczęsny has been more confident this season and as far as saying the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, the Polish shot stopper’s stats aren’t at all dissimilar to last season when he came under a lot of criticism.

Conceding 6 goals and Manchester City in a game that he made just 1 save perhaps skews the stats, but here are Wojciech Szczęsny’s key stats to date this season:

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The 6 clean sheets kept by Szczęsny and Arsenal to this point is equal fourth in the league. The 17 goals conceded by Arsenal is behind only Everton and Southampton (15 each).

Looking at last season’s statistics for the goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczęsny’s save percentage is actually down 1%.

The goalkeeper started and played in 25 full Premier League matches last season – Arsenal would need to concede no more than 7 goals over their next nine league matches to at least tie last season’s performance. 4 clean sheets in those same nine matches would also see Szczęsny match his tally from last season in the same number of games.

Defence

After Arsenal became the first team in all competitions to keep a clean sheet against Bayern Munich last season, Wenger’s side kept 5 clean sheets in their final 10 matches.

From this point onwards, the defence has stepped up their game. Arsenal had allowed their goalkeeper to face an average of 4.1 shots on target in the first 28 league games of last season (before their victory at the Allianz Arena), compared to an average of just 2.7 per game in those final 10 matches of the season.

Arsenal haven’t quite matched that record this season – averaging 3.9 shots on target against their goal through the opening 16 matches. 3.9 was also their average for the whole of last season.

Attack

This season Arsenal are creating more chances per game than they did the previous – up from 5.4 shots on target per game to 5.9. This is despite their attempts on goal dropping form 15.7 per game to 13.8.

Arsenal have either improved on hitting the target this season, or they’re creating better chances.

Aaron Ramsey has stepped up from midfield whilst Mesut Özil is creating the most opportunities for the team – a player who wasn’t with the club last season.

The German playmaker is averaging 2.8 chances created per game to go along with his 7 assists. Last season, Santi Cazorla played the central attacking midfield role whom which he created on average 2.5 chances for his teammates per game, and ended the season with 11 assists. The Spaniard, who has missed a handful of games through injury this season has been playing on the left wing this season – is averaging 1.5 chances created per game this season, and has 1 assist in the Premier League.

Aaron Ramsey has 6 assists from central midfield, creating 1.4 chances per game on average. The Wales captain recorded just 2 assists last season despite creating 1.3 chances per game.

Arsenal were scoring 1.89 goals per game last season, compared to 2.06 this season.

The Future

Arsenal made a late run at the end of last season to overtake rivals Tottenham Hotspur and squeeze into a Champions League qualifier.

This season the Gunners are currently 4 points ahead of fifth place Everton and look strong to finish in the top 4 and maybe even put on a title challenge.

With a 10-point lead over Manchester United and an 8-point lead over Tottenham Hotspur after 16 games, fans have every reason to feel convinced their team will at least finish in the top four more convincingly this season, with expectations of exceeding last season’s 73 points.

The Odds

Arsenal began the season at a best price of 12.00 to win the league, drifting to 19.00 following their opening day defeat to Aston Villa.

Since then they have continued to shorten in price week to week, going as short as 3.25 prior to their loss at Manchester City. They now find themselves third in league betting, behind pre-season favourites Manchester City and Chelsea.

Arsenal 2013/2014 Odds – As At 19th December 2013.

Data provided by Opta Sports

Follow Barrie on Twitter: @BarriesView

And read more of his work at BarriesView.com

This article is provided courtesy of Betting Expert

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