Pre-season projection preview – Arsenal

To enhance my 2016/17 Premier League projection I’m reviewing factors that may impact each team’s strength compared with last season, as explained here. First up Arsenal.

Last Season

There’s not much wrong  with Arsenal (other than never winning anything). Overall they had a strong season, creating chances freely and ultimately finishing second. However, in a year when Leicester won the title it was more a case of what might have been. Looking at the numbers; an area that needs to be strengthened is preventing chances – six teams conceded fewer shots on target than Arsenal – not the form of champions. And Arsenal were buoyed by the highest percentage of shots on target saved in the league, indicating the value of a top quality goalkeeper – however, they may be concerned that Petr Cech’s Euro 2016 form will flow through to the Premier League.

Player Turnover

To illustrate the relative strengths of key players joining and leaving, the numbers below compare defensive, passing and attacking strength against the average premier league player in 2015/16 (0% means at the same level as the average premier league player, greater than 0% is better and less than 0% is worse). Defensive assessment is the sum of defensive actions (tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocks). Passing is number of completed passes, and attacking strength is goals plus assists (all measured per match). This isn’t a robust statistical analysis, and can be skewed due to acquisition from a weaker league or lack of minutes played – but the purpose is to simply indicate the comparative strength of incoming and outgoing players.

Arsenal

Not too much has happened (yet?). The standout signing is Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach, who looks a good player. However, it’s difficult to see how he significantly strengthens the team, as his profile seems similar to other Arsenal players – such as Santi Cazorla (whose return from injury will also strengthen the team).

There appears little to bolster the team’s main weakness (conceding chances) – the purchase of Rob Holding from Bolton looks more like one for the future. If anything the exits of Flamini and Arteta further undermines Arsenal defensively.

European Competition

Champions League (as always). No change from last season.

Management 

No change

Overall assessment

So far, pretty much no change from last season. Xhaka’s signing and Carzola’s return may marginally improve strength.

02/08/2016

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