Explaining the Stats: Conceding Goals for Fun

Explaining the Stats: Conceding Goals for Fun

A Recent Phenomenon

Daniel Sturridge’s goal on Sunday was the 1000th goal that Arsenal have conceded in the Premier League, bringing the ratio of goals conceded per game to 0.97. Conceding fewer than one goal per game throughout the history of the league is pretty good going, however, compare that to the number conceded per game in the last 5 seasons.
Since 2013/14, Arsenal have conceded 165 league goals. This equates to 1.06 goals per game slipping through. Arsenal have still finished in the upper reaches of the league and still tend to win as many games. The difference, in the last few seasons, is that Arsenal have been on the wrong end of too many hammerings.


In game week 3 of 2011/12, Arsenal lost 8-2 to Manchester United. Despite everything that’s happened to Arsenal, that is still the most damning day in recent history. The most concerning thing about that particular result was that a number of clear factors led to that result. There was unrest around the squad, regarding the transfer of Nasri and Fabregas, and there were a number of defensive injuries.
This all culminated in a horrific loss that I shan’t go on about any longer. The difference between that day, and the subsequent 4 league losses with a gap of four goals that Arsenal have experienced since, is that there were obvious reasons why Arsenal lost so heavily to United.
In the games against Liverpool (twice), Chelsea and Southampton, Arsenal have had the majority of their strongest players available. On Sunday, the whole team was available for selection (bar Cazorla and Wilshere). That’s the biggest difference between Arsenal of the last few years and Arsenal of old. Even our best players aren’t enough against the top sides.

A Freak Result

Arsenal have a history of struggling against stronger opposition. But it’s only in the last few seasons that Arsenal have been repeatedly torn to shreds by strong opposition. Bayern and Barcelona have been a thorn in our sides in the Champions League for over ten years, but it’s only in the last few seasons that Arsenal have conceded stupid numbers of goals against this sort of opposition.
It would be so easy to blame Wenger, but he was there when we weren’t conceding crazy amounts of goals, only 4 or 5 years ago. It would be easy to blame playing 3 at the back for Sunday’s defeat, but all through last season fans were crying out for a formation change. Only 3 months ago Arsenal beat Chelsea in the most high-pressured game of the season.
In that game against Chelsea, the defense made 19 interceptions, blocked 6 shots, and the team won 78% of their tackles. Against Liverpool, there were only 16 interceptions and 3 blocked shots, but 83% of tackles were won.

Explaining the Stats?

This demonstrates that statistics can’t explain crazy results like against Liverpool. Before the game, everyone knew it was going to be tough. Even after the first goal, no one would have predicted four. The performance was lackluster, but the team still put in their tackles and made their defensive blocks and kept their possession. The team did everything right, but what was clear was that it was the effort that was lacking.
It’s impossible to explain freak results, so it’s pre-emptive to suggest that the club is in crisis off the back of one game. It’s clear that there is a problem, but rather than everyone associated with Arsenal blaming the manager or the tactics or the player recruitment, if everyone gets behind this side, which we know can do seriously great things, maybe we can all turn it around

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