Sixth-placed Arsenal head into this weekend’s fixture away to second-placed Manchester United on the back of a 1-0 win at home to Mark Hughes’ QPR side last weekend. However, the slight margin achieved late on after Rangers were reduced to 10 men, is merely a mask hiding the problems facing the Gunners. Arsenal’s recent run of form has left a lot for Arsene Wenger to ponder as it has become increasingly clear that they are struggling without the goals of Robin Van Persie, who faces off against his former club this weekend.
The Dutch forward has had no problem settling into life in the North-West, bagging 7 goals in 9 appearances so far this season for the Red Devils. Although £24m for a 29-year-old who had just enjoyed his first injury-free season in some time seemed like great business for Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson is sure to be pleased with RVP’s return thus far, and eager to watch the striker continue his blistering form in front of the Old Trafford faithful. Van Persie will be relishing the prospect of facing his former employers, who have found it difficult thus far to turn chances into goals.
Santi Cazorla has been in fine form so far this season having arrived in the Summer from Spanish outfit Malaga. The little technician has been the second most creative player in the league this season, having created a total of 33 chances for his team in the first 9 games. The Spaniard has also contributed with two goals and two assists, showing that he has had no problem adapting to the English game. However, can the same be said for Arsenal’s other summer signings?
Replacing Van Persie, who notched up 30 league goals for the Gunners last season, was always going to be a big challenge for Wenger, but, in signings Olivier Giroud, who arrived from Ligue 1 winners Montpellier, and German international Lukas Podolski, who signed from Bundesliga side Cologne, Wenger identified two replacements for the prolific Van Persie, having pre-empted his inevitable departure. Let’s take a look at how the pair have fared for the Gunners so far in the league.
So far, both players have made 9 appearances for the Gunners, Podolski starting all 9, with Giroud making 5 starts and 4 appearances coming off the bench for his side. Podolski has played a total of 653 minutes of league football in an Arsenal shirt, edging out his attacking partner, Giroud, who has spent 532 minutes on the pitch. It is clear that so far this season, Podolski has been more likely to secure his place in the starting eleven, ahead of Giroud, who fits more of an out and out striker role, as opposed to Podolski’s wide centre forward position.
The German international, Podolski has made a total of 308 open-play passes this season, somewhat more than his counterpart, considering he has had a significantly higher amount of game time. Giroud has made a total of 134 attempted passes for his side. Podolski’s total number of accurate passes sits at 272 passes leaving him with a very high overall pass completion rate of 88%. He has also provided two assists for the Gunners, having created a total of 14 chances for his side. Podolski has therefore been in quite good creative form, showing that he plays at his best drifting in from the left. Giroud, however, has had a much poorer total of 77 accurate passes, showing that he has completed just over half of his attempted passes. His overall pass completion rate for the season currently sits at 57%, as the French International has contributed to his side with just 1 assist from a total of 8 created chances. So far, he hasn’t been in great creative form, but considering his lack of first team appearances, Olivier Giroud looks like he is taking more time to gel into the Arsenal set up.
[quote]Giroud has missed six out of seven clear-cut chances (sitters) that’s one of the worst conversion ratio’s in the league.[/quote]
Between the two of them, Podolski and Giroud have only managed 3 goals for Arsenal in their debut season, 2 coming from the German and 1 coming from the former Montpellier striker. Podolski has had a total of 11 shots on goal, with just 5 shots on target, leaving his overall shot accuracy sitting at less than half. Similarly, Giroud’s total shot accuracy sits at 45%, as he has managed a total of 10 shots on target out of a total of 22 shots on goal. Podolski’s chance conversion rate so far has been a below average 14%. Where as Giroud has one of the lowest chance conversion rates in the whole league, converting just 5% of his total chances.
The clear-cut chance scored/missed stats are also eye openers! Giroud has missed six out of seven clear-cut chances (sitters) that’s one of the worst conversion ratio’s in the league. Podolski has only had the one clear-cut opportunity and missed it which may be one of the problems for Arsenal as Lucas Podolski isn’t getting into the positions to get finish these clear-cut chances.
Although Podolski and Giroud were touted as replacements for Robin Van Persie early in the summer transfer window, Van Persie has scored more than twice the combined tally of the two Arsenal debutantes, so far this season. Giroud, in particular, has failed miserably to set the Premier League alight, despite a tremendous season for Montpellier last year as he finished top scorer when the French side ran out Ligue 1 Champions. Likewise, Podolski has struggled to make the impact many Arsenal fans might have hoped for, when their club acquired the services of the experienced German International, who has 44 goals to his name for the national side. However, Arsenal fans needn’t throw in the towel on their league ambitions as the Gunners currently sit in 6th pace just 2 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, so despite their poor form in front of goal, they’re are still in a good league position.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Stats Comparison Area via the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.