Arsenal are improving under Mikel Arteta, with various pundits and rival coaches expressing their admiration for the job that the Spaniard is doing at the Emirates.
There is still a long way to go, but the signs are positive with Jurgen Klopp stating last week: “He has showed in a short period of time that he seems to be an exceptional football manager. The structure of the team he sets up is exceptional – balance between offence and defence is really good.”
Jamie Carragher largely agreed with the Liverpool boss having expressed his opinion that Arteta “could not get any more out of the group of players that he’s got” while speaking on Monday Night Football.
However, the Gunners continue to suffer from one overwhelming problem that dates back to Unai Emery’s time at the helm.
Simply put, Arsenal do not shoot enough.
After three Premier League matches, they have attempted to score just 23 times according to Statsbomb data. For perspective, that is signficantly less than Liverpool’s league-leading figure of 58, and it’s almost half the amount posted by West Ham on 45.
When the Hammers visited the Emirates on the second week of the new campaign, they actually outshot the Gunners by 15 efforts to six, with Michail Antonio and Tomáš Souček combined taking the same amount of shots as Arsenal as a team so far this season.
The story was similar last year, with Norwich City amongst the 14 teams to generate more attempts than their total of 401 after 38 fixtures. Aston Villa took 52 more shots than Arsenal, and Southampton took 96 more.
It’s a strange problem for Arteta to unravel and resolve, as the best teams around typically dominate their opponents when it comes to possession and attempting to find the net.
As a consequence of their reluctance to shoot and the limited opportunities that tend to materialise, Arsenal become reliant on the finishing capability of the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in order to secure positive results.
Those above average players allowed the Gunners to finish eighth in the table last season rather than outside the top half, but their shooting numbers suggest that’s where they should be.
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As Arteta continues to work on Arsenal’s game before restoring former glory to the Emirates, he simply has to address the capacity of his team in the shot-taking department.
Many spectators would perceive their attack to be fine compared to their defence but since Arteta took charge in December, one could argue that he’s improved the latter more so than the former.
Ultimately, if Arsenal are going to evolve into a dominant outfit that regularly challenges at the business end of the table, then an improvement on the attacking side of the game will be essential.