Are Arsenal unlucky in finishing?

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Alessia Russo of Arsenal battles for possession with Lucy Parker of Aston Villa during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Arsenal FC and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on October 15, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

With four points in three games, it’s hard to call Arsenal’s start to the season successful. The Gunners have lost five points already and will be hunting for the top places in the WSL, which isn’t ideal from an Arsenal fan perspective. But, the question remains with this start: are Arsenal unlucky or are they performing as well as they can? Let’s find out what the data tells us.

The data

We can do that by looking at different kinds of data, but we will focus on the shooting metrics because we want to see finishing. More specifically, we will look at shots, expected goals and actual goals scored. The data used to do this analysis comes from Opta; you can find more specific WSL data here on FBREF. This gives us a better and more detailed idea of what we are dealing with regarding Arsenal’s start to the season. If you want to know more about expected goals, click here.

Arsenal’s shooting

When we look at the above shot map we can conclude a few things. But before we do that, we have to understand that the size of the dots corresponds with the quality of a chance. A big dot means a big xG chance.

Arsenal shoots mostly from inside the penalty area with the biggest chances coming close to the six-yard box. They have had 63 shots in total and with 4 goals coming from them. The expected goals in those three games was 5,35, so you can state that Arsenal have been underperforming in these three games combined with a number of -1,35 (Goals-xG). Now, it’s far too early in the season to make these conclusions, but it indicated that the expected goals are already significantly higher than the goals scored. In the long run it means that the chances are better than the finishing might be.

In the graph above you can see the expected goals per shot in the WSL. You can immediately see that Arsenal scores lowest, but what does it exactly mean? It means that Arsenal’s likelihood of scoring per shot, is the lowest of all teams in the WSL 23-24 so far.

This is something to work on for Arsenal because it means that the shot locations aren’t ideal in comparison to others and it limits them from getting a better chance to score. This means getting closer to the goal or realising that others might have a better opportunity at scoring, but the data is clear: Arsenal is poor so far in the season.

Final thoughts

Again, it’s very early to jump to conclusions but it’s an indication of the areas Arsenal need to work on. They need to get in better position to shoot from and as a result score more easily. At the moment it looks like Arsenal are just shooting whenever they can and that has led to low quality chances which have resulted in underperforming data.

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