Analysis – Have Arsenal simply been unlucky this season?

Has Arteta Been too Unlucky?

This season, Arsenal have lost a total of 10 games out of 23 in the Premier League. Bad, right? Arteta Out, right?

Winning teams often have their games analyzed for how lucky they might have been but nobody barely does that with losses. Given that Arsenal are conceding much less under Arteta than Emery and Wenger at 1 goal per game,  how have Arsenal managed to lose ten games out of 23, when they have a good defense?

Part of it is admittedly down to the attack. We are simply not good enough attacking wise, although this is less true after December. This is not only the coach’s fault, we are also not converting clear chances well enough. We have generated an expected score of 30 goals this season. This is not good enough as it is 12th best in the league. However, we’ve only managed to convert 27 goals. This is an underperformance that is not to be blamed on the coach.

Tottenham, for instance, have 31 expected goals but have been clinically converting to have scored 36 times. Quality is the issue with that. Harry Kane and Son are two of the best finishers in Europe. Lacazette, despite his goals, has missed many good chances this season. In the past few games though, we have been much better in attack but have not been competent enough to make dangerous situations out of our entries into the opposition final third. Against Wolves for instance, we should have been out of sight by the thirtieth minute but we managed to lose the game.

Out of our ten losses, a whooping 7 have been lost by 1 goal. That’s extremely unlucky. Burnley, Everton, Leiceister, Wolves, Aston Villa and so on. Losses that could have easily been wins or at least draws.

Discipline has also been an issue and it is not the coach’s fault that Pepe, Xhaka, Leno and Luiz chose to momentarily become daft. All of the red cards were easily avoidable. Only exception was Gabriel Maghalaes red against Everton. We have gone on to take only two points from a possible 12 in those games we went a man down.

We have also had too many refereeing decisions go against us. In the 3-1 loss to Liverpool, Sadio Mane should have been sent off within the first ten minutes after slapping Tierney across the face. He went on to score. Additionally, Diogo Jota’s goal came off his arm and shouldn’t have stood.

The defeat away to Manchester City should have seen Gabriel Maghalaes winning a penalty for a high boot by Kyle Walker – it wasn’t even picked up by VAR. The Wolves defeat a week ago saw David Luiz wrongly sent off. It was a completely different game 11 v 11. The Aston Villa defeat should have seen us win a penalty after Emi Martinez’s foul on Alexandre Lacazette. Aston Villa got the foul. Lacazette’s goal against Leiceister was wrongly ruled out while Man City had a worse offside situation ruled in their favour against Aston Villa. Bukayo Saka was also tackled by his last man and the referee decided it was just a yellow.

These are crucial situations that, had they been more fair to us, we could have picked up at least 6 more points.

Mikel Arteta has not been the luckiest coach in the league. At least that much is obvious. What he can do is to focus on the things that are controllable and improve them. The defense is one of the best in the league but the individual quality can be better (Hector Bellerin must be replaced and Rob Holding should not be first-choice in a serious team). Things are ticking well in midfield but we need more availability from Partey. The attack is bang average for now and while the patterns are good enough for now, the quality must be upgraded in the summer.

Football can sometimes be a game of blind luck and as far as luck goes, we have not been a very lucky team at all. In fact, we have been unfortunate more than most this season. This is the context to our season. This is part of why we are struggling to get up the table. We have literally lost points to things other than how well we are playing. But as long as Arteta fixes the attack permanently, which I believe he can and will with more balanced recruitment, we should return back to Champions League contention in no time.

Agboola Israel

READ MORE: More bad news for Arsenal regarding Thomas Partey


  1. Arteta’s tactics are great and we’ve produced many good crosses with those tactics, but:

    – Arteta can’t manage the temper of his players, which have led to five red cards in EPL
    – Our senior strikers aren’t as good as Liverpool’s forwards in converting the crosses into goals, despite having Aubameyang who’s taller than Liverpool’s trident
    – Arteta made some weird tactical decisions occasionally, such as assigning Lacazette to CAM position

    We’d likely be better once we upgrade our CF and get a skillful LB to compete with Tierney in the summer

    1. Arteta’s tactics are great? Are you sure? I would have thought the main reason we are where we are is because of Arteta’s tactics.

      1. We won FA Cup last season, we made many good crosses like Liverpool and our defense is great in this season, before the red cards ruined his plans

        1. Got- have you actually looked at the League Table and seen where we are? And winning one FA Cup ( The Community Shield should NEVER be classed as anything other than a pre-season friendly and a day out at Wembley), does not count for ANYTHING this season.
          The buck stops with the manager and nobody else.And may I also remind you it was this managers tactics and coaching that had us watching the most insipid, clueless rubbish of performances week after week prior to Xmas. And in regards crosses into the box which seems to me the new “inverted dribble down your leg” from you at this time, could I just ask you this.How many goals do we actually get from a cross into the penalty area? NONE. You need someone in the box to not only be on the end of the cross but also be able to finish the chance: This happened very rarely with Arsenal under Arteta so why are we persisting in another clueless tactic from a manager who is acting more and more like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Lose the EL tie to Benfica and not beat teams in Feb to at least get us going UP the table, then as far as I’m concerned he must go.
          Arteta should be made aware that he is managing a club that DEMANDS success.There was a time not too long ago we did actually behave like a big Club you know and have high expectation levels. If Arteta believes he has a free pass because on one trophy won LAST SEASON he should be very quickly reminded this will not be accepted.

          1. That’s because of the players’ temper and Arteta’s shortcoming in player anger management has nothing to do with his excellent tactics. Had we had forwards who could convert the good crosses into goals, we would’ve won more games

            If you have time, please watch the video below about an excellent analysis of Liverpool’s crosses. Klopp is lucky to have Mane, Salah and Firmino who didn’t waste too many crosses from their fullbacks:

            (Start watching from 07:29) :

  2. I completely agree over the poor officiating – had it been different, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation!
    However, what I do find really irksome, is how we waste the first half, by not turning up, to then decide to give it a go in the second half, sometimes not until the final 20 minutes or so!!! That isn’t unlucky!!

    1. GOT- what excellent tactics ? LOOK AR THE PREMIERE LEAGUE TABLE PAL.
      Explain the tactics that has seen us lose TEN GAMES. We had no tactics under Arteta which is why we
      1) Di not score goals
      2) Lise so many games
      Blame the sending offs and VAR as much as you like PAL but under Arteta this season we are going BACKWARDS.

  3. It is true that we have been very unlucky but we’ve ocassionally shot ourselves in the foot with missed chances and these red cards always demoralize the team. God help us

    1. I am a firm believer that one can overturn luck and bad luck through attitude and hardwork depending on the context.. so blaming luck and bad luck is just a weak mentality

  4. Our attack has failed us. If Aubameyang was on 10 goals by now it would have been a different story.

    Aubameyang, Lacazette, Nketiah, Willian and Pepe are the culprits.
    They need to up their game.

    1. It is more like the system has failed our attackers. Do you watch others matches aside ours? If you do then you observe that the team that wins doesn’t do that on creating few chances for their attackers and obviously don’t approach every game like a training session. How many chances it took city to score 4against Liverpool, how any it took same villa to score 7 against the same Liverpool or manu to score 9 against Soto’s and us 4 against WBrom. Strikers will definitely miss one or two chances but if we keep creating for them they wil as much as they miss or more. Look at the goal we conceded against Villa. We started the game and conceded right away from our pass. Which serious team does that. Because our play is built on slow and lethargic game plan of pass backwards, sideways and crosses to no one the box. Even after conceded a goal or two we show no urgency and desire to get back in the game and we play like the leading team.

      1. Spot on Mobella. Our attack is shitty and doesn’t give attackers enough chances to score. The more the team creates scoring chances, the higher the conversion rate. Most of the time our strikers are only afforded chances that doesn’t even count as half a chance and were expected to score. This is no different than when the team is under barrage of attack. They more the barrage the higher the rate of conceding. Like you said, the attack slowness allows the opponents to get back in shape and this team doesn’t have quality CM/CAM to open the defense once they are back in shape.

  5. Agreed with you on almost every thing you posted in your article except that of Holding, his been the best and most consistent in that defense under MA 💯

  6. Just like Klopp and sir Alex F. In their first season with liverpool and Manchester United they both made wrong decisions atimes in their game management and tactics, but subsequent seasons showed that their team got better.
    IMO i have seen glimpses of how Arteta wants his team to play and i beleive he is getting better in his coaching as the season progresses.
    Arsenal will do better next season and am encouraging us all to get behind the team and support the coach even as he learns on this difficult job he is faced with.

    1. When Wenger arrived, Arsenal had fined 12th in the previous season. He finished in top4 for 20 seasons, even when Arsenal purse was too tight. Thats an excuse to defend Arteta

      1. So because wenger did it, it’s the standard requirement even though most dont do it? And you seem to forget the league was waaaay less competitive back then.

      2. Ehhhhh- Wengers first season was 1996-97. The season before this we finished FIFTH. Not sure where yo are getting your facts from PAL

      3. @Armoury The season before Wenger arrived Bruce Rioch was in charge and we finished 6th in the league, qualifying for the UEFA cup.

  7. It ain’t luck that our strikers fail to hit the target more often than not.
    In a “perfect” game our defenders would be conceding zero chances and our strikers would be scoring with every chance they get.

  8. On the officiating, I might be wrong but I do think we were “saved” by VAR a few times earlier in the season, in that we might have had more reds or penalties against were they not reviewed and correctly ruled on. It’s mainly just recently it feels like things have gone against us a bit imo. I hope the wolves game is not the turning point but it feels like it might be – started the game playing exactly how everyone wants to see us playing (minutes stone better finishing perhaps), but derailed by either a bad decision or excessive punishment (depending on whether Luiz actually touched the guy – that’s my view at least!). Since then we’ve had one or two go against us but the issue with them appears to be the reluctance to use VAR more than anything.

  9. When Napoleon Bonaparte was criticized for winning battles simply because of luck, he famously retorted:
    “I’d rather have lucky generals than good ones.”
    However good generals, managers and people make their own luck by meticulous planning to reduce the impact of chance.

  10. You don’t lose 10 games due to bad luck !
    Any team can cherry pick decisions in games
    We equally have had had decisions go are way

  11. “Losing by one goal is extremely unlucky”. What does that mean? Arsenal fans are still gonna find excuses to justify that Arteta is a good Manager, but those excuses will run dry soon. We finished in mid-table last season and your excuse was that Arteta was hired halfway through the season. We still gonna finish in mid-table the season, and I’m wondering what will be your excuse this time. Referees? That’ll be a lame excuse

    1. They don’t realize that we have also won few games with a one goal difference. They also fail to note that even if they lose by the one goal, definitely it will be just a draw. People keep on shifting goal post to just find excuses for the current season abysmal record.

  12. I think a lack of viable player alternatives when we gett key players injured has cost us nore than most other teams.
    We have no adequate replacement for Tierney, Saka, Partey, Leno(til Ryan arrived) and no other regular scorer when Auba is not doing so.

    No right back of any quality too and lack of pace in midfield, Partey excepted.
    THAT, rather than ill luck,or poor refs, seems to me to be the PRIME reason for where we are.


  13. It is less about luck, and more about tactics.
    1. We don’t play to players strengths, but instead are pre-programmed by Arteta, that’s why they look like robots on the pitch.
    2. How many games was Tierney wasted playing as a LCB? how about Willian as a ST against City? Remember when Laca played as a 10? Again, not players strengths, but rather bad tactics by Arteta.

    Arteta is learning how to coach, and now also how to be a manager. Unfortunately, his training wheels are with us rather than cutting his teeth with a team in a lower league.

    Auba was one of the top scorers in the world, CONSISTENTLY! even when he joined Arsenal he was tied for Golden boot, and 1 goal off from Vardy last year. This year, he is a shadow of a shadow of himself. Is it more likely due to Arteta’s tactics, or he mysteriously disappeared after many years of scoring goals?

    People make their own luck; when your freedom of movement is restricted and scripted, played out of position, and possession is favored over creating chances, that’s not “bad luck” at work, that’s poor tactics and man management.

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