The Five Reasons Arsenal Have Declined So Badly This Season

The need for Arsenal to score more goals away from home by Terry Barry

Some people think that the responsibility for our demise is our inability to defend. I would like to draw a very different conclusion – I think a more obvious one which points to our failure to compete in the League this season is much more down to our inability to score goals and in particular our inability to score goals away from home – a trend which has spectacularly peaked to produce the astonishing mid April headline news that we have yet to register a single away League point in 2018!

Consider a comparison between this years run away League winners Manchester City and the Arsenal. I look at the comparisons for the 2 seasons 2016/17 and up till today in the 2017/18 seasons. I also look at the comparison over the period of the last 10 League games which comprises all matches that have been played in 2018.

2016/17 Season (38 games)

Home Away

Club LP Points Goals F/A ……… Club LP Points Goals F/A

Arsenal (3) 45 39/16 Man C (2) 38 43/22

Man C (6) 40 37/17 Arsenal (6) 30 38/28

2017/18 Season (as at 17 April 2018 – 33 games played)

Home LP Points Goals F/A Away LP Points Goals F/A

Man C (1) 43 53/13 Man C (1) 44 40/12

Arsenal (2) 41 45/19 Arsenal (12) 13 17/26

2018 only – 10 games – Arsenal 5/5 home and away – City 4/6 home and away

Home Points Goals F/A …….. Away Points Goals F/A

Man C 12 12/3 Man C 13 15/7

Arsenal 12 15/7 Arsenal 0 4/10

What to make of these figures? Please feel free to interpret as you wish. My take is:

* We start off in 2016/17 broadly on much the same level as City – we better at home – they better away – the latter tips the league position in their favour – they qualify for Europe – we for the first time ever under Wenger – just missed out.

* In the current 2017/18 season City have run away from everybody – Arsenal have been nearly on a par with City at home but away from home we’ve been blown away – to date we are a staggering 31 points behind City just looking at the away games!

* If we compare stats for the away performances of Arsenal between 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons – the stand out figure is how many fewer goals we have scored this season away from home – a drop from 38 to 17! That’s a drop from 2 goals scored a game to only 1 goal a game!

* Puzzlingly – in view of huge decline in goal scoring away from home this season – when we make the same comparison between the 2 seasons for our home games we see that we manage to increase the number of goals we scored from 2.05 to 2.81 goals per game.

* In 2018 we get this dramatic headline stat of null points scored away from home. Here we get a slight decline in our scoring from 1.1 goals per game before January the 1st to 0.8 goals pg thereafter but the main stat here is the increase in the number of goals conceded from 1.3 in the first part of the season to 2 goals pg in 2018.

I realise this is a crude numerical perspective and the figures can be misconstrued but my instincts are to conclude that a decline in performance this season is down to our away performances and the most bleedin obvious explanation for this is the decline in our inability to score goals away from home – with the exception of the 5 away games played so far this year – where we see it is the number of goals conceded away from home that is the main problem.

This is not rocket science but if stats are to be of any use in seeking to help us understand why things happen on a football field then these stats need to be made sense of and explained. This is my ‘go’ at doing just that (please feel free to offer your alternative theses).

The first puzzle to be resolved is why has our ability to score goals away from home declined so dramatically whilst at the same time it has improved at home?

Clearly, as we all know there is an advantage in playing at home rather than away – even though Arsene tries to convince us (and his players) otherwise! It is commonly assumed this is down to the advantages of home crowd support – however it is sometimes a little difficult to see how this factor materialises at the Emirates with its fickle Arsenal support!

Is it more difficult to score goals away from home than at home? Intuitively, I say yes of course it is but hang on, a look at this season’s tables sees a number of teams bucking that trend? A sizeable minority – Chelsea, Tottenham, Newcastle, West Ham, Leicester and Burnley – have all scored more goals away than at home! The Arsenal has scored 17 goals away from home. Only 8 teams in the League have scored fewer than us and nearly all those teams have been fighting for survival for a good part of the season! Yet at home – we are nearly kings of the castle – only City has scored more than us.

Why is this happening?

i) Fortress Emirates at home, Distress Arsenal away from home.

One theory might be that teams come to the Emirates expecting a hard time – the famous fortress Emirates factor is at work – most teams expect to lose and they set out their stall accordingly – with a defensive based strategy. As we are an offensive biased club and armed with greater self belief – all this plays into our strengths and we by and large succeed in winning and accruing points – although not without giving 90 minutes worth of heart palpitations to the home supporters.

When it comes to playing away from home this season teams see us as being much more vulnerable and adopt a much more ambitious approach to the games. Not surprisingly with our greater self doubt in play the opposition achieve more against us.

You could throw in to this theory that we are an offensive team which seeks to entertain and accordingly plays with the philosophy that the best form of defence is attack and we will score more than the opposition. That is the Wenger philosophy and is the reason that brought us so much success and the reason why he is admired around the football world – although ironically not so much closer to home – where people are more concerned with results than how we attempt to play the game to entertain. This philosophy works well at home with the Fortress Emirates to help us on our way but works against us when we go on the road in the EPL. There are other related factors which work together with the above to make it more difficult for us to score away from home this season.

ii) Investment in players and our competitiveness has declined.

Our investment in players and hence the competitiveness of our squad has declined considerably relative to the other top 6 Clubs. City, United, Chelsea, Liverpool all have invested considerably more than us in their playing squads. Whilst in terms of League results we were broadly on a par with City for the 2016/17 season they have shot way ahead of us and the rest of the League this season. Would the fact that City invested £448M on new players in Gaurdiola’s first 19 months at City – and another £200m available for next season – have something to do with it? Or is it all down to Gaurdiola being such a better Manager than Wenger?

iii) Every game is tough.

With the introduction of TV money and huge investments from overseas Club owners the level of competitiveness throughout the League has increased hugely whilst at the same time our level of competitiveness has declined relative to the other top 6 Clubs. Every game is tough. For Arsenal, a Club which seeks to play entertaining football both home and away against Clubs who are either fighting for survival or a place in the top 4 with a squad that because of under investment is short in terms of having the squad of quality players that you need to play the Wenger way – then something has to eventually suffer. For a club like Arsenal competing on 4 levels – the first thing to suffer is where it is the competition is hardest – away in the League.

iv) A huge dent in our attacking strength – Sanchez disruption and its fall out.

I believe the Sanchez saga had a big impact on our season. This combined with the growing discontent with Wenger and the uncertainty about Ozil’s future created fault lines in the team’s confidence and collective strength up ’till he left in January. Sanchez went from hero ‘player of the season’ to villain within a few months. His goal scoring and assists contribution dried up – he halved his goal scoring and went from 0.6 goals per game to 0.3 goals per game. But more than this we suffered a loss of collectiveness in the team as a consequence of his desire to leave and again this hurt us most where it is the toughest – away in the league.

We lost Giroud, Walcott and Sanchez and gained 2 good players in Auba and Miki – this requires a lot of adjustment for the squad – especially as this adjustment is all focused on our attacking players. Throw in the injury to Lacazette and we have a problem seeking to play entertaining football and score goals in an increasingly competitive environment with a squad which is under-invested in and we suffer where it is hardest – away in the League.

v) Realisation that we can’t make top 4 and Europa League eggs in one basket.

The negative impacts of all the above on our away League results in 2018 is magnified by the realisation that we cant make the top 4 and our over arching priority is now to win the Europa League. This obviously impacts our ability to score goals where it is hardest – away in the League and then in turn affects our ability to defend and hence the run of null points.


All the above i) to v) goes a long way to explaining why we have had the season we have. The solution is to hugely invest in the squad with a new goal keeper, 2 new centre backs, a full back and a couple of quality midfielders. £250M should do it and we might, just might get a last (and first) opportunity (for a long time) to have a squad of players that is good enough to allow us to see a season of proper Wengerball being played with plenty of away goals and away points and the chance to win a trophy or two.

Ever the optimist…

Terry Barry


  1. Arsenal007 says:

    My 5 reasons:
    1. Wenger
    2. Wenger
    3. Wenger
    4. Wenger
    5. Wenger

    Very unfortunately though.

    1. #Yo Iwobi - you wanna go away from here? says:

      I saw the title and thought the same thing!

      For a moment I thought of adding Iwobi as no. 5 but he is Wenger’s fault too

      1. bran911 says:


  2. Thomo says:

    That was longer than war and peace lol

  3. Goonerbri says:

    Sorry got bored half way down.

    1. stubill says:

      As soon as it got to the “stats” I stopped reading.

      1. Lagos Gunner says:

        Me too hahahaha

  4. Me says:

    Five reasons for Arsenal’s decline:
    1. Arsene Wenger
    2. Mr A Wenger
    3, Mr Arsene W
    4. Wenger
    5. Arsene.

    Five good reasons for a god awful season…

    1. ArsenalStar says:

      Reason number 2 was spot on lol

    2. Ddog says:

      what a load of rubbish:

      1. Kroenke,
      2. Wenger
      3. Wenger
      4. Wenger
      5. The Board

  5. gotanidea says:

    Great article, @Terry Barry. But I agree with the previous posters, Wenger is the main culprit here

    He has been managing the same team since he won his last major trophy fourteen years ago (!), but he still cannot set a good system for Arsenal yet. We have seen similar decline in the last ten years, but it got much worse in this season

    Despite all his weaknesses and declines, I still believe he could win the Europa League if he gets full support from all Arsenal supporter. We could examine anything, but only the upcoming Atletico Madrid game will reveal Wenger’s next strategy

  6. Counsel says:

    Great article finally someone can see beyond Wenger.Losing does not necessarily mean the manager is bad there are many factors that contributes to losses

    1. Phil says:

      “Finally someone can see beyond Wenger”.UNF***ING BELIEVABLE COMMENT.Could I just ask you what you were able to understand from this article?
      WHO THE F**K else is to blame? THE PROGRAMME SELLERS?

      1. Counsel says:

        @phil continue defaming me,you know I’m a lawyer

        1. Phil says:

          So what.You continue to post your ridiculous comments then I will continue to give you my opinion.How can you even begin to believe the article was in DEFENCE OF WENGER?What it did was clearly highlight the total FAILURE OF THIS MANAGER.
          And you being a Solicitor couldn’t work that out?

        2. Break-on-through says:

          You must be American.

        3. stubill says:

          Oh nooooooo! A lawyer, quick, run, run as fast as you can to hills and take refuge.

  7. Phil says:

    Brilliantly researched article that clearly identifies where the season has gone wrong.Some issue are alarming especially the goals to game ratio away from The Emirates.But the most obvious reason we continually fail Away (and to a certain extent at home) is our inability to defend.And even more apparent is our inability to defend a lead.
    It’s the Goalkeeping and Defensive positions that need addressing.Included in this is the most obvious need for a quality and specialised CDM.The problem has been there for years but for some reason Wenger has continually refused to address the situation.

  8. Counsel says:

    The rain started beating us the moment we watched as our rivals spend big thinking that Wenger guarantees top4 trophy,we are now languishing at 6th on the table,but are now spending two top strikers signed breaking our transfer record twice that’s a positive and may it also notice that new players take some time to adapt we are now started swing the best of lava and auba.After finishing 5th last season there is no instant coffee solution it will take time and effort to challenge for top honors

    1. Counsel says:

      *seeing the Best of laca #correction

  9. Innit says:

    1-5 Wenger
    I can’t even blame Kroenke that much because he let Wenger spend money Wenger mostly spent it unwisely ie £35 mil Xhaka, £35 Mustafi, £18 mil Chambers, Getting Lacazette but then getting Aubameyang who is the same position. Mostly he has been cheap or not getting good enough players ie defensive midfielder and centre backs

    He has messed everything up

  10. Arsene Out says:

    Like the article says we need to spend 250M to 300M to catch up. I dont think Kroenke and the board have that type of ambition. And without this type of investment, it will be hard to catch up City, United or even Liverpool that just spent 75M on a defender.
    Oblak, Koulibally, Fabinho, Meyer, Martial. will cost us most of 300M(and Mayer is free transfer)
    with Cazorla, Per, Jack, Ospina leaving and with the sale of Welbeck I think we will have enough room in our wage bill for these players. But do we have 300M to spend?

    1. ArsenalStar says:

      If wenger did spend the 250 million we would still be mediocre at best. The guy has had it. Thanks and all that but it’s time to go. In my opinion he can’t coach in the modern era.

      Stale beyond belief and time for fresh blood

      1. Arsene Out says:

        My name is “Arsene Out” so that goes without saying :))

    2. ks-gunner says:

      Good players are out there, you need just the right manager who has the clubs interest in mind and not be a father a mother and b##ch to his players. Take Spurs for example. Fantastic team made by little moneeeeeeeeee.

  11. ks-gunner says:

    Wengers whole career was based on the performances in the pitch by players who where superior to others. Therefore him winning some titles when Arsenal was op. The moment the league became stronger he was found out.

    There where even after some players who single handed carried arsenal ( luck also often involved ) to Cl football. Henry, Van the man, late Sanchez.

    Sanchez a winner was feed up playing under a loser in Wenger. With him losing respect to the loser Arsenal was dead. There you go. And dont you all think that players like Aubuma or Ozil staying is due of the manager or the club being ambitions to play under. Read the lines, understand the situation. A comfort zone to earn easy money. Arsenal Fc.

  12. Sue says:

    The decline has been bloody depressing to watch, I know that much!!!

  13. RSH says:

    i dont think the investment has been that bad. It’s not on the same pace as City/United but that’s close to impossible for most clubs. Let’s also remember Arsenal are not good at selling players we dont want anymore and Walcott and Ox have been our only departures that have recently given us a large amount of money the other way. Even Giroud we gave away for relatively cheap.

    1. Ozziegunner says:

      RSH I agree that the problem as set out by Terry in his point (ii) is not strictly correct; the problem is more how the available funds are spent.
      Average players have been paid relatively high wages, such that other teams won’t match the wages when such players are available for transfer. Result is that Arsenal gets stuck with underperforming players.
      Good players such as Podolski and Perez are under utilized by Wenger. Despite good performances, when played they are replaced by Wenger favorites.
      Money is spent on positions where Arsenal have a surfeit of players, rather than positions requiring strengthening eg CDM (no replacement since Gilberto Silva left).
      No on field leadership in the team. Wenger’s successful teams had many self confident players, who were not only self motivated, but also prepared to motivate others ie provide leadership. This type of player has been bred out of Arsenal by Wenger. A strong dressing room makes a strong team. Wenger does not tolerate positive conflict and dissent.

    2. Terry Barry says:

      The Arsenal squad cost less than half City’s. United not far behind City followed by Chelsea and then Liverpool. We still £200M behind Liverpool!

      Follow the money and you will see that money buys success in the EPL.

    3. frank says:

      compare the cost of each newcastle player add then n that of arsenal s players thoz started n u get your answewr. man of excuses is zoombie

      1. Terry Barry says:

        Where are Newcastle in the league, the league cup, the fa cup and Europe?

  14. TT says:

    We don’t play enough competitive midfielders to win the midfield.

    We can’t afford to play 4 lightweight luxury players up front away from home where teams are going to contest the midfield.

    Play Ramsey and Mihki on the flanks up front and Xhaka and Elneny at DM. Keep Ozil and Auba as your non-defensive attackers.

    Win the midfield and win the game, simple.

    1. Rkw says:

      Not another Ramsey on the flanks guy … Wenger tried it and was worse than him in the middle … A GK right back centre back a quality CDM and a replacement for carzola … 5 in 5 out … Should be doable net for 250m … But not under wenger

      1. Ozziegunner says:

        TT and Rkw agree Arsenal need more players with physicality, fight and determination ie mongrel. Too many lightweights.
        Everywhere you look you hear how playing Arsenal has lost the fear factor it had before. Especially away from home teams are confident they can get something out of the game; that was rarely the case in the past when playing the Arsenal. 1:0 TO THE GUNNERS!

  15. Jeremy says:

    The rot started when AW instead of replacing Paddy and Gilberto with midget in the Centre. They can fix the leak with two huge guys in the middle while they slowly phased out defenders like Mustsfi, Kos…

    Attack wise we seems ok but Iwobi needs to if failed to show anything next season.

  16. Lexynal says:

    Arsene Wenger still the best…..

  17. Lexynal says:

    Arsene is the best and will be celebrated in an outstanding manner an your negatove opinions here will not count. AW deserves all of it and many more…watch out

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