While Arsene Wenger publicly claims that Arsenal can win the title this season, in all liklihood this season is going to end as most seasons recently have ended for Arsenal fans. In disappointment!
In an interview last week Arsenal star Mesut Ozil said:
“Looking at our season so far, we have to be honest and admit that we mucked it up ourselves.
“We did not play to our potential in the games against the so-called smaller teams. You immediately get punished for that in the Premier League.”
There is some truth of Ozil’s comments as you cannot win the title when you win only twice in nine games through January, February and the beginning of March.
But a deeper look at Arsenal’s season shows that the Gunners title charge ended on November 29th when midfielder Santi Cazorla got injured at Norwich. Cazorla is still to return from knee surgery following that game and the Gunners have been unable to effectively replace him in the line-up.
Cazorla’s partnership with Francis Coquelin first emerged in the 2-0 away win against Manchester City in January last season. In 30 league games the two have played together, Arsenal have picked up 64 points. This season, discounting the game at West Bromwich Albion when Coquelin went off after 13 minutes, Arsenal have taken 23 points from the 11 games they’ve played together (2.09 points per game); without the pair they’ve taken just 1.75 points per game.
The arrival of Mohamed Elneny, a more disciplined presence than Aaron Ramsey or Mathieu Flamini, has helped but he doesn’t offer the same creativity from deep that Cazorla provides. Last season Cazorla provided 11 assists; this season, after Mesut Ozil’s 18 assists, nobody has offered more than four. Cazorla’s pass success rate of 90.3% remains the highest in the side other than Elneny.
There’s a reason why Arsenal are scoring at just 1.68 goals per game, their lowest rate since 1998-99.