Arsenal’s Improvement Under Unai Emery by the Numbers

Unai Emery
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01: Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal celebrates as Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal scores his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on April 01, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Arsenal‘s 2-0 win against Newcastle United on Monday night brought them to 63 points on the year, same as their total from last season. However, the Gunners still have seven matches remaining to add to that total. Just how much have Arsenal improved under Unai Emery? These statistics illustrate the change at the Emirates.

Unai Emery’s Influence at Arsenal Quantified

Goals and Points per Match

Arsenal’s 63 points in 38 games last season gave them an average of just 1.66 points taken per match. This season’s 63 in 31 games sees them average 2.03 points per match.

This improvement is also clear in the goals scored and conceded totals. Arsenal scored 74 Premier League goals last season, averaging 1.95 per 90 minutes. This season has yielded 65 goals in 31 matches, for an average of 2.1 per game.

The north Londoners allowed 51 goals last season, for an average of 1.34 per game. This season, they have given up 39 strikes in 31 matches, an average of 1.26 per 90 minutes.

While the differences here aren’t huge, one can easily see how impactful this small improvement is over the course of a 38-game league season.

Away Form

Arsenal were one of the worst teams away from home last season. That is probably the biggest reason they finished in a distant sixth place in Arsene Wenger’s final season.

In 19 away matches, the Gunners earned just four wins and four draws, losing a whopping 11 games. Those meagre 16 points in 19 games yield an average of just .84 points per 90 minutes.

This season has been much easier on the road for Arsenal. In 14 away games this season they have five wins, four draws and five losses for 19 points. That’s an average of 1.36 points per game, a huge improvement.

Unai Emery has been able to keep up Arsenal’s home form from last season as well. The Gunners took 47 points from home a year ago, an average of 2.47 points per 90 minutes. This season they have 44 points from 17 games, also an average of 2.47 per match.

Big Six Improvement

Wenger’s final season in charge saw the club play miserably against the other big clubs in England. While he had plenty of poor performances in previous seasons against similar opposition, last season was a new level of underperformance.

In ten games against such opposition, Arsenal managed just six points, for an average of .6 per game. Unai Emery has literally doubled that total, taking 12 points from the same ten fixtures this season. That’s an average of 1.2 per game.

While 1.2 points per match won’t win a title, it is still a marked improvement from last season.

Expected Goals For and Against

Expected Goals (xG) and Expected Goals Against (xGA) are relatively new statistics but can be useful for illustrating how well a club is doing. Basically, they measure how many goals a club should score and concede based on previous player performances.

According to Understat, last season Arsenal should have scored a total of 74.34 goals or 1.96 per match. The Gunners were remarkably close, netting 74 goals total or 1.95 per match.

This season has seen a marked improvement. Emery’s men have earned 58.24 xG which averages to 1.88 goals per match. However, they have actually scored 65 goals, averaging 2.1 per match.

As far as xGA, last season, Arsenal should have shipped 49.28 goals or 1.30 per match. Meanwhile, they actually shipped 51 total goals or 1.34 per match.

This season, Arsenal’s xGA stands at 43.93, or 1.42 per game. On the pitch, however, the Gunners have given up 39 goals, for an average of 1.26 per game.

So, last season Arsenal just about met their xG, yet allowed slightly more goals than expected. Meanwhile, this season the Gunners have allowed fewer goals than expected but score more than they should.

Discussion

A few things have changed around Arsenal compared to last season. There are some new faces in the squad, some new facilities to help players and plenty of new names in the coaching staff.

However, the main reason behind this improvement isn’t some new signing, a new facility or even a new coach. The reason is this club is simply more confident than they were a year ago.

When a player is confident, they find everything easier on the pitch. Difficult scoring chances are finished more often, the back line stays more secure and focus is never lost during the match. This just about describes this season’s Arsenal perfectly.

The change has been tangible not only in the statistics but also in the players themselves. Last season, goal celebrations seemed relatively muted and there was even an incident where the defence stopped celebrating with the rest of the team. However, this season every player comes together to celebrate and their smiles are very much genuine.

Almost every player has spoken publically about how much more confident and relaxed they are now compared to last season. It is also telling that the players also give credit for this change to one man: Unai Emery.

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