How Arsenal's midfielders have lightened the burden on the attack

Arsenal’s midfielders have performed well this season, taking on the goal-burden from the departing of Robin van Persie.

Summer signings Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have scored 27 goals between them so far and Theo Walcott has had his best season to date – his 18 goals make him the Gunners’ top scorer.

I wrote a piece this week assessing whether Giroud was the kind of striker that Arsenal need and someone commented that what Arsenal actually need is more goals from midfield.

Giroud and Podolski have hit the ground running exceptionally well considering it’s their first season in the Premier League at a new club with new teammates. Their 27 goals between them exceeds Robin van Persie’s tally for United, which is currently 23 in all competitions.

Arsene Wenger has done an incredible job of filling that void, especially considering that Arsenal were being described as ‘one-man team’ this time last year.

Another new signing last summer was Santi Cazorla whose tally is currently 11 goals. For an attacking midfielder to score that many goals (all in the Premier League incidentally) is something that’s hard to come by. There is only one attacking midfielder who exceeds his tally and that is Tottenham’s Gareth Bale who has scored 15 league goals (19 in all competitions).

Cazorla is tied with Chelsea’s Frank Lampard who also has 11 league goals to his name and Juan Mata has 10.

The mooted suggestion that Arsenal need more goals from midfield is completely unfounded. Looking at Manchester United (the league leaders by 12 points) their midfielders have scored 19 goals between them.

Arsenal’s midfielders have scored (excluding Walcott and Podolski) 27 goals. Gervinho has 5 (even if you excluded him they would still have 22) Mikel Arteta has scored 4 goals from defensive midfield this season, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere have 2 each, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Andrey Arshavin each have 1.

Arsenal have successfully replaced the goals of Robin van Persie in their forwards combined tallies and they have successful spread the burden of goals throughout the team. Their defenders have 6 goals between them.

Arsenal have had a disappointing season in many ways but they cannot be disappointed in their team’s effort to chip in from all over the pitch. In terms of their goals scored, they are fourth in the league. In fact, in that respect alone, they have been remarkably successful. Unfortunately, there are no trophies for that.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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