Despite Mikel Arteta’s early improvements, the Arsenal are still reliant on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score the team’s goals.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a big fan of assessing his team through process-based rather than result-based evaluation.
It doesn’t make for sexy headlines, and so it rarely crops up in the English media, but from time to time when sitting in the back of an Arsenal press conference you’ll hear Wenger touch upon this concept.
The thinking is that you can’t always control the result of your match, but you can much more fairly assess how well you played and how close it was to the approach you’d set out to take.
Now though, as we reach the halfway mark of the season, the results take on a more significant weight, and no longer is the process enough.
Currently, with four teams heading into this morning’s games tied for fourth place in the English Premier League – Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and West Bromwich Albion all with 30 points – the race for the last Champions League spot is open.
Beyond these four sides, Liverpool sit five points away and just outside the picture for European qualification, while Chelsea, at only two points ahead, have to concentrate on the battle for the premiership at the same time as staying clear of the struggle below.
Yet, despite the never-ending murmurings of discontent from around the Emirates, I feel quite confident that Arsenal will finish with the last Champions League spot.
The reasoning is simple – even though Wenger’s team struggle to dominate opponents, they control their games.
There are two statistics that highlights this point. One is that they have conceded the fourth least amount of goals so far this season, with 18 across as many games.
Second, even with the more pragmatic approach they now employ, no team has had more possession than Arsenal with 59.7%.
There remain undeniable issues with the squad Wenger has put together, but the foundations are there for a successful second half of the season – something the Gunners have a track record of achieving.
Whether one concentrates on processes or results, Arsenal are halfway there on either count.