Is Arsenal’s attack better than it was in the Invincibles era?

van Persie, Fabregas and Arshavin > Henry, Pires and Bergkamp?

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After Arsenal’s 4-1 Champions League cakewalk against the Eredivisie champions last night, Arsene Wenger was moved to compare his young team to the unbeaten Gunners squad of 03/04:

We’ve never had as many options on the creative side. We still have Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott who are offensive players who are not available.

Denilson, Eduardo, Tomas Rosicky did not start – that is why I was amazed when people said, ‘Buy, buy, buy’. And Carlos Vela as well… I forgot him!

Fair assessment, or another one of Le Prof’s attempts to tack an extra psychological boost onto an impressive performance? Ljungberg, Henry, Pires and Bergkamp had racked up 16 goals and 10 assists in all competitions by this time in 03/04 season; while van Persie, Arshavin, Bendtner and Fabregas are already on 24 goals and 23 assists.

In terms of depth, Wenger has a point – as backups go, Eduardo, Rosicky and Nasri are a more desirable trio of reinforcements than Reyes, Wiltord and Kanu were. But does the overall attacking quality of the squad match up?


7 responses so far
  • Scotian // November 5, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    “Is Arsenal’s attack better than it was in the Invincibles era?”

    Honestly, the answer is in the picture you’re putting up front. Even today’s world’s best forwards will have to show a bit more to prove they’re worthy of Henry or Bergkamp.

  • Tim // November 5, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    I have been writing about this exact topic over at 7amkickoff.com for a few weeks and have predicted that Arsenal will top 100 League goals this season. Now, before you say I’m daft…

    This Arsenal team have score 32 goals in 10 matches in the Premier League for an average of 3.2 goals per match. The Invicibles managed 73 goals in 38 matches for an average of 1.9 goals per. Moroever, the goals are coming from all over the pitch, van Persie has 7, Cesc has 5, Vermaelen has 4, Gallas 3, Arshavin 3, and Diaby 3 — League goals mind you.

    In all competitions, Arsenal have now scored an eye watering 51 goals for an average of 2.8 per. Certainly, this team’s production will drop off from the 3.2 per clip that they are going at now, but how far? If they stay at the 2.8 per clip that they are getting in all competitions, they will net 107 League goals. Which I think is a more realistic clip.

    Even still, lets say they drop down to 2.5 goals per, that’s 95 goals in a 38 game season — 22 more than the Invincibles. So, are they better offensively? No doubt, so far this season. The only question is defensively, how will they fare, especially on away days.

    It’ll be fun to watch, either way.

  • Tanuj Lakhina // November 6, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Great statistical assessment there Tim. But for me, the numbers don’t mean anything. You may have a large number of goals and eventually goals per game but then you’re not winning trophies. That is more important and in my view, despite the more attacking options, the cutting edge play of Henry hasn’t been replaced. Arshavin has the potential but is not in the place yet. Like they say, quantity doesn’t matter always. Quality does too.

  • Tom // November 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Wenger is right. Bendtner really is offensive.

  • Tim // November 6, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Tanuj, I disagree, that cutting edge quality of Henry can be found in Robin van Persie, Cesc, and Arshavin. Which means that Arsenal have quality in quantity!

  • andy mac // November 6, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    You can argue the point on the basis of whether one trio has more of a ‘cutting-edge quality’ than the other all day long. That is ultimately always a matter of a opinion.

    As for the stats, these are irrelevant when the team has won nothing yet. Football is about scoring more goals than the opposition, nothing more, nothing less, so Arsenal’s current attack simply can’t be considered as good as their best previous one. Not until they win something.

  • Tanuj Lakhina // November 7, 2009 at 1:34 am

    @Tim, You could be right to some degree but then again you’re replacing one player with three. Odds don’t seem to be right.

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