Posts Tagged ‘Scapegoat’

I’m sure many of you follow the excellent tweeter and blogger WengerBoy1. I have had the pleasure of getting to co-write the following series of blogs on some of the common myths that seem to prevail around this Arsenal team with him. This is Will’s take on the myth that “Missing goals is a sign of a struggling player.”

I would like to quickly challenge is the belief that missing a lot of chances automatically makes you a worse player than those who don’t miss as many. Gervinho and Ramsey in particular have come for a lot of criticism this season due to this and while some of it is deserved – the pretty darn crucial, not-scoring part – they also deserve praise for their actions. Praise which many are reluctant to give out.

It’s obvious why people wouldn’t praise them for missing chances – why would you praise a player for not scoring? Just saying it sounds completely counter-intuitive and with good reason – it’s wrong. Ramsey and Gervinho do not deserve praise for the actual act of missing and that is not, it should be noted, the argument I am putting forward.

But it is an often overlooked fact that players who have missed loads of chances have actually worked to be in those positions to begin with. Players who don’t have the movement or awareness to get into those positions can seem immune to the above criticism – they didn’t miss the chances so therefore they must not have played as badly. And – crucially – if, say, Ramsey only had two goals this season instead of three but had a 100% conversion rate people would likely be rating him more highly, despite a lower over output,  because he would not have been seen to miss so many good opportunities.

I would much rather hear about all the chances that a player was missing then not hear about them having chances at all. A player that gets into a scoring position very often, which is a skill that requires intelligent reading of the game, is more likely to contribute to a goal – even if they often miss – then a player which does not, simply because they are providing threat. A missed chance can result in a rebound, a deflection, opposition confusion – any number of potentially positive outcomes – but the absence of a chance does not produce one thing. What is more worthy of criticism  – a game where you create and miss ten chances or a game when you create and miss none? It’s the latter every time, in my opinion.

And usually these players don’t miss all their chances, just some, which is important. A player who has 10 chances and scores 80% of the time will gets 8 goals but a player who has 100 chances and scores only 10% of the time will get 10 –  2 extra goals despite a 70% difference in conversion rate. The more chances you have the more likely one will result in a goal so it is obviously better to keep having them than not.

It also takes courage to have a shot or to want to be in a position to score, and many players shy away from that. To keep missing and yet still keep trying to get on the end of a cross or take a shot requires mental resilience –  you have to believe that no matter how many times you have missed you can still score with the next chance. Part of the issue this season with Fernando Torres, formerly one the most feared and lethal finishers in the game, is that he’s been scared of getting into good scoring positions because he’s so afraid of missing, therefore limiting his opportunities to score and further hitting his confidence.

Gervinho (earlier in the season) and Ramsey, however hesitant they may be, don’t shy away from getting into those positions. And in Ramsey’s case this in spite of the fact he must be able to tell that the crowd and fans are already heavily on his back for previous misses, and likely to be more so if he misses again. Having determination in your mind, even if your confidence on the pitch is low and you can feel discontent emanating from ‘supporters’, is an immensely positive trait and one that allows a player the best chance possible of improving and doing better the next time.

Bendtner is a fantastic example here – someone who is known for missing loads of chances, yet has enough chances to score a fair numbers of goals and enough confidence to not let the misses affect him. I remember in 2009/10 when we played Burnley and he missed sitter after sitter:


“The margin of victory could have been far greater but Nicklas Bendtner spurned several gilt-edged chances before being substituted” (Sky Sports)

What happened in the next game? He bagged the first ever European hat-trick at the Emirates against Porto. And that’s why a player who gets himself into scoring positions but misses is worth playing – because as long as they keep doing what they’re doing they will get plenty more chances to score.


Will’s work can also be found over at one of our favourite fellow blog sites

You can catch him on Twitter here:!/WengerBoy1