Arsenal

Thomas Partey habit beats Ruben Neves and Cristiano Ronaldo but Mikel Arteta must stop it

Should the Arsenal midfielder reconsider his tendency to shoot from outside the box?

Arsenal picked up a dramatic late victory on Thursday night, defeating Wolves by two goals to one thanks to Jose Sa’s last-minute own goal.

After going behind early in the contest, the Gunners pushed forward for the large majority of the match, generating waves of attacks in their quest to breach Bruno Lage’s defence.

Mikel Arteta has certainly improved Arsenal’s ability to sustain offensive moves during his time at the helm, although some advantageous positions are still wasted at times due to his players attempting to score from far out.

It is reasonable to suggest that Thomas Partey is the most culpable.

Against Wolves, he posted two efforts from outside the box with each flying over the crossbar. On both occasions, the Ghanaian midfielder had passing options available to him in the final third.

So far this season, Partey has accumulated 25 shots from outside the box in the Premier League for Arsenal, yet he’s failed to score. He will have likely had passing options available in every one of those situations, but his preference has been to try and find the net.

Since the emergence of Expected Goals (xG) as a telling metric, teams have generally placed more of an emphasis on getting closer to goal before shooting.

The average shot from 30 yards tends to have around a 1% chance of finding the net based on historical data, but that changes as players enter the penalty box. This season, Arsenal’s average distance from goal per shot places them 11th in the table.

Over the course of Partey’s last seven-and-a-half seasons dating back to 2014, he’s amassed 156 attempts from outside the box in the Premier League and La Liga, scoring seven times.

That equates to a conversion rate of just 4.5%, whereas when he takes shots from inside the penalty box, his conversion rate jumps to 20%.

However, despite his troubles from long range, Partey is actually more capable at shooting from far out than many of his peers. He requires roughly 22 shots from outside the box before scoring on average, which is better than Cristiano Ronaldo – for example – who averages a goal every 27 shots.

Ruben Neves, who is regarded as one of the best from distance, averages a goal every 30 attempts from far out, and Granit Xhaka usually requires around 27 attempts.

Partey is far from the best – Lionel Messi tends to need just 11 shots to score, Kevin De Bruyne requires 14, and Philippe Coutinho averages 16 – but his average isn’t particularly terrible.

Ultimately, although Partey is probably better at shooting from distance than many would expect, he’s still not strong enough for his persistent attempts to be worth sacrificing valuable possessions.

If Arteta wishes to continue improving the efficiency of his outfit, the Spaniard should instruct Partey and the rest of his squad to shoot only when the time is right rather than whenever any opportunity opens up.

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