Arsenal firing Premier League title challenge with new cutting edge

Arsenal celebrate a goal against Stoke City at Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016

Arsenal are top of the Premier League and they are firing on all cylinders. After Saturday's 3-1 win over Stoke City, we examine the stats behind their newfound cutting edge in front of goal…

November may have lived up to its reputation as an awkward month for Arsenal, but December has been plain sailing so far. After handsome wins against West Ham and Basel, Arsene Wenger's side enjoyed a third resounding victory on the bounce against Stoke.

Arsenal go top with Stoke win

Arsenal go top with Stoke win

Arsenal climbed to the top of the Premier League after coming from behind to beat Stoke 3-1

Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi were on target for the Gunners after Charlie Adam had scored from the penalty spot at the Emirates Stadium, and the 3-1 win was enough to send them top of the table before Chelsea's meeting with West Brom on Sunday.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Theo Walcott of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke C
Image: Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring in Arsenal's 3-1 win over Stoke

Optimism is building at Arsenal, and their newfound firepower is making all the difference. The Gunners were dogged by wasteful finishing last season, but with Alexis Sanchez leading line in the new campaign, they are the Premier League's top scorers with 36 goals so far.

It's a considerable improvement on their total of 27 goals at the same stage of last season, and it's their highest total after 15 games since the 2009/10 campaign.

Arsenal after 15 Premier League games

Season Goals scored Points
2016/17 36 34
2015/16 27 30
2014/15 24 23
2013/14 30 35
2012/13 24 21
2011/12 31 29
2010/11 32 29

The stats highlight their clinical edge. Arsenal ranked sixth for shot conversion last season at 15.6 per cent, but that number has risen to 21.8 per cent this season, making them the most efficient side in the country.

Premier League 2016/17 - best shot conversion rates

Team Shots Goals Shot conversion
Arsenal 165 36 21.8%
Chelsea 162 32 19.8%
Liverpool 184 35 19.0%
Leicester 112 21 18.8%
Crystal Palace 152 27 17.8%

And it's not just in the Premier League that the goals are flowing. Arsenal have netted 60 times in 24 games in all competitions so far. That's an average of 2.5 goals per game. Last season, by comparison, they scored 90 goals in 53 games at an average of just 1.7 per game.

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Saturday's win over Stoke was the 13th time Arsenal have scored three or more goals this season. It took them 53 games to reach the same tally last year, and they have already scored four or more goals on six occasions compared to five in the whole of 2015/16.

Arsenal scoring comparison (all competitions)

Season Games played Goals per game Times scored 3+ goals Times scored 4+ goals
2016/17 24 2.5 13 6
2015/16 53 1.7 13 5

Sanchez is leading the charge with 13 goals in all competitions, but he is not the only Arsenal player enjoying a rich vein of form in front of goal.

Walcott has already beaten his total for the whole of last season with 10 in 17 appearances, while Ozil, on nine, only needs one more to make it his most prolific campaign since arriving in north London.

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Arsene Wenger says he wants his players to keep the momentum up after Arsenal's 3-1 win over Stoke

The challenge for Arsenal now is to ensure their scoring rate doesn't drop, and their hopes of doing so could be helped by the squad players also weighing in with goals.

Strikers Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez have already hit five each despite limited playing opportunities, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has already scored six - three times as many as he managed last season.

Arsenal are putting the struggles of last season behind them, and with their newfound cutting edge, they can be confident of maintaining their title challenge during the busy festive period.

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