The line graphs above show a clear picture. As the Premiership season heads to its conclusion, the most worrying sign for the Gunners is a drop off in goal scoring.
Earlier, this was not the case as even as they gave away goals, they scored enough to keep their goal differential on par with Man Utd and Chelsea. In the first 20 matches, Arsenal outscored Chelsea and Man Utd, 51 goals to their 45 goals each.
The next 12 matches reversed this trend as Chelsea netted 37 goals, Man Utd maintained their scoring consistency with 31 goals but it is was Arsenal that slipped precipitously with just 23 goals scored. It meant not only fewer goals but more importantly, a shrinking goal differential compared to the other two.
Now, all this would be moot if Arsenal ekes out wins without using the opposing teams for target practice and the other two teams drop points. Indeed Utd drew Villa and then lost to Everton, Chelsea also suffered similarly at the hands of Everton and Man City. With an easier series of matches this was Arsenal's ticket to sneaking up on the Premiership.
However, Chelsea through Florent Malouda and Frank Lampard, shaking off his somnambulism have turned on the screws while Man Utd maintains its admirable scoring equanimity for the final surge. Goal differential could thus become the deciding factor. Scoring a win with plenty of goals becomes imperative.
The Birmingham match was a capsule of the Gunners scoring frustration as there were a number of chances that went begging till Samir Nasri, a very occasional marksman managed to give them uneasy hope after scoring late. It was cruelly snuffed out minutes later by a Kevin Phillips equalizer.
The march to the finale brings it with it clarity. Simply put, teams rely on their front line strikers to step up and deliver. Arsenal's goal scoring has come through a complex committee of players but who comes up with the goods is still a bit of a mystery. At this stage, the scoring swoon does not bode well.