Season review: Golden Arrows

Going through the 16 PSL clubs alphabetically, next up on our list is Golden Arrows.

Following their top-eight finish last season, Arrows did not tinker much with their squad as they went for consistency in trying to equal, if not better, that top-half finish this season.

And it was a superb start for the KwaZulu-Natal club, who went unbeaten across their first nine league matches which included a 3-1 win over defending league champions Bidvest Wits and a goalless draw against Kaizer Chiefs, as they sat at the summit of the standings temporarily for three consecutive weeks.

Yet a 3-0 loss to SuperSport United in October saw the wheels come off for Clinton Larsen’s side, who would not win a game again for the rest of the year. Their next victory would be a 1-0 revenge win over SuperSport in early January, after which the side struggled to replicate their early-season purple patch as they endured an inconsistent set of results over the last 10 games of the season, winning four, losing three and drawing three to scrape into the top eight for the second campaign in succession.

A top-eight berth last season saw Golden Arrows receive a ticket to the season-opening MTN8 Cup, where a showdown against defending champions Bidvest Wits produced a tightly-contested affair as Abafana Be’stende threw away a two-goal lead to eventually lost 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in regulation time.

Their Telkom Knockout journey was short-lived following a first round 1-0 defeat to Orlando Pirates, while their Nedbank Cup run didn’t fare much better after going down 3-0 to Kaizer Chiefs in the Last 32.

Striking statistics
Despite scoring the third-highest number of goals (36) of all 16 teams in the league, with a 10.4% conversion rate (only second to Sundowns), Arrows took the second-least shots from outside the box (4.9) and had the joint-worst percentage of possession (44%) on average among all teams in the league.

The KwaZulu-Natal club also finished worst of all 16 PSL clubs in a number of categories including the number of penalty area touches (11.4) per game, percentage of passes in the final third (14.6%) and final third passing accuracy (69.6%).

Arrows also conceded the most goals of any PSL team at home (18).

Areas of improvement
As the statistics show, Arrows held their own in front of goal, yet that mainly boiled down to the heavy reliance on Lerato Lamola, who finished as the club’s top scorer with nine goals. Where they severely lacked was in quality in the final third, a playmaker to string the passes, create and provide effective feed for the strikers to score, a position Arrows will need to soon fill, especially with Kudakwashe Mahachi’s move away to Orlando Pirates now confirmed.