Cazorla and Koscielny: by the numbers

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Koscielny Extends Contract

26 – Age of Laurent Koscielny when he signed a “long term contract extension” with Arsenal
4 – Years most of Arsenal’s “long term contracts” run
33 – Games started by Laurent Koscielny 2011-2012
91 – Interceptions by Laurent Koscielny**
2.8 – Interceptions per game by Laurent Koscielny**
3.6 – Interceptions per game by Stilian Petrov*
2.6 – Tackles per game by Laurent Koscielny
2.9 – Tackles per game by Alex Song**
4.5 – Tackles per game by Alejandro Faurlin*
33 – Fouls committed by Laurent Koscielny
88 – Fouls committed by Marouane Fellaini*
9 – Yellow cards given to Laurent Koscielny
6 – Yellow cards given to Marouane Fellaini
10 – Yellow cards given to Alex Song**
11 – Number of assists by Alex Song**
1 – Number of players in the top five leagues who have a season double-double of assists and yellow cards
1.9 – Aerial duels won per game by Laurent Koscielny
2.7 – Aerial duels won per game by Bacary Sagna**
3.7 – Aerial duels won per game by Younes Kaboul (led all center backs)
1 – Aerial duels won per game by Vincent Kompany
61 – Percent of aerial duels won by Laurent Koscielny
56 – Percent of aerial duels won by Thomas Vermaelen
70 – Percent of aerial duels won by Bacary Sagna**
71 – Percent of aerial duels won by Kompany and Kaboul
5.1 – Clearances per game by Laurent Koscielny**
13.4 – Clearances per game by Ryan Shawcross*
8.9 – Clearances per game by Robert Huth
6.2 – Clearances per game by Vincent Kompany**
60 – Percent of possession averaged by Arsenal in 2011-2012*
40 – Percent of possession averaged by Stoke in 2011-2012
69.5 – Pass percentage by Stoke (worst in the League)
100 – Percent chance that Stoke simply hoof the ball out with nearly every possible possession which is why they have two players in the top 10 of the clearances per game category

Santi Cazorla is coming to town?

(click to embiggen)

Arsenal have been linked with a move for Santi Cazorla from Malaga and I wanted to give readers a sense of what the player offered compared to two key Arsenal starters (whom he might fill-in for) and compared to a player Arsenal were linked to last season, Juan Mata.

Not covered in the chart above is the fact that Cazorla is a versatile midfielder who played across the entire midfield for Malaga last season — even playing defensive mid when needed. You could intuit that from his outstanding workrate in both the defensive comparisons and his overall passing vision, but just in case, I wanted to make it clear that he can and does play in any position in midfield (left, right, and center).

From a team defense perspective Cazorla pulls his own weight for Malaga, tackling and reading the passing lanes better than any of the other three players listed above. In fact, one frustration with Theo Walcott is his lack of  defensive presence at Arsenal which Cazorla beat hands down at Malaga. He’s also a very clean player and despite all of the tackles he made, Cazorla was blown for just 20 fouls last season and shown just 2 yellow cards.

People often caution in reading too much into these numbers because Spain is very different from England, especially in interceptions and tackles per game. For example, Toulalan led Malaga with 5.3 tackles per game, whereas Song led Arsenal with 2.9. Cazorla averaged just 2.2 tackles per game but rather than simply discount that number, I see those tackles as indication of a player who is used to playing team defense. A characteristic that Arsenal have need for.

That’s one reason I have included Mata’s numbers from both his time at Valencia (v) and this season at Chelsea (c). As you can see Mata’s defensive numbers took a slight drop when he switched to the Premier League. Is it fair to expect similar from Cazorla should he make the switch to Arsenal?

What you also see is an increase across the board in nearly all of Mata’s offensive numbers: turnovers down; key passes, crosses, through balls, crosses, long balls, crosses, passing percent, and even assists all up (did I mention crosses?). Again, we can’t simply extrapolate the numbers and expect a similar bump from Cazorla but I would be shocked if Cazorla played 38 games for Arsenal and didn’t double his assists output from his time at Malaga. Malaga’s leading goal scorer was Rondon with 11 goals and with Giroud and Podolski on the end of Cazorla’s passes I suspect we’d see a different story.

Those crosses, long balls, and through balls numbers are all the number that were successful for each player (could you imagine a single player hitting 281 long balls a game, not named Paul Robinson?) over their respective season. I didn’t include percentages because the chart was getting too long already but Cazorla’s crossing percent is up there with some of the best. Theo was 18 of 134 crosses which was just a 13% completion rate. Cazorla was 62 of 211 for a 29% completion rate. Crosses are a low percentage pass but 29% is a very good rate, for example, Mata averaged 26% for Chelsea last season.

Overall, Cazorla looks like a versatile player with a great range of passes, who is willing to put in the work defensively, can beat a man off the dribble, isn’t afraid to shoot, and played all 38 games for Malaga last season. He is exactly the kind of player that Arsenal could use. That’s if he wants to come, if Arsenal are really interested, and if Malaga want to sell him for less than his £40m release clause.

7am

All numbers are for domestic league competitions and for the previous season only, unless otherwise stated.

*Led the League — League stats only, 20 or more appearances
**Led his team — League stats only , 20 or more appearances

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