Arsenal 2-0 West Brom plus passing FORWARD – by the numbers


19 – Arsenal shots v. West Brom
3 – Arsenal shots on West Brom’s goal
8 – West Brom shots
1 – West Brom shot on Arsenal’s goal
6 – Premier League matches since Arsenal last attempted more than 15 shots
3 – Premier League matches since Arsenal last kept an opponent to 8 or fewer shots (Tottenham, 10 men, 5-2 win for the Arsenal)
13 – Premier League matches since Arsenal last kept an opponent to just one shot on goal (Stoke)
27 – Premier League home matches since Arsenal last scored a penalty at home (17 April 2010 2011, 1-1 v. Liverpool, van Persie 98th minute.)
3 – Penalties awarded to Arsenal in Premier League play at the Emirates since that game (Fulham 2012 (miss), WBA 2012 x 2)
11 – Penalties awarded to Manchester United in Premier League play at Old Trafford in the same time
6 – Penalties denied Arsenal in that same period in Premier League play (both home and away, according to the notes I take on matches)
1 – Thing that people will be venting their wrongteous fury over all week

Hustle and Going Forward
48 –
 Completed passes by Wilshere (third best)
59 – Attempted passes by Wilshere (second best)
31 – Number of Jack’s passes that were in the WBA final third²
31 – Number of Jack’s passes that were forward passes
4 – Key passes by Jack Wilshere³
5 – Key passes by Chris Brunt²
4 – Number of Chris Brunt’s key passes that came from a dead ball situation
5 – Successful dribbles by Jack Wilshere²
4 – Attempted through balls by Jack Wilshere²
0 – Number of times that Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla were either dispossessed or had a turnover
24 – Tackles attempted by Arsenal
10 – League matches since Arsenal last attempted 24 or more tackles (Chelsea, 30)
24 – Aerial duels Arsenal won
13 – League matches since Arsenal last won 24 or more aerial duels (Stoke, 29/70)
56 – Duels won by Arsenal (tackles, dribbles, and aerial duels)
13 – League matches since Arsenal won at least 55 duels (Stoke)

The other day, Arseblog asked if I could look at Arsenal’s passes forward v. passes backward to see if there was an overall trend in passing backward that had developed for Arsenal over the last few weeks and to see how that compared to a good run of games last season.

I thought that the numbers weren’t available but then this morning discovered that the 442 Stats Zone app has them. So, I compiled passes forward, square, and backward along with passes in the opposition final third. Since every game is different in terms of passes per match, I chose to compare the direction of the passes against the total passes attempted as a percentage. Right now, I just have this season’s data but it shouldn’t be too hard to get last season’s data imported, if there’s interest.

As you can see, Arsenal actually are trending upward in passes going forward over the last few weeks. In fact, the Swansea match and the West Brom match both were season highs of 56% forward passes. The difference in the two games is that Arsenal didn’t play the ball back as much against the Baggies as they did against the Swans (again, as a percentage of overall passes).

The Norwich match was the pinnacle in terms of passing backwards as a percent of overall play at 33%. If you look up at the hustle board you will also notice that it was one of the worst performances from an overall duels standpoint as well, as Arsenal only won 9 tackles all day.

As I said, I also looked at passes in the final third as another indication of how much Arsenal have been attacking the opposition as of late. Today against West Brom, the Gunners were right at their season average with 31% of their overall passes in the Baggies area. Against Man U, Arsenal had their most timid performance and managed just 19% of their overall passes in the United final third. And against Swansea, actually, Arsenal had their most aggressive attacking performance, managing a whopping 42% of their passes in the Swans danger area. It’s no surprise that Swansea hit Arsenal with two concise counter attacks, exploiting the space Arsenal left because they were parking the bus in the Swansea final third. And yes, parking the bus is an apt description, considering that Arsenal managed just 10 shots that day.

They had far less possession in West Brom’s area today but managed 9 more shots.


All numbers today via Opta, ESPN, or my personal database

Follow Tim on twitter @7amkickoff and at

¹Best in the League in this category
²Lead both teams in this category
³Lead just his team in this category


  1. ‘Jack the lad’ was very good.If he continues to shine the same as he’s doing right now he will be bestowed with the title of ‘Jack the giant’ very soon.

    *Slightly off topic here*

    Came across this wonderful piece by brilliant Michael Cox( Arsenal’s midfield post Highbury. Do read when possible.


    And this one:

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      • He is right this was the most solid we have looked since then, totally dominant, could afford to miss 3 absolute sitters. Clean sheet always gives you a great chance of 3 points

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      • Please fellas lets not get carried away this was west brom at home. a team that we should be comfortably beating without 2 dubious penalties. Sure it looked better than swansea villa and the 2nd half of everton but it couldnt have looked any worse. There is no doubt that we should get maximum points in all our next few matches or at least i should say we must. reading wigan west ham newcastle southampton if that shouldnt be 15 points then i dont know what should.

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  2. Wonderful team effort today. The team played with the tenacity and vigor us fans have been asking for! Can’t help but feel guilty about Cazorla’s dive—it’s not the Arsenal way but he did a great job of convincing the ref.

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  3. The stats on the penalties say it all – I don’t condone diving, but I would rather have 20 dives a game than have fixed games like Man Utd does. I would rather kill football with diving than kill it with behind-the-scenes deals and pretend it still exists like Man Utd does. Up the Arse – Manure and Spurs can go to hell.

    Slight hyperbole, but siege mentality it is.

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    • Just curious, why do people think FA favors ManU ? I read this all the time on internet. People claim that referees give them benefits buy I think at the end of the season all evens out to a large extent. I would be glad if someone could throw some more light (any documentary/news piece etc.) on this topic.


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      • You could sit here for hours mate…. Key example, last season, Ashley young is offside… Sean Derry tackles young even though he’s clearly offside… Young dives when he’s touched by Derry in the offside position, penalty, red card, goal scored, 3 match ban is upheld by the FA to Sean Derry. Not another word said about the issue.

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      • Eh, the United stuff is a little bit out of control, these guys track decisions and if you take all controversial decisions last season United would have had more points and won the league.

        I think United get so many because they really put teams under pressure at home. As much as I hate most teams that are not Arsenal, and United in particular, they really know how to turn up the heat and win games, I call that the Fergueson factor.

        It’s fine to be partisan, don’t be delusional

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      • Well I do exaggerate when I say games are “fixed”, because that would require 100% decisions going United’s way. I don’t believe that for a second, it’s more like United decisions 55% to decisions against United 45%.

        But the more damning evidence stems from the footballing institutions. Preston North End sacks Fergie’s son as manager, United calls back its loaned players as reprisal, and for some reason a number of other clubs follow suit. Alan Wiley “agreed to retire” from refereeing after being called “unfit” by Fergie. The referee who did the United 1-6 City was not given another United game for a year (was it Clattenburg?)

        So what I’m pointing to is either that Fergie has greater influence than managers should be allowed, or that there is some harmony of interest between United and the footballing institutions. NOT that United games are fixed and all decisions go their way.

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      • hmm..haven’t watched united play in a long time mate. I am a bit out of touch about all affairs Old Trafford. May be I do not want to believe that this can happen in ‘premier’ league. Ignorance is bliss 🙂 Still better than our Italian cousins.

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  4. Interesting that the trend for passes forward has been going upward because it sure as hell hasn’t felt like it! Against Brom though we started to see flashes of the old arsenal. Love Wilshere & Rosicky!

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  5. Did Giroud connect any of his passes today?. Maybe one or two but today was a bad outing for him. Onto the next one for him. He clearly wanted to take the 2nd penalty but Arteta thought otherwise (i agree with Arteta).

    Chamberlain was good today, very committed in his play, he contested various aerial balls and won quite afew. Did well to get to the by-line when crossing in and ofcourse the speed he showed to get us the penalty. All this Walcott walking straight back into the team when he’s not “signing de ting” needs to be stopped.

    Next patient please, we are the arsenal.

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    • Someone might well have had a word that if he wants to secure a place in the team before Theo’s replacement comes in, he”d be as well to start staking a claim NOW.

      May even dictate whether we buy in January or wait till the summer.

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  6. Wait, weren’t Cazorla dispossessed when he supposedly got a foul but it was ruled out by the referee?
    I really hope the hustle and forward passing upward trend continues and the most important thing is they increase their overall stats on that. Because last season, Arsenal also capable of playing with vigor and full energy but it couldn’t be sustained. I’m not really remember but post Chelsea or Spurs or maybe Milan, Arseblog said that our performance that day should be the blueprint for the whole season. We know that it didn’t happened.
    So, I hope that for the rest of this season, even if they can’t replicate their full energy performance every time, at least when they don’t give it, their performance will still be high enough in overall to be respectable for a team like Arsenal.

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  7. It seems that the stats would actually go against what one might have thought, that Arsenal played less forward (and more backward) in the last few games. At least in this case the numbers are not a good indicator. We saw a lot more willingness to drive forward and attempt “good” passes forward than in previous games.

    7am I’d be interested in comparing those stats with previous years, if only to see the number of side passes with Denilson “The Crab” in the side.


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    • expectation bias

      if you expect a player to do something, everytime it happens it just reinforces the observers expectation of that player (or person, or whatever). That’s why religous people see evidence of god all around them, they expect to see it.

      Hence the disconnect between Ramseys stats and peoples perceptions of his game.

      Denilson could probably do a job for us at this time.

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      • …and that´s why atheists claim there is no evidence for the existence of God, they expect not to see it.

        Works in both ways, expectation bias.

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  8. Let’s be brutally frank. If the first penalty had not been given,me thinks the gme could have ended in a draw.One encouraging sign is ,imho,less passes laterally. I don’t know.We shd have Chamberlain running with the ball more often and scare defenders.
    Our esteemed boss continues to be linked with ANC and youth players. The one that sticks out is Verratt 1. 65 m tall.Surely he can’t be serious about getting small frame players for the hurly burly of the epl.As for ANC players, gervino will be missing from Janand Feb When he comes back,he could be shagged. Thta’s the problem with ANC players.
    Surely there are other options . Pay more and you don’t get guys missing in Jan and feb

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    • “If the first penalty had not been given,me thinks the gme could have ended in a draw.”

      Alternatively, it might have ended up as a 5-0 Arsenal victory. What’s your point?

      “Our esteemed boss continues to be linked with ANC and youth players.”

      Almost all transfer rumours are made up by people with too much time on their hands. What’s your point?

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  9. Thanks Tim. If there’s a chance would really appreciate seeing the figs for last season. This season’s quite a surprise…I definitely had the feeling that we were doing more backwards than forwards. Especially moves starting just outside the opponents pen. area and finishing with our keeper giving it a hoof!

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  10. watched MOTD last night and to be honest, it was an average performance. 2 pens to win a match against west brom : (
    . its results like this that cover the cracks, but really it could of ended a draw. Gervinho still cant hit a barn door, Giroud i didnt see do anything. Not even shoot?? Only positives were clean sheet, wilshere looked immense, ox lookes more confident. But for all these we have to remember our opponents. WBA is at best a mid table team, and were terrible yday. I just hope we are on the up as opposed to a jammy result and back to the same shit next week, when we play a team that is having a good day. sorry for lack of positivity but this season im taking every UP with a pinch of salt.

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    • West Brom are still above us in the table, mate.

      Yes, finishing overall wasn’t good, but that was the only thing worrying about our performance. We controlled the match, pure and simple, just like we should have done with Swansea.

      Not trying to say everything’s all rosy again, but feels good to get another win. We’ve had precious few this season.

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  11. i dont expect agreement with the above statement. Im just being realistic and keeping my feet on the ground. Comments of ‘We were like arsenal of old’ isnt fooling anyone.

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    • Mate you have to watch the full game before you make a comment like that. I watched both the full game and the MOTD highlights. The highlights were shockingly selective and did not show the full aspects of our performance. They didnt even show ALL the chances and the good play which created them. Base your criticism of the team based on facts and full view of the game, and people might be more inclined to appreciate them,

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      • I watched the whole game and Arsenal looked toothless before the penalty

        However…. Football is a confidence game and if that is what it takes to get the confidence back I’m all for it.

        However, the confidence should have come back after putting Spuds to the sword. Like the original comment I’ll believe Arsenal have turned a corner when they do it for several games, yesterday was a good first step.

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  12. Excellent result. Jack was the daddy, Arteta scored 2 penalties to restore his confidence (although I was shouting at the tele asking why it was him and they weren’t that well take, either of them. Im glad to be wrong), clean sheet from ‘the one and only’ and a superb dive from Santi lol 😉

    As bloggs said, don’t give a fuck about the dive. You see it happen week in week out and it’s creeped in as a shit part of the game but the luck fell in our laps this time. Lots of positives!! COYG

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  13. Am I the only one who thinks forehead is like walcott a couple of years ago, brilliant at going past players then lost the plot. Maybe he will click and get clinical.

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  14. yes west brom ate above us, but they wont finish there. 10th at best. Yes we passed better and we won. but we still arent playing anywhere near the level we have come to expect as gooners. im sorry but no mateet what anyone says, gervinho is not getting any younger and is not a top four player. cant shoot, indecisive and overalll i think a better, proper winger would benfit us immensely. ramsey should be nowhere near the first team. and we need a striker thats more pacey and dynamic. In general il be more positive after a couple more wins and i know for definite we have got these terrible performances out of our systems. Heres to being on the up, hopefully…

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  15. 7am kick-off

    I would be interested in the passing stats from the previous two seasons given the changes to our midfielders in that time. Most curious about the Fabregas and Nasri factors back in 10/11

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