The 26 minutes of handbrake
That first 20 minutes was nuts. The best I’ve seen from Arsenal all season. They were shooting at will (9 shots, Arsenal average 16), crossing well (5 of 10, 50% is really good for crosses), and created more chances off passes in that 20 minutes (6) than in the entire 90 minutes against Southampton (4).
The next 26 minutes after the goal there was a lull and that “handbrake” feeling crept over us all. And as you can see Arsenal defended with all hands at the pumps. Tackling, reading the lanes, fouling, and getting blocks on shots.
In the second half, Arsenal came out much like the first and put in another 20 minute shift attacking the Wigan box with 7 shots, 5 on target, crossing well again, and even tackling high up the pitch. That followed by 26 minutes of very direct counter attacks as Wigan showed signs of dead legs. Perfectly executed combination of defense and offense.
453 - Passes by Arsenal v. Wigan today
22 – Passes per shot by Arsenal (best of the season by Arsenal)
73 - Passes by Aaron Ramsey (led all players)
37 - Passes forward by Aaron Ramsey
12 - Misplaced passes by Aaron Ramsey
9 - Number of those passes that were forward
2 - Shots created by Ramsey
5 - Consecutive matches now that Aaron Ramsey has led Arsenal in passes
1 - Turnovers by Aaron Ramsey (turnovers are unforced errors)
1 - Number of times Ramsey was dispossessed
61 - Passes by Santi Cazorla
6 - “Key Passes” today by Cazorla (shots his passes created for others)
3 - Shots today by Cazorla
7 - Passes per shot-created or shot taken by Santi Cazorla
45 – Passes per shot on goal by Arsenal (second best of the season)
41 – Passes per shot on goal by Arsenal in the 7-3 win over Newcastle
20 - Tackles Arsenal made today v. Wigan
8 - Number of 20+ tackle games that Arsenal have had in the Premier League this season
5-2-1 – Arsenal’s record in those games (Chelsea the only loss)
1 - More match Arsenal have to win
Moar on Cazorla!
21 - Arsenal shots
10 - Arsenal shots on goal
2 - Wigan shots on goal
8 - Difference between Arsenal’s shots on goal and Wigan’s (second best all season)
10 - Largest difference of the season (Reading 2-5 Arsenal)
3 - Goals Cazorla scored that day against Reading
4 - Assists Cazorla provided this day against Wigan
1027 - Passes Cazorla has made in the final third this season (tops in all five Leagues)
1037 - Passes Cazorla made in the final third for Malaga last season (third best)
37 - Passes Cazorla made in the Wigan final third today (led all players)
95 - “Key Passes” Cazorla has made this season (3rd in the League)
6 - “Key passes” Cazorla made today v. Wigan
11 - Assists Cazorla has this season (T2nd in the League, Mata (12), Hazard/Cazorla (11), Walcott/Rooney (10), Podolski/Gerrard (9)
4 - Assists Cazorla had today v. Wigan
Today’s game against Wigan was another masterclass in direct play from Cazorla.
4 assists in a single game, which I have dubbed the “barbershop” (a quartet) is an exceptionally rare feat. Rarer than a hat trick by far and rarer still than 4 goals in a game. The last player to register 4 assists in a game was, oddly enough, Emmanuel Adebayor for Tottenham in February 2012. Since then there have been numerous hat tricks, Cazorla even has one.
And that’s one of the things that makes Cazorla so special. He’s one of those rare players that you can put nearly anywhere up front and he’s a threat not only to score but also to set his teammates up. He’s equally adept at creating his own shot as he is at creating someone else’s shot. So, for example, Suarez leads the League with 95 dribbles (off an appalling 291 attempts) but Cazorla has just 12 fewer successful dribbles with 83 (off a much better 136 attempts). Cazorla is also third in the League in key passes (with 95 behind Baines and Silva) and has 11 assists after his romp against the dead legs of Wigan today.
But it’s his versatility which really makes the jaw drop. He assisted with a left foot, a right foot, and a head today and also showed that he can play wide to great effect. There have been many column inches devoted to whether Cazorla is good for Arsenal on the wing. More or less most of them take on the well worn debate over whether or not “Wenger is playing him (insert any player) out of position”. But the problem here is with sample size and like all the ladies say, “Sample Size Matters!”
12 League games on the wing is not enough to make a good judgement on whether someone should be played somewhere using stats. After all, he could come out and get 4 assists, complete 4/6 crosses, create 6 goal-scoring chances, make 2/4 dribbles, have 7 interceptions (!!!), and generally be a complete and utter badass, like he did today and tank your numbers. With small samples, then, you need to look at the qualitative data.
My qualitative analysis is that it doesn’t seem to matter where you play Cazorla in the Arsenal attack, when he’s on his game, when he’s direct and taking the game to the opposition like he did today against Wigan, he’s fuckin’ excellent.