395 - Passes by Newcastle
365 - Passes by Arsenal
7 - Shots by Newcastle
1 - Shots on goal by Newcastle
10 - Shots by Arsenal
2 - Shots on goal by Arsenal
51 - Percent of possession Newcastle enjoyed
44 - Percent of territory Newcastle enjoyed
49 - Passes Newcastle completed in the Arsenal final third
7 - Passes Anita completed in the Arsenal final third to lead Newcastle
45 - Passes Coloccini completed (2nd on Newcastle)
92 - Passes Arsenal completed in the Newcastle final third
25 - Passes by Aaron Ramsey in that area (led Arsenal)
3 - Shots created by Theo Walcott (led both teams)
1 - Shots created by each of Coloccini and Taylor (led Newcastle along with 5 others)
27 - Tackles by Arsenal (of 31 attempted, season high)
15 - Tackles by Newcastle (of 20 attempted)
18 - Fouls committed y Newcastle
1 - Yellow card issued to Newcastle by Howard Melton Webb
Newcastle dominated possession (especially in the second half) and yet it was Arsenal, with the 1-0 lead, who ended up creating the most chances and forcing Newcastle back into their own half for the majority of the match. The stats above show that, especially the fact that Newcastle only managed to get 44% of the territory despite owning the majority of the ball, plus the fact that Tiote and Coloccini led them in passing, and Anita, who came on in the 57th minute, was one of Newcastle’s most effective attackers in the Arsenal box (Debuchy was in the Arsenal final third the most for Newcastle but only completed 6/17 passes and didn’t create a single shot). But a few other stats are interesting here too.
Arsenal forced Newcastle to attempt more clearances than the Gunners 24-17 overall and 11-10 in the second half. Remember that clearances often show how attack-minded a team is, even if they aren’t getting shots off. But then when it came to actual shots, Newcastle only managed two in the 50+ minutes from the 40th minute to the end of the match. The Gunners had 7 shots in that same time; one goal, and Walcott’s unlucky miss.
The Bould Effect or the Koscienly Effect?
Arsenal finished the season with one of the better defensive performances of the year but it was simply an extension of all the hard work that the club had put in all season as The Gunners finished with the second best defensive record in the League.
Arsenal only allowed 37 goals this season, which is the first time since the 2008-2009 season that Arsenal averaged less than a goal conceded per game. It’s also the first time since the Invincibles that Arsenal finished in the top 2 teams defensively. And it’s an astonishing turnaround from last season’s 49 goals conceded which put Arsenal in 8th place defensively — Wenger’s worst defense of his tenure.
Much of that good defensive record, however, came since the 2-1 loss to Spurs and subsequent dropping of captain Thomas Vermaelen and starting keeper Wojciech Szczesny. Including that ignominious loss to our London rivals, Arsenal conceded 1.14 goals per match on average. Since then, the defense has tightened considerably and in those 10 games, allowed just 5 goals for an average of 0.5 goals per match. And Arsenal kept 5 clean sheets.
Interestingly, Arsenal have also scored 1.90 goals per game in that 10 game run, which is the same as their season average of 1.89. Arsenal also only had one scoreless draw in hat 10 game run, compared to the 6 they had in the 28 games previous. They also converted shots and shots on goal at roughly the same rate as they has all season, converting 12% of all shots and 35% of shots on goal. But again, the opposition’s conversion rates dropped from 9% on all shots to just 5% and from 26% to 19% for shots on goal. So while there were a lot of concerns about Arsenal concentrating on defense at the expense of offense, it didn’t seem to be the case.
Though I will admit that six of those last 10 games were tighter than a hipster’s corduroys and we could have done with a couple dozen goals to give Arsenal some breathing room. But still, the only thing that went on a “downward spiral” was Arsenal’s rate of conceding goals.
As for whether the credit is more to Bould or to Koscielny, I leave that to you all.