0 - If stats don’t exist for a match, did the match happen?
Funny thing about Champions League Qualifiers, some stats outfits don’t record the data: for example the folks who do the numbers for ESPN. Not sure exactly why this is but it highlights a frustration about where we are in terms of football data these days.
The good news for us is that two other outfits collect data, Opta and whoever does the numbers for UEFA. Let’s take a look at what they have to say about yesterday’s overwhelming win over Fenerbahce.
1 - Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny received Arsenal’s only yellow card, for time-wasting, as he went to retrieve a new ball from the ball shaggers behind the hoardings. I vaguely remember some other Arsenal player getting a yellow card for time-wasting in an important game. You’d think Arsenal were the Stoke City of the Champions League the way we seem to collect time wasting yellows.
32’56″ - Total time Arsenal had the ball in play.
30’05″ - Total time Fener had the ball in play
26’59″ - Remainder of the 90 minute match in which both teams took throw ins, placed the ball for a foul, took a penalty, or cleaned Koscielny’s blood off their shirts.
These are UEFA’s official timing numbers. So, can someone tell me why, if there’s 27 minutes of a match (this was not unusual by the way) where the ball is not in play, the official gave Szczesny a yellow card for “time wasting” for taking 10 seconds to get a new ball?
One last thing: depending on where you look, you will see that Arsenal controlled 52% or 56% of the possession. This is because different places count possession and time differently. For example, according to Opta, Han Solo once did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs and according to UEFA Jabba the Hut won the rights to host Euro 2040 on Tattoine. It’s all in how you measure time and possession.
16 - Arsenal took 16 shots against Fener (or 14 according to UEFA) and got 7 on goal (or 10!). Who knows?
I really hate this time of year, have I mentioned that yet? It’s summer but you can smell fall approaching and for some reason UEFA thinks Arsenal got a ton of shots on goal. Arsenal put in a decent performance but I don’t think they got 10 shots on goal, unless we are counting some of Theo’s cross-cum-shots. Can I say cross-cum-shot and get past the NewsNow filters?
2 - Szczesny saves to keep the clean sheet.
This week has been Szczesny in a nutshell: one wild match and one match where he makes great saves to keep the clean sheet. I went back and watched all of the matches again last season and sure enough he’s just inconsistent like that. His inconsistency is why I can say that he had a great game in terms of saves and distribution (10-14 long balls, not all just kicked out to Sagna) yesterday but Arsenal still need to buy a keeper and Szcz can compete for the starting spot, like de Gea did at United. If he’s good enough, he’ll win.
11 - Arsene Wenger has won 11 out of 11 Champions League Qualifiers.
Wenger has been to the Little Dance 11 times now and has won every single time. Arsenal’s goal dominance in those matches is 27 for 3 against. Pretty good! The other good news is that Arsenal can rest players for the next leg and bring on some, uhh, erm, Eisfeld?
1 - Aaron Ramsey scored his first Champions League goal since Olympiakos last October.
Ramsey led all players in tackles (5), interceptions (3), and passes (79), and also managed 2 key passes, 1 for 1 through balls (for Theo’s assist), 5 of 6 long passes, 2 dribbles (one was such a lovely turn!), and was dispossessed 0 times (he did have 2 turnovers). With the exception of the goal, it was almost the same statistical performance as against Aston Villa. It is a bit early (statically) to call him “a stature, a physical presence” in midfield but that didn’t stop Arsene from indulging in a little hyperbole!
Ramsey worked well together with Jack and Rosicky with the latter being the number one pass combination for Arsenal.
9 - Olivier Giroud has now scored 9 penalties in his career.
Arsenal haven’t scored a penalty away from home in the Champions League since Gilberto against Hamburger in 2006 (Arshavin missed the only other attempt, at Partizan in September 2010). That seems like a long time until you remember that Tottenham hasn’t scored a penalty in any Champions League game in, like, forever!
When Arsenal won the penalty, though, I thought for sure Theo would take it and much to my surprise it turned out to be Giroud. Olivier blasted the ball into the top of the net. It was a brash penalty befitting a man who has never had a penalty saved. Really? 9 for 9? P.S. Nope, he’s missed penalties. Can’t we get one database with the correct information in it? One place to look instead of 1000?
8 - Wilshere successfully completed 8 dribbles v. Fener
That’s a lot. Like a crazy number even against a team who were as awful as Fener were yesterday. To give you some context, Villa rotationally fouled him on Saturday to ensure that he was only able to complete 2 dribbles against them. So, while Ramsey gets the MOTM gong, his teammate in the midfield was also instrumental in pushing the Gunners forward getting an assist and leading the club with three key passes. P.S. Just noticed that Wilshere was fouled 8 times and completed 2 dribbles v. Villa and completed 8 dribbles and was fouled 2 times v. Fener. Odd.