Arsenal 2-0 Everton: by the numbers

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Weird stats

Arsenal conceded possession 48-52
Arsenal attempted fewer passes 393-433 (you would know this if you knew that possession is mostly based off passes)
Arsenal made more tackles 27-15
Arsenal had more interception 24-14
Arsenal had more clearances 44-21
Arsenal committed more fouls 12-5
Arsenal had more ball recoveries 61-53

All of which indicate that Arsenal played deep, invited Everton to attack, and hit Everton on the counter.

But…

Arsenal utterly dominated final third passing 136-62
Arsenal dominated shooting 17-8
and Arsenal passed the ball at the same rate as Everton, 81%

Typically, when we see a defense-first approach, the defensive team does all the things in the first chunk and the result is that the things in the second chunk are flipped. In other words, if you invite the opposition to attack, they will normally oblige and get more passes in your final third and thus take more shots. And we normally see the counter-attacking team have a lower pass completion percentage because they are trying a lot of long outlet passes.

I suspect what happened was that both teams came out to play a similar style: press early then sit back. As a result, whenever Arsenal got the ball, after the initial pressure, they sat back and let Arsenal work the ball around. More evidence for this theory is in the fact that both teams attempted nearly the same number of tackles in the opposition half (Arsenal 11-12 Everton) and that the territory stat was almost dead even at 50.5%-49.5%. Also, both teams had almost the same number of corners 8-9 and crosses 26-24.

Interesting match from a tactical standpoint and I await the analysis of better tactical minds than mine to unpack the data.

Set play troll

Did you know that Arsenal lea the League in goals from set plays?

Yes they do! With 16.

Ok, granted, 6 of those are penalties but Arsenal are also third in the League with 6 goals from corners. Chelsea and WBA have 8, Palace have 7, and Arsenal and West Ham have 6. In conclusion, Arsenal now play defense-first football and score off corners, just like West Ham.

The big difference being that Arsenal are 4th in the League in total passes per game and West Ham are 19th and Arsenal are dead last in long balls per game.

WHEW.

Who is the man?

Who…
led Arsenal’s passing with 43/47
led Arsenal’s final third passing with 29/31
led Arsenal with 5 key passes
led Arsenal with 2 assists
…Özil

Who…
led Arsenal with 7/8 dribbles
…Ox

Ox gathered the MOTM gong from WhoScored.com and to be fair to him, he did have a decent all around performance. He had 3 key passes, 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, and he was only dispossessed the 1 time. Meanwhile, Özil didn’t have any defensive stats and was dispossessed 4 times (led both teams).

Also, Özil was 5/6 crossing and Ox was 2/7, Ox was 80% passing, Özil 92%, and all of Özil’s crosses came from corners, though 5/6 is still impressive considering that Arsenal normally complete just 35% of their corners.

All of that is to say, I’m giving Man of the Match to Santi Cazorla.

1. He was captain.
2. He was second on the team in passes 39/44.
3. He was third on the team in final third passes 17/20.
4. He only created 1 shot for his teammates.
5. He took 3 shots for himself and forced a great save from Howard on one.
6. He was only 2/3 on dribbles, though one was a rainbow dribble deep in his own half to break pressure and start the Rosicky counter attack.
7. He had 6 ball recoveries, just like Coquelin (3rd best on the team)
8. He led the team with 5/8 tackles, just like Coquelin.
9. He had 2 interceptions, both in the Arsenal box.

Basically? He played along side Coquelin in a more conservative role and did a fantastic job! If Arsenal’s game plan was to sit back and counter it was Cazorla who provided a second pivot to Coquelin while also springing the Arsenal attack but staying conservative while doing that. It was the kind of quiet performance that doesn’t gather lots of kudos but was crucial to the final result.

Honorable mention:

Rosicky, scored a goal and made an awesome tackle after Cazorla dribbled straight into the Everton defense.

Gabriel, 10 clearances (2nd on the team), 6 interception (led all players), and a last ditch tackle to save a goal. Also made 87% of his passes but they were all very simple. Had one bad moment where he didn’t attack the ball properly and required a big save from Ospina. We need to see his passing range (and more matches in general) before we can comment on whether he should start regularly but overall it was a good debut from the January buy.

Ospina also had a good match, two good saves, and that tackle mentioned above. He also had a punch which kept Lukaku from getting a head on the ball.

All good, Arsenal in 3rd place!

@7amkickoff

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