Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal: Gunners Missing Midfield, By the Numbers


First 20 Minutes

114 – Liverpool outpassed Arsenal 114-81 in the first 20 minutes
81 – Liverpool completed more passes as a percentage than Arsenal 81-74 in the first 20 minutes
6 – Liverpool outdribbled Arsenal 6-1 in the first 20 minutes
4 – Liverpool outshot Arsenal 4-1 in the first 20 minutes
1 – Number of errors Theo Walcott made in the first 20 minutes, doing his best impression of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against West Ham and producing the exact same result, a turnover and a goal for the opponent

Between 20th minute and 55th

182 – Between the 20th and 55th minute Arsenal and Liverpool attempted the same number of passes
18 – However, Arsenal lost possession 18 times while Liverpool lost possession just 7 times between 20-55th minutes
6 – Giroud lost possession 6 times in that period, Walcott 3,
10 – But Arsenal outshot Liverpool 10-4 in that period and went ahead off a Giroud goal which came when he finally turned his man and didn’t lose the ball

56th minute to 93rd

238 – From the 56th minute to the 93rd minute Liverpool outpassed Arsenal 238-122
14 – Liverpool also took 14 shots to Arsenal just 3
11 – Arsenal lost possession 11 times in that period, Liverpool (who had 107 more touches than Arsenal) lost possession 9 times
6 – Ramsey and Ozil combined to lose the ball 6 times in that period
2 – Ox lost the ball twice and also had that failed dribble when he probably should have passed the ball to Ozil
9 – Despite having most of the ball, Liverpool won more interceptions than Arsenal in that period
9 – Liverpool also won 9 tackles against Arsenal who only won 10 in that period

Full time

534 – Despite Klopp saying Liverpool couldn’t play possession football they outpassed Arsenal 534-380
22 – Liverpool also outshot Arsenal 22-14
12 – Though the shots that mattered, those in the box, were closer with 12-9
24 – Liverpool won more tackles than Arsenal 24-22
18 – Liverpool won more interceptions than Arsenal 18-17
12 – Liverpool outdribbled Arsenal 12-8
14 – Liverpool also lost a lot more dribbles than Arsenal 14-7
32 – Arsenal lost possession more than Liverpool 32-21
70 – Ramsey only completed 70% of his passes, Özil was worse with 67%
69 – Flamini only made 69% of his passes
7 – Ramsey and Giroud attempted the most tackles, Ramsey only won 3 and Giroud 4
5 – Campbell won the most tackles, 5/6
2 – Campbell didn’t win the most interceptions, but he was tied for second with 2
2 – Campbell also didn’t lead Arsenal with the most through balls but he was just 1 behind Ozil with 2
8 – Giroud led all players losing possession 8 times (Giroud won both of his dribbles)
6 – Özil was second with 6, he also had 2 failed dribbles bringing his total to 8!
5 – Ramsey was third with 5! He didn’t even try a dribble

Rasmey-Flamini Not Up to Par with Cazorla-Coquelin

I suspect Arsenal could have suffered one injury to the main axis of Arsenal’s midfield, but losing both Cazorla and Coquelin has broken Arsenal. Arsenal’s passing has fallen off a cliff, Arsenal’s dribbling has fallen off a cliff, Arsenal’s shots taken has fallen off a cliff, and Arsenal are now allowing the opposition a crazy number of shots per game, while not tackling as much and not intercepting the ball as much. Why?

Per game With Cazorla Without Cazorla Difference
Passes 542 489 -53
Completed passes 464 409 -55
Shots 17 12 -5
Shots allowed 11 16 5
Goals 1.71 1.86 0.14
Goals allowed 0.86 1.29 0.43
Shot Ratio 2 1.44 -0.56

Arsenal are not able to pass the ball as well without Cazorla and Coquelin. Cazorla is the kind of player who likes to drop and collect the pass so that he can recycle possession. This frustrates some fans but helps give the team better balance because he’s there to collect any errant clearances and there isn’t a huge hole for Coquelin to cover.

I suspect that Cazorla and Flamini partnership would have worked just fine because the distance between Cazorla, who mainly stays in the actual box-to-box role, and Coquelin is smaller than between Ramsey and Flamini because Ramsey plays like a forward and gets into the 18 yard box a lot more than Santi does.

Thus, Flamini, who isn’t the best player in the world already is made to look and be a lot worse than he already is as he is constantly caught out of position basically covering two CM roles.

The problem is that Ramsey plays like a forward and not like a box-to-box midfielder. He doesn’t pass as well as Cazorla and he doesn’t dribble as well. He doesn’t create for teammates and instead needs teammates to create for him. He also turns the ball over like a forward, shoots like a forward, and while he does tackle a lot he can’t make up for the loss of Coquelin in that regard because he doesn’t win significantly more tackles than Cazorla did.

Per game Ramsey Santi
Shots 2.8 1.6
Key passes 1.5 2.6
Successful Dribbles 1.2 2.6
Failed Dribbles 0.7 0.6
Dispossessed 2.6 1.4
Bad touch 2.1 0.9
Tackles 2.3 1.8
Was dribbled 2.3 1.9
Interceptions 1.8 1.8
Passes 67.6 82.1
Pass % 86.2 90.3
Long balls 1.8 3.5

I know that most fans say that Coquelin’s injury is the real problem but for me, Cazorla was the heart of Arsenal’s midfield. As you saw today against Liverpool, Arsenal are easily overrun in midfield without a player like Cazorla who can dribble out of tight situations (2nd on the team in dribbles) and find the right teammate with a well weighted ball (led Arsenal in passing). Cazorla’s technical superiority also allowed him to retain possession more than Ramsey (Ramsey is the 7th most profligate player in the League as far as turnovers are concerned, all the players above him are all forwards) and his keen eye for creating shots (2nd on the team in KP) meant that teams couldn’t just double up on Özil.

More than any other player Arsenal miss Cazorla. Cazorla and Flamini would have worked yards better than Ramsey and Flamini.

The question, then, is whether Coquelin is missed as well and there is no doubt. Arsenal’s defensive numbers are a shambles without Coquelin:

Per game With Coquelin Without Coquelin Difference
Tackles 38 32 -6
Successful tackles 17 13 -4
Interceptions 21 17 -4
Clearances 24 26 4
Blocks 3 4 1
Goals allowed 0.64 1.40 0.76

Again, this is difficult to separate Cazorla from Coquelin, they both went down at the same time. Also, Flamini is basically playing in the midfield by himself because Ramsey doesn’t sit with him. But when you compare Flamini to Coquelin straight up you can see why so many miss Coquelin:

Per game Flamini Coquelin
Shots 0.3 0.4
Key passes 0.3 0.2
Successful Dribbles 0.1 1.8
Failed Dribbles 0.1 0.3
Dispossessed 0.4 0.9
Bad touch 0.4 0.3
Tackles 2.1 3.2
Was dribbled 0.8 1.1
Interceptions 1.7 2.7
Passes 41.5 46.9
Pass % 87.7 91.5
Long balls 1.2 2.6

Just like Cazorla v. Ramsey, Coquelin is a better dribbler, better passer, and all around better defender than his replacement.

What remains to be seen is whether Elneny can fill in for Coquelin. Many think he’s got the engine and technical ability to do it but very few of us have seen him play and he has never played a single minute of Premier League football. How he would have fared with Liverpool pressing him today is a huge unknown. It’s also a huge unknown as to whether Wenger can or wants to make Ramsey play a little more conservatively. Unless he does, we could see this new guy thrown to the wolves and left covering giant gaps in midfield.


Sources: Squawka, Whoscored


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