Stoke 0-0 Arsenal: By the Numbers (why Ox couldn’t pass)


The 7amkickoff Index

1 – Arsenal’s position in the Premier League table
2 – Points per game average by Arsenal so far this season (tied with Leicester)
76 – Points Arsenal will finish the season with at that pace
75 – Fewest point total a team has amassed to win the Premier League (1996-97 Man U)
78 – Points Arsenal needed to win the League for Wenger’s first League title in 1997-98
88 – Average number of points teams have needed to win the Premier League since Arsene Wenger’s last League title in 2003-04
92 – Max points Arsenal could finish this 2015-16 season with if they win all 16 remaining games
16 – Points Arsenal could drop and still finish with 76 points this season
5 – Number of losses Arsenal could still allow and finish the season with 76+ points
4 – Number of losses Arsenal could still allow, along with 4 draws, and still finish with 76 points
5 – Number of “top” teams Arsenal still have to face this season (Chelsea at home, Leicester at home, Man U away, Tottenham away, Man City away)
100 – Percent chance that I would take a draw in each one of those 5 games
10 – Teams Arsenal have to face in the final 16 games who are bottom half teams
2.63 – Points per game Arsenal have averaged from 2013-14 to 2014-15 against those bottom half clubs
1 – Loss Arsenal had in those two years against those bottom half clubs
2 – Points per game Arsenal have averaged this season against bottom half clubs (astute readers will suss out how many points per game Arsenal have won against top half teams…)
3 – Losses Arsenal have already had against bottom half teams this season

Recent Struggles Continue

14 – Shots taken by Stoke City against Arsenal today
8 – Shots taken by Arsenal today
4 – Games this season in which Arsenal have taken 8 shots (8 is the fewest shots Arsenal have taken in a League game this season and oddly it has now happened 4 times)
7 – All 4 of those games have come in the last run of 7 games, since Sunderland on December 5th
2 – Number of points earned per game before the recent slump
2 – Number of points earned per game after the recent slump
6 – Shots on target by Stoke (Arsenal had just three) all saved by Cech, plus Cech had a single claim, and while none of their shots were considered “big chances” by Opta, there were at least three outstanding saves by Cech, 2 of them from shots in the 6 yard box to earn him a point in his points tally for the season (link to my site, bringing him to 8 points saved

Passing struggles (blame OX!!!)

Arsenal had a hell of a time passing the ball today, a combination of their freshly tilled pitch and the makeshift nature of the midfield didn’t do the Gunners any favors.  Arsenal finished the game with a very poor 78% passing rate.

The pitch at the Britannia is specifically designed (narrow) to crowd the midfield and stop passing teams. Which is why Arsenal managed just 78%, Man City passed the ball at just 72% in their 2-0 loss to Stoke at the Britannia, Man U just 77% in their 2-0 loss to Stoke at the Britannia, and Chelsea played a little better passing 82% in their 1-0 loss. These are the top passing teams in the League and they struggle at the Britannia.

Oh yeah, you also read that right, Man U, Man City, and Chelsea all lost at the Britannia this season. Of the top teams only Leicester (1), Liverpool (3), and Arsenal (1) have taken points from Stoke at home.

Ox hit exactly 78% of his passes and created just one chance for his teammates. That’s quite a drop from Özil, who leads the League in chances created with 4.4 and passes at an 87.5% rate. But again, before you climb on Ox’s back, you have to understand that Stoke’s pitch and team are custom made to stop teams from passing because the narrow pitch it makes it so easy for their midfielders to close space.

It’s also why I laughed my tits off when I read that people are calling them “Stokelona” and that Mark Hughes is proud to wear the moniker.

Ramsey had a good game, he led Arsenal in passing and ball recoveries. He also had just two total turnovers, passed the ball at an 84.5% rate, missed all three of his tackles and both his shots, and created the best chance of the game for Arsenal with that corner that Giroud nearly headed into the net.

Oh yeah, Walcott was 6/7 dribbling and Ox was 5/5. They were only dispossessed twice, combined, though Walcott did have 4 bad touches and Ox 2.

Bleh game made worse by their horrible fans, their disgraceful pitch, and the fact that we didn’t win.


Sources: Opta, my database


Correction: According to the Premier League handbook, all pitches have to be 105x68m unless the stadium cannot fit such a pitch (there are several clubs playing in outdated stadiums which are granted a waiver: Tottenham, Chelsea, Everton, and Liverpool are notable). Further, those dimensions cannot be changed during the season without the consent of the board.  I had gotten my information from secondary sources (newspaper articles in the buildup to the game) but according to the handbook the pitch at the Britannia is 105x68m. However, that still doesn’t explain why top teams can’t pass there and why the pitch looked cut up, especially down the wings.


    • As Alan Shearer said “Our performance against Stoke showed we had the ability to win the title”.

      Despite how poor the match was we were generally in control and did not allow the Orcs to bully us.

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      • Alan Shearer talks bollocks 99% of the time and accidentally says something right.
        That doesn’t make him an expert, just a tosser that gets lucky occasionally.

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    • It’s within the allowed measurements, of course, but most pitches are a few meters wider. Blaming the pitch is a bit silly though, as the difference is merely 68 meters (ours, most others) vs 66 meters (Stoke). It does make a difference, as it’s quite a few square meters less to cover, but that some of the missed passes yesterday were just shit passes; they had nothing to do with the pitch.

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      • I would blame the quality of the pitch for a lot of poor passing not the size. The ball was bobbling all over the place. I guess they have trouble growing grass in MORDOR!!! Haha.

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  1. Great article as always. I do think a point there without our 3 most creative players is a good result, considering how other teams have done there.

    Also, I’d really like to know how many points Cech has won us this season, anyone keeping a tally?

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      • Seems like we are more exposed and frenetic without cazorla. Yes Ramsey provides a goal threat but he also leaves us much more open a s per the Liverpool game. sure we also miss our coq but looking forward to having both back in the team!

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    • I agree, but I think your emphasis is wrong – it’ll be the most consistent side. This is a great season – the rain why it is wide open is becaopen almost all of the teams are good. Since are still elite, but there are very few terrible teams, and nearly every team has players who, on their day, could beat anyone. This is how sorry should be, essentially. The Arsenal are a terrific team to watch, and definitely have the quality to last – it’s going to be great to watch!

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  2. win all our home games (27 points), draws (at least) against manure, city, spurs away, (3 points), win 3 of 4 against bournemouth, sunderland, everton and west ham away (9 points). that’s not too much to ask of a team that wants to win the title.

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    • Win all our own games, huh? Let us see what we do against Chelsea – this is a vital game. Unless we start well (score an early goal), we may be either in for a frustrating draw or even a sad sucker-punch (Fab may be shit but Costa can still make the run and Fab can still find him)

      I only hope we don’t get any bad news on the injury front.

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  3. Thank fuck for football stats in general and your brilliant articles in particular man. I’ve been arguing with people for what seemed like hours about Ox . Almost devolved into physical confrontation!
    I still don’t understand how football can turn full grown adults into completely unreasonable kneejerking pricks.

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    • I’d be curious about the stats for misplaced passes or passes to…nowhere. I don’t think the stats above show that. I saw Walcott pass to the opposition at least twice today. I don’t know where that’s reflected above. I also saw Ox pass out of touch at least twice today, trying to hit someone on the break. Those two players were a liability today, and just because some numbers said they did some work doesn’t make that go away.

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    • Same here! I think Ox and Ramsey’s performances were fair. In the context of the Match and the surroundings and how other teams played at Stoke as well. Ramsey defended more in this game.
      By the numbers should be uploaded before the match reports to give perspective on things.
      A bit harsh to compare Ox to Ozil. Only Chelsea had a better passing average than us, yet they lost!

      The result was not that positive, but the context of the game in relation to how other teams have performed there is encouraging at the very least. Mind you, Ramsey’s character is once again exceptional. To produce a top performance amidst the hostility from the Orcs is just pure class. After Liverpool’s game, its only natural players would be jaded. That point seems very precious now, despite the fact we could have gotten 3 points – same to the Orcs!

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    • Same with me too. Personally I think it was because we all really want to beat Stoke away and sadly some of our fans have lost perspective..

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    • What I love about Joel Campbell is how well he sees the game. It’s like Wenger says: at the moment you say “release the ball now”, he passes, and at the right weight.

      And then you watch Ox, and he rarely gives the ball at the right time. He just doesn’t see the game.

      Watching Campbell reminds me about everything that I wish Ox could be. Ox has a better burst and shot, but nothing else.

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  4. With Ozil out, they should have played someone other than the Ox in the hole behind the striker. I would have started Arteta as he is a better passer of the ball and has a good shot on him as well. He would have created better chances for Giroud, Walcott, and Campbell.

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    • His control is generally pretty sharp – he had two heavy touches against Stoke, but I think he’s sharper than that usually. I’m actually more interested in his shooting, particularly from his wrong foot.

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  5. do you have the pass completion stats for stoke in those games you mention above? i’m curious if they have similar pass completion as their opposition. if it’s hard for arsenal to pass the ball it should be equally as hard for stoke – correct? it seems that the narrow pitch could be planned for and taken into account during training before heading to the brittania – and team strategy adjusted accordingly, i.e. stop stoke from playing their game at home.

    it really pisses me off that this is a team that arsenal should be tearing a new one every time they meet as retribution for the ramsey incident and yet we can’t. if there’s any team that arsenal should be up for it and dishing out as much physical play as the other team it’s stoke. should’ve had gabriel on today.

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  6. I think it’s a norm for our fans to overreact to everything. A draw is not a bad result against those mugs. If you watched their game against City, they dominated city and city only had 1 chance. They really make it difficult for everyone.

    It’s always going to be tight up at the top in the prem, just hoping for our injured players to be back asap!

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  7. I fuckin’ love it when I go through these stats and try to find out what 7am’s hinting at. It’s this retarded, convincing way of making a point across. Like all these stats working in tandem to convince me of this one sentence that puts it together. EVERYTIME. I JUST LOVE IT. Great job.

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    • I fuckin’ love it when 7am puts in the time and brainwork (at the weekend when most others are chilling) to crunch stats, present them in a digestible format for us to consume for free, just so some of us can leave daft comments telling him how they skim read most of it or find the process “convincing” yet “retarded”.

      My constructive criticism is that this site should also deal out free prescription medication. Some of us are clearly running low on supplies.

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  8. I thought Walcott was really really poor. Wrong decisions, poor touches, running with the ball into opponents and a general poor energy level.

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    • Yup, me too. But you can definitely find numbers somewhere to make Walcott and Ox TOTALLY COOL!

      They were terrible, both of them. Our attack suffered because of them, and it was telling that Wenger replaced Walcott with…Iwobi. Nothing against Iwobi, but…ouch. But I’m sure if Wenger saw that Walcott was 6/7 dribbling he’d have changed his mind! DOH!

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      • He was not ok.

        I didn’t think he was ok.

        Wenger didn’t think he was ok.

        Let’s stop with the ok.

        6/7 dribbling tells us nothing about when he passed to the opposition, lost possession, or just squandered possession.

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        • However, it tells us a lot about moments when their dribbling relieved pressure in midfield and allowed the team to get in attacking third without orks taking the leg with the ball. When Cazorla does that, people seem to notice, when Ox does that, he is overpriced english twat who doesn’t grow up. Interesting.

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      • I dunno what he’s trying to say either, but I think the patterns you spot are a result of some top quality work.

        Our possession stats and shots per game average have gone way down since Coqzorla were injured. The difference is ridiculous.

        I honestly think we’ve done well to remain top considering all our injuries, and the length of those injuries.

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    • There was a counter-attack later in the game where Giroud was about to release the ball for Theo to overlap on the left, and then I thought… where’s Theo? He was at DM.

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  9. “Oh yeah, Walcott was 6/7 dribbling and Ox was 5/5. They were only dispossessed twice, combined, though Walcott did have 4 bad touches and Ox 2.”

    Exactly this! I was shocked by the negative reaction from our fans yesterday, especially directed at those two players. Not their best games but I didn’t think they were terrible at all. Nor Ramsey. I felt we needed to change our game up though, find a longer pass and use Walcott’s runs earlier in the build up then we tend to. Like for his goal against the orcs at the emirates

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  10. Our fans are too reactive when our performances are below par.
    Often times they get personal (a case of Ox, Walcott & Giroud).
    I bet most of these fans can not kick a ball if they are thrown in a game against 80+ year olds (let alone below 5s).

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    • What does that have to do with anything? It’s still possible to see the difference between a poor performance and a great one. It’s not particularly difficult to figure out that Cech saved us a point, on what would otherwise have been a rubbish evening.

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      • No, it has to do with everything. Yesterday it seemed the whole internet went into bashing mode about Ox, Walcott and Ramsey, when in reality they had a solid game on slippery icy surface against orks.

        For gods sake, those are amazing dribling stats when you consider they played on ice skating pitch, and when you think about how many times their dribbling relieved pressure in midfield, they did quite well!

        My point is that NO, if you’re not that good in football you tend to make an uninformed decision.

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        • Dribbling stats? That’s completely irrelevant. The number of chances created and shots on goal were shite, so why care about the dribbling? Ramsey, Walcott and Ox were our main creative assets and they produced nothing of note. Campbell and Bellerin are the only ones producing, and they’re our least experience players.

          Also, most pundits on TV were utterly brilliant at actually playing the game, but they’re useless as pundits. Journalists (Amy Lawrence etc) overall make much better pundits than ex-players.

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        • The other thing some gunners refuse to recognise is that Stoke (who’ve beaten City and United here!) played out of their skins while we were sub par, but could still only get a draw. Oh well, the glass will forever be half empty for some people

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  11. I think your “88 points on average to win the title” stat is a bit misleading. To my mind there is a difference between the number of points league winners get, and the number of points they needed to win the league, as there often is a bit of a margin at the top. It would be strange to say Chelsea needed 95 points to win the league in ’05, as they had a massive 12 point gap. On the other hand, if they’d gotten 11 points less they probably wouldn’t have won.

    If you’re interested, I’ve tried a different way of looking at the number of points needed to win the title: I’ve counted all the teams reaching a certain number of points in the league, and how many times that total was enough to win the league. For example, in the PL era teams getting 88 points or more have won the league 10/12 times. Teams getting 84-87 points have won 6/11 times. Teams getting 80-83 points have won 4/12 times. So based on that, I’d say the average number of points needed to win the league is right in the middle of that range, at 85/86.

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  12. Not true that we could lose four and draw four and still finish on 76 points, as that would be another 20 points dropped, not 16. If we lose another four games, we’d have to win 10 and could only afford two draws.

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    • Premier league site seems to have every club as the same pitch size. Think it’s an approximation, or maybe the PL’s recommended size.

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  13. Definitely tougher to pass at that stadium, but still Ox had some horrific passes that were poorly placed when he had no pressure on him. It’s one thing to try for a probing pass through a couple of defenders in the attacking end that is picked up, but the number of turnovers he (and others) had in our defensive half was really high. Ever since Coquelin and Carzola went out in my opinion the passing/possession game has really struggled for consistency. The numbers may say differently, but the eye test tells me it has.

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  14. As for pitch sizes, I made a correction. I checked the Premier League handbook and there are standards for pitch size this year (105x68m). According to the handbook the Stoke pitch fits the standard (some stadiums don’t, again, according to the book). That still doesn’t explain why none of the top teams can pass the ball at the Britannia.

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    • Last year (or 2 years, I can’t remember exactly), the BPL passed a ruling that all pitches must be of identical proportions in order to promote fair play amongst teams. The only exceptions to that ruling are clubs whose current facility could not expand to meet the requirements. I remember it being a big deal because QPR is one of the exceptions. They made the field as big as they could, hence why the fans were literally on top of the field and the side camera literally was mounted on a pole at the mid line.

      Sadly the ruling didn’t make it mandatory to take care of the pitch, and hence the lower clubs often allow some mismanagement before big clubs come to play. They call it gamemanship. There was a great article regarding this that i read last year, just can’t remember the site.

      Also, FIFA has been watching to see how this ruling works out because a number of clubs (specifically asia and concacaf teams) tend to play on pitches which just meet the min requirements to make playing better teams easirer at home.

      P.S. nice article as always

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    • But it does remove the excuse of pitch size which was used to excuse some players. Further, pass completion rates for Stoke weren’t significantly lower than those for Arsenal.
      I’m sure pitch quality provides some of the excuse. As does the fact that we had played a very difficult and physically demanding game a few days earlier versus Klopps gegenpressung.

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  15. Tim, I have a feeling you averaged the points winning teams amassed to get the average points needed to win the league cuz it seems so high at 88 to me.

    I think the correct number should be just a point more than whatever the runner up finishes with. That will give a more accurate number. If this is already what you did, then never mind me.

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