Arsenal blown chances and errors costly against Barcelona: By the Numbers


For 65 minutes Arsenal more than held their own against Barcelona. Despite a 70-30 possession count in favor of the Spanish side both teams had only taken 7 shots each and both teams had created 2 big chances. You could even say Arsenal played slightly better than Barcelona, having taken all of their 7 shots in the 18 yard box, while Barcelona took 3 of their 7 from distance.

But from the 66th minute until the end of the match, Barcelona cut Arsenal to shreds with a pulsating counter attack. Barcelona actually let Arsenal take possession of the ball and the touches were 192-204 (essentially 50-50 possession) with Barcelona having just a slight edge. But in terms of creating, with Arsenal playing so high up the pitch, Barcelona hit Arsenal on the counter with the speed of Messi and Neymar. As a result, the shots in those last 30 minutes went 8-1 in Barcelona’s favor with 4 of their 8 shots as big chances. Even removing the penalty, which was the correct decision and we can have no complaints, they created 7 shots and 3 big chances, all in the Arsenal 18 yard box.

But while the “big numbers” look fairly even the game actually turned on just a few events:

1 – Ox missed big chance (21st minute)
1 – Ramsey missed big chance (78th minute)
2 – Suarez missed big chances
2 – Neymar saved big chances
0 – Coquelin neither tackles, fouls, or follows Neymar when Sgt. Iniesta passes him the ball (70th minute)
0 – Mertesacker fails to intercept the pass from Neymar to Suarez taking himself out of the play and creating a 3 on 2 with Koscielny and Monreal versus Suarez, Neymar, and Messi (70th minute)
1 – Suarez draws Koscielny to him and passes to Neymar who is now unmarked and in a 2 v. 1 with Messi on Monreal
1 – Bellerin is trying to get back but he’s well behind the play
0 – Coquelin and Ramsey don’t even try to get back, they are beaten comprehensively
1 – Monreal leaves Messi to close down the ball
1 – Neymar makes a great pass between Monreal and Bellerin
1 – Messi scores from the big chance
1 – Koscielny shoves Messi in the back, nothing vicious, just out of disgust for what just happened
81 – Minute Flamini is subbed on
82 – Minute Messi wins a penalty off a Flamini foul
0 – Mertesacker isn’t given (by Opta) either an error leading to a shot nor a failed clearance
2 – Messi converts the penalty and thus goes 2/3 on big chances for the day

Some other stats

90 – Ramsey was 90% of 50 passes on the day, Arsenal’s most accurate passer
80 – Nacho, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Ozil, and Alexis all finish below 80% passing
3 – Ramsey leads all Arsenal players with 3 shots and they are arguably 3 of the 4 best shots in the game: 1 from the Özil drag back, 1 from the broken play but side open in front of goal and he almost kicks it out for a throw in, and 1 right in front of goal at the end of the match
4 – The Arsenal front 6 of Giroud (1), Walcott, Welbeck, Ox (2), Alexis (1), and Ozil only manage 4 total shots: Opta counted Giroud’s header as a big chance (which seems a bit harsh) and Ox’s shot was a classic big chance
13 – In contrast, the Barcelona front three (Suarez, Messi, Neymar) took 13 of Barcelona’s 15 shots
6 – Alexis led Arsenal with 6 dribbles and 6 fouls (drawn). He also was only dispossessed 1 time and only had 1 bad touch but he did fail 3 dribbles (6/9)
2 – Giroud only won 2/5 attacking aerial duels
2 – Coquelin only won 2/6 tackles. He also didn’t have any interceptions, only passed 80%, and managed just 5 ball recoveries (Bellerin and Koz led Arsenal with 7 each, Rakitic had 8 for Barcelona)
4 – Ramsey and Alexis both won 4 tackles for Arsenal, though Ramsey was better going 4/4 while Alexis was 4/6
6 – Koscielny led Arsenal with 6 interceptions, Alexis was second with 4 and Per Mertesacker had just the one failed interception (failed interception isn’t a stat that I’m aware of)
4 – Opta credited Mertesacker with 4/4 clearances even though one time, at band camp, the ball went to Messi
0 – Margin for error if Arsenal were going to win this game
2 – Errors that lost the game
2 – Missed big chances that could have won the game


Bonus stat: Messi now has 82 Champions League goals. In the same period of time (since 2005) Arsenal Football Club have scored 183 Champions League goals.

Sources:, 442 Stats Zone app


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