Return of the Profligate Son: By the Numbers


Arsenal beat Leicester 2-1 but the match was much closer than people think, especially in the first half before the referee decided to make the match all about him. The same way that a penalty changes a game a red card changes a game as well.

You know that, of course, and I feel stupider for having typed that sentence. And that last one.

I don’t want to be accused of saying the red card wasn’t deserved, it was stupid of Simpson to drag Giroud back by the arm while on a yellow, but I do want to point out that doing a “by the numbers” column is weird when you have a red card in the game. I can’t just say “Arsenal made 692 passes” or “Ramsey had 3 key passes” because that’s not the actual story of the game. I have to divide the game into pre-card and after card stats.

Here, take a look at this and see what I mean:

1 – Minute in which Arsenal attempt their first shot (Alexis, from a corner)
69 – Minute in which Arsenal get their first shot on target (Walcott, goal, big chance, assist Giroud)
15 – Minute in which Leicester get their first shot and their first shot on target (Vardy header, big chance, saved)
44 – Minute in which Martin Atkinson gives Leicester their last shot on target (Vardy, penalty, big chance, goal)
54 – Minute in which Danny Simpson is sent off
7 – Shots Arsenal had created up to the 54th minute
5 – Shots Leicester had created up to the 54th minute
0 – Shots on target Arsenal created up to the 54th minute
3 – Shots on target Leicester (plus Atkinson) created up to the 54th minute
17 – Shots Arsenal took after the 54th minute
6 – Shots on target by Arsenal after the 54th minute
2 – Shots Leicester took after the 54th minute
0 – Shots on target by Leicester after the 54th minute

Before the card things were pretty equal as you can see by the shots stats. Leicester were assisted by Martin Atkinson in the 44th minute but there were only 10 minutes of game state which Leicester had the lead. Up to the 54th minute Leicester played their game plan, win the ball back, hit with quick counter attacks.

For example, up to the 54th minute, Arsenal had 497 touches and were dispossessed or turned the ball over 24 times. That’s nearly 5% of their touches resulting in loss of possession. In the Man City game, playing against Tottenham’s constant pressing, City had 649 touches and lost possession just 29 times.  But after the red card, Arsenal finished the game with another 407 touches and lost possession just 10 times. That’s 2.5% of their touches resulting in loss of possession after the red card. Clearly, Leicester’s pressing game was squelched when they lost a player.

So, it’s kind of uninformative to do a “by the numbers” column on a game with a red card. Things just get too distorted by the advantage of having an extra man.

The Profligate Son Returns

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Theo Walcott lashed in Arsenal’s opening goal against Leicester. That was Theo’s 8th touch of the game and he, more than any player on this team, is usually mister efficiency. Still, he had gone over 500 minutes since his last goal and had taken 16 shots without hitting the back of the net.

He’s not the only player who was in a dry spell. After jumping out to an incredible start, Mesut Özil hit the skids and went over 500 minutes without an assist. Thankfully, he and Welbeck ended that streak with the last minute header against Leicester.

It’s not popular to point out but Giroud, Alexis, and Ramsey are all in a dry spell at the moment and they are a major reason why Arsenal have only scored six goals in our last six games.

505 – Minutes of play Theo Walcott went between scoring for Arsenal against Man City and scoring for Arsenal against Leicester
536 – Minutes of play Mesut Özil had gone between his assist against Bournemouth and his 17th assist of the season today against Leicester
471 – Minutes Giroud has played since he last scored (21 shots)
450 – Minutes Aaron Ramsey has played since last scoring (13 shots)
270 – Minutes Alexis Sanchez has played since he last scored (13 shots)
42 – Percent of big chances converted by the top 7 teams
34 – Percent of big chances converted by Arsenal
73 – Big chances created by Arsenal (blows everyone away)
25 – Big chances scored by Arsenal
39 – Goals scored by Arsenal (minus 2 own goals)
64 – Percent of Arsenal’s goals scored that come from big chances
51 – Expected goals for Arsenal based on the number of big chances and shots in prime areas they have created this season
46 – Percent of big chances converted by Giroud (7/15)
18 – Percent of his overall shots Giroud is converting (all competitions 19/103)
9.7 – Percent of all shots that are being converted in the Premier League this season
36 – Percent of big chances converted by Alexis  (4/11)
11 – Percent of his overall shots that Alexis is converting (10/89)
33 – Percent of big chances converted by Özil (3/9)
18 – Percent of his overall shots that Özil is converting (7/40)
23 – Percent of big chances converted by Theo (3/13)
11 – Percent of his overall chances that Theo is converting (7/63)
20 – Percent of big chances converted by Ramsey (2/10)
9 – Percent of his overall shots that Ramsey is converting (6/69)
0 – Percent of big chances converted by Ox (0/1)
7 – Percent of overall shots converted by Ox (3/43)
100 – Percent chance someone will blame Ox for why Arsenal have been profligate of late
0 – Percent chance that is what I am doing here


Sources: Opta, my database


  1. Interesting stats as always.

    0 – on-field action after the goal was scored
    0 – margin for error
    Gazillions – happiness level after the match

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  2. Giroud is carrying us from a goalscoring perspective (apart from right now)

    Cech is saving our arses

    Ozil is supplying the bullets dutifully and we’re firing them erratically.

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  3. 3- position of Arsenal in the league table now
    1- postion of Arsenal in the leaguetable in May
    0 – fuchs i give for position in the table now
    GAZZILION – fcks i give to win the league in May

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    • Was watching the game with my girlfriend, at some point after watching an animated me for much of the second half she asked: “why is this game only played on one side? I mean, there’s a whole field to use yet all I’ve seen is this part of the pitch.” I didn’t care to answer her though…

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  4. To be sincere, I didn’t enjoy the “by numbers” as I normally do.
    Even with 11 , I’m sure they couldn’t have that madly till 90 minutes. And from the 30th minute mark we looked likely to score more than them.
    I would like to know the percentage of big chances that ” world class” like Suarez, Lewandowski, Benzema, Aguero and Zlatan convert to give me an ideal about what u talking about.

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  5. So, our dispossession rate before the Red Card of 24×100/497 (4.8%) was similar to the dispossession rate for Man City versus Sp*ds of 29×100/649 (4.5%) but things improved after the Red Card with a dispossession rate of 10×100/407 (2.45%) which is about half of the rate before the Red Card was awarded.
    Could we compare that with how Man City fared against Leicester City, when they lost 1-3 at home?
    I am merely suggesting that because Leicester and Sp*ds are similar but not identical in their tactics.

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    • Man City are a better possession team than Arsenal. Against Leicester, Man City had 760 touches and lost possession just 25 times. 3%

      This is an uncomfortable fact for many Arsenal fans but Arsenal aren’t as good with possession as they were, say, 10 years ago. We struggle to break presses with passing and dribbling. This is especially true without Cazorla.

      I can’t figure out what kind of team Arsenal are any more. They’re not excellent in possession, nor excellent out of possession and we seem to have stopped pressing like we did last year.

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      • Just a guess but maybe we are now a more versatile team, one that’s not exceptionally excellent at something, but good at a bit of everything. Obviously we can’t impose our possession style on our opponents like Barca, nor are we specialists in pressure soaking like Chelsea, but we seem to be able to adapt according to the opposition: play possession football against bottom-half teams, be more sensible against top-half teams. I don’t think in the PL you can play one-dimension football like in Spain. Maybe that’s why Wenger has been seeking these versatile and hard-working players so much.

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      • Arsenal playing style is control the play in midfield by short passing and using the speed of wingers to ever the ball keeping is average when we are without cazorla..few years before we never got others ideas of counter attacking us..but now we are aware of it we are balancing the game..

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      • Cazorla and Özil are the only truly “pressing-resistent” midfielders we have, plus maybe Sanchez when he’s on form. Meaning they are players that don’t lose or give away the ball when pressed. Very few teams in the PL do proper pressing though, so we often get away with it.

        I don’t think Arsenal has ever done any properly methodical and organised pressing to be honest. Run quickly towards any opponent when they have the ball? Yes. Press in a group, press space as well as the ball, press players onto their weaker foot? No. Gegenpressing? Never.

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      • Tim, that’s the new Wengaball…an amorphous style (with no specific patterns) that others haven’t been able to figure out too. Yet it seems to be working -:)

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      • Wenger has repeated several times recently that he believes possession appears to be less important and those teams with lower possession often win. Perhaps his thinking has changed. We are certainly a more fluid flowing team than possession obsessed ticky-tacky football that we were even four years ago. When we were invincible, what were our possession stats? I seem to remember all our great goals were flowing movements from our half. Obviously the game has progressed since but it would be interesting to see.

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      • The reason you can’t figure this out is because of injuries.

        The 4-2-3-1 we used in the FA Cup would have stayed if the key players that made it tick stayed fit. It was a counter attacking side. And it was absolutely devastating.

        But with Giroud at the tip, you can’t counter attack that well. And with Flamsey at the base of the midfield you don’t control possession well either.

        So it is kind of a mix bag and it feels like the team is simply adapting to its circumstances until they get everyone they need back for the original 4-2-3-1.

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  6. 47-the minute when ramsey decides to selfishly(I don’t know the number of times he has done that over the years)go for glory when he had an unmarked Ox ready for a direct big chance shot just to his right.Its painful and quite really frustrating to see him go for the hollywood pass or shot when an easier and better positioned teammate was available.If relentless running and desire to get forward are the only positives he brings to the team ,with poor decision making and repeatedly leaving the back four exposed his perennial negatives,then I would really love to see how Elneny fares in his position.

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    • Right before you wrote ” It’s painful..” you could have just stopped writing altogether. Sure, Ramsey should have passed to Ox there. I noticed it, as did everyone else. But there’s no need for all your pain and frustration. Just move on.
      Ramsey’s one of our best players, the centre of everything we do. He’s one of the first names on the teamsheet, even if he has to play out of position Wenger finds a place for him. Do you not get that by now??! This is all bullshit I hear from everyone dwelling on every single mistake he makes as if it was the end of the world. He does so much good, he (just like Alexis) is allowed to lose the ball or scupper a chance more often than other players.
      Just stop already.

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    • the Arsenal version of Catch 22:

      endless possession and recycling hoping to tease out an opportunity: fans demand shoot-on-sight

      shoot-on-sight doesn’t lead to goals all the time: fans demand passes to the side

      if you can’t just take some pure unadulterated joy from what we witnessed yesterday, i don’t know whether there’s any outcome in the game that’d make you happy. it doesn’t make everything perfect by any means but blimey. sometimes you *can* just enjoy it – like the evisceration of the Glazerhawks earlier in the season, this was a very different experience of joy but fucking hell was it joyful? You bet your life it was.

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      • Credit where credit is due – Ramsey is hugely influential in our team and his attitude and application are always exemplary. But I also think we can have a conversation about a player’s effectiveness. In this case, I don’t have an issue with Rambo trying creative passes or taking a lot of shots. But I do think we can notice that his shots are missing the mark far too often. There were three separate opportunities in the Leicester match where he really needs to be doing better. Once he measured a curler wide (ok, it’s not easy), once after Schmeichel’s magnificent stop on Giroud, the ball falls right to him and he blasts it miles wide. And once early in the second half after he makes the initial pass into the box and Giroud back heels back on the edge of the box. The By the Numbers stats are clear that we are creating great chances and not finishing enough of them. These are prime examples. A number of players need to spend some time working on finishing, and Ramsey is one of them.

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    • this “Ramsey is selfish” bit is getting pretty stale by now.

      there’s no doubt he’s been one of our most consistent and important players, especially when we were missing key players due to injury.

      let’s focus on real issues.

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    • Christ!, i can’t believe any one can find it in their heart to “bash” Ramsey after the kind of shift he put in on this one….unbelievable!
      Cut the guy some slack pls, will you?…No player gets it right 100% in a football match, because these games are usually played at frenetic pace and these are these are split second decisions made with adrenalin pumping at 1000%? without benefit of forensics?……not even messi, or ronaldo, who actually won best player on the planet awards few time over.

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      • Yes Bims, but maybe Rambo should ‘runarounnabit’ less and focus more on the positional (his and the team’s) and tactical side of his game, then maybe he’d not give the ball away so much? Just a thought..

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  7. Big fan of by the numbers. Keep it up Tim. Btw, everyone ran their socks off. Alexis came alive in the second half and the much maligned giroud provided the assist for Walcott. How many has he assisted this season?

    No matter what you say about his finishing, he is a team player and I feel wenger is again building the forward line based on him. I.m no fan of him, but I really loved how he never seemed to give up yesterday. Very unlucky with that brilliant smeichel save.

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  8. FA has been awfully quiet. Surely that tackle on Ramsey must bring about a violent conduct charge. There is no way the ref saw it, so how come it’s not being reviewed?

    Thanks, as always, for the stats work!

    7 – Number of times I swore at the TV during the game.
    5 – number of times my 4 year old told me I said a bad word…

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  9. I blame Petr Cech.. What a waste of 10 million.. Can’t even get into position to score.. 0 big chances, 0 shots on target, 0 goals.. Can’t he do anything right? Wenger out

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    • Even Kasper Schmeichel managed a shot on target. That is, when he wasn’t kicking the post, or moving the ball six inches and back again before kicking it, or generally being a timewasting arse.

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    • You know, I actually considered adding Cech’s goalscoring stats to the article. Something like

      54,563 — Minutes Petr Cech has played without scoring a single career goal.

      Which is a true fact!

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      • 54, 563 minutes??….Geeeeeez!….and wenger spent 10 of our hard earned millions on that??…….thats it for me! wenger definitely out!

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  10. 100- percent in which the English press is unhappy that we beat a diving bunch of cheats on Sunday.
    100 – percent of people who think Tim Sherwood and Danny Murphy shouldn’t be allowed on television again after justifying cheating by Vardy.

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    • 100 – percent of people who think Tim Sherwood and Danny Murphy shouldn’t be allowed on television…pass the peanuts.

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    • “diving bunch of cheats”

      If Chelsea did what they did, there rightfully would have been widespread outrage and condemnation. Instead Leicester are lauded for their efforts. I find them very unlikable.

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  11. @7amkickoff,

    What if Leicester would have won/drawn with 10 men- would you have done a “by the numbers” then? I think Arsenal deserve credit for taking full advantage of the extra man and breaking down a resilient and one of the best drilled teams in the league.

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  12. Theo really is the most frustrating man in the world. Just when you’re about to write him off he pops up and scores an absolutely crucial goal. He really does seem to be a big game player but almost exclusively a big game player!
    This season he’s scored in both games against Leicester, against Man City and against Stoke. All tough games.
    He scored in the FA Cup final 2015,
    2013-14 scored two against Man City
    2012-13 scored three in that amazing cup games against Reading, also scored against Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United.
    2011-12 scored against Man United and Chelsea as well as in both CL qualifiers against Udinese
    2010-11 scored against Chelsea and Sp*rs
    2009-10 scored against Barcelona
    2008-09 scored against Chelsea
    2007-08 scored against Spurs
    2006-07 scored in the league cup final against Chelsea

    Funny chap.

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  13. So does Arsenal’s superb chance creation and poor BC conversion rate mean we are due a goal explosion? This is definitely what I am hoping. : ) (and is that called progressing to the mean?)

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  14. As euphoric as I am after yesterday’s win, I’m still very worried about our calendar. It’s going to be hard as f*ck to win this league but we can do it.

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  15. I hate these refs who let football get physical. And Michael Owen for saying “if Welbeck didnt score at the last minute it would have been a draw” Damn Goat. And Danny Murphy for calling a dive clever. Murphy means shit in my lingua

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  16. I think Arsenal os the most hated club on twitter right now for beating the “good guys” The pleasure is all ours. COQUELIN should be banned from football for politely asking Mahrez to look at the substitution board

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  17. Couple of extra Numbers:

    7 – Players leapt into the crowd (7!). Welbeck, then Giroud, Chambers, Monreal, Ramsey, Walcott and Sanchez.

    5 – Number of times an Arsenal player gave either Leicester or Martin Atkinson the “verbals”, and it was nothing less than beautiful to see.

    Giroud going at it with Schmeichel. Coquelin treating Mahrez like that drunk girl who doesn’t know the party’s over. Alexis and Ramsey enraged by Martin Atkinson. And maybe best of all was Walcott, who was fuming but had to wait a couple of minutes for a passage of play to end. Seeing Theo sprint over to Atkinson on his own to abuse him for missing Drinkwater’s tackle on Ramsey was amazing. Plenty of fire and solidarity in this team, and it’s helped us overcome all the missed Big Chances, injuries, dry spells and diabolical refereeing decisions against us.

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      • Yeah Ozil ran over to that corner and hurdled the advertising boards like the others. But the footage doesn’t doesn’t show him (or Mertesacker and Bellerin, who’d stayed back near half-way) fully jump into the crowd with the others.

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  18. Im dont care if this sounds like ass kissing, any fool can throw out meaningless stats but it takes real intelligence to decipher them like 7am does. Well done 👍

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  19. Ive noticed for a while that wenger very rarely signs clinical finishers. Eduardo(b4 leg break) ljungberg, bergkamp, dutch skunk, these are the clinical players that i remember. Even Henry missed quite a few sitters in his time, if he were clinical he would have been hitting messi ronaldo numbers. Fergie always made sure he signed clinical strikers, although that was probably down to being able to out bid us for players. Giroud is a good striker, but for me there are alot of better finishers out there than him, we would be clear at the top by now if we had one

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    • Incredible to think that nearly two generations of striker have come and gone during the Wenger era. We missed some good ones didn’t we?

      The way I see it, Wenger buys players who are technically good enough to execute his game-plans. His game-plans are engineered to generate a large number of Big Chances (in spite of personnel). And he believes that those types of chances should be put away by the “average” Arsenal player, whoever the chance falls to. And even if we don’t have a forward who’s on course for 25-30 goals (fuck you, missed chances!) he believes the total team goals should make up for it. It’s one hell of an experiment, frustrating as it can get.

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    • I agree that if we played truly with a second striker or a more aggressive/selfish number 10 than Özil some his skills would be highlighted. I love him as a player and appreciate all his skills.

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    • He didn’t buy God.
      Ljungberg wasn’t bought as a striker and wasn’t ‘clinical’.
      The dutch skunk was bought as a winger and was far too young to be thought of a ‘Clinical’.
      Eduardo was the only ‘finished’ striker he’s bought, but like Wiltord and a few others he didn’t make the immediate transition to PL football at the same level as their previous clubs, although Eduardo may well have done if he hadn’t been maimed.

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      • If you read what I said, I stated clinical ‘finishers’ as I was well aware that ljunberg and dutch boy werent strikers, even Henry was’nt a striker to begin with. the skunk became clinincal when becoming accustomed to the striker role, injury problems held him back for a long time. Giroud is also a ‘Finished’ striker but his level should be as Arsenal back up rather that our main striker. in our game plan if you dont have pace you must be clinical. Giroud actual harms our effectiveness for me, if we play a rapid counter attacking game he slows us down. Walcott upfront makes us more dangerous, although he too is not the answer since he is also hit n miss and cant link up play either. Welbeck has pace and can link up, yet his finishing (usually) is abit wayword. He may the best option for the run in though. but we are hamstrung at the other end of the picth as well, if we decide to play a high line then mertesaker also harms our game

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        • Yes, my point is that he’s rarely bought the finished article, so it’s even less likely he’ll have bought a clinical finisher, but he potentially did with Eduardo. Very few ‘clinical finishers’ around. Some of the ‘clinical finisher’ names mentioned during the summer were comical.

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  20. Have you noticed that every goal keeper we play against ‘has a blinder’? We are just shit at finishing, if we dont win the title this year it will be because of that

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  21. Another interesting point made by Michael Cox in an article was that Arsenal had taken advantage of Leicester’s inability to win headers. That too provided a lot of perspective imo. Their last 3 goals conceded have directly or indirectly come from headers.

    Good piece, 7amkickoff! Love the efforts you put in to get these numbers together and give us some perspective.

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    • That’s despite their former Orc RFC player Huth reverting to type and employing rugby tactics at every corner or free kick….

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