Arsenal getting crushed by their peers: By the Numbers

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Losing 5-1 at home in the Champions League is the worst loss Arsenal have ever suffered at the Emirates, and while the refereeing controversies added to the bloated scoreline the fact remains that Arsenal have been diabolical in big games this season.

Last season Arsenal played 14 matches against other big money teams. By “big money” I mean teams who can afford to pay top salaries: Liverpool, Tottenham, Man U, Man City, Chelsea, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. Arsenal won three of those matches, drew five, and lost six. As a result Arsenal averaged just a point a game over those 14 matches.

However, when I look at the underlying stats, there was cause for optimism.

For example, Arsenal scored 19 goals and conceded 24 in those matches. And even more optimistically, Arsenal matched the opposition 17 to 17 for goals scored in the 18 yard box. Arsenal’s weakness was that they allowed 7 goals from outside the 18 yard box. These are normally converted at a 3% rate, and were instead shipped at a 7% rate. Not great, not terrible, but something that could and should be addressed easily.

You probably already know this having read my column before, having played football before, or having a modicum of intelligence, but your chance of scoring a goal increases as you get closer to the goal. So… and I’m not at all insulting your intelligence pointing this out… you want your opponents to take their shots from outside the 18 yard box: they are usually easier to save, less chance of getting on target, and smaller chance of scoring.

Arsenal did exactly that against big teams last season, matching them for shots in the box 122-134, and creating the exact same number of big chances (one on ones with the keeper, shots from very close range, penalties, and other shots we expect to score) 31-31, but conceding 57 more shots from outside the box:

Arsenal shots in 6 yard box 11
Opposition shots in 6 9
Arsenal shots in 18 yard box (not inc. 6 yard) 101
Opposition shots in 18 125
Arsenal shots outside the box 45
Opposition shots outside the box 102
Arsenal big chances 31
Opposition big chances 31

 

Arsenal’s conversion rate last season was also superior, finishing 12% of their overall shots, while keeping the opponents to a bog average 10%. Using my expected goals formula, I have Arsenal with a score of 22 expected goals and the opposition 26. Sure, there is room for improvement here but these are big games and big games should be tight.

This season, however, Arsenal have gone off the rails. First, the good news: Arsenal are finishing 14.46% of their shots! This is a great finishing percentage and unlike last season where Arsenal were generating great shots but not finishing, this season Arsenal are taking their chances.

Now the bad news!

Arsenal’s offense may be more efficient but they aren’t generating as many chances as they did last season. And worse, Arsenal are conceding just as many good chances as they did last season and the opposition are now scoring their chances at an alarming 16.5% rate.

Arsenal shots in the 6 yard box 3
Opposition shots in 6 12
Arsenal shots in 18 yard box (not inc. 6 yard box) 60
Opposition shots in 18 93
Arsenal shots outside the box 35
Opposition shots outside 52
Arsenal big chances 11
Opposition big chances 33

 

Arsenal aren’t getting shots in good positions, taking just 3 to 12 in the 6 yard box and taking about 2/3rds of the number of shots inside the 18 yard box that the opponents have taken. As for shots outside the box, well, that’s gotten worse. Arsenal are now allowing 10% of the shots from distance in for goals. 5 out of 52 is just atrocious but 3 of those were scored on Ospina on 5 shots faced. That’s just straight up a droppable offense right there.

All of the other stats look worse as well. Last season, Arsenal allowed more shots on goal per game in these matches, averaging 6.5 shots on goal allowed per match. This season Arsenal are allowing just 5.36 shots on goal per game. But the opposition are scoring 44% of their shots on goal this season compared to 26% last season. The opposition are also scoring nearly 50% of their big chances and are generating 3 big chances for every one we generate. Our keeper isn’t saving us in these games like he did last season.

As for the expected goals this season, Arsenal are at 11 and the opposition 22. That’s really close to the actual goals scored of 14 and 26.

Red cards change games as well and against these teams, Arsenal already have two red cards this season. But, again, last season Arsenal got 4 red cards in 3 matches. So, while the red cards this season have dragged down Arsenal’s stats (especially the 5-1 defeat last night), the team had more reds last season than this.

During the Fabregas years Arsenal were known as a slick passing team who stuck to their possession-based football plan regardless of their opponents. This led many to criticize Wenger (myself included) and suggest that he try a pragmatic approach. Wenger was supposedly a stubborn man and stuck to his footballing aesthetics. We were going to play football the Arsenal way. Or so we were told.

In these last two seasons, playing against these other big-money teams, Arsenal have only out-passed our opponents five times. When Arsenal beat Barcelona 2-1 in 2011, the Gunners completed 84% of their passes. This season, against these big teams Arsenal are averaging just 79% pass completion.

One last thing I noticed compiling all of this data is that when Arsenal play Tottenham we routinely struggle to complete our passes. This season, Arsenal barely broke 70% passing against Spurs. Last season it was 71% away and 75% at home. Similarly, Arsenal at Liverpool was a 71% passing rate and Man City away was another 71% rate. At Bayern, this season, Arsenal completed just 69% of our passes.

A low passing percentage would be ok if Arsenal were a cynical, fouling, counter attacking team. If Arsenal killed off the clock or played an organized defensive scheme. But Arsenal don’t even seem to be doing that. Arsenal are being matched tackle for tackle averaging 31 per game to the opposition’s 30, and actually being slightly out-tackled in tackles not coming from a dribble* 12 to 13.

Arsenal aren’t winning the ball back, they aren’t defending the box well, they aren’t generating great chances for themselves, they aren’t saving shots, and they are being out scored through superior finishing. You’re not going to win many games with that as your formula. I guess the good news is that Arsenal only have three more of these matches to play between now and the end of the season, so long as we don’t draw one of them in the FA Cup.

7amkickoff

Source: stats compiled using the 442 stats zone app, going match by match. Please don’t ask me for individual player’s stats. I don’t have time for that. Thanks.

*Most tackles occur in a 1-v-1 duel between a dribbler and a tackler, however, some tackles happen when the player is just holding on to the ball. These are the ones I’m looking at here.

Qq

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40 Comments on "Arsenal getting crushed by their peers: By the Numbers"

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clins

arsenal performance of late have been so lame that i’ve become numb to every match. i dont expect arsenal to win against liverpool or bayern. but still the team always find new and inventive ways to humiliate themselves and the fans.

i dont know how the baord can put up with those utter humiliating performance. this might be the best owner any club manager could ever have. any other team would’ve fired their manager for sure

Runcorn Gooner

The ability to regularly lose the ball in crucial parts of the pitch is quite mind boggling.

It seems at times they just won’t take the easy option.Trying to run through the opposition like TW does all the time.

Opposition know how we play.How about surprising them with something different and easy…..you never know it might work.

bopalula

What? A plan B? Heresy!

Liam Bradys left peg

The board dont give a fuck mate. The ONLY thing they care about is ££££.

loose_cannon

Kronke probably sitting at home thinking “10-2? Darn, we were so close! Just a couple of touchdowns away…”

btw

Wenger’s champions league last 16 decline, by the numbers
10-11 Barca 3-4 aggregate
11-12 Milan 3-4
12-13 Bayern 3-3 away goals loss
13-14 Bayern 1-3
14-15 Monaco 3-3 away goals
15-16 Barca 1-5
16-17 Bayern 2-10

We’ve been doing worse every year the last 4 years, at least we used to challenge. These last four years the financial shackles came off, but we’ve done worse. Wenger should be praised for what he did on a limited budget, but once he got money to spend he could not improve the team.

Gooner1886

Arsene just go please. I’ve been watching the Arsenal since 87 and you’ve somehow managed to kill all my passion and enjoyment. I don’t even care if we have to get worse before we get better, at least we might enjoy the journey back up.

As things are right now I’ve seen every game before, every interview before and every disappointment just repeats and repeats.

I was more excited to watch haye v bellew than Arsenal v Liverpool and that’s because the boxing had many possible outcomes, everyone already know the Arsenal Liverpool result 🙁

punter

I am bored. Bored of the yearly collapse, probably finish within 4 every year, of ‘the arsenal’ ‘wenger’ bashing. When Wenger signed 3yr deal in 2014 after the FA cup, I was completely behind him. But like he said “give me 3 years to win the title” – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/11269500/Arsene-Wenger-I-will-win-Premier-League-title-with-Arsenal-again-inside-three-years.html

Looks like the title won’t be won this year, so please lets all move on (and wenger too). I desperately want things to get interesting. Obviously before any wenger-ins start to attack me, i have utmost respect for him. If I were to run into him on the street I will still treat him like a hero and not shout insults at him.

Kwame Ampadu Down

I’m bored of the football too. We’re not even good to watch any more.

punter

I have stopped watching MOTD every weekend since before the bournemouth game. Its all very sad. Arsenal FC is in a fragile place at the moment. Hopefully we all pull through this together.

TG

I don’t think there are many of us left now!

spinner

Thanks 7amkickoff, pretty damning stats.
The majority of fans have no confidence that Wenger can address the issues which result in these Groundhog Day failings.
I wonder on what basis some fans want him stay on?

Futsboller

Let’s discuss this in earnest at the end of the season. Until then, wouldn’t it be great if the ‘majority of fans’ could focus on making the Emirates a difficult place to play for the opposition and for the officiating crew, rather than for our manager and his squad? I tend to think our hostility towards our own team is nothing but hospitable to the opposition, but I’m in the minority on this one.

spinner

I don’t think there any fans being hostile to the team? The banners (which are not rude or hostile) are aimed at the manager not the team.

Unfortunately, we cannot sit quietly and wait until the end of the season. There is a 2 year contract is on the table. Wenger has already confirmed that he will be managing next season, and that his preference is Arsenal.
Therefore the banners and protests are essential to discourage Wenger to sign he contract.

I would rather not have the banners but if they mean we don’t experience humiliation again next season, then I am in favour of them.

Futsboller

(Though not a direct topic of discussion, but if you aren’t sure that the fans are being hostile to the team or not, just have a read through the comment pages on the last 5-10 stories.) Whether we like it or not, the players have stated they support the manager, want him to stay, and play for him. If the majority of fans believe the manager should step down yesterday, protest his presence in the team prior to the match and respond to Bayern goals by holding up their banners, this, de facto, creates a hostile environment for Arsenal to perform within.

When the opposing team and officials take the pitch and get a sense of what the majority of Arsenal fans are feeling, they might end up feeling quite welcome. Fans on here often translate losses and especially embarrassments as nails in Wenger’s coffin; wouldn’t Vidal feel right in thinking he did us all a favour last night?

I am firmly of the belief that the manager, the team, and the board have been dismal the past few months and that is unacceptable (and they have to own up to contributing greatly to the atmosphere above). But I think too many people are taking the short cut in believing that by simply replacing Wenger we will not experience humiliation again next season. You’ve thought long and hard about it to reach your Wenger-Out conclusions, but for too many fans it is an emotional reaction (fed by the propagandistic ‘if you support Wenger, you don’t support Arsenal’ campaign) to an absurdly disappointing season. I wish we’d focus on football and not the manager till the end of the season, as we appear to be only adding to our woes on and off the pitch.

Julian Gooner

The problem is that we can’t focus on football while ignoring the manager situation. The fact is that with our current manager, we have experienced too many embarrassments, especially this season. I will never find it in myself to disrespect the man I consider to be our best manager of all time. But I also can hardly bear to watch another game with him in charge because we are living in a time where even Lincoln City are managing every minute of a game. Umaxit is making videos that break down the tactical plans of every team. But Arsene is well known for placing his trust in the players to be the problem solvers on the pitch, and in the age of the “Super-Manager” who tells his players when is a good time to breath, our boys are getting hung out to dry with all that trust. It’s been said here both in the comments and the blogs that we no longer seem to have any playing style, and to me it seems like we hardly have any tactics to speak of. I don’t think a managerial change will be a panacea to all of our problems, but even if it gets worse before it gets better, it would sure be nice to have a style of play again.

Futsboller

Julian – Well said, but we do have a playing style, we’ve just lost it recently beneath the pressure and the problems going on behind the scenes and in front of the scenes (media, fan unrest, etc.). This team, under Wenger, were outstanding for nearly 20 games after opening day this season, in which we didn’t lose a game and beat the opposition pretty good at times (using style and steel, Plan A and Plan B).

Wenger does trust the creative abilities of his players and their instincts (i.e., when to intercept, when to make the run, etc.) more than most managers in the game, but it’s another reason why, on their day, Arsenal are so beautiful to watch. The game is always changing, from week to week, and tacticians are getting more and more acclaim in the media (easier for them to analyze than a free-flowing design) such as Pep, Klopp, and Pochetino in England, but these guys are hardly runaway successes in the PL, the reason being that tactics can be beaten just as easily as the apparent absence of them can. Conte is the only one really making it pay dividends. Without making this too long, I say apparent absence of tactics because there is this misunderstanding about Wenger that he doesn’t prepare his team; it’s patently absurd. Wenger doesn’t drill into his players the response they should have in every situation the way coaches like Conte and Pochetino (who just tells his rather unsophisticated players to run and press in numbers) do, but he does instruct them how to play, how long to stay on the ball, how not long to let the opposition stay on the ball, whether to press them out or cut them off at the back. The problem is, the players have been horrendous at carrying out his plans; this is still his problem, or course, but he’s not beyond it. In my opinion, that is …

john allen

What player in his right mind is going to say he wants Arsenal to fire Wenger and replace him with “anyone”?

Stillmatic

It seems all your comments only seem to be about Attacking and blaming the fans for the current malaise, particularly the attending fans at the Emirates.

How is your support at the games? Where do you sit with your seasons ticket? Do you even own an ST? How many games do you attend?

Maybe you should stop attacking the fans who pay out of their arse to support the team and actually Atter yourself, and stop being a hypocrite.

Futsboller

As you know very well from previous comments (we’ve been through this, but OK, beat me with it again …), I do not get to enjoy the luxury of attending Arsenal F.C. matches in person. I wish. I dream, and perhaps one day I will. I sit in a terribly unlucky Arsenal jersey on a ridiculously uncomfortable chair at home or take to a pub to watch our (or should I say “the team,” since clearly I cannot claim any ownership) team play. I know in your mind that makes me less of a fan, and less justified in commenting on Arsenal.

I am not blaming the fans for the current malaise, but I am suggesting that “the majority of Arsenal fans” (according to spinner) have put their agenda of removing the manager first before the team’s success on the pitch, and that contributes to the malaise surrounding the club. The protest outside the Emirates was all over the news, the images after a Bayern player would score (and the ones circulated the following day) had Arsenal fans with banners and signs raised, and the players and manager are being asked as much about disgruntled fans as they are about their prep and performance.

I understand the anger and frustration of fans who pay and don’t get the entertainment that they want, who don’t get the results they want and that they believe their hard-earned money should provide. I understand the belief that you paid for the seat, that gives you the right to shit on it; but if you really want me to believe that you are acting solely in the best interests of Arsenal F.C., and not in your own, then you’ll have to behave differently.

Imran Habib

Wenger has always been the classiest manager in the game. That distinction is built upon intense loyalty to his players that have earned said loyalty.

So when we see a player like Wilshire who clearly demands a move away, naturally, Wenger obliged out of loyalty. This should be praised but the alternate is also true, it can hurt the team. Not playing Perez until he fully earns the trust of his manager, or playing a player that’s out of form in the team for too long are all side effects of having a manager like Wenger.

I wish he would change just a little, but I have my doubts he will. But I also cant overly critize as I love a manager as classy as Wenger.

Maybe the players need to step up and stop taking advantage of the trust they have earned in Wenger? Or maybe it is time to bring in someone new.

All we can do, as fans, is treat Arsene with a Wenger like class and cheer him on until he departs. At least we don’t have fat Sam!

Herewegoagain

His loyalty is selective. What could we have done with Bergkamp, Vieira, Gilberto, Thierry, etc who have been discarded when they have coaching skills to offer.

Similarly failing to re-sign Fabregas or sign any number of the successful players that Wenger states “he watched for several years”. All because of loyalty to players who were not up to the job but bowed to his will or pay restraints.

All those players who went to Man C, or Barca or Manure, as much as we can hate them, did not feel Wenger showed them the necessary commitment.

He much preferred to sign willing donkeys like Silvestre, Luzhny, Kallstrom, Benayoun, etc who would not expect to be champions, because they would succumb to his will. Even Steve Bould seemingly has no say or desire to say anything about the worst defensive performances since the 60s.

The Board/Owner need to see what will become of their precious franchise /cash cow if this is allowed to continue. Wenger changed English football but has not changed since then whilst everyone else has.

Rant over!

kaius

Going through these numbers is a bit like reading your own autopsy.

Gervinho

Maybe we need someone to score from outside the box a few times.

Might force teams to come out and defend us further from the goal. This may create more space inside the box to create opportunities.

Wild!

GoonerAbroad

The frustrating thing is we do have players who can shoot from outside the box! Xhaka, Ox & elneny all have good long shots, as did players like Arteta, Cazorla, Podolski on arrival but it is seemingly coached out of them by the Arsenal team

David C

Agreed!

I also liked that we were bypassing the midfield some times and pumping the ball up quicker to the strikers! more of that please.

goongot

i have no idea how blogs manage to do all this with such meh performances from our team….i dont even find any motive to watch arsenal games anymore

Chuffy

These stats don’t mislead, but Wenger is constantly. He is always praising the players mental strength, which is obvious to everyone watching just plain wrong. They have been falling apart now for months. Mentally strong players don’t perform the way they have been. Wenger is becoming a huge scape goat for the board and owner. They haven’t publically backed him or said anything of note in months. They should be ashamed of themselves for letting such a legend suffer and behave like this now. Wenger should leave, but the owners are acting disgracefully.

Matthew

Soooo new keeper, new defensive midfielder, new star striker….Oh and a new manager needed in the summer then.

Lord Bendtner

Anyone else feeling dull and just out of it today?

I wasn’t expecting us to win yesterday. But I still watched the game. And it’s not like my dreams were shattered or anything. But for some reason, I just feel really dull and out of it today. Don’t wanna do anything. Just wanna lean back in my chair close my eyes and daydream…

Someone's something

It’s like everyone is saying the same things over and over again. If we are to ever compete for CL and PL again we have to get Wenger away from the team and try with a different manager. If he is to sign another contract it seals the deal for me. If he manages to do that it has been proven beyond any doubt that the board is at Wengers mercy.

bazza_wicks

in the days of fergie at man u he always stuck up for the team and deflected away from their performances but he could go in that dressing room throw some fucks into the players smash a few Tea cups and see a totally different side they knew the consequences of playing for the club and badge, but Wenger sticks up for the teams bad performances with same old bullshit we’ve heard a 1,000 times or more his attitude seeps poison through the team and we are more laid back than a mattress, the board are spineless too, what has he got to do to walk the walk. If he stays i will never enter the Emirates again till his departure, if he is intelligent as we perceive then common sense will prevail

Wanker

Interesting.

Oppo converting 44% of their shots is shocking. Suggests a lot of defenders exposed on the counter, leading to sitters. Because we’re chasing games.

Decline in our shots in 6 yard box is due to absence of tall French bloke.

Wengerballz

I’m glad someone is finally pointing out we actually had a more fluid game back when we were poor. Wtf happened? Bring back Arshavin and Rosicky

Monkey Nuts

With no idea how to defend what is the point of Steve Bould? I might as well sit next to Wenger and chew some gum.

El Piresidente

Like so many have said, just numb and apathetic about it all now. I still go to every home game but it feels like I’m just going through the motions of turning up, because it’s something that I do. No expectation of joy and no great anger in humiliation. I can honestly say that at the moment, I get more pleasure from watching Arsenal Fan TV than I get from watching this team.

santori

Very worrying.

We really miss the presence of Santi in midfield. He is the heart beat of the team.

Alexis tries to make up for things but he tries too hard at times and goes all individual. Many times, he loses the ball and we are on the back foot again.

Bellerin has also gone off the boil and we do not have an option to replace his attacking power. Against Bayern, I was surprise (well not) Mustafi scored lower than Bellerin in ratings because Bellerin was so poor with his passing and unaware at times of who was running in behind. Mustafi was good first half (until Koscielny again left). I believe he put in 3 very good through balls one to Walcott which was amongst our best opportunities.

Javelin Accident

I don’t think tackles are a good stat. Barcelona, for example, put a lot of pressure on the ball without committing to a tackle, and it forces a lot of turnovers. Committing to many tackles can be a negative stat for a defender as it is a last ditch attempt after losing their opponent.

Freddo

It takes Wenger two years to work out that Alexis is a magnificent centre-forward. He finally works it out and acts as if it’s a stroke of genius. Alexis starts banging in goals from all angles. But now Giroud is back as Centre Forward. You seriously couldn’t make this s… up.

Freddo

Alexis, Welbeck, Lucas, Ramsay, Ox, Theo. These guys are all greyhounds. Klopp or Pep would have sent them out to crush sides with their pressing. Indeed, it looked like that was the direction in which Arsenal was heading at the beginning of the season with Alexis as CF. Alexis is the best forward-defender in the world. Remember how he picked Gary Cahill’s pocket and scored the first goal against Chelsea? Arsenal were really doing well at that stage.
Then what happened? We went back to having Giroud up front. Yes, seriously. After that we basically only had two forwards (you can ignore Ozil) interested in pressing (Alexis and the winger on the other side) and a huge hole in the middle of the bucket (Giroud and Ozil). No wonder Alexis has been waving his arms about trying to get players to push forward. I’d be frustrated too. No wonder the backline finds itself under so much pressure, because Arsenal are not defending from the front.

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