Welcome to Arsenal Sead Kolasinac: by the numbers

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What Kolasinac Does Well

Schalke are what I call an “interceptions oriented” team and are third in the Bundesliga in interceptions with 24 per game. Schalke also have center back Benedikt Howedes who is the 4th most interception-happy player in the Bundesliga with 3.8 per game and Sead Kolasinac is 11th in the Bundesliga in interceptions with 3.2 per game.

This defensive style sort of matches with Arsene Wenger’s philosophy. Wenger’s Arsenal last season averaged just 14.2 interceptions per game (7th in the PL) but in 2014/15 they led the League with 20.1, and in 2015/16 they were 4th with 19.4. Wenger’s players also led the League in 2014/15 with Coquelin 1st in interceptions with 3.7 per game and Koscielny 2nd with 3.5 per game. Koscielny led Arsenal in interceptions in 2015/16 with 3.8 per game and has almost always been at the top or near the top of this stat for as long as he’s been at the club.

So, this is to say that Kolasinac’s interceptions numbers were almost certainly an important factor in Wenger purchasing him.

Schalke aren’t a big tackling team, just 12th in the League in tackles per game (2.8), but Kolasinac did lead them in total successful tackles with 69. He was also a highly accurate tackler and was only dribbled past 21 times making his tackles rate 77%.

Arsenal also aren’t a big tackling team (7th in the League) but interestingly our leading tackler was Nacho Monreal. Monreal averaged 2.5 successful tackles per game and totaled 89 tackles but was beaten off the dribble a terrible 49 times last season making his tackles success rate just 67%.

Kolasinac had 7 assists (in both domestic and European play) last season which is outstanding for a left back. All of his assists were from the wide positions and two of them were what most people consider traditional crosses. The others were all from inside the 18 yard box via dragbacks.

This assists record matches his crossing record. He’s 9/44 crossing the ball. Which at 20% doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s better than Monreal who was 6/62 (10%) and I guarantee that at least one of Monreal’s “completed” crosses went all the way to the other side of the pitch and was collected by Bellerin. So, 20% cross rate is really excellent for a LWB for example, Boring James Milner crosses the ball at a 20% rate (51/250). If you’re going to have your defenders bomb forward like Arsenal do, it’s good if they can also cross the ball and even better if their crosses score goals.

Unknowns

Heading the ball is always a big transition point for players coming into the Premier League. Kolasinac won 56% of 3.2 headed duels last season, which is ok for a left back. When he played exclusively on the left (wing or back) he won 62% of his headed duels. When Monreal played on the left (in other words excluding the times he played center back) he was just 48% in aerial challenges.*

Aerial challenges aren’t the most critical skill for a fullback/wingback but a player who is perceived to be weak in that area will be targeted by the opposition. It’s also a well known tactic for teams with players like Andy Carroll to post up their big man in the wide areas to create a mismatch.

Kolasinac also fouls a lot. 1.6 fouls per game for Schalke. In contrast Monreal only fouls 0.9 times per game. But fouls aren’t always a bad thing and Wenger’s teams tend to shy away from fouls with just 10.5 per game, 4 fewer than Schalke. And Kolasinac has never gotten a red card. He only got five yellow cards last season and he’s never even gotten a second yellow card in his career.

This suggests that he’s a clean player but I’ve put this in the unknown category because when I watched his highlight videos he seemed like a wild tackler. And I’ve been watching Arsenal long enough to know that the Premier League likes to hand out red cards to Arsenal players, especially new Arsenal players (Gervinho, Koscielny, and Xhaka were all welcomed to the League with red cards).

Needs to Improve

Kolasinac missed four games last season with injuries and has a history of muscle tears. In three of the last four seasons Kolasinac has suffered a muscle tear (2013/14), a cruciate ligament tear (2014/15), and an abductor muscle tear (2016/17). Even when fit Kolasinac has never played more than 25 league games in a season. Last season, Kolasinac played the most minutes of his career, 2892. That’s a huge step down from Monreal who played 3798 minutes last season. That’s 10 additional full 90 minute games that Monreal played.

Kolasinac is also not a great dribbler. He successfully completed just 17 dribbles last season. Now this was 4 more than Nacho Monreal, but still not a good stat from a wing player. In fact, when he played left wing he was just 8/28 dribbles, 29%. Ox was 11/20 on the right and Bellerin was 42/56. Monreal was 13/20 and even Gibbs was 12/21.

Other players who played wide in a left wing/back position in the Premier League were Holebas who completed 42/71, Daniels was 31/40 and Boring James Milner was 30/38. There are also a lot of examples of players who play left back/wing who are good dribblers: Emerson completed 40/57 dribbles for Roma last season.

Dribbles may not be an issue for Kolasinac, however. Because he plays on the left, Alexis is typically the one doing the dribbling over there. If Arsene continues with his current setup then Kolasinac probably won’t be dribbling a whole lot.

Another weird thing about Kolasinac’s stats is that he’s got some pretty poor touch. He had 29 unsuccessful touches last season, Monreal had just 15. That’s 1.2 bad touches per game for SK and 0.4 per game for NM. And when we adjust for playing in the left wing position only Sead’s numbers go up to 1.5 per game and Nacho’s go up to 1.0 per game.

And Kolasinac saw a lot less of the ball than Monreal, averaging just 38 passes per game compared to Monreal’s 49. So, he was turning the ball over at a very high rate.

Kolasinac also had a large number of bad short passes. When he played just left back he was a 79% passer, completing 242/306 passes. When Monreal played left back he completed 1103/1241 passes. When we move Kolasinac forward he completed just 354/476 passes, 74%. Monreal completed an astonishing 98/107 passes (92%) in the left wing position.

And Kolasinac needs to play forward in order to be an effective attacker. He only created 4 key passes when he was in the left back position, but 18 when he was in the left wing position. Monreal created all 11 of his key passes from the left back position.

His pass completion numbers will almost certainly go up if he plays with guys like Özil, Xhaka, and Alexis. Though as part of a five man Schalke midfield his numbers seemed a bit low.

Conclusion

Kolasinac is an excellent defender who should fit right in to the style of Arsenal defenders. He reads the game well and tackles at an exceptionally high rate. He is also a great crosser and could provide some much needed assists from the left wing back position.

He will need to improve his short passing and I expect that number to get better next season because of the step up in overall team quality from Schalke. I don’t expect his heading numbers to improve nor his dribbling but that might not be a problem as long as he has Alexis in front of him to take that burden off.

Overall, Kolasinac is an excellent addition to Arsenal and as a free transfer is a classic Wenger find.

@7amkickoff

*When Monreal played center back his aerial percentage only dropped to 47%. He’s just not good in the air.

Source: WhoScored.com

Qq

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29 Comments on "Welcome to Arsenal Sead Kolasinac: by the numbers"

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Vescucci

Boom. I hope this is not part of the three Wenger is looking to add. Plus I hope if we sell, we replace

PFo

I fail to see how anyone could thumb this down. Since I can’t see anyone thinking we should sell but not replace, the only thing people could be objecting to is the idea that this chap would prefer us to make 4 (or more) total signings this summer rather than 3. How is that an objectionable thought? Is our current squad so strong, so complete, that we shudder at the thought of bringing in more than three new players?
Here’s a thought:
1. Kolasinac

2. Virtually everyone agrees we need a new center forward. Mbappe, Lacazette, somebody good.

3. It’s surely not crazy to agree with James from gunnerblog that for, say, around 35-45m, Mahrez would be a great addition, adding cover in attacking/creative areas (even if they both stay this summer, Ozil & Sanchez could well be off next, in which case, we’d already have bought one of their replacements in Mahrez)

4. Are we all 100% convinced–on the basis of like half a dozen strong games at the end of the season–that Ramsey is the ideal partner for Xhaka going forward, and we don’t need to look to bring in someone else in central midfield (in spite of the fact that Santi’s injuries have effectively KO’d our season two years in a row)??? Well played to Rambo for finally finding some form, after like 3 years, but I can’t say I’m completely convinced yet.

That’s a total of 4 signings right there.

Dan Hunter

For me personally, he seems to be ideally built for the DM role. He is big, imposing, a no-nonsense tackler, almost always comes away with the ball, and despite the stats, he can actually dribble past opponents and has pace. Knowing Arsene Wenger, he will turn him into a striker.

Dan Hunter

Don’t forget he did say he is very flexible…

Cheesus

I loved this! As always fantastic work, 7am

Welcome to Arsenal, Sead

Original Paul

Great post, I read it slowly and enjoyed.

antgoon

He may have his weaknesses but Nacho is my favorite player next to Alexis. Having said that if Sead can improve us in any way i’m all for it.

btw

When watching the highlight video here I also saw him get away with a fair number of tackles that would normally be blown as a foul. For example barging in from behind but coming away with the ball. Is the bundesliga more forgiving? Deutsch football fans?

Timsh

I don’t think the Bundesliga is more forgiving. Just that PL refs are getting worse. I believe that many tackles in the video are from the Europa League. In general there’s no consistency in refereeing these days. He will definitely have to be careful or else refs in the PL will be on his back after the first foul

Wenger\'s Pony

Yay to the only major European league to not opt for the video tech in 2017-18

Le Jaded Handbreak

If there’s any place a man can alter their injury record, it’s obviously Arsenal 😉 I’m thrilled to have an enforcer type in our ranks, the days of Lauren-esque players have been all too rare. Fantastic signing and we’ll all hope he truly does stay fit for full seasons.

George

The injury stats (and overall playing time) are worrying for me. Here’s hoping.

No way

Don’t forget the bundesliga season is only 34 games, he’s bound to have played less minutes.

Rahaman Afolabi

This is nothing but a good analysis of the team. Great work you’ve done here. I enjoyed every line till the last full stop. Welcoming Kolasinac and I hope he’s here to help reshape our defense. He’s a great addition to the squad.

Taurine

He will form part of a solid defensive core and given his age will only get better with each passing year. One of the best in his position in Germany? For free? I’ll take him.

Burn Baby Burn

And he is thusly known as BJ Milner

Stuck on repeat...

Welcome to The Arsenal!

Must admit, I agree with the “in his highlight videos he seemed like a wild tackler” as given in the article. Our refs don’t seem to like that stuff, & there are far too many drama artists in the PL.

But, nice to see some grit at the back, & hopefully the refs won’t be too harsh on him falling for the terrible acting we seem to constantly witness.

No way

The lack of sending offs and especially his record of often being booked but never twice in a game suggests he can control himself if he wants to.

Early Arsenal

Love this type of in depth statistical player analysis 7am. Thanks for all the hard work.

I would enjoy reading more regular player analysis from you here. I know you include such analysis in your match reports at times but I think stand alone features would be interesting.

PFo

go check his own blog out.

Early Arsenal

I am a regular over on the excellent 7am blog like yourself Pfo but I am perhaps a little greedy and would still like Tim to provide some more posts over here on Arseblog. I believe there would be wide interest for statistically based specific player or team analysis outside of match reviews.

santori

Tsk tsk looks like Liverpool needs a Director of Football.

Klumsy Klopp koping out of Dyke deal.;)

MTZ

After reading this article, what strikes me the most is that Monreal is badass. Too bad he’s getting older, because he’s rock solid.

GoonerChriz

Very nice research, a lot of effort, thanks! Young left back who still has much more potencial to fullfill, AW is the right man for that.

Dino

Excellent article.. curious to know whether the games he missed were in a bunch or once in say 6-8 games…

TigerTadgh

Wenger might see him as and it looks like he might be more suited to the left side of Centre Back rather than wing back

Teryima Adi

Not really a bad stats.

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