Stoke 1-0 Arsenal: By the Numb…ing Ennui of Another Season of This

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0 – Big Chances created by Stoke – Some might think that Stoke’s goal was a shot that we would count as a Big Chance, but it wasn’t counted that way (source: whoscored) today and I agree. Jese was played in expertly by Berahino but he was played between two defenders and Monreal was pretty tight when Jese took his shot. Even Cech had the shot covered and there was little space for Jese to score. After the match, Wenger blamed the center backs, specifically targeting Monreal in the middle, but the real problem started…

85 – Xhaka made 87 of 102 passes today for an 85% completion rate, which is decent, but not great. Xhaka had 1 key pass.

88 – Ramsey was 72 of 82 passes and thus completed 88%. Ramsey had 0 key passes but did lead *all players* with 4 shots, including 1 of Arsenal’s only 2 Big Chances on the day (from a set play, it was saved).

93 – Özil completed an astonishing 91 of 98 passes, 93%! Ozil also had 4 key passes on the day. I include this for comparison, because while Ramsey completed a terrific number of his passes in a forward position, Özil somehow bettered him.

15 – Xhaka’s 15 missed passes wouldn’t have been a problem, but it was his 1 missed pass, combined with Ramsey’s position high up the pitch in the striker’s role, which was then exacerbated by Xhaka trying (and failing) to win the ball back off Pieters, which led to the goal. Here we have to chalk one up to the “stats don’t tell the whole story” folks: Xhaka was only credited with a bad pass in this whole interaction. His attempt to win the ball back didn’t even come remotely close to a tackle and there is no such stat as “failed interception”. Nor was the pass considered an error, it was just a missed pass between him and Özil. So, on the stat sheet, he just shows 46′ 1 attempted pass missed.

0 – Shots taken by Lacazette

1 – Offside given (wrongly) to Lacazette

8.2 – Ox was “man of the match” for Arsenal (according to whoscored) and if you look at his stats you can see why: he made an amazing 7/8 dribbles. It’s clear that the RWB position suits him. Facing up against opposition forwards, Ox is able to use his dribbling ability to make people look stupid and already has completed 15/17 dribbles in 180 minutes of play. That’s 7 more than the three guys who are 2nd in the Premier League for dribbles. If Wenger persists with the 3 CB formation Ox could break some kind of dribbling record. But more than just dribbles, Ox passed at 90%, was 2nd on arsenal with 3 key passes (all from open play), made 2/3 tackles, led all players with 3 interceptions (tied with Xhaka and Zouma zoom zoom and a boom boom), and led Arsenal with 2 blocked shots. I was asked on twitter “name me a player who was better than Ramsey” and I would have to say that despite Ramsey getting on the end of those shots, it was certainly Ox, for me, who was Arsenal’s best player.

0 – Turnovers by Özil. I know I have criticized Ozil for his defence in the past but that’s really just me grumbling about Wenger’s “Total Football” system which seems to “totally abandon balance.” Watching today’s match I was struck by how elegant Özil is with the ball. Without even looking like he did anything special, he completed more passes (91) than anyone on the pitch and led Arsenal with those 4 key passes mentioned earlier. He also didn’t surrender possession with a bad touch or a failed dribble even once. AND he didn’t get the ball tackled off his foot while standing still. Meanwhile, Ramsey, Bellerin and Ox all lost possession 5 times each (worst at Arsenal and tied with Shaqiri) and even Xhaka – who is supposed to be Arsenal’s deep lying playmaker and one of the most careful with the ball – turned it over 4 times. Amazingly tidy performance from Arsenal’s best playmaker. My only question would be.. why isn’t Arsenal’s best playmaker getting more of the ball? I’d really love to see what he could do with Lacazette in front of him and a nice stable center mid pairing behind him. I think he’d be perfect in the Bergkamp role in the old Arsenal 442.

1.62 – That was my expected goals tally for the day for Arsenal. Stoke came in at a 0.76 which isn’t bad. However, if you’re one who believes that Arsenal should have had a penalty and that Lacazette’s goal should have stood (I agree with you) then the 7amxG number goes up to 2.22 which is just about how many goals Arsenal would have had in that match. Had the referee called the penalty and given Lacazette his goal.

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