Thursday, January 27, 2022

Why Arsenal might be interested in Yann: by the numbers

Between agents shopping their players around, players shopping themselves around, and clubs leaking information in order to cloud the trail of their true targets, there are always wild rumors regarding player transfers at this time of the year. Summer, it seems, brings green leaves, rain, unicorns, and phrases like “Seydou Doumbia is a transfer target for Arsenal.”

Sussing out which transfer targets are more likely to be real and which are more likely to be fantasy is nigh impossible. But you can look at the qualities that a player possesses (numerically) and see if they match up with current Arsenal players. I use this as a tool to gauge whether or not a player is even a realistic target for Arsenal.

Last summer, Arsenal were linked with a number of center-halfs like Gary Cahill, Neven Subotic, Phil Jagielka, Per Mertesacker (the reports on him coming to Arsenal were very subdued), and Scott Dann. Being the kind of guy that I am*, I simply compared these players’ numbers and quickly came to the conclusion that Arsenal’s most likely targets were Cahill and Mertesacker.

As you know, Arsenal bid on Cahill and eventually landed Mertesacker. All of which is to say that you should listen to the numbers some times, because they indicate players like Scott Dann and Christopher Samba were never Arsenal targets.

Which leads me to this summer and the spate of articles indicating that Arsene Wenger is finally in the market for a center mid and more specifically, that we are looking at Yann M’Vila and Nigel de Jong. I will admit that both of these players being linked to Arsenal took me by surprise: M’Vila for the price tag that was being bandied about and de Jong because he really hasn’t played at all this year.

(Click here for full size image)

As you can see in the chart above, I compared current Arsenal central midfielders Song and Arteta with a number of possible players who could come in and perform similar tasks: the 2010-2011 Wilshere and de Jong; and M’Vila, Gonalons, and Bruno (Villareal, not the movie) from this season.

It’s important to note that Gonalons and Bruno have not been linked to Arsenal this season. I just liked their numbers and they are both going to be available for very cheap this Summer. Gonalons was basically dumped back on Real Madrid and Bruno’s Villareal getting relegated. I also want to see if me mentioning Gonalons and Bruno here will create a story in the papers, because that would be hilarious if it happened.

There are players who have been linked to the club, like the Uzbek captain and Anzhi Makhachkala defensive mid Odil Ahmedov, but there are no numbers for me to dig up on them so I have left them out.

As I looked at M’Vila’s numbers it was clear that from a numerical standpoint M’Vila would fit right in to the Arsenal system and would add a great deal defensively to the Arsenal midfield.

M’Vila’s passing numbers are more than acceptable; he leads the French league in both passes per game and was second in long balls per game. I can’t make that long ball stat sound any better than to point out it’s usually goal keepers who top that list in all leagues and it’s just M’Vila and Andrea Pirlo who play in midfield and yet hit an astonishing number of accurate long balls.

He also shows good vision in the number of accurate through balls he’s played and in the number of key passes. Yes, he only managed 2 assists from all of that forward play but you have to remember that Rennes only scored 53 goals this season and their top scorer was Ekoko with just 10 goals. Song’s 11 assists stands out but most of those assists went to Golden Boot winner Robin van Persie.

His ball control is also exceptional. To have 2730 passes and only get dispossessed 28 times is incredible. Song had fewer passes and nearly double the number of times the opposition took the ball away from him. Bruno is tops in not giving away possession but look at Arteta, de Jong, and M’Vila and you see that all three of those players keep possession for their teams very well.

Meanwhile, M’Vila’s defensive numbers are mind-boggling. I mean that my mind actually boggled! What you want from a defensive midfielder is high numbers in tackles and interceptions and low numbers in fouls committed and number of times that the opposition dribbled around you. M’Vila nearly is peerless in that. Bruno’s interception and opp. dribbled numbers are tremendous but a lot of that is down to playing in La Liga where “interceptions are the new tackle” and all the dribblers are concentrated in one team. Still, props to him for only being dribbled on 17 times.

Of course there’s no way to tell how well a player would make the transition from one league to another. So, what you look for are players who have the tools to succeed in other leagues and based on what I see above, M’Vila would do well at Arsenal. I would go a step further and say that even at a reported £17m he’s a bit of a bargain in the current market.

Whether Arsenal will buy him (or anyone) or whether the club will rely on Wilshere, Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Frimpong, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Diaby, and Coquelin in central midfield is anyone’s guess but I would love to see M’Vila at Arsenal.


Follow Tim on twitter @7amkickoff and on

*The kind of guy who you all LOVE.

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Great article and analysis! I am hoping we bring in M’Vila, I think he would be great cover in front of our CBs. I have seen him several times and certainly the statistics don’t lie!


basically we need him. we keep failing defensively and he would be an addition that might help improve us there. As much I like Song, I think he enjoys the glory more nowadays and we need someone who doesn’t look for the individual glory. someone who does what the team needs. we need him.if we don’t sign him I would be unhappy


great job on stats.these stats show consistency.but,what is crutial is the player’s character,experience/potential to play at top level and his winning mentality.


This is what I call proper blogging!

Thanks, appreciated. AFC


Damn it, this article is mouth watering. Nothing particularly wrong with our current midfield roster, but we just need a true Defensive Mid for the coming season. This guy looks just too good, I’ve seen him play for France a couple times.

Man, once again I’m already at the point where I’ll be very very sad if we don’t sign him…


Great article, very interesting stuff, and this is exactly what I wanted to see compiled about him since its hard to judge DMs on general stats. His stats are ridiculously good, I already had a good opinion of him, but this makes him much more attractive in my eyes. Bruno is the one that compares the most but he’s 27, m’villa 21 is very young to be that good as a defensive midfielder. Wonder what the top DMs in EPL stats look like in comparison, bet Scott Parker can’t even clean his shoes


According to the Castrol Web thingy, the order is:

1) Arteta
2) Song
3) Parker
4) M’Villa.

No, I don’t know how they worked it out, but discuss anyway.


Bonus stats: Castrol also have Vermaelen listed as the EPL’s best defender this season, which I wasn’t expecting.


This is dangerous though, now my expectation level is so much higher, I’ll be very dissapointed if we miss out on another top talent. Any news on that injury he got last game? Missed have been worse then it looked judging from his reaction


Heard Rennes are unwilling to listen to offers for MVila until after the Euros. His injury while playing for France might force them to change their stance.

+1 on the post btw! Love these stats n numbers.


I would love M’villa at Arsenal. But I just think if wenger was after a player who could star at the euros he would have got it done already. He knows the price of a player can only go up at an international tournament.


Your comment just depressed me…


Doesn’t have to be this way necessarily. Remember Nasri?


I’d rather not remember Nasri…


a better example to use is rosicky before the 2006 world cup. Im sure if we didnt sign him before the tournament we wouldnt be able to afford him after it with his amazing shots from distance and his overall play.

also it would be interesting to see the stats of the Song, Arteta, Wilshere and M’Vila and compare them to the stats of Parker, Fletcher (obv not this season), Barry and Yaya Toure.

Good read as always, but not getting my hopes up just yet.


I’m gay and I have no friends


“Remember Nasri?”

You’ll have to help me out. Is he the horse-faced lesbian cunt who sits on the bench a lot at Citeh?

Tom C

It’s not just down to wenger though. If I were in m’ villa’s position I would delay negotiations on a move until after the euros because a good tournament could add 20k a week to my wages. If I were his agent/club I would want to wait too because it would also inflate the fee.

gunning for glory

Had the talks actually begun or anything or is wenger waiting for the euros and the french league’s transfer market to open. Even then I am sceptical this deal will go through because of the price tag, and the euros are around the corner. I would still love to see him at arsenal, but the past has shown and early deal doesn’t mean a gooner friendly transfer window. I am keeping my fingers crossed


Off topic: Did anyone see Hazard in the England vs Belgium game last night? I saw him during the opening whistle, had a few rare shots, but was invisible for the most part of the match.

If you see him, please let him know that I bought a boot for him, and I’d like to shove it up his arse.


what is this hazard you are talking of?


a 21 year old at 200k per bet.
he will most likely be the ambassador of FFP.
anyway who gives a rat arse.
our little japanese player wenger scouted by watching an anime is better than him.


I’m curious as to how Yann M’Vila’s stats match up with Lucas Biglia’s stats who is an Arsenal target as well. Having M’Vila at Arsenal will be fantastic but I could settle with Biglia too.


As most, I would be glad to see M’Vila in Arsenal shirt but I also doubt it’ll happen. We have Arteta, Song, Wilshere whose I see and hope to be the regular starters next season, and there are Ramsey, Rosicky (and maybe Diaby) for backups. I don’t think M’Vila would be satisfied with a second-string role and I can’t see Wenger dropping anyone from the Arteta-Wilsere-Song triangle for him.


Well, you know, there is the possibility that if M’vila does sign, it’s because he’s confident he can start for us. If he signs and looks better than the rest in training he will start and one of the others will be dropped and tough, that’s the nature of competition at big clubs.

I don’t see any reason for Wenger not to drop one of the players you mention if he thinks M’vila can offer more.


As it happened with Arshavin, for example? Wenger really likes to stick with his players, sometimes regardless of form.
I still think M’Vila would choose a club where he can become an automatic starter should he has the opportunity. I saw him playing and I’m sure he would be good enough for any team on this planet.


That’s the thing though, isn’t it?

We all agree M’villa is a good player who would improve any team, but I can’t help but think that the only reason Wenger would seriously consider him is if he’d completely lost confidence in Song and/or Arteta – and I doubt that’s the case.

Bringing him in would seem very much like a luxury signing to me. I guess that’s one of those ‘good problems’ though.


I guess the point we r missing here is that Arteta-Wishire-Song triangle can’t start every game (especially wilshire)… And none of them right now, not even song, is an out and out defensive mid. Song’s performance towards the end of the season has shown how much he was tiring and how badly we needed a backup in that position. If every other top club can accommodate top quality options by rotating them simultaneously then why cant we?



1) We have Rosicky, Ramsey and Diaby (who should be fit enough by the new season). By the way Ox bossed the midfield against Milan, he’s an option too. And we haven’t sold Arshavin yet either – I at least still have confidence that given the right chance he can come good. Russia played him down the middle against Italy over the weekend and he was pretty good. So even now, there’s enough options in the middle that let’s Arteta and/or Song free to concentrate on defensive duties.

2) How dare you come round here with that name! 😉


we had to stick with some of the players this season especially because our bench was weak, very very weak


What I want you to know or should say remind all of you is that the team have a problem and the players we have right now in the midfield are good but they clearly have there deficiencies. Saying that Arteta,Song and Wilshere will be regular starters next season is just pure speculation. What we need is a player like M’vila who will definitely bring some still into the team. Now ,lets say Wenger have decided on the three players above to start in midfield next season, will you agree with that we need no addition at all in the… Read more »


Excellent work! Yann certainly has impressive numbers. A player of his defensive qualities would be a major boost for most teams. While you feel that $17mil for such a player is ‘bargain,’ I don’t quite see it that way. It’s a lot of money for this club and in a position with a lot of players. The quality of these players is debatable but they are still Arsenal players. I also still have the impression that Arsene still wants to outscore the opponent. Just look at our first signing this season, Poldoski. Gervinho was one of the first signings last… Read more »


“I also still have the impression that Arsene still wants to outscore the opponent. Just look at our first signing this season, Poldoski. Gervinho was one of the first signings last year.”

Your impression is correct, I have it on excellent authority that Arsene wants to score more goals than the opponent.


You mean if we score more goals than the other team, we win? This is a major breakthrough! Inform the press!.


Sun exclusive.


Off topic: Tim, I need to find some player stats for a research of mine.. could u suggest a good source? Thanks in advance..


I disagree with you saying on twitter that Capoue is mediocre. He was the best DM in Ligue 1 last season and anyone who watched him would agree with that.


Well there’s the link fella, it’s good you asked nicely.

mr arsenal

thnx 4 your work..well done………..
1st if we get more solid devending i bleave we can win…aslo be know that he can crearte chanses we need him badly


Is this not likely to approach 20-22M after a good Euros? Either way we can’t afford to hang around on the signing Dm plus Poacher and reliably 2nd choice gk please. Any strikers you have a suspicion might just be heading our way?


why has noone mentioned the fact that songs contract runs out at the end of next season? on top of that if we rewind a few seasons back when we first changed our formation, we had one holding with the other two central midfielders having license to create and get forward. but due to denilson and then song not being able to do that defensive job (that flamini did single handed) to a good enough level, the shape changed again to have the two holding/sitting. watching france and seeing this players numbers, it looks like he alone would be able… Read more »


All this article has done is make me feel that we most definitely will not be signing him. 🙁


Would be interesting to see Biglia, Capoue and Javi Martinez’s numbers.


javi matrinez’s numbers would be a bit skewed because I’m fairly positive, he sometimes plays centre half for bilbao


^ False humility pretending to not have just looked it up on wikipedia ;P


nope I just know this because I follow football


I don’t hink it would be that hard to accomodate him as a starter, he could stop us conceding from the 1st shot on target and maybe can help improve our team defense against counter-attacks, I always thought thats exactly what we’re missing; someone who is good/content at sitting back and smart with his postition, that added with great ball retention and passing range makes him seem like the perfect signing. The price tag is more then justified for one of the top young prospects in world football


There are players who have been linked to the club, like the Uzbek captain and Anzhi Makhachkala defensive mid Odil Ahmedov, but there are no numbers for me to dig up on them so I have left them out.

I think this guy may bring something fresh to Arsenal. Technically he is the best playmaker in Russian league, very creative….


Yea this guy is also a beast, I’ve seen him very few times but he looked very good technically, especcially for such a big guy, he looked better then any other mid on the field. But Anzhi doesn’t need to sell and he is their captain I think.


His physique is a plus, a different mix to stature of current arsenal players-rosicky, jack. Has a good passing range (switch of balls from wing to wing) something we desperatley need at club.
Basically, i would be excited if a deal can be made.

big dawg

I saw the numbers for Etienne Capoooooooue and he was quite good, it was a comparison between monsieurs mvilla and capoue, apparently capoue was better…and he’s big


No, Capoue’s numbers aren’t better, they’re different. Capoue is better in the air, more tackles and interceptions, doesn’t get dribbled much. He also does well with the long balls, key passes, and through balls. He fouls more and gives the ball away more though, both of which are areas of great strength for M’villa. But Capoue is still very impressive and you could make the argument his power, stature, and extra defensive work could lead you to favor him. But M’villa’s ball retention is what really makes him unique, and likely to be an Arsenal target, even with Frimpong and… Read more »


Keeping possession was key in the Invincibles and to an even greater degree the recent Barcenlona team. The area right in front of central defense is where we need a strong player. I am sure that our defensive stats will improve when our defenders aren’t forced to jump into the hole left by Song/Diaby whoever who has jumped into the attack. With a cohesive core the team will be much more settled. I always got nervous last season when the defenders looked jittery on counter attacks, but it was because they had their job to do holding the line and… Read more »

Goon Mate

With a combination of Arteta, WIlshere, Arteta, Song, Rosicky and (maybe) M’Vila to choose from, I’m salivating at the our midfield next season. 😀


A midfielder that can keep possession, complete passes and defend. Gee those three things reminds me of a team that sometimes make a mess of the three. If I only could remember what team that was and M’Vila ticking those boxes is great.


Incredible article, i thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mansoor Nandlal

What do you think of Diaby?


we can only get his FIFA stats.

Jack Ruenprapan

If the Arsenal want to be challenging on all fronts, they need to have strength in depth. Looking at the current 25 man roster, there is room for at least 2-3 more quality signings, assuming that underachievers/out of favor players like Park, Chamakh, Squillaci, Fabianski are shipped out, and Yossi’s loan deal ends. It looks like we’ll need a back-up/developmental keeper and one more striker/winger. I like Giroud from Montpellier (skilled target man and would solidify Arsenal’s unofficial status as the EPL’s best-looking team) but would also be okay with Clint Dempsey from Fulham. He can play up front, on… Read more »


we need a midfielder that can score goals. And Gervinho needs to work on his finishing!


Yes he does, but its mainly hi composure not his ability, he panics. And who do you suggest? Hamsik? will cost £27 minimum, more like 30-32 and its less of a priority than the Dm especially so hen we keep R.V.P


Great piece as usual. I’ve been one fan who has been so quick to defend Song because he’s had so much stick, some unjust, throught the season. Sometimes i think it all comes down to fans and fans’ favourites. For example if stats point to Mvilla being the ideal man we need over say Song, people will get excited. Say we got him and Song signed a new deal. It would be easy to see Mvilla prefered by the fans maybe because of the stats. So if we had a ‘by the numbers’ for Song, Jack(season before last), TR7, Ramsey,… Read more »


IMO he would be a great signing and will let song and arteta get foward more. People give song grief for his forward play last season but surely, someone needed to fill the gap that cesc left when it comes to creative midfield play, Ramsey certainly wasn’t going to do it.

Yann can hang back and leave the boys to get forward without the recrimination. I’d love to see that in the red and white this season!


Another thing people need consider is that Song doesn’t do whatever he feels like on the field – if he’s going forward then that’s Wenger telling him to get forward.

If he was neglecting his ‘position’ to the degree some people think, he would be getting bollocked every week. And clearly that’s not happened.


Great article! Hard to find a blog with depth.


You said Gonalons was dumped back on Real Madrid, but he plays for Lyon. I think you mean Gago. And that got me wondering are those stats for Gago or Gonalons??


Top Read. good work blogs. i havent seen much of Mvilla play except the national team and those numbers are really quite impressive.

Would buying MVilla however stunt the growth of Le Coq?

i was very impressed with wenger when he chose le coq in midfield on the final day last season instead of ramsey. thats what i wanted to see happen but thought there was no chance wenger would.


Same style player but we need more than 1 to challenge on all fronts. Both in the same team is not an issue for me.


You just love to have a dig at Song..huh?


Did a quick Google: it appears that no-one’s reporting Gonalons and Bruno being linked to Arsenal, but I did find that someone is plagiarising you on some website called “SportPulse”:


Seems that the plagiarised article has now been removed from that site.


Be great if M Villa came but I could only see him comming if Song is given a more forward roll and Frimpong/Diabi is back up. Song more forward would reduce Ramseys oppertunites with Jack back soon and Arteta around and rosicsky. Biggest problem is we have way to many players on the books at the moment its hard to shift them on and we still need a couple of quality signings to challenge for the main honors plus keep hold of our best players. My head fucking hurts thinking about it all. But its nice to see a positive… Read more »


Great article!

Sancho Panza

you know Bruno Soriano is also a BEAST !! why not get him from Villareal ?? he is 1 of the best tacklers(as the stats suggest and as i have seen).we already have song who can give assists,so a hard tackler will suffice.just my thought though. 🙂

Sancho Panza

btw Gago can also be a good addition IF we fail to land MVila.looks like Mou has no plans for we can take Gago too.he is also a very good passer.


A few weeks ago I bet Tim we’d sign M’Vila (Tim, at the time, didn’t think we would). I also have an interest in the matter, because I wagered a Calgary bar wench, and, as easy as those are to procure, I’d rather not set foot in Alberta.

Anyway, did we get taken for a massive ride with the Vanilla rumour last month?



Also, Tim, remember 7amkickoff? Yeah, you used to write for that blog and everything!


There are some good DMs around lately. Bruno(relatively low priced due to Villarreal relegation),Capoue( would love stats on him),Javi Martinez and of course M’vila. I have never seen Ahmedov and Biglia play to comment. I can see why Wenger would be interested in a DM. I think he sees how important a good discipline DM is when Arteta was out. I would take any of them above.

Why is my name required

hey im not dreaming now am i? i would loved to have m’villa wearing the colours of Arsenal


Great piece. Thanks.

For me the question of M’Vila’s ability to start is answered by comparing his stats with JW’s. They’re not the same type of midfielder of course, but M’Vila stacks up very well against Jack who, let’s not forget, has sadly lost a season and will need time to get back to match fitness.

If M’Vila joins, Jack will have his work cut out to get a starting berth. This is a good thing.


I’m a bit confused re: Gonalons. He hasn’t been dumped back on Real Madrid, he’s a Lyon midfielder who’s come up through the youth ranks there. He’s a regular starter as well as young so presumably will not be cheap. As Said commented above, I think you’re thinking of Gago, who’s just come back to Real from a loan spell at Roma.
So are the numbers above for Gago or Gonalons?
Many thanks.


Forgot to say, interesting article, and a good read, thanks.


Simply put and I have always believed that we have lacked power in our midfield, since, petit, pv, gilberto and flamini left (he has immense running power and was generally every where). Our midfield is constantly over powered, which is why diaby walks back into the team soon as he is fit. If you look at a team as body, our spine is weakest in the middle we have technically very capable players but we cant just barge thru teams, the core of our body is weak. In that vein, De Jong would be good, still leave room for Coqpong… Read more »


It’s good if we have M’Vila in our team, then we will have four top class player next season who can play in the CDM role that is him, Wilshere, Song and Arteta. But can also place Wilshere in the CAM position. And we still have Ramsey, Coquelin, Diaby and Frimpong as backup, wont have any problems if injury hit us again.


I think coquelin could be better than mvila in my opinion next season he should either break into our team or be loaned out where i believe he will have a wilsheresque loan at a southampton or a swansea.


I like how your article tries to take an objective look at midfielders’ performances and makes educated guesses instead of purely rambling about a player based on a 3 minute highlight clip you watched. Something that I wanted to mention was the interception vs. tackle stat. An interception is often just as effective as a tackle, first because it completely redirects the movement of the game (north-south) and second because it is likely more indicative of the players anticipatory skills and positional awareness given the situation during play. So let’s not just say that the Spanish like to intercept passes,… Read more »


Super piece.




super article really awesome. we simply have to get this guy,he makes average devenders look good i tell you.and there is no doubt he will have to walk into that team considering our issues deffensively.additionally we didnt really keep the ball that well last season infact we were pretty poor compared to prev arsenal his addition would affect the team is interesting.almost certainly frimpong and ramsey will have to go out on loan.coquelin covers m’villa at the anchor. and then wenger has to pick 2 out wilshere,arteta and song!i think arteta has more creative potential than he showed this… Read more »

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