415 – Arsenal passes completed
458 – Villa passes completed
118 – Arsenal passes in the Villa final third
79 – Villa passes in the Arsenal final third
28 – Percent of Arsenal’s passes which were in the Villa Final Third (118/415)
17 – Percent of Villa’s passes which were in the Arsenal final third (79/459)
13 – Shots by Arsenal
15.9 – Shots Arsenal average per game this season (2nd in the League)
9 – Shots by Villa
10.7 – Shots Villa average per game this season (3rd worst in the League)
11 – Both teams converted roughly 11% of their final third passes into shots
8 – Shots on goal by Arsenal
5.7 – Shots on goal Arsenal average per game this season (2nd best in the League)
2 – Shots on goal by Villa
2.7 – Shots on goal Villa average this season (worst in the League)
62 – Percent of Arsenal’s shots that were on goal today
34 – Percent of Arsenal’s shots that are on goal, on average, this season
22 – Percent of Villa’s shots that were on goal today
25 – Percent of Villa’s shots that are on goal, on average, this season
43 – Goals scored by Arsenal this season (1.9/game, 3rd best in the League)
11 – Goals scored by Villa this season (0.5/game, worst in the League)
Arsenal scored 5 today, 4 from open play and one from the penalty spot, and the five goals sent Arsenal’s overall conversion rate (goals/shots) above the opposition’s conversion rate for the first time this season. Arsenal typically convert goals at a higher rate than the opposition, so it was a bit of a worry early on this year when the defense was leaking goals at such a high rate. But Arsène’s work with the team, on pressing and defending from crosses and set pieces, seems to be paying off a bit.
In fact, Arsenal have significantly tightened the defense since the loss to Stoke. Against Stoke,, Arsenal conceded from a corner and two crosses. Since then, Arsenal haven’t conceded a single goal from a cross and have conceded just once from a corner (Liverpool) in League play.
Stoke also represented a nadir in terms of Arsenal’s offensive efficiency as well. There was a run of four matches between Swansea and Southampton where Arsenal took 71 shots and scored just 4 goals (6% conversion). In the 9 matches since, Arsenal are averaging 2.44 goals per game and have scored 22 goals off 121 shots (18% conversion).
Much of the offensive turnaround is down to the resurgence of Cazorla in the #10 spot and the return of Olivier Giroud to the starting lineup. Cazorla has 6 goals and 6 assists this season but 4 of those assists have come in the last 8 games. He’s also scored all 6 of his League goals in this period.
Giroud has added 5 goals in those same 8 games and 1 assist. Giroud only has 7 goals and the 1 assist in the League this season.
One of the reasons why Arsenal have looked tighter in the back is that they have a true defensive midfielder in the middle of the park in Francis Coquelin. In his five Premier League starts (since West Ham) Arsenal have conceded just 3 goals and have scored 12. Two of the goals Arsenal conceded when Coquelin was a starter were against Southampton when he was asked to play along side Matthieu Flamini. It was his worst performance of the season.
What Coquelin offers Arsenal is shown in what he did today: 50/54 passing (second behind Cazorla), 2/2 dribbles, 15 ball recoveries (led all players), 5/7 tackles (led all players), 5 interception (tied with Koz to lead all players), 1 block, 1 aerial duel won, 3 fouls committed, and dispossessed just 2 times.
His resurgent form has him leading Arsenal in tackles per game (which he wins at an astonishing 78% rate) and third in interceptions. He’s also getting a fair number of blocks, doesn’t get into too much foul trouble, helps out with clearances, and he wins 70% of his 3.5 aerial duels per game.
14 – When Theo Walcott and Hector Bellerin scored it meant Arsenal have 14 different goal scorers on the season in League play. Giroud’s assist was also a landmark of sorts, it means Arsenal have 16 different players who have provided an assist on the season. That’s the most spread out attack of any team in the Premier League, just ahead of Man City who have 11 goalscorers and 15 different playmakers.
I’m not sure if Arsenal would have more or less goal scorers and play makers if Özil and Giroud had been available more. Those two players have only started a combined 15 matches for Arsenal in League play this season.
And for those worried about where Özil would fit when he returned, I think that question was answered when Cazorla and Özil combined for a goal and an assist each.
Cazorla, man of the match
68 – Completed passes (led all players)
30 – Completed passes in the Villa final third (30/35! led all players)
4 – Key passes (led all players)
2 – Assists (led all players)
1 – Goal scored
3 – Dribbles (2nd behind Özil’s 5/8)
7 – Ball recoveries
3 – Tackles (of 6 attempts, 2nd best on Arsenal)
2 – Fouls suffred