Detective Coquelin: By the Numbers

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Arsenal beat Burnley 1-0, extending their winning streak to 8 games¹. The Gunners were dominant in every statistical category, including the only one that counts, ball recoveries (72-59!). Just kidding, everyone knows the only stat that matters are dribbles (Arsenal were 17/22! 77%!). Offensive aerial duels? Clearances? Final third passes?

Oh… goals.

Yeah, just the 1.

I could get into the individual stats for this match (they are available at whoscored.com and via the 442 statszone app for those who want to see Coquelin’s rather impressive performance) but given Thierry Henry’s rather lavish praise for “The Detective” I’d rather focus this article on the 12 game run since Coquelin came into the team and what Arsenal are doing better in terms of offense and defense.

First, you need to know some stats about Coquelin:

4 – Coquelin is 4th in the League in tackles per game at 3.5. That’s just 0.01 fewer tackles per game than Morgan Schneiderlin. Coquelin has made more tackles than Jack Wilshere in the last two years. Not trying to slam Wilshere, but in both Champions League and Premier League play, Wilshere has 2776 minutes and just 49 successful tackles out of 71 attempted
77 – Coquelin is a 77% tackler. Cesc Fabregas leads the League among CM’s in the category “dribbled past” with 2.5 per90, Coquelin is only dribbled past 1.5 times per game
10 – Coquelin is also 10th in the League in fouls per90 among CMs. WHich is admittedly a wonky stat but what I’m saying here is that he tackles a lot, tackles well, and doesn’t foul
1 – Coquelin leads the League in interceptions per game with 3.8 (tied with Jedinak)
2 – He is second in the League among CM’s with 2.7 aerial duels won per90 (N’Zonzi is 1st)
68 – Coquelin isn’t just a sideways and backwards passer (not that I would have a problem if he was) he averages 68% of his passes forward this season. Nemanja Matic only averages 66% forward passes and Schneiderlin also hits 68% of his passes forward.
5 – Coquelin has only created 5 shots for teammates this season, so he has room to improve!

In the match against Burnley we saw what Coquelin offers to Arsenal:

2 – He created 2 shots for his teammates, he’s improving!
9 – He had 9 ball recoveries, Cazorla and Özil led Arsenal with 10 each
2 – He only made 2 tackles (Nacho had 5) but he was 2/2 and both of them broke up a Burnley counter
11 – He led all players with 11 interceptions, which is a nuts number when you consider that great player average 4 a game
86 – He completed 86% of his passes – he was almost perfect here, except that 4 of his square passes were off
1 – He was dispossessed just one time

Has he changed the team?

Coquelin-team

 

As you can see, Arsenal’s shots per game are down from 15.6 to just 14 but Arsenal are scoring more goals, 2.4 per game v. 1.9. This is because they are converting at a much higher 17% rate². It is possible that since Arsenal are scoring more efficiently, they simply don’t need to shoot as much.

Arsenal’s “big chances” numbers (big chances are the shots that you would normally expect the team to score from, such as 1 v. 1 with the keeper) basically haven’t changed. They are creating 2.4 big chances per game and converting those shots at a 50% clip.

The opposition, however, are struggling to get any efficiency against Arsenal’s new swarming, pressing defense and their “big chances” have drastically dried up. Opponents only convert these big chances at a 44% rate (they lack the quality of Arsenal) but still, generating big chances makes up the bulk of goals scored both for and against³. So, if Arsenal can almost cut that number in half, they are doing something right.

In fact, I suspect that limiting the number of big chances is the reason why Arsenal’s opponents’ conversion rate has taken such a huge tumble. They aren’t forcing the opposition into more long range shots than before, it’s only the number of big chances that have decreased.

Defensively Arsenal have increased the number of interceptions per game, aerial duels per game, and clearances. And this is normal when a team are winning because they will play more defense. As noted above, those are all stats categories Coquelin is a league leader in.

The tackles one, though, is odd. That number in the chart is just successful tackles. I expected to see the tackles numbers jump up during Coquelin’s Fin de siècle because he is Arsenal’s most active tackler. Coquelin has already successfully won the ball 60 times this season — that’s tied with Sanchez for the most successful tackles this season at Arsenal. And he’s done it in about about half as many minutes.

So, why aren’t the numbers up significantly? My guess is that he’s tackling more and others don’t have to tackle as much. I haven’t had a chance to go through everyone else’s numbers to prove it, but I would be surprised if that wasn’t the answer.

No matter how you look at it, Arsenal with Coquelin in the middle of the pitch have clearly been much more defensively solid. I think the thing he does best is what Wenger said “he breaks up play”. You don’t know what the outcome of those plays would have been (big chance, turnover, goal, etc) but the fact that the opposition aren’t getting as many big chances as before is indicative of the team playing better defense all around. It could be attributed to Coquelin or it could be that the whole team presses better, it’s hard to tell.

The one thing I am comfortable saying is that the Coq makes Arsenal stiffer in the middle.

Tip the waitress, try the veal.

Qq

@7amkickoff

¹It’s 8 in the League or 8 straight in all competitions
²I take goals and divide by all shots for my conversion rates. I know some stats folks remove blocks but isn’t a blocked shot a… wait for it… a shot? I’ve asked around about this and the answer was because that’s how it was done in the old days. I suspect this is because conversion rates were originally a keeper stat and in that case, removing blocks makes sense. Since I think of it as an offensive efficiency stat, I keep blocks in my total tally. If we remove blocks, Arsenal’s shot accuracy is 51% on the season and 58% since Coquelin. And my number might be a further bit weird because I don’t count the own goal at Villa. That wasn’t a shot.
³Big chances is a controversial stat because people complain about its subjectivity but all stats are subjective: a subject views a game and records a stat. I like this stat. It makes sense to me because not all shots are equal and there has to be a way to account for those moments in a game which get everyone out of their seats. 61% of Arsenal’s goals are from big chances and 55% of the opposition’s goals are from big chances.

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Poe

Absolutely brilliant. I mean all of it. Arsenal, Arseblog, 7am kickoff. I am so proud to be associated with this club, long may it continue.

Oli

Columbo!! 😀
Also, thanks to Mister 7amkickoff…your By the Numbers remains as fascinating as ever. 🙂

emir of emirates

8- number of victories we need for the remainder of this season in all competitions

Xxxrob

What.a.read.
Thank you!

kaius

Your research is museum-quality Tim. Alexis is tied with Coquelin for the highest number of successful tackles? Amazing that Alexis is up there at all, but for Francis to have caught up with him having played 14 games, half Alexis’ number, is such a revealing stat for both players. For Wenger, Santi and Mesut provide the finesse and artistic direction, but from the first game of the season Alexis’ drive and commitment raised the bar for the performance level of starters in this evolving team. The tackles stat shows how successfully Coquelin has integrated and now he sets the standard… Read more »

Liam

Le Gendarme

beagleboy

To paraphrase Zapp Brannigan: ‘Coquelin’s law is like Coquelin’s love; hard and fast!’

Cliff Bastin

Like most people, I had doubts about the performance of my coq but time and time again he keeps it up for 90 mins.

Iceman

So all shots are one but not all shots are not equal?! Thats some Animal Farm esque fact! In all seriousness though, Coquelin has been immense at CDM. Long may it continue.

mukkymaliq

Coq is developing from a world talented defensive midfielder into a world class defensive midfielder…..he justs get better and better..he won us the game with a single interception . one thing waz joy to watch the compactness we displayed in defending that one goal..back in the dayz u would nervy all 90 min long if arsenal were in a 1-0 lead .

Jammathon

Does anyone actually want Coquelin to provide more shooting opportunities for the team? Look what happened when Alex Song got it in his head that he was the next Pirlo. What Le Coq is doing is excellent as is. His job: supplying the intercepts and passes to the creators, who in turn do their jobs, which is creating the chances.

Eurazian

In fairness to Song, his Pirlo ambitions arose in a side sorely lacking in midfield creativity. Coq doesn’t need to worry about that since he’s playing alongside a host of creative-minded guys.

Heroldgoon

Le coq has good range of passing. i reckon over the top balls to Sanchez and Giroud wouldn’t hurt.
Song was very naive. Coq is just the opposite.

Tobi

On the back of us matching the invincibles’ 8 win streak today and another article i was reading about injuries, I thought it would be interesting to compare the fortunes of each arsenal team. It would seem that the invincibles squad was not only strong against competitors but also against injuries. The invincibles had a core of 7 players that started 80% of games that season, this season only 2 players meet that requisite – Sanchez and Carzorla. Infact 10 of the invincible squad started 2 of 3 games, only 3 players can match that this season – Monreal being… Read more »

ErectCoq

Carzorla? Seriously? It’s Santi’s third season as an Arsenal player. Is it really that difficult to remember his name? It’s Cazorla, not Carloza and definitely not Carzorla.

CB

Carzola. Got you, thanks.

Gutbukket Deffrolla

Isn’t he Gorgonzola’s brother?

beagleboy

The name of Shad Forsythe crosses my mind….;-)

Trez

What has impressed me about coq is how he’s simplified his game. People that say he can’t pass and what not clearly did not watch him well enough in his previous spell with us.
However, i feel he should be a bit more confident with the ball as he has great technique and good footwork. It’ll probably come with time.
Makes me wonder if we really need schniderlin and kondogbia(depending on if flam and arteta are leaving).

Eurazian

I think the connection between Coquelin and our higher shooting efficiency is clear. He wins the ball and enables us to counter-attack quickly, getting better shot opportunities. (While our “big chances” stat hasn’t changed much, some big chances are bigger than others). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the team with the other standout defensive midfielder in the league (Chelsea) are also excellent on the counterattack. By comparison, the way we played with Arteta led to slower buildups which allowed opposing defenses to set up and make it more difficult for us to get good shots. In conclusion, it’s… Read more »

Gutbukket Deffrolla

Chelsea are not good on the counter-attack. They are good at intercepting using the bollocks-and-bus technique. Every time an opposing player starts a move forward a Chelsea player will kick him in the bollocks (or do some other creative foul) to give the rest of the cunts enough time to get back on their parked bus. Rotational serial fouling just outside the opposition area when the opposition are bringing out the ball is what allows Chelsea to get their cunter-attacks going.

They cheat like dicks. We use our Coq. No competition!

mfp88

suggestion blogs. Could you show us the picture of the man of the man match receiving his award along with the stats.

beagleboy

This would imbalance the bantering qualities of this blog methinks.

GU1TAR-D3MON

It’s difficult not to get carried away with how well our Coq is doing. I mean this analysis basically proved what everyone has seen without the stats, we are playing miles better with him on the squad. I mean 11 interceptions today? 11?! That’s just insane. He has been a revelation and a happy accident. Methinks he deserves a spot in the Premier League team of the year over Matic and MS but I sadly don’t think he will cause the voting is done so stupidly early, why not wait till the end of the bloody season but whatever, it… Read more »

rch

The Coq in the wheel.

Arsenal's Legend

There is only one coq that can stand the test of time and it belongs to Arsenal. Long may it stand.

pryce

Le coq the DETECTIVE

kona cadabra

Copuelin

Liam

Moneyball again!!

SuperNova

France’s Coquelin deserves a call up.

Arteta Fan

For those who don’t think Coq can be “like a new signing”. I used to be a bank manager. The corporate muckymucks came up with “referral/goal” requirements. Every Teller needs to get 15 referrals/goals monthly or receive a corrective counseling…this assures your branch will achieve your goals. My point was this: We always achieve our goals as a branch specifically because i have a balanced team. I have a Teller who is great with older customers but not great at referrals…she does other things great and keeps our team balanced. If all I have is a team of referral getters… Read more »

beagleboy

Good insight. Ball skills apart 😉 the repetoir needed to manage a group of football professionals is not so different from managing a group of people in the ‘real’ world. To get it right is-as always- the tough bit.

Hungry_Jorge

Buzzing over this team, so great to see us clicking! Come on Arsenal!

hannovarianGooner

From What Point Does A Dribbling Become A Dribbling Statistically? Is It The Amount Of Touches, A Specific Time On The Ball Or Possibly Ground Covered?

Tim

When the opposition defender tries to win the ball away.

hannovarianGooner

Oh Okay, Makes Sense. Thanks 🙂

adriano

instead of comparing the season average with the average of the past 12 games, why not do a pre-coquelin and a post-coquelin comparison?
i saw one with ozil the other day, it just makes more sense.

Gutbukket Deffrolla

So you’re telling us he missed 4 square passes and an interception????
Why is he still in our squad????
Coq Out! Coq Out! Coq Out!
Wenger out too for bringing him back!!!!

(yeah, you guessed it. I’m joking)

(Yeah, really, please calm down)

(Not the face! Not the face!)