Sunday, August 7, 2022

Efficient Swansea steal three points at Arsenal: By the Numbers

Your key stat, 58.

Arsenal ended the game with 23 shots and 9 on target but It took Arsenal 58 minutes to register their first shot on target. In fact, the entire first half was a throwback to the bad old days of sterile possession.

In the first half, Arsenal completed 91% of 392 passes and had 69% of the possession. The most common pass combination was Koscielny to Mertesacker, with 19.

Sticking with the theme of that first half, Arsenal were able to complete 144 passes in the Swansea final 1/3 but only managed to get 5 shots off and zero on target. Swansea had just 19 passes into the Arsenal final 1/3 but, crucially, took 5 shots and got 4 on target.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are the most dribble-happy team in the League, averaging 16/26 successful dribbles per game and a 61% success rate. And Swansea attempt the third fewest tackles in the League on average, with just 16/26 a game and also have just a 61% success rate on their tackles.

But in that first half, Arsenal were just 3/8 dribbles, Swansea were 10/11 dribbles. Swansea only average 9 successful dribbles a game so 10 in a half is excellent by their standards. And by the end of that first half, Arsenal were just 6/16 tackles while Swansea were 12/15.

For 45 minutes, Swansea sat back, killed the Arsenal dribble attack, and let us play sterile passes around the 18 yard box.

Oh, and there were only two aerial duels in the first half. Each team won 1.

The second half didn’t start much better and it took until the 58th minute for Arsenal to get their first shot on target. They ended the match with 9 shots on target but 7 of those 9 came after Wilshere came on in the 66th minute. That is to be expected, Arsene traded off Coquelin’s defensiveness for Wilshere’s directness.

Coquelin had a quiet game, going 0/2 in tackles and just 1 interception. I thought he had at least one good tackle but Opta says NO.

His replacement Wilshere had an interesting match statistically. He tied Özil with 5 key passes but unlike Özil, all of the shots he created were outside of the 18 yard box. He also kept getting into dangerous areas as his teammates played him in behind the defense time and again but he ended the match going 0/6 on crosses. Like Coquelin I thought I saw Jack make a tackle (two actually) but Opta didn’t record them. I’ve asked Opta for clarification and will post an answer if/when I get one.

Meanwhile, Theo Walcott came on in the 68th minute and had just 7 touches; 5 passes and 2 shots. He completed 100% of his passes and both shots were on target. He was super efficient.

And finally, a huge shout out to former Arsenal ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Arsenal created three big chances in the game, got two on target, and he saved them both. In total he made 9 saves against his former team and had a top performance in terms of claiming crosses. It’s important to note, as I wrote on 7amkickoff in my pre-match post, that Garry Monk and Lukasz Fabianski worked specifically on this skill this summer. Monk said that the data showed Swansea was susceptible to crosses and so they specifically targeted that skill:

Obviously, Fab has that (ability to play with the ball at his feet) but I also wanted someone who could command the box and be very confident as I was very conscious of the crossing element. We did a study last summer about how teams attack and what were their biggest weapons and crosses were at the top of the list.

It worked. Fabianski has attempted a League leading 174 claims and missed just 3. That’s 61 more claims than 2nd most challenged ‘keeper, Robert Green. And you could see that work pay off today, Arsenal attempted 31 crosses (they average 23 per game) and were successful just 5 times. Of those 5 successful crosses 2 were chased down on the other side of the field and just one created a shot. Fabianski claimed every cross that came into his box today, shutting down Wilshere and Alexis who combined to go 0/12.

Still, he could have and should have probably lost that game when Alexis and Walcott both had shots right in front of goal. Just like in the old days, Arsenal played against a team that sat back, their ‘keeper put in an outstanding performance, and when we had a real chance in front of goal we couldn’t put it away.

And finally, it’s a misnomer to say that Swansea only played defensively and I disagree with Wenger on that point. Garry Monk brought on Bafetembi Gomis in order to try to win that game, it he was only interested in defense he would have played three DM’s like Chelsea do. Instead of defense first, what Swansea did was the same thing that Arsene Wenger did against West Ham in December at Upton Park, they played efficiently.

In the West Ham game, Arsenal completed just 195 passes to West Ham’s 293. The Gunners also only had 59 attacking third passes to the Hammers 95. But out of those 59 final third passes, Arsenal created 21 shots, got 7 on target, and scored 2 goals. That’s great efficiency.

Swansea only created 8 shots off 48 final third passes and they only got 3 shots on goal, scoring just the 1 goal. Not as efficient as Arsenal at Upton Park but it was enough, when combined with an efficiency in defense that shut down the best dribbling team in the League and cut out nearly every single cross, to win the game.

Oh, and Bafetembi Gomis only had three touches. That’s efficiency!


Related articles


newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

1 – Wrong Polish keeper let go.

(Here’s to hoping Szczesny becomes an Arsenal legend and makes me look like an idiot)

Third Plebeian

0 – The number of keepers at Arsenal who inspire confidence.

Dave Gooner

I think that is really unfair on Ospina. I think he is a principal reason for our recent run of form – our defence plays better knowing he’s behind them.

So we lost. It happens.

The Ox, The Ram, Willy & Wally

Really? I don’t think so.

Unless it was Ospina’s idea to bring Coq back. And unless it was Ospina who worked on Koscielny’s fitness so that we could play a consistent back four together.

Dave Gooner

No mate. He’s just a really good keeper. One of the best in the Prem.


Inefficient is the word I would use to best describe Arsenal’s style.

Works great against s**t teams or clueless tacticians but is agonising to watch against any decent team.

Wenger will never change, as a consequence he will never win either of the big trophies again, said this or something similar 6 years ago and have no reason to take it back 🙁


Bore off. Worms like you always crawl out at convenient times.

And what’s the FA Cup? A lollipop?


How was Walcott super efficient? He missed his only chances to score–scoring goals is his main purpose–when needed? Or are you being sarcastic? And this Arsenal of Old needs to be shot, impaled in the heart with a stake, dumped in a vat of acid that is then thrown into a pit filled with cement, and then nuked for good measure. Should be getting at least a draw from teams like Swansea–that is what top teams do consistently. And now those United bastards will be licking their lips for Sunday, and you know De Gea will have a stormer, and… Read more »


I think Tim was going for sarcasm with that comment on Theo being super efficient.


What I’m most annoyed with about this game is the manner of their goal, in that it was exactly the same way they scored the winner in November, Montero combining with Gomis on that right hand side. I thought Bellerin had a better game than Chambers did but it only takes one slip up to let a cross through.

Are there any stats for how often our full backs get beaten?


We lost that game because we tried to hard to win it. Sadly the ten men behind the ball in and around your area is becoming more and more common. If we had approached the game like Swansea what sort of game would we have seen ? If it continues the game will become a bore fest. Because we pushed for the goal we once again left gaps and they got the goal they didn’t deserve. Yes they were organise but hugely lucky as well that the ball fell for them in their own area. If all teams adopted the… Read more »

Si in Galway

Mixed bag though: if we attempted to play like swansea then the game would be more balanced, swansea would have more possession, and attack more, and it would probably be more interesting. But it’d be illogical to give them that kind of respect and ignore our strengths in possession, since we’re the better team. The cure to the footballing sickness that is parking the bus, is scoring against it. Which is obviously tougher than if they came to play, but once you score one, often enough the floodgates open – this has been the pattern for us recently. The problems… Read more »


How we’re we the better team? We lost both games to Swansea this season. They are better head to head.


I’d be interested to know how many crosses into the box we made with Giroud on the pitch and how many crosses into the box we made with Walcott on the pitch. My money is on Theo getting the lion’s share, like the Chelsea game.


Yes, it sure looked that way, but we also have to consider it is natural in the last 10 minutes chasing a game to dump more crosses into dangerous areas. But that really is where you need a guy with some kind of height in the box. I think Giroud would have got one.

palace gunner

Fabianski m.o.t.m his first game back with swansea, the team arsenal fc rushed to find the goals, as perusual so many attacks and passing the ball, yes ten unbeaten win streak ended but i must admit arsenal fc climbed the table well, of course swansea want u.e.f.a place and play man. C next. As for arsenal fc we might do beat man. U sunday, unlucky last night gunners with two defeats by swansea this season, not even chavs got that against us coyg.


Just an off day for the guys. They’ve not become bad overnight, it just wasn’t our day.

And all the talk about “this proves we need to improve this and that position ” we can always improve all positions! I wouldn’t cry if if if we got messi to improve on Sanchez, not that it would ever happen but it’s always open when it comes to improving any position

Even if we had a perfect team football punditry would be boring without “Arsenal need a new goalkeeper, a new central defender and a new defensive midfielder

Anonymous Physicist

This. Every team has days where they can’t seem to break down a well organised side that have come to defend a point. If you then let in a goal through a defensive error, that’s a shame, but it happens. This game is in no way indicative of our current form or capabilities. It’s the kind of game that happens to everyone. It’s also not the cause for possibly missing out on 2nd, we just left ourselves way too much to do after the poor first part of the season. Losing 1-0 to a well organised defensive side doesn’t worry… Read more »


I agree. However we seem to have 3+ games like this every season,where Chelsea have 1. Want to win the league you have to win ugly sometimes.


Hats off to Swansea. Tactically they were spot on. OTOH, I can’t understand why Theo is still being played as a striker. He isn’t. If anything we needed him on the wing to add width today. Thought Jack look hungry and made the difference coming on. He got down on the left a number of times and whipped in balls which would have been better had we had Giroud and not Walcott in the box. Theo was standing too far off when he should be at knife length with the keeper. It was evident what Jack was trying to do… Read more »

Less rambly Pete

Totally agree that the kind of balls Jack was firing in to the near post had Giroud’s name all over them. Getting Theo on the the instruction to do the same from the other side may have worked, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Interested to see how much of our play came down the left in the last 20 mins. Seemed to me that everything we did was down that side with Jack coming over form right.
End of the day I felt we didn’t play fast enough to stretch them… though it is hard to stretch a back 10…


Didnt Giroud have a shot on goal in the first half?


am I the only who thougt Aaron’s love of drag backs and flicks is a bit annoying when you are chasing a game?


Yeah, but we’re not allowed to focus on that.

Blaming Theo is the current narrative right now.


I thought Alexis’ dribbling into turnovers and cut off passes to nobody were more annoying.

bims lay

1 – the number of time i am not “happy” with article

i know what he is saying is statistically accurtate as usual……it still hurts to read, but like they say “truth hurts”

We should all just forget about this and move on to the next game!


I guess Arsene needs a new team from the Goalkeeper to the Striker When your team loses, you must discard the idiots and buy in new shiny ones immediately Arsenal is not permitted to lose games against inferior opponents Arsenal is not permitted to be 14 points from Chelsea Claude on ARS FANTV should calm down He’s taking loses too emotionally He is coming across as crazy and might be unloved at home My intake: Arsenal played poorly last evening The moment Ozil free kick hit Big Per and he defended it , instead of docking I knew it would… Read more »

Abdel Abdellater

To bring on Wilshire, I would’ve taken off Cazorla instead of Coquelin. Cazorla was the engine of sterile possession. With Coquelin holding possession of the rear midfield space, nearly everybody else can advance forward more boldly when Arsenal have the ball.

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x