Profligate Arsenal Save Sunderland: by the numbers

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Key stat: 982

Arsenal had 982 touches to Sunderland’s 445. Of those 982 touches Arsenal lost possession just 18 times and only had 80 misplaced passes. To give you some context, Barcelona beat Cordoba 8-0 on 2 May and they had just 902 touches that day.

Delving further into this category, Santi had more touches than I have ever seen a player have, 173. What’s even crazier is that Ramsey had 152. The two of them had 325 touches! That’s 3.6 touches per minute and remember the game loses a lot of minutes whenever there is a goal kick or something.

But in a sense, this is what you would expect. Both players were in the center mid role for Arsenal and recycled possession for the team. So, their touches, passes, and other less attacking stats are going to be high. As well their passing percentages, both were above 90%. Sunderland didn’t even really challenge those two when they had the ball. In fact, between them they had just 3 of Arsenal’s 18 turnovers.

But they also lacked a little bit of a cutting edge. 325 combined touches, 6 shots and 4 key passes. Considering that they were on the edge of the Sunderland box for the entire 90 minutes I would expect to see more offensive productivity.

One of the main problems for Arsenal today was the static play of Olivier Giroud. With Arsenal having so much possession in the Sunderland final third (428 of Arsenal’s 799 passes with in the Sunderland final third) I was shocked to see that Giroud had just 39 touches.  That’s just 13 more touches than David Ospina. And 3 of Giroud’s touches came from kickoff and one was in defense. So, he really only had 9 more touches than Ospina. More than any other player today, Giroud looked dead on his feet and his touches numbers reflect that.

With Giroud doing his imitation of a tree almost all of the offense came from Ozil and Sanchez, who were number 3 and 4 on the touch list.

Ozil created 7 chances, all from open play. That last bit about the chances all being from open play is unusual. Against Chelsea, Ozil had the same number of touches as today against Sunderland, but only created 3 chances and one of them was from a corner. So, to see him have such a high number of chances created from open play is weird. I would also point out that three of the chances he created were deep in the Sunderland 18 yard box.

On the receiving end of many of those passes, Sanchez took 7 of Arsenal’s shots but only got 1 on target — a long distance effort which skidded tamely across the carpet. People are critical of Sanchez losing the ball but today he was only dispossessed 3 times. He did have 13 failed passes (and some were real stinkers) but all of his 13 failed passes were in the final 1/3.  And he created what I felt was Arsenal’s best chance of the game, that through ball to Jack Wilshere which just got away from the England International and was smothered by Pantylemons.

Arsenal actually created a lot of chances in the 18 yard box and many of them on the corners of the 6 yard box. Think about Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott, and Sanchez, they all had great shots on the corners of the 6 yard box. That’s a dangerous area for the opposition to concede a shot. But Sunderland let Arsenal take 10 shots from there.  And what is most frustrating is that Arsenal didn’t even get many of them on target, just 2. I have to think if Arsenal had worked Pantylemons more than twice we would almost certainly be talking about a different result today.

But despite all of the possession, all of the shots, all the good places Arsenal took those shots from, Arsenal didn’t score and Arsenal’s profligacy saved Sunderland from relegation. Wouldn’t it be funny if Newcastle went down instead?

I suspect all the misses were down to tired legs. Arsenal have only been shut out six times this season. Three of them have come since the 2-1 win over Reading in the FA Cup. I wonder if the team put all their energy (mental and physical) getting into this cup final and have been gassed since?

I hope they have something left in the tank for the big day.

Special Edition: Walcott and Wilshere

One way to look at Walcott’s contributions is as almost the exact opposite of Sanchez or Ozil. Whereas those two players need a lot of the ball to make an impact, Walcott deals in tremendous economy of the ball. So, Walcott only had 21 touches in 28 minutes but he took three shots, got two on target. He also had the only big chance of the game for Arsenal.

He also went 10/11 passes, created a shot, and had 3/5 dribbles. All in the opposition final third. It looks like Walcott is slowly getting back to full speed. And a full speed Walcott is a great thing to have in an FA Cup final!

Wilshere got his first start since returning from Paddy McNair’s horrific tackle and he looked a bit rusty. He only completed 76% of his passes (second lowest, just about Giroud) and he missed a couple of shots because his movement was off, but he did have the two best through balls of the game. One to each side of the 6 yard box for a shot. He also had one of the best chances of the game, the aforementioned Alexis through ball.

Still it’s interesting that Arsenal’s two freshest legs were involved in both of Arsenal’s best chances.

OhhhhhhhSPINA! What a save from Ospina! That finger tip save from Fletcher’s chip saved Arsenal a point.

Qq

Stats today from Whoscored.com, the FourFourTwo stats zone app, and the 7amkickoff Index

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Wenger's Glasses
Wenger's Glasses

Another fresh legs that create a great chance is Rosicky’s. So this tired legs (& mind) argument is true after all.

Tim
Tim

Rosicky also needs a fresh right leg installed on his left. That shot nearly went out for a throw in. He was only 8 yards away from goal.

Lorat
Lorat

Sunderland is doing trench warfare. Its raining crosses and passes out there, but none touched them. 😀
And I think the problem is magnified because we are reluctant to rotate.

tunnygriffboy
tunnygriffboy

Disappointing performance. We desperately need an alternative to Giroud who offers something different. Either he’s knackered or back to resting on his laurels as he has no competition.

Santi is out on his feet. No reason he should have played tonight. Expect big changes on Sunday and a lost to West Brom

If we’re knackered v Villa and throw everyone forward like tonight and Swansea they will rip us a new one with their attack. After the excellent run I was optimistic, now I’m hugely deflated

Also Wenger is back to squeezing Santi, Wilshere, Ramsey and Ozil into the team meaning it’s totally unbalanced

Shaun
Shaun

“Also Wenger is back to squeezing Santi, Wilshere, Ramsey and Ozil into the team meaning it’s totally unbalanced”

Spot on, this happens too many times.

Everyone remember how he pushed the best no.10 in the world Ozil wide left at the beginning of the season to accommodate Jack in the middle besides Ramsey in the 4-1-4-1 which didn’t work till he got injured and Cazorla replaced him?

gooner1886
gooner1886

To sum up… We lack top quality in the final third… A deflection aside, we can’t score for shit at the moment.

The lack of rotation and fatiue is surely an issue but also you have to be honest and say our front 3 haven’t been good enough.

Hoping mr wenger knows we need to add some thing there come the summer.

tunnygriffboy
tunnygriffboy

We’ve missed Welbeck and the Ox for their pace, why Theo hasn’t had more game time I don”t know. He persists with ramsey and Wilshere wide when we need pace or something different. Basically Wenger hasn’t got the guts to rotate Ramsey, Santi, Ozil and now Wilshere.

Arsenal's Legend
Arsenal's Legend

we can’t afford to let teams get away like this if we want to mount a serious challenge on the title next season.

on the toilet
on the toilet

We played OK, and Sunderland defended well. Wilshire looked good but lacked sharpness, his performance was promising tho and his two through balls where very smart. Walcott’s cameo was also promising, he looked something like his best, I think it does suit him more coming from wide positions, he goes missing in games where he lurks around the box, if he starts against West Brom, his direct running will cause them problems, especially if lescott is at left back and I think he will score.

Stringer Bell
Stringer Bell

If your going to play a centre forward as slow as Giroud, then it, I would think, would paramount to have pace either side. It’s why at united we sat deep but were never gonna be able to break because with Ramsey and Giroud united knew full well they could press as high as they liked, it only changed when we switched and even the goal though deflected was because Theo took the defender on. Does anyone on planet earth actually think if Ramsey had of received the ball in the same position he would taken the defender on. Answers on a postcard please!!

Stringer Bell
Stringer Bell

One further point. A few weeks ago all we heard was how we are going to challenge next season and the glory times are back. Now after dominating the games against Swansea and Sunderland but not quite clicking we are shit Wenger needs to go and is tactically clueless, not all fans I hasten to add but on the way home from the game and listening to talk shite and the cunts that were ringing in made me feel a little embarrassed. Let’s have it right you would have to be a cunt to ring the likes of Durham, Cunty, puke face Gough and the rest.

Mootilated
Mootilated

It’s the end of the season. The Champions just lost 3-0 to West Brom. Everybody is knackered and/or saving what’s left for the FA Cup final. I do sense that we might either lose or draw to West Brom which is why I think we really should give ALL the big names a rest on that day. If we lose, United still need to score about 5 or 6 goals (depending on the score line) against a Hull side who desperately want to avoid the drop.

Bumpy Bear
Bumpy Bear

Get Mertesacker and Giroud in the box and start doing proper crosses to the head instead of low crosses that has no way of finding its way through all the Sunderland legs. Mertesacker isnt much use defensively when we press so high since every opponent and their grandmother will outrun him, so why not make use of him offensively in the box when our opponent is set up so tight? If you cant go through the bus, go over it. Someone else could cover for him defensively like Bellerin who would easily have picked up fletcher before he got 1 on 1 with Ospina. Why are we allways so hellbent on dribbling and passing our way in to the 6 yard box before finishing?

In these games I feel Our midfield players are to similar for our own good. Small dribbling playmakers with the same attributes and tools to offer. We had alot of screwdrivers while what we really needed was a sledgehammer. We need to expand our tool box with a couple of new tools this summer as it will give us more options and help us get the job done more efficiently. Some real steel and perhaps someone with the ability to finish from distance like Toni Kroos with his Kroos missiles. Not that I see us signing him, but a little more variation in lidfield would be nice.

Alex
Alex

I smile a lot when reading fans trying their best to under-estimate Mesut’s 7 key chances… I mean, what does this guy need to do to please you? Sanchez shot 6 times out target but this is ok, the poor guy was tired (yes, he probably is and he has been for a long long time now as it’s been a while the excuse for his poor performances has been his shape). So Özil crates chances, but well, there are not real chances, it is “weird”, iti i not possible regarding that each time Özil does something, this is said as being bad, surely the number is not right… When Özil doesn’t shoot, he should, when he does, he shouldn’t. My god…
Mesut shot twice off target, well, so what? Sanchez who is not less paid and who didn’t cost much less, shot 7 times and 6 times off target…

Dexterbear
Dexterbear

One of özils shots was a volley with his weaker foot, which isnt easy for anyone.

palace gunner
palace gunner

Nice stats very crucial to see the
stats between barca 8.0 and arsenal fc v maccans tired legs of course a very much watch our team on back tracking arsenal can and have played better this season in certain games.

Shaun
Shaun

It was just too much of the same. Of all those passes, how many were long or diagonal? Against teams who camp on the edge of the box, the short passing and 1-2’s just don’t come off. In that case you change it. Playing without a conventional holding midfielder was bold and understandable, but what was the point of Santi sitting deep with his ability to ping cross field passes (remember Hull?) but not doing so? Ramsey hit a long pass to Ozil wide left and that’s all I can remember. We just persist with the same stuff, I don’t understand it. A friend of mine suggested, why didn’t we change to 3 at the back and get the full backs further up the pitch to stretch the play and get in some wide positions? It may not be the solution but it’s an idea. Either the players can’t improvise, think on their feet which Wenger asks of them or the manager is a) stubborn & tactically inflexible or b) clueless tactically & unimaginative. Blame a lack of fitness all you want, but you picked a team that played 2 days ago in physically demanding game and kept our most tired players (Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez) on the pitch.

santori
santori

We weren’t as narrow as many thought.

OTOH you can see how compact Sunderland were packing men in the box.

Simply stretching play with ‘width’ would not have helped as those crosses into the box would have likely been cleared.

What we did do better with Rosicky and Walcott in particular was with off ball movement.

Here’s where I’ve felt over last 3 games since Swansea the central axis of Santi-Alexis-Ozil have tired some what from all those games and Wenger was guilty of not freshening things up slightly with Jack earlier.

But the off ball movement was the problem. Often times the ball when side to side bc the player on the ball had no options moving ahead of him.

When Rosicky and Walcott came on, they worked the diagonal channel slightly but also (walcott) made runs across the box. That helped and we were unlucky on a couple of instance but we needed to have been doing this much earlier at start of second half when I thought Walcott should have come on frankly.

This is the area we need to improve in, working diagonal channels with off ball runs and also using an asset like Walcott in coming in across of goal from a wide area, in addition to stretching play wide when need be.

Width alone is not a solution.

greg
greg

I know this might sound a little left field. But if the analysis of the match against United said it took a lot out of the players maybe we should have rotated more? Jack and Ramsey cm. Theo Rosicky for dance and Ozil

andre santos
andre santos

why do we always go gung ho when when chasing a goal and leave only kos with mert at the back. we have been punished time and time again and it almost happened yesterday as well but for some poor finishing by their forwards. why doesnt arsene take off mert in those situations and put someone on with some pace to defend.

Abdel Abdellater
Abdel Abdellater

Cazorla made 165 passes (and 173 touches) in this game. Effective result of all those: zilch. It’s a more extreme instance of what is generally true of Cazorla: his play is sterile tiki-taka. No doubt you can remember some good breakthrough passes by him in other games (so can I). But these are too rare. For the 2nd half of this season he’s played in a deeper, more defensive position than previously, which has been a better fit for his skill set and has been a good move for him and for the team. Nevertheless I believe the team would be better off with somebody else instead, even though I acknowledge that he does obviously have his skills with retaining possession of the ball. I’ve heard it rumoured he’s attracted towards a return to play in the Spanish league. I hope he leaves this summer.

Alex
Alex

What, exactly, is a “big chance” if we had 10 shots from the corners of the 6 yard box but Walcott registered the only big chance?