Thursday, January 27, 2022

Arsenal 10-2 Basel: By the Numbers

Arsenal blitzed FC Basel for a 2-0 win in Champions League group stage play. The 2-0 score was a bit flattering to the Swiss side as the Gunners ran rampant in the best 45 minute display of the short season so far.

You only need to know a few numbers to see how dominant Arsenal were in the first half. Arsenal completed 335 passes in the first half and 345 in the second but Arsenal completed 115 passes in the Basel final third in the first half and just 54 in the second. Even more amazing is the fact that Arsenal created 10 chances in the first half, compared to 4 in the second and the Gunners created 3 of their 4 big chances in the first half. The 10-2 in the headline refers to the fact that Arsenal created 10 chances in the first half, compared to Basel’s 2.

The star performer of that first half and my man of the match was… Alexis Sanchez. He created four chances for his teammates, all in that first half, and they were 1) the assist for Walcott’s header (big chance), the shot for Bellerin (distance, blocked), the through ball for Walcott’s second, and the cross for Ozil which he crashed against the outside of the goal from close range.

In addition to creating four chances for his teammates, he also took four shots. That means of the 19 shots Arsenal took in this game, Alexis created or took 8. All four of his shots were from in close and the Chilean might feel a bit aggrieved that he didn’t walk away with a goal for himself. He had a shot in the 6 yard box saved, he had a big chances brilliantly saved (the chip), he missed a wide open big chance and he had another shot from inside 12 yards saved.

This was also another unnoticed gem of a performance from Santi Cazorla. He led all players in… passes with 85, dribbles 4/4, crosses 2/8, corners 2/5, ball recoveries 11, and tackles 4/6. He was also second with final third passes, second with 3 shots created, and he gathered the pre-assist for Arsenal’s first goal.

Mustafi was Arsenal’s defensive rock in this match winning 5/6 aerial duels, making 4/4 clearances and 3/3 headed clearances, all of which led both teams. He also had 3 interceptions and made 4/4 tackles.

One thing that all Gooners want to know is whether Arsenal have “turned a corner” this season. That’s one of those things that pundits love to say (myself included!) but something which is difficult to call with just 9 games. However, if you look at Arsenal’s first four games compared to the last four (excluding the Forest match which I don’t have stats for) then there is some evidence for the idea that Arsenal have some momentum.

Big Chances are an easy measure of how much a team is dominating (after goals, of course) and are my favorite quick glance stat. In the first four matches, Arsenal only created 6 big chances compared to the opposition creating 5. Moreover, 3 of those big chances in the first four matches were penalties. However, in the last four matches, Arsenal have created 11 big chances to the opposition’s 8. And since the match against PSG, which was the low point of the season so far, Arsenal have dominated 11-3 (yes, your math is correct, PSG created 5 big chances against Arsenal). Moreover, Arsenal have only been awarded one penalty in those matches, which is the same number as the opposition. It’s not clear Arsenal have turned any corners but they are certainly dominating their opposition over the last few weeks.

But you knew that.

And finally, let’s not even start with the Xhaka-Cazorla partnership stats just yet. We have to see a few games first.


All stats Opta via WhoScored and the 442 App



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Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

Xhakadelic and Cazorlative.

Kwabena adusei

Good performance, keep it up

Evang. Femi


Juan Cornetto


K Dot




To the tune… Shaka Zulu


I’m jizzing every time I think of how well we’re playing at the moment. Right now, I’d love to play Man United and City while we’re still on fire. I can’t believe I want Walcott now and want Alexis to continue up top. Wenger has really vindicated himself in my book

Granit(e) hard!

I can’t believe I was one of those that thought Arsene has gone completely bonkers when he started playing Alexis up front, and boy!, was I wrong?….the man is on fire right now!…In this form, one of the best CF in the league right now, and scary thing is he is getting better every single game!

Arsene, I apologise for doubting you and i sit here, happily eating my words. What a performance from Alexis, and the whole squad.

Anonymous Physicist

The only thing that still confuses me about Alexis as striker is our squad balance. With Giroud and Lucas as striker cover and Ox the only wide player on the bench, it seems inevitable that we’ll have to move Alexis out wide again at some point. So if this was Wenger’s plan all along, why did we buy Lucas and not a wide player? Or is Alexis’ success as striker just another lucky accident like the discovery of Coqzorla?


I think Lucas was bought as someone who can play wide or central, providing cover for both positions depending on Alexis’ success up top/ injuryness.

Anonymous Physicist

Even though Wenger explicitly stated he sees him as a striker? Could be, but it would surprise me. But looking at all the thumbs down I guess I’m the only one who thinks that with Alexis as striker we look a bit short in depth on the wing, at least until Welbeck (who wants to be a striker) gets fit.


We have welbeck. How can you forget dat guy!!! It is unfortunate he suffered the brunt of our injury curse…..perhaps football God way of letting him go through his tribunal for his time at manu…but I rate him very highly. Don’t forget he effectively win the fa cup for us by knocking out manu with his goal.

Santi's Smile

The only time when Alexis up top is not my favorite is on corners and free kicks. Appreciate Giroud’s physical presence when attacking and defending set pieces.

Little bit Walcott

I don’t think it’s correct to think of Alexis as playing pure out and out striker in our last few games. To me it looks like wenger’s blurred the line between an attacking winger/forward and a pure striker. The guy drifts like no other, and when he does walcott or some other player is taking up that space. I’m very intrigued by this. It seems wenger’s set up the team to be less dependant on an out-and-out goal scorer and letting 1. highly mobile and technical players who won’t lose the ball (hold possession) and 2. a collective team effort… Read more »


shit was incredible!


Ooof. What a game that was! If we want to play at such a high tempo for the rest to the season, fitness will be key. And having the depth we lacked recently it looks very promising. COYG! Let’s get behind the team every single game and let them have our unconditional support. COYG!!


Yesterday was not Sanchez’lucky day to score but the assists he made were great enough to call him man of assist



Finsbury Park Gooner



Seems we have a run of relatively easy games for a few weeks now.. Hopefully we can build some momentum and steam roll through! Sanchez is a live wire at the mo!


It feels like we’ve turned a corner in terms of luck as well. Is there a measurement for luck? I think we got very lucky in 3 of our games following Liverpool. Bellerin not getting penalised against Leicester; Last minute pen against Southampton; Cavani’s appalling misses in Paris; In any previous season we would have been punished big time. Even our injury to Coquelin is better than expected. That’s almost unprecedented. I hate any of our players to be injured but even the injuries to BFG and Gabriel made Wenger go out and get Mustafi, who looks like he’s going… Read more »

Arshavin's fake moustache

‘The harder you work, the luckier you get’

-some old guy


Absaloutely 100% correct. A hard working cohesive team with a good gameplan, full of technically gifted induviduals doesn´t need luck.

gunnerfan ov crystal palace

This game and v chavs the first half was advanced goal draught with good analysis above of arsenal fc players important games still to come. Well played arsenal fc team


My math isn’t correct. My maths might be 😉


Oof, went to a pub to see the game, only to be disappointed they showed the Celtic – Shitty match. But I think the signing of Mustafi is also one of the reasons why we’re playing so well. He’s quick and composed, just like Koscielny, which allows us to press higher up the pitch. Something that, unfortunately, is never possible with the BFG. And Gabriel, although he is quick, is not so composed. Love this Arsenal! COYG!!!


Loving this new version of Theo a lot. Please keep it up till the end of the season! COYG


Mr Wenger showing the world that he really, really does know his shit.


Seems like our reliance on Ozil as the creative hub and main assist source is over. But I am a little concerned that he still hasn’t register his first assist of the season (while to be fair, he scored 2 brilliant goals).

The team is playing fantastically now, so not much complaints!

A Different George

I think Ozil’s lack of assists is actually a very healthy sign, given that he is obviously playing so well (of course, I would like him to get some). Sometimes, it seemed that we only scored if Ozil did something incredible to free a teammate for a “big chance.” Now we create lots of chances in the course of play, in which Ozil plays a big–but no longer semi-exclusive–part. The return of Santi, and using Alexis in the middle, make a big difference in reducing our dependence on Ozil’s brilliance.


Mustafi is THAT CB we’ve been crying out for for ages.. see Wenger, New isn’t just new.. New is reliable, New is depth..


The Xhaq


Whilst I am extremely happy to see the squad preforming well, I still have this hunger for more. We need to put our foot on someone’s neck and make the world feel shame for doubting us. That said, the real test id getting through October and November. The October fixtures (Burnley, Swansea, Ludogorets, Boro, Reading, and Sunderland) are all winnable but that makes the potential to overlook them and slip up very high. The November fixtures (Ludogorets, Sp*rs, ManUre, PSG and Bournemouth {plus a potential league cup tie}) will be much more testing and reveal much more about how far… Read more »


“Mustafi was Arsenal’s defensive rock in this match winning 5/6 aerial duels, making 4/4 clearances and 3/3 headed clearances, all of which led both teams. He also had 3 interceptions and made 4/4 tackles.”

I think we’re on to a serious, serious winner here people. He’s come in and more or less matched Koscielny’s high standard, quite seamlessly. Love Per but he’s going to find it hard to get back in the side.


I concur. This is a big big plus for us. The understudies in Rob and Bielik have the best role models in our first choice pairing. Gabriel had better re-calibrate the way Theo has done. When he comes into the side he had better give the boss something to think about.

A Different George

Still early, but not really a surprise. Plays for Germany, which is a decent side. Cost 35 million, which is ok for a defender.


Ok, enough already! Who are you and what have you done with Theo? His family are worried.


Best comment ever!

Arshavin's fake moustache

I wonder if this is the plan we’ve been slowly working towards over the last 3 or 4 seasons, squad-wise.
It just seems so Wengery now.

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