3 – Clean sheets for Arsenal in Premier League play since the blowout loss to Liverpool.
Stats don’t always tell the whole story. Sometimes you need more stats to tell more of the story and this is one of those cases. If I apply my expected goals formula¹ to the last three matches, Arsenal have an expected goals conceded of 2.99 – 0.56 against Bournemouth, 1.14 against Chelsea, and 1.29 against West Brom. West Brom had the highest 7amxGA because they created two Big Chances in this match – one shot from Rodriguez on the right side which Monreal saved and a wide open Jake Livermore shot which he blazed over the bar. West Brom would have had an even higher expected goals tally if they had been awarded a penalty for that Mustafi-Rodriguez incident, or even if Rodriguez’ shot had been counted as a big chance (which it wasn’t).
7 – Shots that West Brom took against Arsenal.
West Brom only created 7 shots in this match and on those 7 shots Arsenal allowed them to get an expected goals of 1.29. That indicates a pretty poor defensive performance from the team. However, those shots were all in the first half of play! In the second half, Arsenal locked things down, allowed West Brom 0 shots and 0 expected goals. That’s a much more solid defensive performance from the Gunners.
In fact, that second half was completely dominated by Arsenal:
5-1 corners and..
6 – Number of tackles by Monreal in the second half against West Brom
Monreal was a beast. Not only did he save Arsenal a goal in the first half but in the second half put in a huge performance. In that second half he led all players in tackles (5/6), interceptions (3), led the back three with 45 touches, led the back three with 31 passes, which he completed at a 94% clip (Mustafi and Koscielny both only completed 83% of their passes), won both of his aerial duels, didn’t foul, and didn’t lose possession.
I don’t know why but Pulis seemed to concentrate his attack down Arsenal’s left flank. Both Kolasinac and Monreal weathered the storm. Kola also went 3/3 in tackles and almost all of the dribbles attempted in that second half went down Arsenal’s left. Considering West Brom didn’t get a single shot in the second half, and that Kola and Monreal bossed Pulis’ players, you’d have to conclude that he picked the wrong left-sided duo to mess with.
Another weird stat: Neither of the center mids attempted a tackle or intercepted a pass in that second half. It was all fullbacks and center backs.
11 – Alexis turnovers (loss of possession through being dispossessed or bad touch)
Alexis had one of those nights where he seems to turn the ball over with every possession. He had 7 bad touches, was dispossessed 4 times, and lost 2/4 dribbles. This could account for why Pulis’ team attacked down the left so much and why Monreal and Kolasinac had to work so hard to keep the clean sheet.
On the plus side, Alexis was 36/43 passing and did create two shots for his teammates (tied with Elneny and Giroud). He also rocked the crossbar (now I have that song in your head) with his free kick which was scored by Lacazette. Wenger was right to bring him off.
5 – Successful dribbles by Lacazette (of 5 attempted, led all players)
Lacazette had an amazing night. 5/5 dribbles, 1 key pass (it wasn’t memorable), and he finally got a decent number of shots (4). In fact, Lacazette had all of Arsenal’s big chances in this match: header (goal), penalty (goal), and the time he rounded the keep ad blasted over the net. I chalk that last one up to wanting it too much!
141 – Number of penalties Liverpool have been awarded since the inception of the Premier League
People (Pulis) like to moan like a drain whenever Arsenal are awarded a penalty but it’s actually Liverpool who have been awarded the most penalties of any team in Premier League history. The top four are Liverpool (141), Man U (120), Chelsea (120), and then Arsenal with 115. What’s odd about this is that the goals scored record goes Man U (1873), Arsenal (1707), Chelsea (1657), and Liverpool (1613).
If you also look at penalties awarded against and at surplus penalties then things look even stranger. Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been penalized 88 times. That means Arsenal “surplus” (penalties for – penalties against) is just 27. Liverpool is nearly double that with 53! But it’s Man U who have the largest positive penalty difference with 64 – Man U have only had 56 penalties awarded against them. Chelsea are second with a penalty difference of +55 – because they have only been penalized 65 times.
So while I understand why Pulis is upset – that was a stone wall, stone roof, stone driveway, stone fence, stone garden, and stone mailbox penalty – you’re going to have to forgive me for not joining him. Arsenal are the second most prolific attacking team in Premier League history yet only the 4th most likely to get a penalty called for them and 6th most likely in League history to have a penalty called against them. And Arsenal have a defense which has conceded only 919 goals compared to Liverpool’s 997. So, um, yeah. I’m not at all upset that West Brom didn’t get a penalty awarded and that Arsenal did.
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¹Expected goals is nothing more than taking the average chance that a shot from a certain position will score, applying that average to the shots in a specific game, and then aggregating those averages. So, if we find that shots from distance have a 3% chance to score and a team takes 10 shots from distance, they get an expected goals of 0.3. Big Chances are hugely important in games. Big Chances are shots that are one on one with the keeper, open net, super close, or follow-up shots. That type of shot.
Sources: whoscored.com, statsbunker.com, my personal database