72.6 – Pass completion rate for Granit Xhaka (joint lowest of any Arsenal outfielder other than Kolasinac.)
Xhaka only completed 53/73 passes, meaning he misplaced 20 passes on the day. Many of those bad passes were on breakaways and counters and thus contributed to Arsenal’s low, 80% pass completion rate. Xhaka’s completion rate was the lowest of any outfield player (tied with Kolasinac) and was just above Cech’s 50%.
This stat is one to watch over the season. Wenger seems set on playing with a sort of single pivot with Xhaka in the base. This is similar to how Wenger played with Arteta and I’ve long thought Xhaka’s passing rage and ability should be compared to the lego-haired Spaniard. But Xhaka absolutely cannot give the ball away 20 times a game if he’s going to take on that role. In Arteta’s final full season with Arsenal (2013/14) he misplaced a grand total of 170 of his 1982 attempted passes (includes both long and short passes). That’s an average of just 5.5 per game. Xhaka has already misplaced 64 passes this season, an average of 16 per game.
When Xhaka came to Arsenal, he averaged 12 misplaced passes per game and I had hoped that this was just a matter of him playing in a system and with teammates where passing wasn’t held in such high regard (counter attacking systems tend not to worry as much about possession). And this seemed right; in his first season at Arsenal, he averaged just 7.2 misplaced passes per game. But this season he’s looked sloppy and it’s really hurting the team.
4 – Highest number of Premier League goals Danny Welbeck has scored for Arsenal in a season.
He already has three this season! And two of them he’s scored off his shoulders – once he gets some shoulders installed on his feet, he’s going to be DEDLEE.
The finish for his second goal today against Bournemouth was excellent and I thought his attempted chip was the right decision even of it seemed audacious.
6 – Number of shots Lacazette has taken this season.
Lacazette scored today and once again showed that he is a clinical finisher. He’s so clinical I did a synonym search for clinical to come up with a word that means clinical but better. I wanted to say he’s a gluttonous finisher, an avaricious finisher, or even rapacious finisher but the reality is that he’s not animal-like or predatory, but just weirdly calm when he shoots – so it fits, he’s clinical, like Aguero.
Lacazette’s finishing from open play was astonishing last season, he scored 16 goals on 53 shots – 30%. That was up from a really great 19% the season before. Giroud scored 10 goals on 32 shots from open play last season, 31%, and 10 from 69 the season before, 15%. Even Aguero, who is considered to be the razor fade of fine finishing scored 14 on 119 shots from open play last season (12%) and 15 of 94 the season prior (16%) and in his last title run season scored 15 on 70 for 21%. So, what I’m saying here is we need to feed the Lacazette!
8 – Number of dribbles Arsenal attempted against Bournemouth.
Arsenal sold Ox and didn’t start Cazorla or Alexis. Those three players accounted for 285 of Arsenal’s League Leading 599 successful dribbles in 2014/15 – why 2014/15? Because that’s the only time all three of them played significant time for Arsenal. The point is that those three are the players who unlock opposition defenses with their close ball control to the tune of 48% of Arsenal’s dribbles that season.
Arsenal led the League (you could say we topped the table!) in dribbles from 2014-16 but due to injuries to Cazorla and Ox and Bellerin’s loss of form last season Arsenal have dropped from 15.7 dribbles per game in 2014/15 to just 12 this season and Ox carried almost all of that by himself: he made 17 of Arsenal’s 49 successful dribbles this season, 35% and that includes today’s stats!
I’m not even remotely suggesting that selling Ox was a bad idea but I do think that teams need players like Ox and Alexis to be like Loki and cause chaos. Alexis will play his part and Cazorla will come back, no doubt, but after them it’s really unclear who can help fill that role. Right now, Ramsey is Arsenal’s second most prolific dribbler behind Ox with 7.
6.30 – Number of goals I expect both Arsenal and Liverpool (separately) to concede this season based on the shot quality that their defenses have allowed
Ox bragged about his new beginning at Liverpool and it looked quite a bit like the OLD team he played for as the Scousers got thrashed 5-0 by Man City. Ox came on in the second half and literally added nothing to his team: 17 touches, 10 passes, 1 turnover (when he switched off on a throw-in), 1 foul, 0 shots, and 1 time where he let Leroy Sané dribble straight at him and then have an open shot on goal for City’s 5th.
You have to give Ox credit though, the teams he’s played for in the last month are both spectacularly bad at defending. Using my expected goals formula (which takes account of shot quality and past scoring rates from certain positions on the field) Arsenal and Liverpool both have an expected goals allowed of 6.30 – that’s tied for 7th WORST in the League. And both teams have conceded 8 goals so far this season!
If you follow my blog you know that I don’t think Klopp is any better than Arsene Wenger – especially when it comes to defense. His “Heavy Metal Footbal” often leaves his teams exposed and over the last two seasons he has, I think, proven that he can’t win the League.
Sources: WhoScored.com and my personal database