Saturday, May 18, 2024

Arsenal 2012-13 Preview: By the Numbers

Every year you are trying to improve your numbers and how you can help the team. We will see what the boss will ask me to do. I always try my best and that won’t be different. — Mikel Arteta

(All numbers Premier League only unless otherwise stated)

64 – It’s not entirely his fault but at 64%, Szczesny had one of the worst save percentages in the Premier League last season and there is no where to go from here but up for both the team and the player. Team defense, better positioning, working on set piece defense, and firming up the team’s shape when they don’t have the ball should all contribute to a better save percentage. If Szczesny and the team can get his saves percent up just 6 points and they are able to keep the opposition to the same number of shots as last season, it equates to a -10 goal difference.

20 – Sagna led the Gunners in aerial duels won, was fifth in passes per game, 2nd in crosses completed per game, got two assists and his one goal did nothing less than spark a revolution as Arsenal came back from 2-0 down to beat Tottenham 5-2. Coincidentally, 20 is both the number of League starts that Sagna made last season and his total number of successful crosses. Given how important he is for the club, we can only hope for more of both next season.

198 – Per Mertesacker is the tallest player at Arsenal at 198cm and yet he only won 29/46 aerial duels in 21 appearances for an average of 1.4 aerial duels won per game. He was also second on the team in clearances per game at 4.4. No one is suggesting that Per should win 14 headers a game, Arsenal aren’t Stoke and with Arsenal’s possession based game you will never see an Arsenal defender put up numbers like that, but I will be interested to see if Per has adjusted to the pace and insanity of the Premier League’s aerial game (Sam Allardyce is back!) and starts dominating a bit more this season.

6 – Thomas Vermaelen scored as many goals as Mikel Arteta did last season and already notched one on a Steve Bould special against Koln in pre-season. TV5 has been a goal scoring defender since he made the switch to Arsenal and in his first season grabbed 8 goals total for the Gunners. If he stays healthy and with Cazorla supplying the service on corners could we see 10 goals in all competitions from him?

54 – In his first season at Arsenal, Koz only won 54% of his aerial duels, last season he won 62% which is an improvement and actually a decent percent of headers won. Koz also improved on his number of red cards from the season previous, going from 2 to 0, improved his tackling numbers from 2 to 2.6 per game, and dramatically improved his passing numbers going from an average of 38 passes a game to 52 whilst adding accuracy to his long passes, supplying some crosses (injury forced him to play fullback) and even getting involved in the offense with some key passes and an assist. Given this track record, I wonder what he’ll improve next? Own Goals scored would be a safe bet, he scored two of those last season.

3.3 – Somehow Santos has gotten something of a bad rap as a defender who doesn’t defend but this isn’t entirely backed up by the numbers. First in the Arsenal team in tackles per game and second in the team in interceptions per game indicates a player who is aggressive in trying to win the ball back. But where Santos does need to improve is that he was second on the team in being dribbled by the opposition (behind Alex Song). I’m curious to see if he can get A) more than 15 matches both in a more forward role and in defense, and B) if he will work a little harder on not getting bypassed so easily by speedy wingers.

19 – Gibbo only managed 19 starts in each of his last two seasons which has to be frustrating for a player of his quality. It’s no exaggeration to say that he is a mirror image of Bacary Sagna in nearly every defensive statistical category: tackles, interceptions, and fouls are all almost exactly the same. It remains to be seen how Arsene plans to use Gibbs, Santos, and the plethora of left footed players on the team but it would be nice if one of Gibbs or Santos nailed down the starting fullback berth. If for no other reason than to provide consistency.

77 – Arsenal’s most industrious midfielder was 2nd on the team in key passes per game with 60 and yet somehow his teammates only managed to put away two of them for goals (1 assist every 30 key passes, Song was 1 assists every 4 key passes). He also led the League with 77 passes per game and was in the top ten in passing percent with a whopping 90% completion rate. Still, with the arrival of playmaker Santi Cazorla there may be some changes in Arteta’s game: he will no longer be automatic first choice on set plays and will have to rotate with his Spanish compatriot going forward. What effect this will have on his offensive output is unknown but I expect with Cazorla pulling the strings we might see a more freed Arteta and finally have a real goal-scoring midfielder.

15 – The number of millions that Arsenal are reportedly willing to take in exchange for Alex Song. If he stays, the one thing that he really needs to work on is not giving the ball away. Two years ago he gave the ball up 102 times and this year it was just 88, so he’s getting better, but he’s still no where near the likes of Arteta who only gave away the ball 45 times. Also, I would be shocked if Song managed 11 assists again next season especially with the attacking options Arsenal have in midfield.

5 – Playing for Malaga last season, Cazorla sorely needed a goal scoring forward in front of him as he only managed to get 5 assists despite being Malaga’s most creative force and a player with an impressive range of passing. Cazorla will have Ligue Un leading scorer Olivier Giroud and a very clinical Lukas Podolski to slip neat little passes to. Combined with the Arsenal system which has players from all positions get forward and with his sweet delivery on set pieces, I expect his assists numbers to rise significantly. He’s also a set piece specialist who scored 9 goals for a rather poor Malaga side.

1.6 – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain led Arsenal in successful dribbles per game with 1.6 and that was despite the fact that he only played 16 total League games with 10 of them as a sub. I expect dribbles per game and games played to grow this season but the thing to look out for is if his key passes (11), assists (1), shots (15) and goals (2) numbers go up as well.

2.6 – Ramsey played in the attacking midfield role for Arsenal last season and led the team with the ignominious stat of being dispossessed 2.6 times per game which was good enough for 7th in the League. Arsenal’s midfield is actually quite a puzzle. Arshavin, Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby, Song, Arteta, Coquelin, Frimpong, Chamberlain, and Rosicky are all vying for just three places in Arsenal 4-3-3. Is Ramsey Arteta’s understudy or Cazorla’s? Both? If I were a tree what type of tree would I be? Not deciduous, that’s for sure. Fortunately, Arsene has a few more weeks to solve this puzzle as Wilshere, Rosicky, and Frimpong are still out and Ramsey is on break after failing to podium in Olympic medaling. The number to watch for Ramsey is games played — last season it was 42 in all competitions. Can he squeeze into Arsenal’s crowded midfield?

10 – Ten is the number Podolski will probably be wearing in a few days time as the departure of what’s his name looms. What we do know about Poldi is that he scored a career high 18 league goals for Cologne last season and that he did so on a skimpy 85 shots. His departing number scored 30 goals on 174 shots at Arsenal, 174 shots he will never get at Man U, 174 shots that are now going to be distributed to other players at Arsenal. Thankfully, Podolski is a clinical finisher.

70 – Giroud won an amazing 70% of his aerial duels in Ligue Un last season and yet he remained one of that league’s least prolific scorers off headers with just 2. This low scoring rate could be down to any number of factors but the one thing we know for sure is that his teammates fed him the ball, constantly: he led the league in aerial duels attempted with 188 (that doesn’t count the number of times he was wide open and chested the ball to himself), led Ligue Un with 161 shots from which he scored a league-leading 21 goals, and he also led the league in turnovers with 109. What’s truly amazing is that with all the focus on him, once he had possession of the ball, the opposition only forcibly dispossessed him 48 times. How much of that he can repeat at Arsenal remains to be seen.

174 – Dear Theo Walcott, 174 of Arsenal’s 654 League shots (660 total shots the season previous) just walked out that door. That’s 27% of Arsenal’s goal-scoring chances. Would you like some goal-scoring chances? Well, get in line and prove that you deserve them. Sincerely, 7amkickoff.

Honorable Mentions

49 – Arsenal’s worst defensive season under Arsene Wenger saw the Gunners ship 49 goals and they did so letting in a record 37% of the opposition’s shots on goal and a five year high of 13% of all the opposition’s shots. These numbers must improve significantly if Arsenal are going to realistically challenge for trophies. Arsene and Bould will be aware of this problem and will be looking for improvement in every position defensively in order to nip this in the bud.

10 – Gervinho has a bad rap as being profligate and last season he scored one goal every 10 shots which seems really bad until you look at Rosicky’s numbers: 1 goal in 38 total shots. Both players are important on the field but it would be nice if we saw some improvement on these two numbers.

4 – Arshavin only created 4 assists last season for Arsenal because he spent part of the year on loan to Zenit. But the season prior, Arshavin created 18 assists in all competitions and was the League’s most efficient creative midfielder getting an assist every 5 key passes. He may still have a place in this Arsenal team.

4 – Number of substitute appearances Abou Diaby made last year. Worse, his sub appearance at Anfield was cut short by injury. If he does stay healthy he may remind people why he was a divisive figure back when he played: a prolific dribbler who led the League with 2.9 successful dribbles per game in 2009/2010 but who was also 4th in having the ball taken from him (2.9) and 21st in turnovers (3.2). All totaled he made just 77 successful dribbles but combined to give the ball back to the opposition a whopping 178 times.

1 – Frimpong leads the League in Frimponging himself: ruined his own knee tackling Joey Barton. Could figure in the team if Song leaves.

3.2 – If you choose defensive midfielders based on their defensive numbers and not the number of times they say “leave it” or “dench” Coquelin was actually the better choice. He was second on the team in tackles per game (3.2) and 6th  in interceptions (1.9). He also has a very low foul rate at a foul every other game. He does tend to dwell on the ball at times, but then it seems all of Arsenal’s 21 year-olds do.

2 – Did you know that Carl Jenkinson got two assists last season? Do you remember which games? Back to back in the 8-2 loss to Man U and the 3-1 win over Shrewsbury. Surely Jenkinson will have some chances to get more assists this season?

70 – Did you know that Djourou had a 70% success rate in aerial duels? He only attempted 27 (won 19) owing to lack of playing time but still that’s good enough for third best on Arsenal behind Szczesny (4/4) and Santos (20/24).

Park, Chamakh, Bendtner… meh.


Follow Tim on twitter @7amkickoff and at

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Koscielny to the rescue again

These are usually a bit shit but what the hell:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thanks for the goals van Pursie but you can now piss off.


Brilliant vid! Thanks for sharing.


That video’s amazing. COYG


Big question, where is Squillaci?
Or he already left the (no ambition, my Arse!!) club?

walter the gunner

tbh.I didn’t read what’s written.was hoping for ‘ ______ is undergoing medical at arsenal’ type of headline.losing rvp and now song 2 days to season start and hearing lfc are close on sahin! this torture can’t get any better.its like the media is trying to disorganize arsenal after a well assembled squad a week ago!


Where is the stats on TR7 ?


Yes, his injury is that serious. So pray!


What? No diaby too.
I swear I saw him somewhere for some couple of minutes. Where is diaby?


The Gerv will be our “real ” LANS this season!

Koscielny to the rescue again


Dreamy McPires

Yes sir. Took old Bobby Pires a season to get settled in too. I’m expecting some serious magic from the Gerv this term

Declan O, Donovan

Bendter is like the smell of wet dog you can wash the floor but it still wont FUCK OFF


I think you can actually consider 4 places for midfielders in Arsene’s 4-3-3..
Often he played a midfielder on one of the wings.. especially let wing last year…
Yossi, Ramsey.. If I remember correctly Rosicky used to play there sometimes (in the past)..


Could you not fit “Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin” into your Arsenal player banner template in Potatoshop? 🙂

Love your work btw – always appreciated.


As long as we replace song adequately (that means buy someone, not promote le coq), and our full-backs step p to the plate, we’ll be much better than last season.
Anyone else getting the feeling that we will put theo at cf in a modified 4-4-2 in some games? (provided theo stays… Have lost all faith in footballers)

50 Shades of Ramsey

Just putting this out there BUT, anyone reckon a move for matias suarez may be back on the cards? From what I’ve read (I cant work out what his current situation now is) his proposed move to Russia fell through after he failed his medical, and though originally he couldn’t transfer to us because of issues regarding a work permit, my ignorance in these matters leads me to think maybe we’ll get another stab at him. The media seemed to be wondering what was going on with us scouting all these anderlecht players (lucas biglia, cheikhou kouyate etc) maybe its… Read more »


Am I the only one who thinks that Diaby and Gervinho are going to have ‘stand out’ seasons?


I think there’s a growing minority, so no, I don’t think you’re the only one. It’s great to have a few wild cards at the beginning of each season that involve very little emotional investment at the outset. If they do well, then they exceed expectations and offer a welcome surprise. If not, we have others who can and will step up. But for the sake of Diaby’s career, and in the interest of vindicating Wenger’s faith, I sincerely hope you’re right about him this season.


No, you are not!

big black clock

Great article, gives us a chance to fix our expectations on individual players. Interesting to see that RVP’s shot-to-goal coversion rate was 17% while Poldi’s was 21%. I don’t watch Koln that much but I’d bet that we create way more scoring chances than them. And with both Poldi and Cazorla in the team, I’d bet our goals outside the box figure will double this season. Also, this will be Gervinho’s and Per’s and maybe Santos’s breakout season in the EPL. I just know it. It can be seen from pre-season and their comments that they know their weaknesses and… Read more »


The wave of optimism created by the media with regard to Arsenal has now turned into a tsunami of destructive doom. Yes, I’m gifted when it comes to metaphor consistency. Anyway, outsider expectations have dropped considerably, but I think this suits us fine. I still share the opinion of most insiders who claim we’re a better team than we were last season, though if Song leaves (Arseblog considers him as good as gone), we’ll need to replace him with someone of equal or better quality. This doesn’t seem impossible, does it?

Arsene's Glasses

Dear Blogger,

Can we please get a 24hrs Arsecast to listen to till kick off ?


Great photo. Wenger looks like a criminal mastermind. Bould his enforcer.


Wenger is like Michael Corleone–secretive and vindictive.


I just cannot fucking wait for the season to start. Fuck all these transfers, we do our talking on the pitch and show various cunts up for the cunty cunts they are. Still have some real reason for optimism this season. We will be better than last season – there’s no effectively forfeiting the opening few games and I’d rather have Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla than one Dutch striker. Unless, of course, that was DB10. Add into that the fact that someone always steps up when a big player leaves – Fabregas when Vieira went for example, and I remain… Read more »


“I would be shocked if Song managed 11 assists again next season”…..Me too from the Barcelona bench or defence


Does passing the water bottle count?

Cazorla Want For Christmas Is You

Interesting numbers as always. I maintain my optimistic stance for the season. What I would love to see isthe money reinvested quickly and appropriately in a proper defensive midfielder and a striking option. Would love capoue and perhaps a clinical squad player like dempsey… But Wenger can be a sly ‘ol dog, and I would back him to find the right players were he to try.

Despair not, gooners, we are set for a big, big season. I’m fuckin excited.


Not exactly on topic but I was quite amused by the legend that is Eboue…

mah moody gooner

sadly its a fake account.



mah moody gooner

give me a fully fit santos and sagna along with an improved bfg and im sure we’ll concede only of what we did.

mah moody gooner

* half of what we did


I still can’t figure out who my ideal starting midfield is once everyone is healthy. Can’t see cazorla, arteta or wilshire not starting so maybe that’s it.

Arsenal Boiler

Mr Writer, I don’t know what the definition of key passes are. But I watched every single game last season, most more than once and I can say this certainly. Arteta rarely attempts an ambitious pass that potentially could be an assist. IF you remove his setpiece numbers, his assists will even fall further. Arteta is the king of safe, possession-maintaining passes. If has defence-splitting passes in his arsenal, he certainly didn’t show it last season.That probably explains why Song gives away the ball more. He is not a bad player, he just attempts riskier passes and most of them… Read more »

Hudson Hornet

Have to agree with this to an extent, Arteta is a very good player but his influence is being over hyped.


I love what Arteta does for us. By all accounts his influence amongst the squad off the pitch is just as fruitful and productive. Also, his photo in this article is boss. When his football career finishes up, the producers of Being Human should sign him up to play a dreamy – yet – mysterious werewolf pack leader.


Nice article, with some interesting insight.

I certainly feel the likes of Giroud will benefit from the sort of crosses that Jenks can provide (i.e. until Sagna´s back). Arsene continues to build a side that likes to break at pace, so Cazorla´s intelligent passing and Poldi´s pace will fit right in. Further progression from the Ox and improved defensive stability (call it the Bouldie Factor) and this season could be massive.

Looking forward to it immensely, much more so than in recent seasons…


Hudson Hornet

Lost RVP but gained Cazorla, Pod, Girou. OK fine, asking alot of those 3 but its possible they could fill that void.

Song goes, who replaces him? Coquelin? Not ready.

So whilst there is optimism our rivals have improved and again we are stagnant. Must make more additions along the quality of Santi.

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