Arsenal dominated Spurs in nearly every offensive statistical category today, shots (16-6), passes (542-199), crosses (44-12 and 8-3 successful), dribbles (14-7), corners (15-5), and ball recoveries (48-36). Meanwhile Spurs dominated Arsenal in nearly every defensive statistical category, tackles (23-17), interceptions (22-19), clearances (44-11), blocked crosses (0-7), blocked shots (0-7), and fouls (16-7). In short, Spurs played like a little team, sitting back trying to hit Arsenal on the counter and it nearly worked. Except they didn’t score on a counter, they scored off high pressure, from an error by Flamini. And their defense first scheme didn’t work either since they conceded a goal and Arsenal probably should have had more goals on the day had they not been in poor finishing form or had been able to get the ball and players into dangerous areas for their forwards.
45 – North London Derbies Arsene Wenger has managed
11 – Different Tottenham managers Arsene Wenger has played against
21 – Wins by Wenger in those 45 matches
18 – Draws by Wenger in those 45 matches
6 – North London Derbies Arsene Wenger has lost
5 – Wins Arsene Wenger has managed over Spurs in the last 7 matches, along with one draw and one loss
12 – Shots Arsenal managed in this exact fixture last season
1 – Giroud goal which ensured all three points as Arsenal put in one of the defensive performance of their season last year
43 – Tackles Arsenal attempted in this fixture last season
19 – Interceptions Arsenal make in this fixture last season
5 – Blocks Arsenal made on Tottenham shots in this fixture last season
6 – Tottenham shots today
16 – Arsenal shots today
2 – Number of Arsenal shots in good areas
70 – Percent of possession controlled by Arsenal
176 – Arsenal passes in the Spurs final third
199 – Tottenham passes in the entire match
44 – Crosses attempted by Arsenal
8 – Crosses successful by Arsenal
3 – “Successful” Arsenal crosses which were saved from going out of touch by a player on the opposite side of the pitch
44 – Clearances Arsenal forced Spurs to make
11 – Clearances Spurs forced Arsenal to make
3 – Number of those 11 Arsenal clearances which were well outside the 18 yard box
7 – Number of Tottenham’s 44 clearances which were outside the 18 yard box
29 – Number of attempted dribbles by Arsenal
3 – Number of those dribbles which were in our own half¹
1 – Number of those dribbles in our own half which were failed dribbles by Flamini and which led to a shot which led to Nacir Chavli scoring their only goal
∞ – Number of times this summer me or one of my friends begged Arsene Wenger to buy an actual defensive midfielder
3 – Arsenal players who were injured in this game (so far!)
Maybe – Percent chance that Arsene Wenger could play Abou Diaby against Chelsea next week
100 – If Diaby plays, this is the percentage chance I’ll be on my couch chanting “kick his head off” any time Diaby gets near John Terry
A lesson in why all stats aren’t equal
Lamela and Ox had eerily similar stats today. For example, both had 4 successful take-ons out of 8 attempts and both also led their team with three key passes. But bulk numbers are where the comparisons end. Lamela’s three key passes were much more incisive than Ox’s and Ox’s dribbles were much more important in terms of causing havoc in the Spurs back line.
So, here are Lamela’s 4/8 dribbles. As you can see, he was mostly pegged back into his own half and used his close control to open the game up from deep. These are risky dribbles (as we saw when Flamini was caught in possession) and as a result I would be tempted to count them as less valuable than dribbles in the other half. When he did try to break the Arsenal defense in our final third, he was stopped time and again.
Compare that to Ox and his 4/8 successful dribbles. Ox attempted all 8 dribbles in the Spurs half and did very well out on the corner of the 18 yard box winning all 4 of his attempts twice breaking down the Tottenham defensive wall and creating trouble in the back. Where he struggled was in the corner where Spurs were able to put multiple players on him. Like tackles high up the pitch, my theory is that dribbles high up the pitch are more valuable than dribbles in the defensive half. Thus I would rate Ox’s dribbles as more important for the team than Lamela’s.
Lamela and Ox also both had 3 “key passes” or passes which led to a teammate’s shot. However, I prefer Lamela’s pass locations to Ox’s simply because I know that the places where Lamela’s teammates were taking shots are significantly higher rate of conversion than where Ox’s teammates were taking shots.
Shots from inside the box and shots from short passes, rather than long crosses, are generally much higher conversion rates. Think of it at three fields, in and around the 6 yard box about 30% conversion, inside the 18 yard box about 15% conversion, and outside the 18 yard box is around 3% conversion which is to say anything outside the 18 yard box is a speculative effort at best.
This isn’t meant to denigrate Ox’s contributions, I would say he was man of the match, but rather to say that we shouldn’t count all stats as equal even if they have the same definition. All stats aren’t equal, some are more equal than others.
¹If Flamini hadn’t lost control of that ball this would have been a huge positive for Arsenal. I was complaining just last week against Dortmund that Arsenal were dribbling in their own half too much and that we would eventually get caught out. This week we contained the dribbling to the opposition final third and were still caught out. The lesson here is that one mistake, especially for a less mobile defensive midfielder, in a dangerous area is far more important than a whole lot of good work in a good area.
Stats: Opta, my database
Graphics: FourFourTwo Stats Zone