Thursday, July 18, 2024

Sp*rs 2-1 Arsenal: by the numbers

I don’t need to remind anyone what happened to Arsenal last season on away days to clubs with top four or title ambitions. After last season’s embarrassments on away days to their top four rivals, Arsène was criticized for “lacking a plan B”. Well, this season Wenger adopted a plan B and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Today, it doesn’t. Erm… didn’t. Not work. Today, Plan B failed.

Arsenal won 2-0 away to Man City playing a defense-counter approach and clearly looked to emulate that same tactic away to Tottenham. The only problem is that Spunks were ready for them and starved Arsenal’s counter attack with a fairly dominant defense and midfield swarm.

The trick to the counter-attacking team is ruthless efficiency. A team sitting back and hitting on the counter has to capitalize on their few attacking chances. So, against Tottenham, Arsenal had 7 shots and 3 were on target. 2 were on target in good areas as well. That’s actually not that bad. Arsenal beat Man City with just 9 shots and three on target. And both matches Arsenal got 2/3 of their shots on target from prime areas. Against City, they converted them. Against Sp*rs, they converted just one.

Stepping back into just final third passes, Arsenal completed 74/109 final third passes against Man City and from those 74 passes created 9 shots, 7 from a teammate’s pass (what we call a “key pass”). Against Sp*rs, Arsenal completed 77/123 passes (pass percentage is less important here than you might think) but only created 7 chances and just 4 key passes.

In very real terms the *attacking* difference in the matches is small; Giroud scored with his header against City, Koscielny did not against Sp*rs.

Defensively, that’s another story.

Arsenal playing deep gave Tottenham’s “full court press” a huge advantage. Sp*rs were able to force Arsenal to turn the ball over 34 times while Arsenal were only able to force Tottenham to lose possession 26 times. Remember that Sp*rs dominated the ball, that number should be reversed: Arsenal should have forced Sp*rs into more turnovers. But worse than just the sheer number of turnovers was the fact that Sp*rs caused 12 Arsenal turnovers in our own half while Arsenal were only able to return the favor 4 times.

Screengrab from Arsenal turnovers in red, Sp*rs in blue
Screengrab from Arsenal turnovers in red, Sp*rs in blue

Ramsey was the most guilty of all the Arsenal players in terms of turnovers. He had 7 turnovers but worse than the sheer number was the fact that he led Arsenal with 4 turnovers in his own half. Contrast that to Eriksen who also had 7 turnovers but all of them were in the Arsenal half and most of them in very dangerous positions.

screengrab from Ramsey turnovers in red, Eriksen in blue
screengrab from Ramsey turnovers in red, Eriksen in blue

I don’t want to be accused of Ramsey bashing (it won’t matter what I say, he will be a touchstone for what went wrong in this match) but it looks like Pochettino took the ball away from Özil and Cazorla and told his team to let Ramsey beat them.

Against City, Cazorla was Arsenal’s man of the match. He led all Arsenal players by completing 54/59 (92%) passes, 18/22 (82%) in the City final third, and created 2 chances including Giroud’s headed goal. Against Sp*rs, Ramsey led all Arsenal players completing 38/54 (70%) and 15/24 (63%) in the final third. Ramsey didn’t create a single shot for a teammate not for himself.

The obvious criticism is to blame Ramsey for “having a ‘mare” but there is a less obvious conclusion: Pochettino got his team tactics right in the second half and the result is that Ramsey was left all alone to create in the midfield and was unable to find an outlet down the wings. As you can see from the tackles chart, Sp*rs were concentrating their defense down the wings.

screengrab via Arsenal tackles in red (25/36), Sp*rs tackles in blue (22/32)


Wenger tried to counteract that by bringing on Theo Walcott but I think that was the wrong move. At the time I thought Walcott would put pressure on Sp*rs with his speed but it turns out they were set up to cut off Arsenal’s wide play. So having yet another wide player, even though he ostensibly hugged the line, didn’t do anything for Arsenal. In the end Walcott had just 6 touches.


So, despite setting up the same way as they did against Man City, Arsenal struggled to get out of their own half, were inefficient when they did get the ball up field, and lacked firepower off the bench that would enable them to change the game in their favor.

But even despite all that, the match really turned on just two incidents: Ramsey letting Kane ghost behind him on the corner kick for their first goal and Walcott not closing down Benteleb and Koscielny losing an aerial duel on the second. For all the talk this week about a new-found defensive awareness, for all my stats above showing how Sp*rs hemmed us in and kept us quiet, Arsenal were undone by two simple errors.



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Ultimate Gooner

It all went down to two defensive lapses that would not have happened last season. Pure and simple.


Some people are just so delusional when it comes to football. The way a team plays whether defensive or attacking varies throughout a game. Even though the manager may say ‘play defensive’, it really makes no difference when the team is playing with a shit mentality and have absolutely no will power to win the game. Crappy effort from pro footballers who can’t even make the most of it playing just once a week. The problem with Wenger is his motivational skills clearly but the formation is perfect. No wonder Mourinho is higher up the table because he seems like… Read more »


Yeah mourinho did a much better job at motivating his team for their away game at spurs, thats why they won comfortably. Oh wait whats that they lost 5-3.

John C

He’s motives his team to a 7 point lead in the league

John C



Why were they hungrier than us by a mile to win the game? We only had two points more than them… A team that’s more ravenous to win the game most of the time win the game no matter how ‘shit’ their team is as we see in football time and time again. That’s where we slack mainly!


Hard to blame Koscielny for the header. Kane is behind him, the ball is directed even further behind him so that he couldn’t possibly reach it. Kane could and only JUST. If he was tighter to Kane then he could have got to it but then we could be sat here talking about how Koscielny was too tight and allowed Kane to get the jump on him scoring in front.

The ball needed pressed, that was the only error.


Or he could have jumped and unsighted Kane resulting in a possibly misdirected header. Just saying.

Proff Gooner

I don’t think people realise starting Walcott, Welbeck and Ozil in an intense game like this was probably the biggest error. I’m not saying they should not have played but having not played four full 90 mins in the last couple of months meant they were surely not sharp enough. We probably underestimated the scums and didn’t respect the fact that they too were on a run with high morale after reaching the final for the milk cup.. I mean League Cup final. Somehow I would have preferred Akpom to start with his dribbling skills and the fact he knows… Read more »

gooner 44

gotta old yer ands up
we got Kaned on th day
but this time next year they,ll still b wochin Eastenders


Maybe lacking a ‘Plan B’ wasn’t the entire issue. Maybe setting up the same way against vastly different teams was the fucking problem in the first place. Just a thought. And everything you said, Wenger should’ve seen and nullified after the half time break, with a sub or by tweaking the approach. It seems that Pochettino got the better of him this time.

Gooner Inside the Beltway

When has Arsene ever “nullified anything at halftime, with a sub or by tweaking the approach?” Unless there is an injury or red card, we will see player x (and maybe y) substituted at around 70 minutes as was preordained, then maybe a final sub quite late. I truly admire him, but remain baffled at how such a thoughtful and learned man can also be so utterly inflexible.

Cygan's Magical Left Foot

He did once this season Against Everton taking Alexis off at half time for Giroud after we were 2 nil down in the first half and it worked. So, he knows how or what to do, it is just you have to find what goes inside Mr Wenger mind to understand how or why the man think like that for this long!.


Well, that’s my weekend ruined.


I couldn’t get my head round taking Santi off. Perhaps he was injured but he seemed ok. I know neither him nor Ramsey set the pitch alight today but Santi has the ability to change the game in a Spanish heartbeat, Aaron is not currently in that form. I’m pleased for Özil though. 3 in 3 is good news and good for a man who came under immense scrutiny and criticism. Long may this good run continue. Leicester is another day and although most likely without Alexis, fingers crossed we can sleep easier on Tuesday night after a comfortable victory.… Read more »


Also, am I the only one who thought that Giroud’s assist was 100% intentional? He opened up his body and cushioned it to Ozil.


He jumped up after the shot since he knew as soon as it left his foot, it was going wide. He had no idea Ozil was there imo

Mesut Aussie

Sorry Sean, my fat thumb hit the wrong button. Well said!


And to think I complimented you as well, haha


It was not working for Santi today. Once Rosicky came on instantly more possession in the opponents’ half and attacking play started happening. He was thinking, moving, and passing quicker and more decisively and we worked through their midfield. I was shocked by it at first, but as soon as TR started moving the ball around it was improvement. They were set up entirely to play against Santi, Ozil, and Giroud. I would have liked us to try briefly switching Ozil and Welbeck, but know protection for Bellerin was important and Danny works hard. The end of the story from… Read more »


When you say protecting bellerini, I can see why wenger he played danny over theo. But thought ozil helped monreal well and the left was the one strong side we gad all game except for one or two kyle walker sprints which came to little and monreal defended. Rosicky and theo know the intensiry of derby. I can only think coq didn’t tackle aggressively as he was told not give away free kicks in shooting range. had we Pushed out with theos pace on the last spuds defender Which would not have been problem if pudhed them back ten yards


Putting Rosicky for Welbeck would have been better option. We were losing the midfield battle bigtime and wenger opted for the hold onto ur pants approach instead of trying to win the midfield battle.


Maybe Spurs played better than us. Has to happen every once in a while. Still won’t finish above us in May though.


We have technically good midfielders, yet we always struggle against high pressing teams?


its simple, we practice against ourselves on the training ground. and we are shit at proper pressing play.

Crash Fistfight

I don’t understand this either 🙁

I thought the whole idea of the passing drills the players do is to have the confidence to pass to your teammate when in tight positions. It seems like when the players’ time to pass is reduced they get nervous and either pass aimlessly or badly.

John C

It’s the 4-1-4-1 formation. It’s designed with dominating posession in mind. It doesn’t work when we’re pinned back because the 4 in midfield all seem to receive the ball both running and facing our own goal and end up pressing our own defence.


Don’t think Leicester will be easy meat. Arsenal have lost 11/14 points after taking the lead This is criminal and the blame must be on Wenger. He is the manager after all. I am no soccer coach but I think Arsenal’s attack is still predictable laced with many passes. That’s why the Spurs defence had it easy.Kan e moved all over the pitch and I wonder why he was given time and space to score the first goal.No player is unplayable.Messi was effectively shackled by Chelsea. Let’s see whether Kan e will be a flash in the pan like guys… Read more »

Crash Fistfight

Their defence had it easy because they were doing most of the attacking and because the rest of the team was smothering our midfielders. I don’t think Leicester will be easy, with the disappointment of yesterday (the players always seem to take a game or two to readjust to a defeat these days) but I still think we’ll win, and with the way Liverpool are playing at the moment I think Spurs will drop points against them. Obviously a long way to go yet, but I still think we’ll end up 4th. Whether or not that’s a good thing is… Read more »

My Free Kick

You lost me at “I am no soccer coach…”

St. Louis Gooner

Good Article.


what wenger was trying to do as we know was to emulate the city game which we all know. The city win was not too good to be true, if you look into the game play deeper, the big difference i feel between trying to emulate the city game was the fact that we never had alexis sanchez and the ox. my reason is because these two players share the same qualities in terms of covering distances, battling mentality, relieving pressure, high pressing and tracking back for defending. but i think the tactics showed for this game was just wrong… Read more »

nacho cheese

1 & 5 Agree – in this type of game. The benchmark of the City game is not appropriate, it was obvious Pochetino would plan to cut us off, Ramsey instead of Rosicky a definite mistake.
6 – That would have been Sanchez.
Fucking shame that Spurs finally seem to have got a decent manager. Had hoped Lloris might leave in the summer

Crash Fistfight

Yep, I’m with Nacho Cheese – 1&5 are sound. I also think I agree with 4 – I’d have rather had Rosicky than Ozil, purely for his drive (especially in this game). It’s difficult to know whether Walcott should’ve started over Welbeck or vice-versa. I wasn’t unhappy at seeing Welbeck on the team as he gives more defensive cover than Walcott, but maybe it would’ve been better the other way around (Walcott to start, with Welbeck coming off the bench)? Welbeck would have been able to provide cover when the defenders were tired towards the end of the game after… Read more »

Jap's Eye

Simply pissed off to lose to that shit. Sixth in the table but only touching distance of fourth of there’s a miracle and the Hammers come back to winning.


If Liverpool or Spudz win the Europa League….we would need to finish 3rd to get Champs League. Nobody has mentioned this all day….it’s a very possible nightmare scenario, that we COULD finish 4th but not qualify.


You are wrong, if spudz or pool win the europa league and finished out of the top 4 will play champions legaue qualifier as 5th team who will enter CL with the first top 4.

The new ruling will mean that England could have five Champions League places from 2015-16 if one of its clubs lifts the Europa League in 2015 and finishes outside the top four.


Pochettino Should be the next Arsenal manager, I expect this to get a lot of thumbs down, but he’s proving himself to be top class.
Arsene has refused to assemble a squad of the needed quality and balance to compete for the major honours.
If he misses out on the top 4, it’ll be even harder to get the desired quality in to push us forward.


Should he take over after Laudrup or Owen Coyle?

Like Koeman before him, he’s just the current flavour-of-the-month manager.


He wouldn’t be my first choice but you’re right that he’s very good – which we knew anyway from what he achieved at Southampton. Fingers crossed Spurs don’t have the sense to stick with him and give him the money and freedom to sign players of his own choice. Otherwise, we could soon be fucked. But I disagree about us lacking a high-quality balanced squad. OK, we don’t have Bayern’s or Real’s or Chelsea’s squad, but our strength in depth is still way better than that of most clubs in Europe – Atletico (say) or Spurs or Southampton, all of… Read more »


This is exactly why Rosicky should have started in place of or come on for Ramsey. If the Sp*rs plan was to take away Ozil.and Cazorla, who would you trust to beat them – Rosicky or Ramsey?

Abdel Abdellater

In the last screengrab above, notice that Giroud had 69 touches, and this was the second highest number of touches of any Arsenal player today. It’s an unusually large number of touches for a designated full forward. I have to believe or imagine that he was actually positioning himself much further back than a full forward.

Crash Fistfight

I thought he did a lot of tackling back, so I don’t think it was necessarily a bad thing.

Having said that, it’s kind of a bad thing that he had to be doing so much tackling near his own box, which was the main problem.

pony eye

Plan A, plan B filed away in different compatments. Thats poor. The best plan is one that intelligently responds to the field situation, which means plans A to Z all filed away in one large compartment. Highly gifted tecknically players, as we have, should never box themselvess into one tiny compartment famously called plan B.


i wonder if wenger sees what’s happening on the pitch and if he does, why did he bring walcott on when subbing ros on for ramsey seems like the logical choice. pochettino must’ve laughed when he say walcott coming on for welbz and realized he didn’t need to adjust his side at all for the change. really annoyed that wenger didn’t change it up at half time – maybe even switch to a 4231 with ozil and cazorla moving in and out of central mid and the flanks to create a bit of confusion. at least give spuds something to… Read more »


Sp*rs are just a bunch of fucking cunts. We’ll still finish above them.


if we played wengerball and lost, you guys would complain that we didnt use plan b like we did against city. Teams lose it happens lets not be sour. On to the next game.


so why was poldi always crucified on for not doing his defensive duties? welbeck offered zero protection to young Hector all game. you can lose count of the times dany f*ckin rose had a free run in those dangerous positions. Theo too never protected the kid when he came on. one other observation, why is it ok to point out that szcz, santi, giroud, ozil, kos, Theo, monreal had a poor game when they have one ESPECIALLY MONREAL but a sin to say the same when it comes to Ramsey? his ball control was off, it kept bouncing so the… Read more »


Saying a player had an off day is fine. Nobody said it wasn’t. But to *abuse* one of your own players is NOT fine. People were saying Ramsey is shit, not good enough, we need to sell him, worst Arsenal player ever, etc. That is *abuse* and that is not acceptable. It’s not that subtle, there’s a big fucking difference.


Also, saying shit like “we lost because of Ramsey” is stupid and unacceptable. You don’t lose because one player has a bad game, so why heap ALL of the blame on one player?

palace gunner

Like you said about eriksen in arsenal fc half is what possession and passing can do for a team we missed alexis and the team spirit was alot of lacking concentration being pushed in their own half and moving to attack


I don’t understand how as a player you don’t close someone down. Surely it’s second nature when you don’t have possession.

Black Hei

Well there is something called defending areas on a pitch and also something called pulling players out of positions.

East Gooner

Well, I thought the approach was spot on till they scored off a corner. If that corner does not go in then nothing happens and we would be happy today. We gave away a stupid set piece goal against Liverpool too. So if anything we have to defend our set pieces better. As for how it turned out, lets face it Spurs were better. The difference between this game and the City one was that in that game when we got the ball Sanchez and Cazorla would dribble out of our half and win FK’s to take the pressure off.… Read more »


31 – The amount of times I shouted “stop giving the ball away”!


Most of the play came down the wings, particularly on the right, with Welbeck coming narrow; although our attacking play was so rubbish, it’s hard to tell which was better. I’m not sure Cazorla and Ozil received special attention and Ramsey was allowed to do what he wanted. Very little of our attacking play came down the left, maybe because Cazorla at LM was having a bad day at the office, and Welbeck and Bellerin were probably our best players going forward. To me that seems a matter of accidental form on the day rather than a plan from either… Read more »


Complete balls-up, from top to bottom. At the top, Wenger too slow to make changes- why bother bringing Walcott on at 78 minutes, giving him no time to get into the match? Theo should have been on after half time. As for bringing Akpom at the match’s end was even more pointless. On the pitch, the whole team seemed a bit dozy, slow and not with it. Ospina seemed slow to dive, the rest of the team also seemed to react. Welbeck’s still not as cracked up to be as he should; Ramsey has lost his mojo again, Santi wasn’t… Read more »


A short poem about life as an Arsenal supporter……clears throat…

Doom, doom, hurray!!
Hurray!! Hurray!! Doom.
Hurray!! Hurray!! Hurray!!

Thank you and goodnight.


gutted that we could be sitting third and instead we’re in 6th


On the plus side – it’s good that we are so close to third spot with a load of shit teams to play in the next few weeks!



We still have to play Liverpool, Chelsea at home and United away. I expect 1 win, 1 draw, and 1 loss.


Living in Dublin, I might get away with this comment (or maybe not!!) With regard to Spuds, they outperformed us in all areas……..all fuckin areas. Physical, as well as technical, the players and their excellent coach, and that hurts to say. We were largely unprotected by the ref. For example, Mason was throwing himself around , no yellows (until the second half), and Nacho fouls someone and hey presto, out comes a yellow. I fuckin hate that kind of officiating. As blogs says v City, we hurt them with limited possession, here we gave it away time after time. Look… Read more »


And we are back to top four trophy fight.. So let me call out posters who made some bold predictions at the season start and also who PERPETUALLY want fans to judge the team towards the season end..what do you reckon for the next season eh..? Again I support Arsene because of Arsenal not the other way around. If as a manager you cannot the best out of your best players then I dont know who can.. I ubderstand you loose some and you win some but not preparing knowingly is not showing respect to your enemy. Pochettino always did… Read more »

Feeder Club No More

The usual fluent Arsenal sweeping around the pitch with flicks and spins did not come off because the S*urs fullbacks had a divey one trick pass pony performance with pace that stretched are midfield a bit and nullified the genius and wizardry of Ozil and Cazorla…. Welbeck was impressive and didn’t shirk his responsibility but the other midfielders especially Welsh Jesus produced the kind of dozy well we are winning 1-0 then bang we’re tied and oh shite Harry Kane Osmont found some space… It’s the North London Derby shame we lost it but we will have a nice little… Read more »

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