Sunday, February 25, 2024

Cry Pal 1-2 Arsenal: By the Numbers

Arsenal eeked out a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace to bounce back from the dreadful loss to West Ham on opening day. If it’s true that, as Wenger said, his team took West Ham for granted in the first match they suffered no such delusions against Crystaal Palace at Selhurst Park and right from the start showed intent and hustle on the pitch.

Looking at the team sheets Arsene started with a 4-2-3-1 lineup with Giroud in the lone striker role, Ozil supporting him, Ramsey right, and Alexis on the left. That’s how the team sheet looked, but the game looked nothing like that.

Ostensibly, Ramsey lined up as the right sided attacking midfielder but almost from the start he was seen playing centrally and interchanging with Ozil and Alexis on the left. His heat map shows that while he played all over the pitch, he got the majority of his touches in the forward left position.

Ramsey Heat Map via

Ramsey had a bit of a tough game: he misplaced 18 passes of his 78 attempts and those misplaced passes tend to frustrate supporters — especially those backheel passes, I counted four backheels, none of which came off. But all but four of his misplaced passes were “entry” passes into the Palace defense. Moreover, he created 4 chances for his teammates, three of which were deep into the 18 yard box.

Ramsey also had 4 shots, and his shot in the 6 yard box was a moment of genius and took a fantastic save from McCarthy.

The problem with Ramsey playing so far on the left is that Palace had open season on Bellerin. But much to his credit, Bellerin responded like a seasoned pro. Palace tried to play the ball to Zaha but it was difficult to get him the ball because he was figuratively in Bellerin’s pocket.

Zaha attempted 8 dribbles and only completed 2. Palace also ran Puncheon down Bellerin’s side and he completed just 2 of 5 dribbles. Meanwhile, Bellerin made 5 of 6 tackles and Coquelin helped out on that side as well, making 3/3 tackles over there. Ramsey did drop deep to defend down the right a few times and made 2/3 tackles in the right back position.

In fact, Arsenal had a much improved “ball winning” performance against Palace today than they did against West Ham, winning 27 tackles today versus 12 against West Ham. Arsenal attempted more tackles today as well, attempting 36 tackles today versus the 24 they attempted at home against West Ham. And if you do the math, Arsenal were much more efficient in the tackle today: winning 75% versus the 50% against West Ham.

For those of you who think there is a correlation between tackles (or interceptions) and opposition possession (there isn’t): West Ham tried 360 passes versus 377 passes by Palace. Passes don’t have anything to do with tackles but dribbles and tackles are related stats and Palace attempted 21 dribbles (9 successful) compared to the 18 West Ham tried (12 successful).

What I’m saying here is that Arsenal played a very similar opponent to West Ham but put in a much better performance in terms of hustle. The other thing the stats prove to me is that Arsenal were much sharper against Palace than they were against West Ham. So, it’s a combination of hustle and sharpness that won today.

Arsenal top tacklers

Coquelin: 6/6
Bellerin: 5/6
Ramsey: 4/5
Arteta: 4/4

Ball Recoveries

I’m still not sure what to think of ball recoveries but I suspect that they might be more important measure of a defensive midfielder than tackles.

Opta defines recoveries as:

This is where a player wins back the ball when it has gone loose or where the ball has been played directly to him.

For example, in the West Ham match, when Coquelin won the ball and gave it to Ox that wasn’t coded as a tackle, it was a ball recovery. Ball recoveries, I suspect, also indicate a player who understands his positioning. He’s making himself a shield, collecting the errant passes, and cleaning up loose balls. Interestingly, Arsenal’s top three players in terms of recoveries were Cazorla and Coquelin with 11 each and Monreal with 10. Against West Ham, Cazorla and Coquelin only had 8 ball recoveries each and they also combined to make just 2/6 tackles.

I’ll be watching this all season.

Alexis’ goal?

You know what? Alexis gets nothing for that goal. Well, he gets an aerial duel won and a shot missed but he doesn’t get a goal or an assist even though that goal was entirely created by him. Seems a bit unfair. Maybe there should be a stat called “own goal created”?

Ozil perfect game

Ozil was 54/55 passing today and his only misplaced pass was an attempted through ball into the 18 yard box. Before you get all “Denilson” on me about passing percentages he also created 5 chances, all from open play. That’s an amazing performance against a team like Palace who packed in their defense.


All stats from and the 442 StatsZone app today

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I dream Arsenal

When we lose, “By the numbers” brings out even more frustration. When we win, this is the best thing to read 🙂

Third Plebeian

Is it? I look at those tackling numbers, and then I also wonder why we were scrambling around like a headless chicken in the second half. Never mind the tackles, how about when we conceded possession, misplaced a pass, or were second best getting to a ball. That second half was a nightmare for us.


Real talk. How on earth can we call ourselves a top team if against a side like Palace (no disrespect to them) you can’t keep the ball AT ALL in the last 15 mins and clear it at any and every chance any player gets his feet on it? We saw many instances of such displays last season too (where we simply seemed to shut shop and grind for getting a one-goal advantage till the end) and that is a very worrying trend… Wenger has to take much of the blame – always bringing on Gibbs or another defender for… Read more »


Being able to grind out one goal wins is a great thing to be able to do.

Woolwich Peripatetic

Blogs is totally right, it’s not pretty and it’s not something to be proud of but being able to grind out those 1-0 wins when having an off day is exactly what a top team should be able to do.
Not being able to grind them out is a serious issue!


Yep, but only if.. 1. We are playing against an ‘equal’ team or punching above our weight – I will take a 1-0 against Chelsea or a Barca any day, anyway 2. We do so rarely away from home against tough opponents when it is simply not our day – yesterday clearly was not: Palace didn’t exactly play well and we could reach their final third with ease. Otherwise, there is no point in having players of Ozil or Santi’s calibre – if we cannot keep the ball or do nothing with it in last 30 mins, why have such… Read more »


I didn’t say that’s all I wanted to see. My point was it’s a good thing to be able to do. I think people’s expectations of games against so-called ‘easy’ teams are too high, it’s becoming an increasingly difficult league with the finances available and the players mid-table clubs can buy.

And telling somebody they should support another team is fucking stupid.


Wenger brought Ox first
he had desire to push forward
But we should have won the physical battles on the final moments, I think Gibbs was a smart choice, he can act like a midfielder as well 🙂


Wow. G_F, the number of times I’ve seen the opposite written in the comments of, well, anywhere about Wenger not having the ‘Tactics’ to shut up shop and close out a win in the days when we weren’t on the up would surely place your opinion in a very narrow wedge on the pie chart.

Third Plebeian

2 Number of times Coquelin should have been showed a yellow card.

We were lucky. Another referee would not have been so generous.


Being the Arsenal and refs being what they are, you may be right. But that still doesn’t mean they were yellow card fouls.


I like the move towards using the numbers as a basis for explaining the dynamics of a game rather than simply presenting the figures with relatively few comments.




Alexis looks a real beast. Wow! The kind you dont need ‘by the numbers’ to measure his influence.


I remember reading somewhere that final 1/3rd passing accuracy is a much better indication of how good of a passer/player someone is. Özil was 37/38 in the final third. Excellent performance. Looks fully fit and confident after a good pre season. Expecting big things from him. If we convert more of the chances he creates, we will easily get an extra 10-15 league goals.

Arsenal Runnings

The guys came to work today. egoes aside, and worked they did.The boss had the right crew. To continue like this, we can only get better. I now think the Boss has all hands on deck, its gonna be a Team effort.


Today also marks 3 years since the Skunk went to United and 4 years since Fabregas went to glad we have Alexis and Özil now. I feel the team is ready to kick on. (We have come a long long way from where the squad was 3,4,5 years ago.


First time at Cyrstal Palace Football Stadium
It’s a nice compact ground

Alas we were in the CP wing with high brow friends
Özil was magnificent
Even their corporate supporters purred at his play
Hard work and effort brings reward


Great to get the win but I felt we were still worryingly shaky at the back. Too many lapses and miscommunications. Hopefully these will reduce as Cech beds in to the team and begins to assert his defensive scheme.

Petit's Handbag

Ramsey’s near post flick, when he could have controlled it and finished it worries me. He seems a smart lad, but some of his choices on a football pitch are obviously wrong. He needs to go back to keeping it simple.


That brought a great save out of the keeper, by no means a save you expect every keeper to make. If it had beaten the goalie and gone in – would you still be complaining?


there really was no space to do that. He went with the right decision the keeper made a really good save.


Coquelin showed that if Wenger doesn’t spend on a good DM we wil have problems all season. I can see Man City steamrolling past us with the current squad. Good to get three points, but it was thanks to an own goal. Must improve.

Austin Gooner

Bit harsh to say the win was down to an own goal. What about the Alexis chance in the first half? That goes in at least 8 out of 10 times. We created a lot of chances, and the own goal came on a dangerous ball in the box that Alexis won. If that had been against us, no one would put an asterisk on it.


I missed the game today but just saw the winning goal on sky sports coverage of the city game as well as coq making about 6 fouls… so imagine my surprise when I see stats here that say coq was 6/6 on tackles.

My questions is: what constitutes a tackle for stats purposes?


It looked like Palace started with a 4-3-3, then quickly moved to a 4-5-1. Zaha and Bolasie were happy to switch flanks, yes it’s not only us who do that 😉 Together with the fact that Bolasie came off for Mutch at half time, I’m guessing Pardew wanted to shore up midfield, feeling that they could create enough chances, but they had been exposed at the back too often. That explains, I think, why Puncheon went out to the left, rather than trying to get more joy down their left. When they got desperate at the end they Brought on… Read more »

Tazmanian Jesus

Alain Pardeux is a funny name.


Funnier than “Super Al”?


I know this might sound crazy. But can Ramsey become a marauding goalscoring wide player like Sanchez? His best position is central, although cazorla pips him to that post right right now. But considering his work rate, his shooting skills, and the ox not quite ahead of him in the starting 11, I wonder if Ramsey should recapture his goalscoring form from a couple of years back. Minus of course his tendency to lose the ball in dangerous position, and his sometimes poor decision making.


As opposed to the Ox losing the ball in dangerous positions? Because I think that’s happened a few times this season, pre-season and last season?

I absolutely love both of them though.


Arteta 4/4 for takles…..

Clock-End Mike

Impressive, wasn’t he? 4/4 tackles in 15+3 mins, Coquelin 6/6 in 65 mins. Admittedly Palace were throwing everything at getting an equaliser as the match wore on, but those are good stats, and they only back up my subjective impression that his positioning was excellent, and his strength and fitness definitely better than some have suggested.


shaky defence and too many chances up front not being converted. need to be much better. also, after watching city i feel that the problem with giroud’s hold up play is that it holds…up…play. city look devastating on the counter with aguero. we have the midfield to be just as dangerous but it requires a forward with pace that can dribble past a defender.

Abdel Abdellater

A forward with pace that can run onto through passes. Walcott. I hope he starts instead of Giroud in the next game.


A defense that sits deep and packs in nullifies a small speedy striker 90% of the time. Having both characteristics on the pitch is what really poses problems for defenses.

But somehow, I don’t presume to know how, I too want to see more Ox and Walcott.


I think the goal is to have fleeter players like Sanchez, ozil, Ramsey, ox, Walcott, and even bellerin played in past him with flicks and little threaded passes. Get our midfielders moving downhill in numbers after he wins the ball and distributes and I imagine the opposition has to feel vexed and indeed terrified.


Thank you for using “figuratively” in the post. You’re a good man.

Gooners & Roses

This is going to be totally irrelevant to this game, or this site for that matter, but could you determine by stat to prove whether Jon Snow is really dead or he’ll be alive for Season 6?

Randy Pan the Arsenal Fan

yuh knerrr nuthin, Gooners & Roses

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