Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Arsenal 2-1 Man City: By the Numbers

Great performance by Arsenal today as they matched Man City punch for punch in a hard fought game. If we look at the typical “box score” it looks like Arsenal were outplayed. But if we heed Wenger’s advice from his interview published in the December Arsenal Magazine we can see in the stats that Arsenal simply played a different playing style and frustrated City every step along the way.

In a typical box score you see shots, possession, shots on goal, and goals. In this match Arsenal were outgunned 20-8, conceded 63% of the possession, but shots on goal were relatively similar 5 for Arsenal and 6 for Man City, and of course Arsenal won the game on a score of 2-1. Was it an unfair scoreline?

If we look at the other stats Arsenal matched City: both teams had 64 ball recoveries each, meaning that they both worked hard to recover loose balls and both teams made essentially the same number of tackles 21/33 for Arsenal and 19/30 for City. Arsenal led City 27-17 in interceptions which is actually typical for Arsenal* and the total number is above their season average (19.4) owing to City’s passing dominance.

Arsenal and City raised their levels in the second half and Arsenal made 14/19 tackles in the 2nd half and City made 13/21.

A few places where Arsenal dominated them were interesting:

10/15 – Offensive aerial duels won by Arsenal
7/8 – Offensive aerial duels won by Giroud
5/10 – Offensive aerial duels won by Man City
2/3 – Offensive aerial duels won by Wilfried

It’s difficult to say for certain that Pellegrini saw Arsenal setting up for the counter attack and told his team to foul on every break but that’s pretty clearly what the end result was. At the end of the match, Arsenal had committed 5 fouls and City had committed 16, the vast majority of them down the wings. I wasn’t in the locker room so I can’t say for sure, but all the fouls by City were in our half and down the wings. That sure looks like a pattern of cynical, deliberate fouling, to stop an Arsenal counter attack. The referee allowed it and City only got two cards.


Some people are never going to like what Ramsey does. Based on the way the NBCSports feed picked up on a guy screaming at Ramsey every time he went forward, I think it’s the going forward thing, and trust me the stats back that perception. But even if you don’t like his attack-minded play, the dude really busts a gut for Arsenal when he’s on the pitch, check it;

3 – Big Chances by Arsenal (City created 0)
3 – Big Changes by Arsenal in the second half
2 – Big Chances by Aaron Ramsey in the second half when Arsenal were already up 2-0
1 – Big Chance by Joel Campbell in the second half
3 – Shots by Ramsey in the match (led Arsenal)
0 – Shots by Ramsey in the first half
52 – Passes by Ramsey (led Arsenal)
9 – Final third passes by Ramsey, third best on Arsenal, behind Özil, and Koscielny (mostly long balls!)
1 – Chance created by Ramsey (a sideways pass just outside the center circle)
4 – Dribbles by Ramsey (led Arsenal)**
13 – Ball recoveries by Ramsey (led Arsenal)
1 – Tackle by Ramsey (Ozil led Arsenal with 4/5 tackles, Walcott was 2nd with 3/5)
4 – Interceptions by Ramsey (2nd on Arsenal behind Koscielny’s 7)
2 – Fouls committed by Ramsey (led Arsenal)
3 – Fouls suffered by Ramsey (led Arsenal)
0 – Chance that Ramsey was going to “sit deep” and “protect” for 90 minutes, though he sort of managed for 45!
100 – Percent chance that this is what makes people crazy about Ramsey’s playing style

15 – Özil assists this season, and you know why they put those little dots on top of his O? Because he’s the king of assists.


Source: 442 StatsZone App

*Wenger’s teams are almost always top of the League in possession and in interceptions, it’s his style of defense to try to win the ball on the pass. On another note, his center backs are typically top of the League in interceptions per game. Koscielny is 2nd in the League behind Leicester’s DM Kante.
**Dribbling out of tight spaces in midfield is Cazorla’s speciality and opens the game for Arsenal’s midfield. Ramsey had a number of successful dribbles which also occasionally frustrated in that they would end up as a turn over or bad pass


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1 – opening Theo needed to score. He’s being very decisive and maturing into a player with winning mentality.


That goal had me off my seat!

David C

that was a pure strike; can’t fault their keeper.

Gooner Smurf

just off your seat?!! I haven’t been talking to girl for while. so she came for the night and still wasn’t talking to her, but after that goal, that onesie looked oh sooo sexy!

Jose Mourinho is a Troll

I clapped my hands soooooo hard when Theo scored, so as not to shout and surprise my wife in the kitchen, that I was in pain afterwards and Olivier’s goal didn’t help my palms recover.


Ozil and Theo led Arsenal’s tackles stat.
Never thought I’ll see THAT in my lifetime…..

bims lay

lol……Ozil?…..Theo?…..led in tackles?

i admit, i am in shock!


Don’t do it Mesut. Assisting not tackling (with a chance of getting injured) please.

Anonymous Physicist

1 – Odds offered on Arsenal winning the league by most betting agencies today.


Epic, this! “0 – Chance that Ramsey was going to “sit deep” and “protect” for 90 minutes, though he sort of managed for 45!”


I should amend the post: Theo got 1 interception… To score that goal!


Dark humour…. Love it

The Car2n Goon

@7amkickoff it’s just a hunch/observation but, I’ve noticed a pattern… We seem to have these passages of extremely high intensity play. We dominate the opposition in that period of (what seems to be) 20-30mins and score several goals whilst being highly efficient in all aspects of play. Before and after that period of high intensity we cede all possession to our opposition, keep it tight and seem happy to counter attack when the opportunity arises. What I’m getting at is that this seems to be a deliberate tactic. It would be interesting if we could compare that period of high… Read more »


I agree with your observation regarding intensity and efficiency. My take is that once we score a goal we gain confidence and react like sharks do to blood in the water. When we are efficient it means more goals when we are not efficient…………sigh. I recall 7am commenting on this last spring. What would be interesting to me would be discerning what we do differently during these periods. If I had to guess (and I must) it would be that we press the ball and obtain turnovers that lead to fast breaks which our artistes adore. We cannot maintain a… Read more »


I can look at that. Might be difficult!


1 – Mesut, the only one king of assist

arep wenger

Hello, this is Mesut, how may I assist you?


7am, do you have big chances and expected goals stats for this match? I’d be interested to see what percentage of City’s 20 shots do statisticians consider dross.

Mexican Gunner

I’m sure you can look up yourself in one of those pages


I thought I put that in the article but I didn’t do a clear job.

Arsenal created 3 Big Chances, City 0 but weirdly all 3 big chances for Arsenal came in the second half.
Arsenal, though, only had 2 shots in prime compared to their 3.

Also, both teams scored from outside the box, those are about 3% chances.

In terms of Expected Goals or something of that measure I think Arsenal were the more efficient of the two teams.

Yes, efficient. 🙂


Ozil and Theo leading all players in tackles……. welcome to the good and complete life gooners fans


The gun is still blazing after shooting down a whole city


I thought it’ll be interesting to see the number of dives Manc players took in the second half. I counted at least 3 (1 from sterling and 2 from toure)


Add at least one from Otamendi to that, to go with his many fouls.

Die Hard Gooner

42.5 mil is a snip for Ozil considering players like james & debruyne are going for money well over 50 mil. Ramsey could be both equally breathtaking and frustrating at the same time. he missed a couple of chances but he had a great game. I like him through the middle. now we have two options for different games, Cazorla( when he is back of course) for a passing game, Ramsey for an energetic game. Theo was incredible. I have never seen him work this hard to protect his fullback,Hats off. Boss was all over aguero. Mertsacker was fantastic. And… Read more »


Thanks 7am! Can you tell us where Arsenal has been in the table at Christmas for the last several seasons?

Clock-End Mike

Christmas 2010: 2nd
Christmas 2011: 7th
Christmas 2012: 4th
Christmas 2013: 2nd (having been 1st since 22 Sep!)
Christmas 2014: 6th


Koscienlny was by far my best performer last night, followed by cambell.mesut ozil is on another planent.I love this feelings

gunnerfan ov palace

Good stats and arsenal fc tactics and play won them the game two nice goals and gd interceptions and tackles coyg


Yeah great result. If Wenger reinforces in January (a DM) to offer cover fo Coqueline/Flamini the PL could become a reality.


Mesut Ozil.. what a player he is, hands down our best player at the moment despite stiff competition. World class. Also, hats off to Flamini! I’m sure he was dying to bury his studs in some opponent calfs all game, but kept his position, worked his socks off and really helped the back line!


By the end of the game I really wanted to see Flamini bury his studs in Otamendi’s calves. Have to be satisfied with the win. What a bunch of cynical wankers Citeh were! I expected more from the Engineer.

And what was the referee doing? He only called 16 fouls on them and produced only 2 cards when there were many more fouls committed.Talk about weak and naive! Fouling on the break was Citeh’s best defense. It’s a shame Kompany will eventually recover from his injury.

Die Hard Gooner

63.5 mil- the amount of money city spent on two center halfs.

NZ Gooner

18 mil – the amount of money that Arsenal spent on their two SUPERIOR center halfs


1 – the number of tackles on debruyne by our corner flag;)


It was clear foul. He didn’t get a ball.


Does advantages count as fouls? If not, there would be 20+ fouls by City.


I don’t think Opta counts advantages. Only if the ref calls it back later. I could check though, by rewatching the whole game…


I have a feeling the ref never considered City’s penalty calls because of all the fouls they made.


The constant fouling really made me angry during the game. It was an obvious strategy of fouling an Arsenal player whenever there was a turnover of the ball in order to prevent a counter. I don’t understand why the ref let them do it so blatantly. On the other hand, at least they were mostly professional fouls, aside from that one period where they hacked down 3 players and the ref kept playing advantage after advantage until all the Arsenal players were haccked down so there was no one left to play an advantage for. And then he only books… Read more »


7am, could you told us when Chelsh*t will be relegated?

Diaby's Glasslegs

I’m hearing we parked the bus. Who does that? unless we were 15th and betraying someone? Blazed that damn City


Great win. Is it too simplistic to say when we play “big” teams and concede possession, we win?

on NBC Sports Lee Dixon wasn’t too happy with Ramsey yesterday either. To which I say: Ahhh, shaddup! I think Dixon overcompensates for his Arsenal background by being relentlessly negative. Also, you can really tell he was a defender from his analysis.


1 – number of friends that tried to argue before this game that “silva is better than ozil when he’s fit”

although, i’m starting to reconsider the “friends” part, as the man is obviously off his rocker


It’d not the fact thst Ramsey goes forward which annoys me. He is after all a box to box midfielder. It’s the fact he foes silly things in our own half trying to be cute when he should just be professional. Like when he played an understanding ball to Monreal or Bellerin, a city player anticipated it and the full back couldn’t rush forward as there was space in behind. Ramsey then had to foul the player and it was s free kicking a dangerous position. Regsrding his defensive contributions, I think he would look a lot better partnered with… Read more »


Wow, forgive the spelling errors


Dear Professor Wenger, I would like to thank you for your holiday gift….belief and hope. Despite all the injuries and non-believers…I believe and hope that you have built a TEAM combining youth, experience, talent, skill and commitment. May the FORCE be with you!


I used to like the old By The Number. This one seems more serious.


The usual waffle

Show them what you want them to see.

Conveniently no ‘stats’ on Metersecker who made 8 key intercepts/stops.

No stats on the other partner to Rammini who pretty much marked silva out of business.

That’s the problem with stats. Its how you want to paint it.

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