Friday, March 1, 2024

Arsenal 3-2 Swansea: By the Numbers

(All stats League play only unless otherwise noted)

4 – Consecutive seasons Granit Xhaka has received a red card
2 – Errors* Arsenal have made this season
1 – Errors Arsenal have made this season that led to a goal
100 – Percent of those team errors made by Granit Xhaka
5 – Errors Aaron Ramsey made last season (tied for worst in the League for non-keepers)
25 – Errors Arsenal made last season (tied with Chelsea for 5th most)
50 – Passes by Xhaka today (led Arsenal)
10 – Ball recoveries by Xhaka (tied with Iwobi, led Arsenal)
2 – Tackles by Xhaka (of 3, the foul for a red card isn’t counted as a tackle)
4 – Tackles by Coquelin (of 4, led Arsenal)
5 – Interceptions by Xhaka (tied with Nacho, led Arsenal)
1 – Fouls by Xhaka
1.3 – Fouls per game by Xhaka this season
2.6 – Fouls per game by Xhaka last season
3 – Red cards Xhaka earned last season
4 – Shots by Arsenal that have hit the post this season (tied for second with Man City)
7 – Shots by Bournemouth that have hit the post this season
2 – Shots by Jack Wilshere which have struck the post this season (tied with six other players for the most in the League)
2 – Shots by Theo Walcott which have struck the post this season
2 – Shots by Theo Walcott which struck the post, TODAY
5 – Goals Walcott has scored this season
5 – Goals Walcott scored in each of the last three seasons
275 – Minutes per goal last season
140 – Minutes per goal this season
88 – Minutes per goal in 2014/15 (injury riddled season)
171 – Minutes per goal in 2013/14

Aerial Duels

Mustafi was credited with winning 3/3 aerial duels, 2/2 defensive duels, and making 4/4 headed clearances. In fact, according to Opta stats Arsenal lost exactly 0 aerial duels in the 18 yard box.

So how did Swansea get 5 headed shots in the Arsenal box? The simple answer is that the stats boffins had a look and decided that Mustafi wasn’t even challenging for those balls. That means Mustafi and/or Koscielny simply allowed 5 headers in his area.

What worse is that three of those headers (2 on the Mustafi side and 1 on Koscielny’s side) were wide open headers and Opta scored them as “big chances”. In other words, if those attacking players had put the ball anywhere other than right at Cech, they probably would have scored.

I wrote about this problem in my last column. Mustafi needs to step up his game and win (or at least challenge them) those aerial challenges because the league is full of hulking forwards like Zlatan, Benteke, and that Carroll fella who will simply abuse him if not. The other option there is for Iwobi to close down his man and not allow the crosses, I singled out Iwobi here because most of the crosses came from right to left.

Those Big Chances Though..

Arsenal created 7 big chances in this match. Three of them were in the six yard box and all three of those were scored (Walcott, Walcott, Özil). Walcott alone had 5 big chances in this game and scored two, one was saved, and two hit the woodwork.

Even better, Arsenal created 5 of those Big Chances from open play! Ox created two (I heard people complaining about his introduction), Özil created two, and Alexis created one. That’s great, except Arsenal only scored one of the five, the goal by Özil.

And what’s unacceptable is that Arsenal conceded 5 big chances. Swansea is an awful team and yet Modou Barrow had his way with Arsenal’s right side. To put Barrow’s performance in perspective, he created three chances in this match, two big chances, got an assist, took one shot (big chance header on Koscielny’s side), was fouled three times (more than any other player), and got Xhaka sent off.

Xhaka Red Card

First off, that is never a red card. You can have a look at the laws of the game there is nothing violent about that tackle whatsoever. It is a professional foul. He is not going in with reckless abandon. There is not a single hint of excessive force. Jon Moss simply got that wrong. And he is well known as the most mistake-prone referee in the League. Last season Moss made 13 “game changing” errors. That’s one error every other match.

Folks were quick to jump on Xhaka, calling that a “dumb”, “rash”, and “bone-head” tackle. But Xhaka was taking one for the team. Watch the replay again, with the score line 3-2, Arsenal had all the fullbacks forward and Xhaka was the only cover. Xhaka blows his cover and Barrow was about to be free down the right in three-v-two with the Arsenal center backs with Koscielny at least 30 yards from him. Xhaka must have realized late that his teammates were exposed and felt he needed to trip the player.

Xhaka had a bad game. That error for Sigurdson’s goal was stupid and really his cover on barrow was error number two. But this is a systemic problem with Arsenal where they feel like they have to have both fullbacks in the opposition 18 yard box when they are holding the lead. We have seen this countless times and all of the good players take a card there for the team.

Blame Xhaka all you want for the first move where Barrow beats him with a little dribble but you also have to admit that Arsenal’s system exposes players in such a way that an error is often catastrophic.

Also, blame Jon Moss. That was a truly horrible decision.


Source: Opta via and the 442 stats zone app
Apologies: for the non-stats rant at the end but I can’t believe people are already hating on Xhaka.

*An Error is a turnover or other action (or inaction, losing your marker, etc) which leads to a shot by the opposition. Errors don’t include dumb red cards, own goals, silly fouls in the box, not tracking back, failing to win a header, failed tackles, etc.


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The foul was acceptable and bad luck with the red card. But his role in Swansea’s first goal was atrocious. He is going to be on bench when he comes back till the next injury or suspension in MF.


“till the next injury ”

Right after his ban ends.


Should have stopped after the first two brilliant sentences mate. The last one was no good.


With the other results as they were i was 1/2 expecting us to Arsenal that lead and come away with a draw. Glad we held on.

On the other hand some of the football we played early on was sublime.


Don’t care what others say, Xhaka took one for team. If you can’t support him when he gets a Red, don’t support him when he scores those thunderous strikes. COYG


Exactly, and I remember Koscielny with some dodgy games early in his Arsenal career and people jumping on his back. Xhaka made a few mistakes and got punished, but I thought it was the right decisions to take out barrow, harsh from Moss.


As someone else put it, many football fans have the memory spans of a goldfish.


Overall Xaxa had a decent game, bar the error. Everyone makes mistakes and that has to be accepted as part of life.

By just watching the 1st 25 min of the game you can see that the ref was biased. No 50:50 decisions went Arsenals way.

I just knew that that the ref would make the game difficult for us if he was given the opportunity. I would have told the team at half time not to give the ref that opportunity.


Was over the other side of the pitch but to me it did look reckless or at least careless. Combine that with preventing a goal-scoring opportunity…


Was not preventing a goalscoring opportunity, but it was a cynical trip (not just a cynical hauling back) that injured the player, it’s true that by usual standards in the league that’s not a red… But when Pulis’ orcs did it to us we said it should be a red. I don’t really have a problem with reds like that provided it becomes the new normal. Yeah, Xhaka made a bad mistake. Happens to everyone. Kos and Mustafi miscommunicated for the second goal and neither picked up a striker right in front of goal, that’s as bad as Xhaka’s mistake… Read more »


“preventing a goal-scoring opportunity”

It was in the Swansea half!


Can’t understand why Wenger has said he is not good no to appeal. Hopefully he will change his mind when he sees it again. Not violent conduct or goal scoring opportunity.

Antispuds returns

If it was last season first he will say he didn’t see it and appeal against it. This season is different. He has options. Xhaka will play in champions league and Coq will play in PL.

Bobby P

The post match interviewer on the BBC actually phrased the question about the red card “the xhaka red card happened right in front of you so you can’t say you didn’t see it”.

We won’t appeal because wenger knows we have no chance to win an appeal in this instance.


Well well well…its just the wont be too long before Xhaka starts getting dog abuse from the crowd the next time he makes silly error


You’re right.

And yet, it’s only about 3 weeks ago people were calling for Xhaka to start ahead of Coquelin.

So, so fickle.

Andrew Crawshaw

Before today Moss has made 14 wrong Important Decisions (second yellow cards, red cards, penalty and goal decisions) this season-Untold Arsenal figures backed with supporting video clips. He certainly added to that number today. He is the most error prone in the PL.


Mistakes happen. Ozil does it, Sanchez does it and all great players do it. Red was really harsh and an English player would have gotten away with yellow. Moss is slow and judged the card on Barrow’s reaction. As for the first goal, we always complicate stuff near our D and today it led to a mistake by Xhaka.Yes Xhaka was really careless with his touch but that can happen to anyone and Cech could have done better maybe expecting Siggurdson will bottle it(ex Spud). All these people hating on Xhaka are downright stupid and when they say he should… Read more »


It was a harsh red, but I think maybe there’s a hint of a kicking action in the trip, which might be what swayed the referee.


Yeah if there is kicking, it’s violent conduct (regardless of if it is reckless or not) and a red, if there is only tripping, it’s not violent and a yellow. Like you said, the ref saw some kicking and decided for the red. I can’t really decide between the two. In normal speed it looks like a kick, slowed down it’s not as bad. So I would still agree with jon moss.

Burn Baby Burn

Let’s not forget what else he brings like that sumptuous ball Xhaka played over the top to Alexis.


Hoping for a lot of changes for the champions league game. I’m gonna lose my shit if we play the same 11 again! We have a strong enough squad to rotate. Monreal, Sanchez, Walcott and Koscielny have been playing too much! Gibbs, Lucas, Gabriel and Ox should be good enough. I’d like to rest Bellerin too, as soon as that can be arranged.

Lone Star Gunner

Really want to state my firm agreement re Arsenal’s over extension with both fullbacks forward too often. Leaves us very exposed far too often.


That was an absolutely ridicilous decision to send Xhaka off. If that’s a red card then there is a red card in EVERY premier league match! How many times has Carrick, Matic, Lucas, Kante etc got a yellow for that and considered “tactically spot on”? And why would we not appeal based on consistency of those decisions? Am I missing something?


The FA is constitutionally obliged to be inconsistent. They say it adds drama to the administration of English football. I wouldn’t waste my breath.

Malaysian gunner

Arsenal got away.Monreal was too easily taken apart by Barrow.
Nobody blocked the cross which resulted in the Swans goal.
Imho ,give Jenkimson achance .


So that’ll be replacing the left back with a right back…,


Or, if we are going to rest Monreal, how about we bring in our other, rather solid left back, in y’know, Kieran Gibbs.

Gutbukket Deffrolla

1) If Barrow faced Jenkinson then Jenkinson would be in as much trouble as Monreal. He is not a quick defender.

2) Barrow is exceptionally fast. He is their Walcott. If we think highly of Walcott’s speed and it’s ability to get him past almost any defenders and into dangerous areas then it seems unfair to put all the blame for Barrow’s dominance on Monreal. Very few defenders will handle Barrow well when he plays like that.

Gutbukket Deffrolla

3) Wenger expects his left and right backs to get forward. Well forward. You can’t be running around the edge of the opposition area as well as be in the best position to defend against the Barrow’s of the world.


You make great points:

1. Comitment of fullbacks going forward — with a 2 goal lead ffs!
2. Gotta challenge for those headers;
3. Iowobi needs to close down — a persistent Arsenal weakness, usually exposed in the last minutes of the first half; and
4. It was a somewhat clumsy cynical foul, but not a red.

I do think though that this game showed that Kos and Mustafi are still very much working on their partnership.

That said, two years and more ago, we lost that game. Last year, we drew it. Tremendous that we won it!


Tim – How does Opta not consider the one Walcott skyed near the end a ‘big chance?” Near the spot, one-on-one with the keeper – I’d expect him to score there… isn’t that the definition?


He didn’t sky it. It clipped the top corner of the bar and bounced up. That’s the second of two, as the numbers tell you.


I think the defence has looked generally solid this season, their positioning has been ok. What we saw yesterday was quite a few mistakes though whether it was mustafi not moving at all to close the space for their second goal or the unchallenged headers that Swansea had (as highlighted in this article). Ok the first goal was a silly error but that will happen a few times during a season and if they happen when we win then it’s easy to swallow it. High balls into our box are going to be an issue this season and it is… Read more »

Bobby P

We are probably struggling a bit against crosses because our two best players in those situations (per and giroud) are both not playing and have been replaced by smaller players.

Add to that a new partnership in central defense which will take a bit of time fully bed in.


The officials had a bad game – having both watched the game at the Emirates and watched the sky replay I counted 6 serious errors by either the ref or linos. This is not sour grapes – we won and their errors didn’t directly lead to a Swansea goal that was down to our own errors but really I thought the standard was poor. Walcott getting poked in the eye in the first half should’ve been a yellow. If Xhaka’s challenge was worthy of a red then why was the reckless and dangerous swing of the boot against Ozil’s legs… Read more »

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