(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
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 whoscored.com 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.