Monday, December 5, 2022

Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle (plus week 18 stats): by the numbers

760 – Passes attempted by Arsenal
111 – Failed passes by Arsenal
57 – Failed passes by Arsenal in the 2nd half
18 – Failed passes by Xhaka
14 – Failed passes by Xhaka in the 2nd half (of 44 attempted, 68% passing, led all players in passes attempted and failed passes)
10 – Failed passes by Bellerin in the 2nd half (of 42 attempted, 76% passing)
5 – Failed passes by Ozil (of 48 attempted, 90% passing)
6 – Key passes by Ozil in the second half (led all players)
3.6 – Key passes per game average by Ozil (leads all players in the Premier League)
50 – Key passes from open play (not a corner or free kick) by Ozil this season (leads the Premier League)
7 – Key passes from open play by Ozil today against Newcastle (14% of his total for the season, led all players)
5 – Failed passes by Alexis in the 2nd half (of 19 attempted, 74% passing)
5 – Failed passes by Giroud (of 11 attempted, 55% passing)
3 – Failed passes by Lacazette in the 2nd half (of 11 attempted, 73% passing)
3 – Failed passes by Monreal in the 2nd half (of 38 attempted, 92% passing)
3 – Failed passes by Wilshere in the 2nd half (of 30 attempted, 90% passing)
2 – Failed passes by Koscielny in the 2nd half (of 47 attempted, 96% passing)
1 – Failed pass by each of Iwobi, Ainsley, and Coquelin
6 – Failed passes by Fernandinho in Man City’s dismantling of Tottenham (of 37 attempted, 84% passing)
25 – Percent of Arsenal’s failed 2nd half passes by Xhaka

Xhaka’s Failed Pass Map (he’s not even creating, just passing the ball poorly):

6 – Tackles attempted by Xhaka (led Arsenal)
2 – Tackles successful by Xhaka (did not lead Arsenal)
3 – Fouls by Xhaka (led Arsenal)
11 – Tackles attempted by Merino (led all players)
6 – Tackles won by Merino (led all players)
6 – Tackles won by Hayden
10 – Dribbles attempted by Wilshere (led all players)
5 – Dribbles won by Wilshere (led all players)
5 – Dribbles won by Iwobi (of 7 attempted)
4.7 – Dribbles won per game averaged by Wilshere in the Europa League this season (leads Arsenal, 4th in the Europa League)
3 – Times Wilshere was dispossessed or miscontrolled the ball today
6 – Times Alexis was dispossessed or miscontrolled the ball today
1 – Dribbles won by Alexis (of 3)
2 – Key passes by Alexis
4 – Key passes by Iwobi
10 – Rank of Alexis in the Premier League for being dispossessed (2.3 per game)
2 – Rank of Alexis in the Premier League for bad touch (3.3 per game)
23 – Shots today by Arsenal against Newcastle
2 – Big Chances by Arsenal (Wilshere, saved, pass by Giroud; Lacazette, missed, through ball pass by Iwobi)
6 – Big Chances Man City made against Tottenham today (scored 3, missed 3)
16 – Big Chances Tottenham had allowed in the 17 matches prior to today’s match against Man City (2nd best in the League)
3.82 – 7amxG for Man City against Tottenham
0.28 – 7amxG for Tottenham (season low)
1 – Goal Tottenham scored against City from outside the 18 yard box
5 – Shots by Arsenal outside the 18 yard box today
7 – Shots blocked by Newcastle today
2.48 – 7amxG for Arsenal today against Newcastle
10 – Shots by Newcastle today
0.58 – 7amxG for Newcastle today

Week 18 Consolidated Spreadsheet

Here’s a screen grab from my current database of shots. A couple things to know: I do count penalties, I don’t count own goals, “BC” stands for “big chance” which is a shot category defined by Opta as basically one-v-ones with the keeper or other chances that you expect the player to score, and “SIP” is a “shot in prime” which is a category defined by me as shots between the penalty spot and the goal.

Big chances created, scored, and missed are absolutely key to a team’s season. They are converted at nearly a 50% rate and so the more you can create and the fewer you can concede, the better your attack and defense respectively.

Man City are, of course, running away with the League, having created 24 more big chances than 2nd best Arsenal. To give that some context, there are 10 teams in the Premier League who haven’t even created 24 big chances this season. The same with shots in prime, they have 97, which is “only” 17 more than 2nd best Arsenal. About one more per game than the Gunners.

Defensively, City are also best in the League, having conceded just 16 big chances in the first 18 games. They created 6 today against Spurs, who were the 2nd best defensive team, until today. And they have allowed just 30 shots in prime. Quite mad. Again, Arsenal’s defense is 2nd best in terms of shots in prime allowed and 3rd in big chances allowed. I know us Gooners think Arsenal are quite shit at defending and that Wenger is out of ideas but statistically, Wenger has Arsenal playing some good football. And if not for City, you have to admit that Arsenal are a title challenger.

If you look at Burnley in 5th place (below Arsenal) you see why the stats people are all down on them. They have only created 11 big chances this season – tied for the lowest in the League and they have allowed 24 big chances and 58 shots in prime. Also take a look at Man United’s numbers: for a team managed by a man who is supposedly world renown as a defensive manager, who routinely parks the bus against any team with attacking talent, they are quite crap at team defending. They are 9th in Big Chances allowed, and 6th in SiPs allowed!

So, what’s going on? Well here’s the conversion chart:

Man United lead the League in big chance saves and shots in prime saves. Both numbers are well above average (which is 34% for big chance saves and 45% for SiP saves).

Note that City and United are also converting at 16%, the average conversion rate in the League has historically been around 10%. So, this is nuts. What’s bumping their conversion numbers up is that they score 10% of their shots from outside the 18 yard box. Shots from there have an average scoring rate below 4%.

Burnley are literally just riding their luck. I’d be surprised if they can finish a season conceding just 4% of their total shots as goals, but then again, they also lead the League in blocks, which is what Leicester did when the won the League. That season, Leicester’s defensive conversion rate was a more realistic 7%.

Now, look at Arsenal’s line. Every single category is below average; shots converted, goals allowed, BC saves, SiP saves, everything. Wenger has the team configured to play well – they are creating the chances that should see them scoring more goals – but they aren’t performing up to expectations. Cech in particular. Sorry to say but he’s looking like a real liability.

Arsenal’s most wasteful shooters are Alexis (4 goals on 53 shots, 7.5% conversion), Ramsey (3 goals on 40 shots, 7.5%), and Xhaka (zero goals on 36 shots). Those three players have attempted 129 shots and scored just 7 goals (5.4% conversion). Arsenal have taken just 324 shots this season and those three players have 129 of them, 40% of the total.

What’s saving Arsenal at all this season is that the three forwards are scoring at what I consider the average rate for forwards, 20%. Lacazette has 8 goals on just 40 shots, Giroud 4 on 18, and Welbeck 3 on 16. That’s 15 goals on 74 combined shots and here’s an idea I just had: maybe they should take more shots?

One reason why Arsenal’s conversion rate is so poor is that they don’t score goals from outside the box. They have just one so far this season (against Bournemouth) and haven’t scored a goal from distance in over 100 shots. While City and United are bombing in 10% of their shots, Arsenal are converting just 1%. Again, that’s largely down to Alexis and Xhaka. They have taken 60 shots from outside the 18 yard box and not scored a single goal. And again I just had another idea: maybe Xhaka could stop shooting and learn to pass the ball to his teammates, like Lacazette, instead? I mean, I’m no football phD or anything, so maybe I’m wrong.


Sources: and my personal database


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I’m no stats fiend but by these numbers xhaka and alexis need to be dropped…
And by today’s performance, xhaka and alexis need to be dropped….

Bob\'s Mexican Cousin

We kept the crap version of Alexis. We are cursed this season.

Lord Bendnter

Brilliant piece 7amkickoff. Really puts everything into perspective! Hopefully u could send a copy of this to Wenger


Interesting stats that should also be noted. Ozil – 3.6 Key passes per game – 1st in the league de bruyne – 3.1 key passes per game – 2nd in the league sanchez – 2.8 key passes per game – 4th in the league sanchez – 2.3 dispossesed per game – 9th in the league sanchez – 3.3 bad controls per game – 2nd in the league xhaka – 84.2 average passes per game 80% success rate – 2nd in the league Nacho monreal – 2.8 interceptions per game – joint 1st in the league xhaka – 1.7 tackles per… Read more »

Cliff Bastin

Goal machine Mesut


Brilliant, brilliant piece, Tim. One of your best this season.


You’ve made a strong case for Xhaka and Alexis to be dropped and I couldn’t agree more. So why hasn’t it happened?

Ignoring the fact that Wenger is stubborn, etc. I think it’s because these are high impact/high risk players (Alexis particularly). So it’s almost a given that game after game, these players will tend to produce lousy average stats but in any given game, they could be a real game changer. It just hasn’t happen recently…


Can’t recall either of them changing a game in any o the 18 games so far. So the stats should make a good enough case to drop them, shouldn’t they?


Alexis set up the goal with blocked drive and nuisance challenge: 1 assist. Stats are like bikinis … they cover up the vital bits.


So I guess its all down to efficiency, figures don’t lie. I remember when we used to moan about arsenal not shooting enough and Wenger being d cause, but it’s obvious from the stats its simply not our thing.
Solution, improve on the things we are good at.
Our team is not as shite as most make out, and the way teams park d bus against us is frustrating.
But I have no doubt we will make top 4 based on the trend. League is completely in city’s hands, its a no contest. Just preserve our invincibles status


Efficiency increases with practice. If you aren’t practicing shooting, this kinda stats will be created. Teams park the bus against city even more but i’m sure the coach recognises this and must have taken care of that in training.

Wenger might be setting the team up well, but if you keep yanking your best striker off with 20mins to go, you’d better be winning matches by 3 goals at that time.


What works for city is a relentless high press (which they usually manage to sustain till around the 70th minute) and quicker transition of the ball between the lines. Do we have the players for that, don’t think so. You can practice shooting all you want but if you watch our games, I believe we have the highest blocked shots in Europe this season, 7am can please confirm with the stats. Will it improve if we continue, definitely, do we need to tweak a few things to achieve that, of course, starting with Alexis not losing the ball regularly and… Read more »


“Maybe Xhaka should stop shooting”
Oh my god you accuse Arsenal to trying to walk the ball in and now you want him to stop shooting from outside. There is no winning


he’s not saying Arsenal should stop shooting from outside the box, he’s saying Xhaka should stop shooting and given his shots/goal ratio, I would agree with him.


This statistic proves your theory of last week wrong that wilshere is more successful in dribbles than alexis because in Europa where wilshere plays, he is afforded space to dribble while such luxury is not in premiership. Wilshere is still succesfully dribbling at a high rate in premiership though while Alexis is becoming more and more predictable thus reducing his successful dribble rate.

Faisal Narrage

“What’s bumping their conversion numbers up is that they score 10% of their shots from outside the 18 yard box. Shots from there have an average scoring rate below 4%.” “Those three players have attempted 129 shots and scored just 7 goals (5.4% conversion). Arsenal have taken just 324 shots this season and those three players have 129 of them, 40% of the total.” “One reason why Arsenal’s conversion rate is so poor is that they don’t score goals from outside the box.” I doubt @7amkickoff will see this and thus respond, but really hope he does. I’m no football… Read more »

Theo\'s Wallbed

I agree with this point. Except for fast breaks, basketball involves “parking the bus” almost by definition. I would love to see soccer teams run plays like basketball players — and not just on set pieces. Their skill level in possession is getting better. You could see someone like Ozil signaling to call a play with the ball at his feet. Only the best teams could do this, of course, but then these are the best teams in the world.

Faisal Narrage

Fair shout and thanks for the response (I guess you form my tweet). I do agree in general, who am I to argue with the evidence? Just wondered if it could work, and also why I recommended adding more dribblers to the team. It’s great seeing Jack drive into the defence because it also forces defensive teams to lose their shape as 2-3 players go after the dribbler, which could maybe create better shooting opportunities just outside the box? Maybe this is what city do to get that 10%? I mean, they’re packed full of dribblers like Sane, Sterling, Jesus,… Read more »

Darren Kloomok

I agree with you, but I’m also American, so maybe it’s a Yank bias.

In watching the last few games I have been so frustrated at watching us pass the ball around the 18 yard box, and turning it over when we have to pass into a crowd of 8 defenders. Better outside shooting might be a tool to make them come out to us a little more. And running at defenders in the box might at least create the possibility that we would be fouled; of course, we don’t get those calls so…

Faisal Narrage

Ha, I’m not even American, but thanks for believing so.

Just a fan for thinking out of the box.


Even if it worked in football, you really don’t need to build team around the equivalent of 3 pointers in football. You just 1 Frank Lampard or KdB and a balanced team elsewhere.

Faisal Narrage

Ofcourse I wasn’t talking about having 5 Sterlings and 5 Lampards out there, the warriors was an exaggerated account (they were also finely balanced, they just built their team and tactics off their own Lampard in Curry).

Just highlighting that alternative and evolving tactics could work, as it seems that’s what Guardiola does a lot.


One of the features of Arsenal’s game that I don’t see many comments on is the time it takes to transition from defence to attack. It is slow and ponderous and plays into the hands of defence minded teams by giving them time to reorganise and put up a wall of defenders. Compare with Man City and a fast break goal such as de Bruyne’s goal against Spurs. The defender – attacker ratio was even, the Spurs defence unorganised and back tracking, and de Bruyne had only the goalkeeper to beat. It is a credit to the Arsenal attack that… Read more »


Yep I’ve been saying this for many times too, but I can’t point to what’s wrong.
By my own eye test, it might be due to our lack of a good midfield. One that can receive the ball well, pass and move quickly and accurately but most importantly able to find our forward players with precision when passing into space.
Does the problem lie in Xhaka and Aaron, and to an extend Alexis? I’m not entirely sure but it’s a right piss off watching our laboriously slow “counter”.


Oh, it seems to me that Arsenal tries to counter pretty quickly. I see lots of flicks and one-touch releases to forwards getting upfield. We don’t have a really speedy set of players these days, though, and our opponents are usually very concentrated on getting back in numbers. And then there’s that final ball that seems lacking all too often. We do score quickly sometimes and I hope we regain that touch again.


Thanks, 7am. You are a calm voice of reason in a crazy world. It seems to me that lately Alexis has been looking to pass more and shoot less, and he comes up with some really nice ones too, when the opposition gives him the time to pick them out. Xhaka is simply undisciplined. He seems to get bored frequently and decides to take a pop from distance to amuse himself. Aaron just doesn’t finish well these days and hasn’t got the memo. Giroud doesn’t pass up many good chances to shoot, and Welbeck does not look convincing out there.… Read more »

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