Before I get started, let me explain a few things. Loss of possession here is just one of two events: either a player is dispossessed or loses control due to bad touch. Bad touch is pretty straightforward (you are hurried and take a bad touch) and is usually correlated simply with the number of touches a team gets. More touches equals more bad touches, usually.
Dispossessed, however, can happen in two ways: the player tries to dribble and the opponent makes a tackle an wins the ball back, or the player is just dispossessed.
In today’s match, Arsenal lost possession 39 times. 19 unsuccessful touches and 20 dispossessed. This is not actually a season high, the season high was 40 against Liverpool where the Kloppers forced 23 bad touches and 17 dispossessed. That was in the 3-3 draw and that’s what Klopp’s teams do: they force turnovers. Arsenal responded in that match and actually won the ball back 41 times! So, it’s no wonder why Arsenal were able to scrape a 3-3 draw.
In today’s match between City and Liverpool we saw Liverpool forced city into 43 losses of possession. City wasn’t really able to return the favor, however, because Liverpool didn’t want the ball and they only won the ball back 31 times.
That 20 dispossessed number today by Arsenal against the Cherries, however, was a season high for Arsenal – or low, however you want to say it.
Our chief complaint about Alexis Sanchez is that he “turns the ball over too much” and it’s true: he leads Arsenal with 5.9 losses of possession per match. However, it’s ironic that on the day when Alexis Sanchez is almost certainly going to be sold Arsenal had a season high loss of possession glut. And you know who was most wasteful? Bellerin (6), Maitland-Niles and Xhaka (5 each), Wilshere (7), and Lacazette (7).
The other chief complaint about Alexis is that he’s a terrible passer. I understand both complaints: he demands the ball and typically he then either turns it over with a bad pass or by getting it tackled away from him.
Alexis Sanchez’s passing rate is the worst of any of the starters at 72.4%. He averages 11.2 bad short passes per game and 1.5 bad long passes per game. Leading Arsenal in bad passes. That means that Alexis combines for about 12.7 bad passes per game.
Well, again, I hate to break it to you, but ironically… Arsenal only completed 74% of their passes today. That’s not a season low but it was the second worst passing rate of the season (so far!). The season low was 70% against Spurs – this is what Spurs do, they kill off passing games – but the total number of bad passes in the Spurs match was “just” 118. Against Bournemouth, Arsenal turned the ball over 141 times through passing.
Arsenal also won that match 2-0 and the low passing % was actually just a function of counter attacking. If you attempt a lot of long passes, trying to hit opponents on the counter, you’re going to have a low passing %.
Mustafi was Man of the Match that game (by Opta) and actually had a surprisingly low 24/34 passing rate (71%) against Spurs. But against Bournemouth, Mustafi not only lost the plot in terms of passing but lost it in a major way: he was 33/55 passing – 60%. Mustafi – not a forward but a center back – gave away 22 passes in a match. He led the way but the whole team was bad: Wilshere gave away 15 passes, Maitland-Niles 13, Holding 13 (another center back), Xhaka 12, Bellerin 12, and Petr Cech? 19. Arsenal’s problem was that for some reason they were trying to bypass the midfield – Mustafi was 3/15 on long bombs, Cech 5/24, Wilshere 0/5 etc.
Looking at the stats I see that Bournemouth pressured Arsenal, that Arsenal couldn’t handle the pressure, and attempted to go long. Which failed miserably because we were dispossessed, missed the pass, or lost control.
So, as much as we complain about Alexis turning the ball over (which he did) and his bad passes (which were bad!) this was an Arsenal side today which showed both of those problems all over the pitch.
85 – Shots allowed by Arsenal’s defense in their last 6 matches
92 – Shots allowed by Burnley’s defense in the last six matches
59 – Shots allowed by Tottenham’s defense in their last 6 matches
51 – Shots allowed by Man City’s defense in their last 6 matches
10 – Goals allowed by Arsenal’s defense in their last 6 matches
10.6 – 7amxGA (expected goals allowed) for Arsenal in their last 6 matches
8 – Goals allowed by Burnley’s defense in their last six matches
11.16 – 7amxGA for Burnley’s defense in their last 6 matches
7 – Goals allowed by Tottenham’s defense in their last 6 matches
7.3 – 7amxGA for Tottenham’s defense in their last 6 matches
6 – Goals allowed by Man City’s defense in their last six matches
4.75 – 7amxGA (expected goals allowed) for Man City in their last 6 matches
4 – Goals allowed by Man City’s defense against Liverpool today
0.9 – 7amxGA by Man City against Liverpool today*
1.06 – 7amxGA by Arsenal against Bournemouth today
Sources: Opta, my database
*Liverpool created zero big chances and scored 2 goals from 18 yards plus. The City keeper, Ederson, had his worst match of the year allowing 2.64 expected saves into his net.