Friday, June 14, 2024

Bournemouth 2-1 Arsenal: Turnovers and bad passes, By the Numbers

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.


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Does it matter? We all know AW is the problem and that the club is in complete disarray above AW.

Mein Bergkampf

Wenger has cited that instability has been a key factor in our “dip” (lol) in form, forgetting that the instability he talks of is completely his fault. He refused to discuss whether or not he would sign a new contract and while we all waited for his decision on that one (still not sure why that is his decision) our two world class players contract talks (and the Ox’s) were neglected so that suddenly their situations overshadowed the whole summer business period and pretty much our season up until now. Wenger is very good at blaming what he deems to… Read more »


2 – The number of game arsenal has won out of 9 matches since jack started regularly.

Mayor McCheese

I don’t think that’s fair. He’s been the only one on the pitch for us with any drive and who looks like creating anything. It’s not his fault that our defensive set-up is all over the place, others are being played out of position, and Danny Welbeck can’t tell his arse from his elbow.


I agree its not ‘fair’ on Jack, but its also not fair to use such a stat on any player be it in a positive or negative sense. Its just a dumb stat in a team game.


Its unfair to use this stat by itself. If you can show other factors that correlate than sure it can paint a picture.


“who looks like creating anything” Euh, it’s rather Özil who creates…


There is a difference between correlation and causation. Jack’s starts have come as the three best performing offensive players and the 2 best performing defensive players all picked up injuries.
Perhaps a better correlation is between how this team has gone to shit as the number of games has increased which exposes both the Lack of depth in the squad and the poor player management of the manager.

Spanish Gooner

I love jack and he does some things extremely well, but Ramsey is so important to this arsenal team and it amazes me people don’t see it. He is our only top 4 standard CM.


We are trying to carry too many players. Jack isn’t one of them, in fact he is trying to make up for their poor movement by dribbling into better positions to get a easier pass for those poor players to receive.


James must be having the most incredible trip of all time.

Mayor McCheese

Gervinho, is that you? All is forgiven! Please come back! You look a world beater next to this lot! Also, check with Rooney about some hair implants before you come back, yeah?


Damn. We really needed to win this match to close the gap on Manchester City in the race for the title. Oh wait….

HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA ! Clueless manager and some equally clueless fans who still support him.


So you are basically saying that one of the hallmarks of Arsene Wenger teams ie being good on the ball is also gone.


I guess there is a reason why playing this formation isn’t his favourite.

But you could say that failing to buy a decent centreback and DM we have needed for years has led to this formation.

Jury is out whether it is Wenger, Kroenke or Dick Law’s fault. But they all share some responsibility for this sh!tstorm.

An organisations personality is reflected by their top boss…. And this quietly inwards looking mess does resemble Kroenke somewhat. #kroenkeout


I agree with most of that but I think we have bought decent decent centre backs, it’s just that Wenger insists on no coaching for defensive set up. Cannavaro would have looked awful if we’d signed him!

Faisal Narrage

Add to that his disdain for DMs and him either never purchasing them or converting any DM that comes from our academy, and you have yourself what we have.

Faisal Narrage

Dick Law just got told what to do and who to sign.
This is a club built in the image of Wenger.
Kroenke is ultimately responsible not just for letting it happen, but even stopping the board from getting rid of Wenger.


Interesting assertions.
Have any proof? (I don’t think you do; but I’d be interested to hear something – other than media rumors.)

Its high time AW left; he cannot get his players to perform. There are good footballers on this team, but they are all under performing. Ultimately, that is AW’s fault. AW is ruining his legacy and reputation. He needs to be sacked. It won’t really help us this campaign, but the future/next season needs to be considered.

Rough days. And rougher ones ahead.


For all the times when we’re good on the ball, how often are we productive with it ? And ultimately do we ever win anything SIGNIFICANT because of it ?


“Arsenal’s problem was that for some reason they were trying to bypass the midfield” Maybe the some reason has a name: Mesut Ozil. It is only when he is missing that we realize how much he elevates this team. Two major reasons for the bad pass completion are that players don’t move into good positions to receive balls and that the passing player is too quick to play the pass. Both are areas where Ozil is class. He holds onto the ball until the right pass opens up and it calms everyone down. He is also constantly making himself open… Read more »


Spot on mate. That’s the thing about this current side, for an Arsene team they are incredibly technically poor. By that I mean, not that they aren’t skillful from time to time, just that they rarely show consistent skill in the basics: passing and making themselves available. Ozil really does help because he improves the players around him, but without him we look so flat and without ideas. Let’s hope we can keep him 🙂


The whole point of passing style of play is to make triangles. Pep does it well with about five to eight players surrounding the ball. His formation allows for that.
This 343 formation we have doesn’t allow it when we are pressed heavily. We have only two midfielders compared to three in a 4231.
Tbh we dont have the player types for either formation to work effectively in a passing game under a high press.

Checkout the tifotactics videos on youtube.


Thanks. Very enlightening. Maybe some sort of game plan would be a good idea. Jack tried to make himself available, but Xhaka was often too hard for the CBs to find, it seemed to me. Still, 60% pass completion for Mustafi is dreadful. Had Coquelin been available, he could have gone in for Xhaka when it was 1-0 to the Arsenal. Injuries or no, this was a real stinker of a game for us. The guys on the pitch should have been better prepared and organized. Is there a stat for offsides per minute played? I think I know a… Read more »


Its insane how often he was offsides. He can’t be that bad at making runs. He’s never been this bad at it. I just have to think its the horrible MF play hesitating for a moment and messing up the timing.

Faisal Narrage

That or it’s a very good way to hide in plain sight.

Can’t receive the ball if you’re offside. Except st arsenal we’ll still try and give you the ball.

A Different George

Sure. Every attacker similar to Walcott is offside sometimes–and sometimes the pass is perfectly timed and he is in on goal. Play Ozil and Walcott together for ninety minutes, and Theo will not be offside nearly as often, will get a chance or two on goal, will create space through his (onside) runs for other attackers (Lacazette) to run into. Might as well try.

Spanish Gooner

Arsenal would be better with Aubameyang and Malcom, but I would rather take one + a Xhaka replacement. There is no point having shiny strikers that our shithouse midfield can’t get the ball to


Agree. But give AMN a run in that spot too.


Yes, but just remembered that pass yesterday from AMN – which must rank as the worst I’ve seen for ages- could easily have resulted in a goal against. No concentration would be the only answer and it was early on.

The whole team is just shot to pieces mentally. That’s the manager’s job to sort out.


Auba is a real diva, more than Sanchez. He’d unbalance the team big time…

A Different George

I cannot believe that believe know so much about Malcom. I don’t think I have ever seen him play.


How do you define “better” ? If that means improving us enough to win the league or Champions League, then being better has demonstrably not worked has it ? All the big name players we’ve signed over the last decade or so have not made any difference in that regard, have they ? Neither will Aubameyang, Malcom or any OTHER newcomers. Because the problem is not with the players !!!!


It’s so frustrating to see this Arsenal team play! No one is moving into spaces and asking for the ball and we look totally short on ideas on how to move the ball upfield. Somehow everytime we’re behind, all our midfielders think that the best way to get a goal back is to all play as strikers, evacuating the spaces between the lines that the good midfielders should be looking to be in. The sight of Lacazette moving into midfield to at least touch the ball is telling.


This article should be sent to Kroenke with the title: Transfer policy penny pinching by the numbers.


OK, but send it to Wenger too. He’s the one who controls the spend and the use of the players bought/played.


This is not the result of low transfer spend. Wenger has spent more in the last five years than the 5 before that, but the team has gotten worse (excepting the FA cups). Now we are in free fall and it is clear the team has lost faith in the manager. They don’t look motivated in the same way that they did when playing United and Liverpool back in Dec.

Die heart gun

Wenger out

SB Still

7amKickoff I’m amazed that after a match like that you had it in you to write an objective stats piece.

Wenger is surprised by the mistakes we made, he should hire you. He can then see it’s predictable and do something about it.


bottom line is , we are shit if ozil plays or not , so I don’t buy it when they say we missed ozil today , jack has been far more influential in a few games than ozil has all season, and as for sanchez , well he has wanted to go for a long time now , they are not arsenal, they are just part of a team that’s all


Without giroud up top we’re dogshit, we’d probably have a better success rate in terms of long passes completed with him. 3 at the back needs an aerial threat up top as there’s one less creative player in midfield, it’s the reason chelsea bought morata to replace costa who was also decent with high balls. To service laca we need 3 midfielders, wenger knows this and is the reason why he put ramsey on (too late) in the game

Faisal Narrage

This is such a badly created team. This team has no midfield since we lost Cesc and Wenger has been unable to address it (and he’s tried, which is even scarier). With the advent of the gegenpress, Wenger has been unable to adopt to this new style of play and the more it gets adopted, the more we’re at risk of other teams. Wenger’s only plan against this has been to bypass the midfield and go long….to Giroud. And now even without him, we still play like we have Giroud. It’s bad enough this team lacks defensive organisation as most… Read more »


Jack was trying to hit Lacazzette at least with 3 of his bad long passes. I have no idea what Mustafi was trying to do. You could summarize the whole situation up with one word. Mediocre. We will fight for 5th over the next years and can easily end up 8th. This is the sad truth.


‎Liverpool, as their tactics,force turnovers.

Spurs, kill off passing games.

City pass the ball so well that opposition teams can’t have it to hurt them.

United, coached by that loathsome guy, park the bus and defend really well.

Now, you ask, what is Arsenal and Arsene’s tactics?

I am sorry, but the manager has lost it. Teams with less quality than Arsenal have clear approach to their games so much so that you will recognise what they want to do the moment the match starts. But not Arsenal.‎


I don’t think these players are as bad as their performances, and they’ve shown that they’re capable of decent performances in the past. I think their confidence is totally shot and they don’t know how to deal with it any more. The manager that’s supposed to be helping them is failing on every level. Granite looked shell-shocked after that game, like he was walking in a nightmare that couldn’t be happening. Every time they fail it gets worse, I’m sure they remember the end of last season all too well. If they don’t perform they’re accused of letting down the… Read more »


Won’t someone please think of the children?
Please stop, it’s already dead!!


Our creativity is virtually non-existent. It reminds me of the fag end days of the Graham tenure but at least back then you knew if we fortunate to score a goal the defence and midfield would know how to protect a lead more often than not. This season cannot end soon enough for me and we’re only halfway through January. “We’ve always got the Europa League” I hear you say but with the teams left in that and the ineptitude that runs through the team from 1-11, we have no chance of winning that.


Why this arrogant stale manager won’t go for Nzonzi is beyond me.
Without a battler in the middle he will continue to be an overpaid deluded full of shitty excuses joke!

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