Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Arsenal are 12th in the Away League: By the Numbers

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal teams have always been a real threat on away days. Wenger’s sides have twice gone undefeated an entire away season and have been remarkably consistent over the two deceades he’s been in charge, dropping out of the top 4 in away record just four times: 2000-01 – 22 points, 8th; 2005/06 – 22 points, 7th; 2016/17 – 30 points, 6th, and this season – 13 points, 12th.

Arsenal are averaging less than a point a game in away matches and even if they win their last three away games they will only reach 21 points in away games, the lowest total of any season under Arsene Wenger. The reasons for this are twofold: this is Arsene Wenger’s worst ever defensive season and on away days, his attack has shriveled up like feet in cold water.

The first problem I see is that Arsenal’s defense is consistently shocking whether home or away. Arsenal are allowing 1.8 Big Chances per game overall with 1.9 big chances allowed per game in away games. The result is a consistent expected goals against regardless of venue.

However, there is a difference in actual goals conceded. Arsenal have committed the most errors leading to a goal this season with 16. 11 of those have happened in away games and 5 in the home games. In addition, Arsenal have conceded 3 penalties in away games and 2 in home games.

Arsenal’s most guilty player for errors is Petr Cech. He has 6 goals conceded off errors, 5 of them in away games. If we just look at away games, the 2nd most is Xhaka with 2 and then there are a few players with 1 error each: Monreal (Newc), Merte (Soton), Bellerin (Pool).

In addition, the following players have committed fouls for penalties in away games: Bellerin (Watford), Monreal (Man City), and Chambers (WBA). Penalties and errors leading to a goal are non-overlapping stats.

This accounts for the difference in goals conceded.

The other major problem you can see in this chart is the difference in offensive output between home and away matches.

Most teams drop in offensive production in away games: Man City have scored 53 goals at home and “only” 40 goals in away games, Liverpool 41 and 37, and Man U 35 and 28. But no team has dropped as much as Arsenal offensively in away games: 45 at home (2nd best in the League) to 16* away (tied for 9th with Newcastle and Watford). That’s a 64% decrease in goals scored in away games.

Goals have decreased because Big Chances have dried up. Compared to Tottenham (39 Big chances away), Liverpool (44 Big Chances away), and Man City (48 Big Chances away), Arsenal’s 25 Big Chances is pretty pathetic, it’s just 1.5 Big Chances per game and Arsenal are on track to create just 29 Big Chances in away games this season. That’s down from 37 last season and 41 the season before (when Arsenal led the League in Big chances created).

The other shots data reflects the problem Arsenal find themselves in as well.

Shots per game, Arsenal are 5th in the League in home games with 18.1, just 1.7 fewer shots per game than League Leaders Man City.  In away games, Arsenal are 4th in shots per game with 13.8. The same number of shots per game as Tottenham! The problem is that Arsenal are being held to shooting from distance.

Arsenal are first in the League in shots in the 6 yard box (1.6 per game) in home games and 2nd in shots in the 18 yard box with 10.3. In away games, Arsenal are 13th in shots per game in the 6 yard box with 0.6, and 5th in shots in the penalty area with 6.9 per game.

Why? Well, this is one of those stats areas where I don’t have a lot of data. The data points that are publicly available like tackles, interceptions, dribbles and whatnot are all basically unchanged in home/away splits. What I’d like to see is how teams change when they face Arsenal which I can’t see unless I collected all of that match data and looked for patterns.

There are some publicly available data points. For example, has a “pass types” chart that you can sort by “against”, which shows Arsenal are being treated almost exactly the same in home/away splits. They face 17 crosses per game in each, 62 long balls at home and 65 in away games, and around 300 short passes in either match.

I suspect that teams are stepping up their defense. Newcastle today had 22 tackles, 16 interceptions, and 15 blocks. Newcastle average 17 tackles, 12 interceptions and 13 blocks in home games.

As for the loss to Newcastle the only stats that stand out to me are the pass combinations. Arsenal’s top five pass combinations were: Holding to Mustafi (23), Xhaka to Monreal (23), Holding to Monreal (22), Monreal to Holding (22) and Monreal to Aubameyang (19). That’s a whole lot of “not-midfield.”

Xhaka’s top pass combinations were to Monreal (23), Holding (12), and Chambers (10). Elneny was the same: to Xhaka (15), Holding (13), and Mustafi (10).

Without Ramsey, Ozil, and Wilshere in the team, the ball didn’t get to the forwards enough and when it did they often ended up passing the ball back. Iwobi completed just 8 passes to another forward (4 to Auba, 3 to Laca, and 1 to Welbeck). Aubameyang completed just 7 passes to another forward (5 to Lacazette and 2 to Iwobi). The rest of the time, those two played the ball to someone else.

I can assure you that what Arsenal did today against Newcastle isn’t going to work against Atletico Madrid.


Sources: Opta, my database,

*In the Premier League table you’ll see 17, I don’t count own goals.


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Bould's Eyeliner

I don’t think ‘feet’ is what was meant by ‘shriveled’, and it’s hard to agree with the revision.

The players need to have more meetings, and Wenger needs to sort out his strategies. Not sure what the real linchpin in our problems are, but the only one who is in a position to pay for those problems is Wenger. Either he needs to sort it out, or he needs to go.

It’s a difficult time for fans, but I do not envy the decisions he must make. We can be angry at the results and still empathize with him.


I mean seriously what is the issue here?
A back 5 of Cech, Chambers, Mustafi, Holding and Monreal actually has a vast amount of experience and quality. 753 premier league appearances between them. Something is seriously broken behind the scenes.


Genuinely just so bored. We are the only club in world football who would spend 70 Million Euros on a striker of Aubameyangs’ quality and then play him out wide. Just crazy… And at this point if there are Arsenal fans who genuinely want Arsene Wenger to stay beyond the end of this season, then they are just absolutely clueless. Sadly, it is getting clearer and clearer that he is finished at the top level. Obviously I would love us to go on and win the Europa League, but we are going to need a footballing miracle to find a… Read more »


7th still gets European football unless Southampton wins the FA cup I believe but yes anyone who still thinks Wenger is the best man for the job is relying exclusively on the 2008 version and not the 2018.


Interesting stats. The upshot of all this is that we are simply not good enough. And if we were a real football club and not a hideous abomination of a sporting entity then our useless manager would have been sacked a long time ago. Instead, I fear that the man responsible for this mediocrity will still be here next season. Sad. We are the third biggest soccer club in Britain and yet we are being managed like Stoke. I wonder what the attendance will be for the West Ham game on Sunday? This match is now utterly meaningless, with even… Read more »

Andy G

Liked until the last sentence…


I think if that were to happen we’d get an absolutely packed stadium and tickets being touted for hundreds of pounds to say goodbye to a man that has given a large portion of his life to serving this club, but for whom sadly it hasn’t worked out as planned for the last decade or so. Which would be a far more fitting send off. I’m absolutely not advocating him staying or a new contract, but most football fans won’t be lucky enough to see a single cup win their whole lives. We’ve had three in five years.


For me it’s not the last decade as I believe during the early years o the emirates he kept us competitive with barely any funds but since the signings of Cech Özil Sanchez when the funds were available we really haven’t kicked on and have been treading water At best


We’ve actually been going backwards since the purse-strings were loosened, and that’s the shocking thing. The problem for Wenger is that he got trapped in this “must finish fourth” mind-set, which was fine during the austerity years. But now that we need to push on he’s lost. The problem is compounded by the fact that we have an owner who has no interest in football as a sport. He just sees dollar signs.

We need a fresh young hungry manager to get us out of this rut.


You have no class my friend.


Good points Fatgooner, and i agree we’re simply not good enough. Regarding the empty seats, they are indeed one of the best forms of protestation imo, because holding rallies are all good and well but a few bad apples and they can be easily be spun as a “yob-fest” deterring other would be protesters. It’s extremely hard to put a spin on vast swathes of empty seats, especially in a stadium that is traditionally at or near full capacity. “It was Valentines” “It was Easter” “We just lost the LC final” “The match was on a strange day” The above… Read more »


There is nothing more shameful than fans not turning up when we play Atletico.


Why isn’t it showing up with mistakes for Mustafi, or can’t they quantify him just watching people run in front of him to score or just gormlessly watching the ball?

Basically is he so off the pace and bad he can’t even get into the stats? Surely he is our worst.

Also how can you get stats for Chambers jogging back towards our goal at a snails pace when he gives the ball away as opposed to most half decent fullbacks who actually sprint back after a mistake?

Crash Fistfight

It’s because the stats only show how a player fairs in attempting an ‘action’, e.g. if a player doesn’t bother trying to make a tackle, it doesn’t count as a ‘missed tackle’. It’s a bit of a problem with the stats, in a way. It’s not only a problem with stats, though – a lot of what people judge a player on is based around what they do in ‘actions’. For example, we rate our defenders based on their ability to win the ball back (either by an interception or a tackle) but not on them being in the right… Read more »


I think you can delve into the actions on video and see how much other players are struggling to keep up with covering their teammates individual errors. Mostly coming from Mustafi or one of our midfielders not tracking their runners and switching off.

Relying on our defenders to pickup the pieces.


Blogs had an excellent article today on Mustafi and our approach to defending this season. We often focus on individual mistakes and performances but sometime what gets lost in translation is really Wenger’s philosophy – he’s never one who ever really excelled at defending. This is a glaring weakness throughout his 20+ years at Arsenal and one which typically masked by the offensive prowess in the glory days of yore. Modern football is much more unforgiving these days and poor Wenger basically doesn’t have a solution. Even the optimistic Gunners fan knows deep down there is an 80% chance Wenger… Read more »


Chambers simply isn’t a full back. Jefferson Montero showed us that by taking liberties at the Liberty stadium few seasons back.

He’s a CB. A steady but slow one at that.
Same way Reiss Nelson’s not a wing-back, “The Nanny’s” not a sweeper/CB, Auba isn’t a left winger, Xhaka’s not a DM and Petr Cech’s no longer a GK unfortunaly.

A Different George

Once again: As of last week (haven’t checked since) Mustafi was the highest-rated centre half this season in the Prem, according to WhoScored. Maybe their methods are off and he is not nearly so good, but it is simply not possible that he is as bad as people here think with that rating. Take a look at the rest of their highest-rated players (including De Bruyne, Salah, Hazard, Mane, and Kane); it looks pretty sensible.

I Didn't See It

Chambers can’t sprint.


Quite simply, Wenger has lost the power to motivate his players together with a blindly belligerent insistence that his way is the only way.

This has led to a total abandonment of defensive coaching and players at the back who are now too used to just watching a game instead of controlling it.

I’d love to get Europa trophy but concerned that it will just lead to embarrassing nights in Champions League or, worse still, Wenger remaining in charge.

Dave M

Just let that sink in:
33 pts behind the leaders
13 pts down on the team that shan’t be named
2 pts ahead of Burnley…

So long and thanks for all the fish Arsene….


Why on earth is Monreal passing from left back to right back right across the penalty area? Especially when Chambers has 2 Newcastle players on him?This passing back to Cech is really starting to Piss me off.. Why put the keeper under pressure. Cech distribution is getting worse… we seem more comfortable passing to Cech on the goal line than to a midfielder… WHY!!!

Crash Fistfight

Because as soon as we gain possession all our players rush upfield, leaving a gaping chasm in the middle of the pitch that could be taken up by someone to give a simple build-up pass to, but isn’t, so there is never a straightforward pass on.

I watched out for this yesterday to make sure I wasn’t imagining it and sure-enough, there was about a 30 yard diameter circle of empty space with no player in it every time our defenders had the ball.


Round pegs and square holes.

Evang. Simon

If what Arsenal did can’t work against Newcastle I doubt if it will ever work against any team. Just win the Europa and let’s forget about how abysmal this season has being. We have next season to remedy every problem if only we have enough cojones to do it.

Pardon me for using that word….


One extra I took from the stats – the actual goals is 7 below expected goals. Going on a 1pt per goal (because I can’t be arsed to do anything in depth) that would take us above Chavski Bringing the error count down to match the home form would knock 6 goals off the against column taking us within touching distance of the tiny totts. So is the issue down to individual failures or that our ‘strategy’, ‘defensive set-up’. ‘scouting of opposition’ are as poor as they have ever been but we don’t have the sublimely gifted warriors in red… Read more »


Its disgusting to know that we are 34 points behind man city….13 points behind spurs yet arsene still dont know why our away form is poor.


Let’s face it our defence coaching is either really bad or not existent and this is not something that has happened for the very first time this season in fact this has been happening for years now. Last two season show exactly where we have fallen behind and it’s not because of so-called whinging fans. We have been in decline for years now, stats don’t lie and if Arsene is a stats man than he knows he has been falling short each year. Our transfer policy has been exactly the same. With the injection of the new guys there is… Read more »


All true, ATG. We’re in radical transition on defensive personnel at the moment, which doesn’t help. Kos was superb for years, but he’s pretty much worn out. Monreal is slowing. Per is already in retirement. The younger guys desperately need better coaching (and reinforcement) as well as a tactical shape that does not expose them so badly. How often do you see our opponents leave gaping spaces for us to run into? It’s the exception, but with us, it’s all too common. The fullbacks are sent up the field to participate in the offense, which is fine, but DMs don’t… Read more »


Agreed! There goes the tactics that Arsene deploys onto his team which in yesterday’s debacle we have no plan B scenario, we had four strikers on the pitch towards the end hoping we could somehow make it level, you could tell we weren’t going to get anything out of this game anyhow, midfield was awful, defense even worse.


This is completely contradicting the narrative that our attack is fine but our defense is letting us down. Yes, our defense is atrocious, but it’s been that way for both home and away games, and while we tend to outscore our opponents whenever we’re playing at home (we’re also a bit fortunate with their finishing), we struggle to create clear-cut chances away from The Emirates.

A Different George

You are right–but the “narrative” makes for better punditry. What 7am shows: When we play away, we get far fewer shots in close areas and so far fewer goals. Why? It cannot be that teams pack in more against us when they are at home–the opposite is traditionally true. My guess–and it is only based on watching, not on statistics–is that we are more cautious away and our midfielders less willing to take risks (an exaggerated version yesterday, with no Ramsey, Ozil, or Wilshere). Maybe if we had a Busquets/Fernandinho/Kante to protect them, we would score more.


Are we more cautious or is the opposition allowing us less space to operate in?


We have players who aren’t technical enough to play modern passing football. Simple as.


“Wenger Baffled by away form!!”
Send him That fucking picture….


“In addition, the following players have committed fouls for penalties in away games: Bellerin (Watford), Monreal (Man City), and Chambers (WBA)”

Notable that none of those should actually have been penalties, except possibly the City one, but even that was very soft.


I believe some of our defensive problems are the loss of Santi in midfield, Koz playing at less than 100%, the loss of Per, the loss of Santi in midfield, and a goalie that is beyond his prime. That adds up to a lot. I would love to see Santi in midfield with Ramsey, but I guess we will never see him on the pitch again. BTW, getting rid of Szczesny was insane. Still don’t know why AW got rid of him. Has to be personal, not because of his abilities as he has proven himself in Serie A. If… Read more »

Crash Fistfight

Unless his fandom is that strong, why would he leave Juventus to join Arsenal?

Arsenala Vista Baby

Wenger will still get a 2 years extension in year 3000


It’s got to be the blue shirts, and, why aren’t we in red against a team that plays in black and white stripes.
We have to change those shirts!!!!!!


The question is, Will Wenger leave or someone in the board will sack him at the end of the season? If he stays another season, maybe we’ll have an home record like the away one this season.. Wenger please leave..


And 98th out of 98 in the 2018 calendar year.

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