Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Wilshere, Auba, and Elneny: By the Numbers

Before we talk about the match, let’s all breathe in…. and breathe out about Jack Wilshere:

I’ve seen some Arsenal supporters having a go at Wilshere after a rather ignoble substitute’s performance against Stoke, erm, Blackburn, uhhh, Southampton (whatever pack of kickers that “Sparky” is in charge of these days).

Jack came on in the 64th minute and got just 16 touches, 10 were passes of which he completed 7. He didn’t have a cross or a through ball. He didn’t complete a dribble. He failed in his only tackle. He made just one interception. And he lost possession four times. That’s not at all at the high level that we expect from a midfielder of Wilshere’s reputation.

He also got into a fracas with Jack Stephens and will probably be remembered for his failed pass on the fast break which led to said fracas.

Fracas in a teacup.

Weirdly he won’t be remembered for this pass:

That was a bicycle-kick cross to a wide open Danny Welbeck. We talk about “expected goals” based on shots. Well, that is a forward’s dream pass. That’s the kind of pass that results in a goal 90% of the time. That was Wilshere rescuing a bad pass from Iwobi and turning it into a goal.

So, while I agree that Wilshere got dumb and pulled Stephens’ shirt after missing what should have been an easy pass, it’s a little weird to say stuff like “his career’s done” and “he is auditioning for Huddersfield.” This is a player who just last month had two outstanding matches for Arsenal against AC Milan and Stoke. Yes, he followed that with a mediocre match and this one but it’s not like whatever talent he has has dried up and gone away forever.

Say what you want, but it’s weird to me!

The match

6 – Goals Aubameyang has scored in his first seven matches to become the fastest ever Arsenal player to 6 goals (Premier League). He’s also scored in each of his last four Arsenal matches and he’s scored those six goals on just 17 shots, a 35% finisher. If we take his one penalty goal out of the calculations he is a 33% finisher (5/15). This is a continuation of his form from Dortmund this season where he was a career high 18% finisher (10/54 from non-penalty shots). I expect him to revert to the mean soon. Or not! Let;s hope he scores 100% of his shots for the rest of the season.

5 – Big Chances missed this season by Welbeck. It’s normal for a forward to miss a lot of big chances and as evidence I submit the following list (from

Benteke – 20 – 2 goals
Salah – 19 – 29 goals
Kane – 16 – 24 goals
Morata – 15 – 11 goals
Aguero – 13 – 21 goals
Lacazette – 12 – 10 goals
Mane – 11 – 9 goals
Lukaku – 11 – 15 goals
Jesus – 11 – 9 goals
Richarliason – 11 – 5 goals

Those are the top 10 in order. Aubameyang has also missed 4 and so has Ozil. They all do. The good thing is getting into the position to score those chances or creating the chance to score that goal as well. Yes, Welbeck is like a baby deer on ice skates sometimes and especially so when he hasn’t played for a while but he’s a hell of a decent 3rd option striker, especially when you see that Morata is Chelsea’s first choice and has missed three times as many.

1.51 – Expected goals for Arsenal, 2.41 expected goals for Southampton. Based on shots created (alone) Arsenal probably should consider themselves lucky to have won this match. But what’s been worrying this season for Arsenal is that they have been outplayed way too many times this season in the Premier League. Working backwards the list of teams that have outplayed Arsenal are (number on the right is the negative xGD and the letter indicates the result):

Southampton: -0.9 (W)
Brighton: -0.22 (L)
Man City: -0.81 (L)
Tottenham: -2.88 (L)
Swansea: -1.14 (L)
Chelsea: -2.04 (D)
West Brom: -0.63 (D)
Liverpool: -1.21 (D)
Southampton: -0.83 (D)
Man City: -1.15 (L)
Watford: -0.2 (L)
Liverpool: -2.61 (L)

That’s 12 times that Arsenal have been outplayed using expected goals as the metric and just 1 win. Man U have been outplayed 14 times, they have won 9 of those, drawn 4, and lost just once. Now, obviously that’s not normal (I haven’t figured out the odds of Man U’s season but it has to be astronomical) but Arsenal either need to figure out a way to dominate or how to stop losing. I think figuring out a way to dominate is the right answer but since I’m “not a former coach/world cup winner” what do I know, right?

Elneny harshly punished

I’ve watched (in person or on TV) almost every Arsenal match and countless other football matches since I picked up football back in the 90s and I have never seen a player get a red card for pushing another player. I could understand (maybe) if Elneny was one of these players who ran around fouling or who had a history of committing egregious fouls but he isn’t.

Elneny commits 0.5 fouls per90 for Arsenal – the only player who has committed fewer fouls p90 for Arsenal this season is Aubameyang with 0.1. Elneny also has just 41 yellow cards in 251 career appearances for all clubs that he’s ever played for from the time he became a professional and this is his first ever red card. So while it’s funny to say this I’m going to say it anyway; Elneny is not that kind of player.


$%!@*n Arsenal and their errors! Mustafi committed another error for a goal (his 2nd) and Arsenal continue to lead the League in both defensive errors (30) and defensive errors for goals (14).

Sort that out.


Sources:,,, Opta, my database


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This is gonna get a lot of downvotes but I’m gonna go ahead and say this anyway: Arsenal fans are being way too harsh on Wilshire. I’m not defending the foul where he pulled Stephens’ shirt, but that in no way justifies him taking Jack down in the manner he did. It’s almost as if a good chunk of Arsenal fans are trying to take the moral high ground by forcing a (very) harsh assessment of his performance and trying to rescue themselves from being called hypocrites. Secondly, that’s just what we do. Everytime we realise a player may leave… Read more »

Spanish Gooner

I’ve no problem with the shirt pull in and of itself and I like a good tactical foul, but there have been quite a few times this season where Jack’s had a questionable performance then started some stupid argument with an opposing player to get the AFTV fans on board due to “passion.”


Or maybe he was just showing genuine passion? which surely is a vital ingredient for succes in any sport? It’s become a dirty word in football these days because it’s sneered at by pompous football writers and wannabe intellectual fans have jumped on the bandwagon. I like my footballers to wear their heart on their sleeve, to live and breathe the club like the fans do. Anyone who thinks that’s an old fashioned, outdated view is surely missing the whole point of the game.


I just don’t get arsenal fans on here, if someone says something good about jack , he gets thumbs up, if someone says something bad about jack, he gets thumbs up, jack is a quality player and I hope he stays, and as for the shirt pulling I’m glad he done it, blogs once had a go at xhaka I think it was for not doing that, so there you are


The problem with Wilshere is this is how he responds when he starts playing poorly. He just starts acting like a petulant child on the pitch kicking out at people and pointlessly fouling rather then doubling down and trying to correct his mistakes.


This. It’s just not a good omen for his football. No problem with an appropriate shirt pull here and there.

Jordan Tan

Just to add, speaking on the topic of % conversion rate for strikers to goals, (if memory serves me correctly) when Eduardo was at Arsenal, I watched all his games and the guy literally never misses! I think it was up to 20 goals and still I have not actually seen him miss ANY shot on goals. Among it was some truly exceptional goals too. Was it truly, or was it just me? Would love to hear your take on this! Keep up the good work!


Eduardo was very good, curse the dude who broke his leg and ruined his career.

Can I ask how the hell does Benteke have 20 big chances and only 2 goals to show?!! Consider that to Salah’s 19 big chances and 29 goals and that’s fucking mind blowing stuff right there !

Gudang Pelor

Good read Mate, thanks!


Mustafi is hilariously bad, isn’t he?

Ryan Colaco

Not bad, as much as hilariously prone to a brain fart at the worst of times. He defends solidly for 40 minutes and then suddenly does something ridiculously daft. Seems to me like a problem of concentration, more than anything.


You’re right. All the world class defenders are prone to constant brain farts.

Why make excuses? We should have better defenders, not ones prone to brain farts. They’re the ones who put us in this position.

A Different George

Actually, all world class defenders make occasional ridiculous mental mistakes that cost goals. Certainly Kompany has, certainly Boateng has, Madrid’s Ramos and Juve’s Chiellini; do you really believe Tony Adams did not? The issues are (a) don’t make them so often; (b) have some structure in place so that another defender can cover for a mistake–not always possible, but often.


I didn’t say they don’t make occasional brain fart, what I said is that it’s ridiculous to excuse Mustafi’s shortcomings on ‘brainfarts’. A brainfart is something that happens once in a blue moon, not something that defines you as a player. It’s the difference between being Tony Adams and Pascal Cygan.
Both players were susceptible to brainfarts, one was just more so than the other.

Mustafi is piss poor. End of. Defending it is trying to clutch at straws.


There is a clear difference between a player who is talented/technically skilled but is poor at decision-making (mustafi) and one who is lacks talent or technically skills (cygan).

Purposefully eliding that distinction or being unable to discern it says more about you as an observer/commentator than it does about the players in question.


I’ve never seen a defender so capable of completely bossing matches while simultaneously committing glaring errors the next game. Hands down the most inconsistent defender I’ve ever seen


You have to wonder if it’s a fitness problem (again) with Wilshere, especially as his crap performances have coincided with his ‘injury’ for England. At the moment he seems to arrive at the ball always slightly too late, comes out second best in the tackle and spends a lot of time on the deck. Not only that, his creativity looks to have deserted him. It’s really a tough one. He’s obviously talented and came back well earlier in the season, but it’s hard to make a case for him in the games that matter at the moment. Will be interesting… Read more »


Of course, the manager is going to continue to play him until he gets back to form. That’s how Wenger always deals with poor form. I’m yet to understand why though.


The best way to get back into form is by watching TV and by being on the bench, right? At this time, our league is of little relevance and we just need someone to play that position and Wilshere isn’t going to sign the contract, which means we lose him in summer. So, why not use him in these inconsequential matches to protect our other players from injury and fatigue? And, if by chance he hits form we may as well use Jack in EL matches too. If Jack wants to be selected for WC and be picked up by… Read more »


It’s amusing how you always comes to jack defense whenever he had a bad game but always had a go at ramsey even when he played well. Your bias is showing.


I agree! The bias is clear – one key pass in the game and he wants everyone to remember Jack for it, whereas with Ramsey even goals don’t matter, we have to look at everything else than the goals he scores to assess Ramsey, particularly the ones he didn’t do right!


If you two knuckleheads read Tim’s own blog regularly, you’d know he regularly has a go at Jack for his weaknesses/immaturity (as well as praising him) and regularly praises Ramsey for his huge talent and goals (as well as slating him for poor midfield play). I’d say he’s anything but biased regarding these two. (I’d go trawling through his old articles to demonstrate this, but I’m gonna get back to my life (such as it is).) I’ve gotten annoyed at Tim’s writing in the past when I feel he’s unfairly critical or laudatory of certain players, but one can’t provide… Read more »


“Man U have been outplayed 14 times, they have won 9 of those, drawn 4, and lost just once. Now, obviously that’s not normal”

I translate this section as “David DeGea is really fucking good and ManUre’s most important player”, is it that simple?


The fact that De Gea has kept Man U in so many games (including the one against us, when we should have won 33 – 2) proves beyond doubt that the most important signing in the summer has to be a (World class) keeper. We also need to replace Mustafi. I wouldn’t even have started him yesterday after his performance against Moscow which led to their away goal.


It’s a little early to pull the plug on Mustafi. He can’t be so stupid that he’s not coachable, and his errors atre usually a lack of awareness and focus. He’s plenty aggressive (often too aggressive–he gives away some free kicks in dangerous places, as he did late in yesterday’s game) and he has the talent. The man we will have to replace, unfortunately, is the wonderful Koscielny, because of his age; Monreal is a year or so behind him. I love Holding and Chambers and want to keep them, but they may never become first string CBs at a… Read more »


Wow, good catch mate! I can’t wait for that guy to go to Real Madrid and have been cursing their transfer team for years now, more than our incompetent ones actually. Why can’t they just sign him, give him what he wants, let Messi handle him! I’m going nuts now…


That’s absolutely right mate. DeGea is a very good (if not great) goal keeper.

Mayor McCheese

You think it’s weird that people think Wilshere had a poor game because he did one good thing amidst any number of poor or mediocre things? That’s weird. For me, that graphic showing the one red line in a sea of darkness is a comedy showcase, not proof that everyone is being unduly harsh on Wilshere. So you were being funny, right?


I think the point is that if Welbeck had scored that chance (which he should have), everyone would’ve had a different opinion of Wilshere’s game despite literally nothing changing.

Mayor McCheese

In that case, it’s a dumb point. Do you really think one assist would radically change what we thought of Wilshere’s total performance?


It would have been the goal that would have won us the game. And as already explained, Wilshere made it out of nothing, so I’m pretty sure there would be a very different opinion of his game.


I can tell you that it would not have changed my view of Wilshere’s outing. I give him full credit for the should-have-been-an-assist but can’t forget the rest of his game, which was bad. He came in after everyone else had been running around for an hour, and after settling in should have bossed things. Instead, he looked no better than the kid he replaced, and he made some critical errors (like allowing Stephens to blow past him on their second goal–that was inexcusable). On the counter, I thought Welbeck (I believe it was him) should have gone wider to… Read more »

Richard Krivonozka

With regards to Wilshire – I don’t recall Gilberto, Vieira, Petit and the likes having been so inconsistent in contributing to the team, and the fact that he does so on occasion makes it all the more frustrating. This is a measure of how far we have fallen that you can accept this as the norm. I’d be interested to see stats on how badly he is on bad days compared to some of Midfielders of old – are such stats available? An article that compares players in the current team to their equivalent in 2004, 2002 and 1998 would… Read more »


Hang on a second, which current Arsenal players are as consistent as Gilberto, Vieira, Petit?

Faisal Narrage

“but it’s not like whatever talent he has has dried up and gone away forever.”

Welcome to Arsenal, knee-jerk central.
The same people asking for him to be sold in the summer were the ones calling for him to sign da ting in December and Jan and are now the same people saying he’s a spent force.

No doubt tomorrow he’ll do something great and they’ll be back to calling him boywonder.


If he signs he’ll be a world beater on these forums again


Finally some sense on Jack! As poor as he’s been for the last couple of games, the reaction around him has been over the top and is surely partly down to the fanbase thinking he’s leaving.

Clive St Helmet

The prosecution against Welbeck (and our other strikers): Rank Player Club Nationality Big Chances Missed Shots % of shots missed that were big chances 1 André Ayew Swansea City Ghana 4 4 100.00% 2 Christian Benteke Crystal Palace Belgium 20 57 35.09% 3 Gabriel Jesus Manchester City Brazil 11 42 26.19% 4 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal Gabon 4 17 23.53% 5 Olivier Giroud Chelsea France 8 36 22.22% 6 Oumar Niasse Everton Senegal 6 28 21.43% 7 Álvaro Morata Chelsea Spain 15 71 21.13% 8 Danny Welbeck Arsenal England 5 24 20.83% 9 Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal France 12 59 20.34% 10… Read more »

Clive St Helmet

And perhaps most damningly of all:

Player Club Big Chances Missed Shots % of shots missed that were big chances
Aaron Ramsey Arsenal 6 49 12.24%

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