Thursday, October 6, 2022

Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City: By the numbers

As you can tell, I am not Tim who wrote this column before and did an excellent job and was one of my inspirations for soccer football(sorry I am American) stats writing. Before I jump into the post I wanted to take a chance to introduce myself, my name is Scott, I hope to continue with some of the same things done in the past and add some new stuff along the way. Please let me know what you like and don’t like.

Pre-match I knew that this was going to be a tough challenge for Arsenal. Drawing conclusions from single matches is never a good idea but this match up in particular is going to be so unlike any other that Arsenal have this season (until they travel to Manchester for the return fixture).

An answer to a question that I get often: how can the shot on target xG be higher than the regular xG? That happens because they are separate models where with the regular every shot is assigned a value regardless of where the shot ends up. With the shot on target version, if a shot is blocked or misses it gets 0 xG but if it is on target it will have a higher corresponding value compared to the regular model. Over the full season the two end up very close to each other but over a single match the shooting accuracy can vary quite a bit and this helps to illustrate that.

The simulated odds for the match are based on all of the shots for the match. It is run through a Monte Carlo simulation, that simulates the match 10,000 times. This should give a rough estimate of the “fairness” of the outcome based on the shots for both teams.


22 – the number of tackles that Arsenal had today, including 8 in the attacking half.

14 – the number of interceptions Arsenal made, including 2 in the attacking half.

The defense was a work in progress today but there were certainly flashes of Emery’s new pressing system paying dividends.


38 – The number of passes completed, led Arsenal

44.8% – The percentage of passes attempted that went forward

7/11 – Final third passing

1/1 – Passes into the box

1/1 – Dribbles

1 – Time Dispossessed

4/6 – Tackles (2nd on Arsenal)

4 – Interceptions (2nd on Arsenal)

0.1 – xG chain

7 – Times he lost possession (6 bad touches, 1 time dispossessed)

These are the stats for Matteo Guendouzi. He was shaky to start the match off (understandably so) but after the first 15 to 20 minutes grew into the match to be one of Arsenal’s better players. It is waaaaay to early but this looks like a talented kid who will challenge Arsenal’s other midfielders for a starting position.


1 – Shot

7/11 – Passing

1 – Key Pass

1/1 – Dribbles

2/3 – Tackles

These were Aaron Ramsey’s stats in the match. Emery lined him up in the number 10 role, with what looked like instructions to push forward. From watching the match, it really looked like he struggled to influence the game. Finding space between the lines to operate isn’t Ramsey’s forte and in this match he didn’t create many chances for his teammates to find him consistently further up the pitch.

Emery made a sub on 54 minuets (its crazy to see a sub before 70 minuets after that being the default for so long. It’s a new era!) bringing on Alexandre Lacazette. With this change Arsenal seemed to have much better connection between the midfield and the attacking line.

It’s hard to separate things from the effects of the game state but looking at the average positions of the Arsenal players helps illustrate this as well


Starting the season with a loss sucks, but I think that there are still positives to be drawn on from this match. Arsenal have another tricky fixture next weekend away to Chelsea to try to make sure that they don’t have too big a deficit in the top 4 race to over come.


Sources: Opta, StatsZone, my own xG models

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Lord Bendnter

Hey Scott, welcome 🙂
Looking forward to your articles to come

Scott Willis


John R Grigsby

Scott those simulations are a fantastic idea. I really like the thought, nice work!


You had me at Monte Carlo simulation.
Welcome Scott!


Welcome Scott. Suggestions, maybe and describe label the graphics more throughly, I’m not really sure what they all represent. I like the pre and post substitution comparisons. Maybe give the name (and summary) of the player before their stats as you just end up having to go back over them again anyway once you know who’s they are.


Maybe describe and label *


Honestly, I liked that format of presenting the stats first. Especially in the case of Guendouzi, as he was surprisingly solid you wouldn’t guess that those were his numbers

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

You mean you didn’t read through that section thinking “What’s this? Is this one player or the whole defence? Oh, it’s Guendouzi!!!! Why didn’t he say so?. Now I have to read it again, because I didn’t take it in without context.”

Scott Willis

That’s a great idea. I’ll look at doing better on that going forward


No I’d agree with Aun, I started reading the stats and was wondering who they related to – and was very surprised to see it was Guendouzi. Naming a player before giving his stats can lead the reader to reinforcing their own pre-conceived biases.
Great base for future analysis, well done

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Stats are something that should be given scientifically. Stats cry out for clarity and organisation. Heading first then stats. If I want adventure and surprise revelations I’ll read Poirot or Miss Marple 🙂

Interesting stats though, once read through a second time.

Goooooooner for life

Also it would help if you include some definitions of the terms you use, for amateurs like me. e.g., what is xG?


Expected goals

J Tired Eye

Arsenal with Ramsey and Ozil remind me a bit of England with Lampard and Gerrard. Difficult to get the best of them in the same team and end up getting the best of neither.


They frequently want to occupy the same spaces. Ozil drifts across the pockets in front of the defense or openings in midfield when breaking out, and Ramsey instinctively wants to run into the same ones. They end up cutting off each others’ flow or dragging more defenders onto both of them. The number of times you see them in an attack or buildup almost right on top of one another is something that’s bugged me for some time now.

Watch for it. Left of center, in front of the opposition defense.

Will Bobson

So who would you choose Ramsay or Ozil?
Good job btw Scott


Nice debut Scott.

As you pointed out, Emery identified the issues, and was proactive in making an early change. That bodes well for the future


Welcome and thank you.


I love that you are doing this feature and doing it so well, Scott. Please continue!


Hey Scott, good article.

I would say if you’re doing stats for individual players maybe mention whose stats they are before writing them out instead of after.

Overall though, your graphs and stats do a good job of representing how the game went. Keep it up, sir!

Nameless gunner

Apparently Ozil lost the possession 19 times in the match!


Maybe, but he created thousands of “goal opportunities ” didn’t you see it? Such a waste of wages…

Nameless gunner

Anyone got Stats on how many times Mhki won the ball back? We desperately need a ball carrier.. He along with Iwobi are the only options available.. I thought Mhki was decent today esp in the half chances we created.. Ozil definitely didn’t play like the most paid player.. liked the fight Lacaz brought into the game..


Hi scott, I liked that you mentioned how you got the xG stat. I already know what a monte carlo simulation is, but I never thought it would be used in the calculation of xG. (in hind sight, its the easiest thing to do). I’m sure people can easily look Monte Carlo up. Looking forward to more glimpses into how the stats are calculated. P.S: I’m an Engineer.. so science and math is exciting. I’m sure you could go deeper into the way you calculated things, but for those who’s profession doesn’t involve Math it would be frustrating. So this… Read more »


Thanks Scott. You are the Matteo Guendouzi of Arseblog- new, fresh and dont hide. I love your way.

A Different George

But your hair does not look nearly as good.


Welcome Scott, and thanks Blogs for finding him to do this important post match analysis. Way to go!


I liked the post overall. One suggestion, I would like to see more numbers of individual players and comparisons with the other team players….Is an excel sheet download possible? Or a table within the page of shooting, passing, tackle stats etc? Thanks and welcome 🙂


Welcome and thanks a lot! Love the facts and figures. Enjoying the use of graphs a lot, please do keep those up.

Maybe one long term content suggestion: game recaps are great, and if every now and again we could add to that a deep dive into a specific player’s stats (recapping the season so far), that’d be super interesting.


Giroud's scorpion kick

Graphs without proper title/foot note are hard to follow as they are. Keep it up, thanks for the column


I agree. Without a background in statistics this is very hard to follow. Need more labels and explanations of terms, please! Thanks for the column!

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

…especially when the graphs appear so small on the screen that what annotation they do include is unreadable without massive zooming on on the page.


Scott pls release the handbrake and write with more candid comments 😀


against Chelsea My preferable 11 would be..
No Xhaka or Ramsey for me… Need them to sit one out, If Monreal is back by then he should start over Bellerin and Lichtsteiner Rb monreal Lb.
I believe this is our best 11 right now.


Decent shout; personally I’d have Ramsey instead of Mhki and play a 4-3-3. I wonder if Torreira or Guendouzi would be able to play the Elneny-style “drop into a back 3 when the full backs are pushing up” type of move, as otherwise it looks like the team lacks width.

I think that lack of width is our main problem at the moment, will be interesting to see how Emery works around it, especially against weaker teams where we might need to spread the play across the pitch to break through.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

I agree, The lack of width was astounding, and Citeh had the prefect players to expose us time and time again. If a team plays narrow then its easy for it to be dragged sideways as a unit, leaving a ton of room for a cross-pitch pass to give a winger a huge space to attack through. We were safe playing at Highbury with a narrow setup because we had a narrow pitch. Our new pitch is big enough for the whole team to get lost in, and once or thrice we did seem to be a looong way from… Read more »

Michael Young

Thanks Scott, I like your writing voice. It’s very conversational and friendly. My feedback is around formatting and clarity (I’m reading this on a Chrome mobile browser). You’re dividing sections/paragraphs with ‘–‘ then ‘***’ which is inconsistent plus leaves too much of a white gap. Just use a space or use a heading as others have suggested before the player stats. I didn’t know what xG was either and I thought that @oh_that_crab was a label on one of the graphs. Some kind of clever in-joke that I didn’t get about moving the ball sideways. Then the font changed as… Read more »

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

There’s a link? I missed it.


Thanks Scott, glad to see By The Numbers continuing, and that you’re doing it in your own style. I especially like the Monte Carlo xSim graph.

One constructive suggestion, it would have been nice to see how our tackle/interceptions numbers compare with ourselves and other pressing teams’ numbers from last season, if you have those numbers available to you.


Hey Scott,

Congratulations on the new role! I always appreciate your input on the Arsenal Vision podcast. Look forward to more of your work.

Quick question, do you have any idea where I’d be able to find heat maps? I’d be interested in seeing where Aubameyang, Ramsey, and others spent most of their time. Thanks in advance!

arseblog have heatmaps!

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

So do I. You can tell where I’ve sat by the two enormous buttcheek craters in the cushions.


Such a relief to see that arseblog is insistent on keeping this tradition going. Too much has changed recently with Arsenal, and like arsenal, there’s a lot to improve on. I’ll just come out and say it, I wish i didn’t but i do. I miss Wengerball but i’m open to being swept away by Emery and u Scott. No pressure.

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