Saturday, May 25, 2024

Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal: By the numbers

Arsenal got their third win in a row, and have taken the maximum nine points on the path to #Project24. It wasn’t a pretty win (I feel like this is the third match in a row that I have written that and that in its self is a concern) but three points away from home in the League is almost never easy.

Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal: By the graphs

Running xG

xG Plot

Shots on Target xG Plot

Simulated Match Result

Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal: By The Numbers

4 – Shots allowed by Arsenal, the fewest this season (16 vs Man City, 24 vs Chelsea, 13 vs West Ham, 14 vs Cardiff)

0.5 – xG that Arsenal allowed, the fewest xG allowed this season (1.66 vs City, 2.02 vs Chelsea, 1.39 vs West Ham, 1.32 vs Cardiff)

2 – Shots for Arsenal in the first half, the fewest of any half this season (3 vs Man City in the first half is second fewest)

12 – Shots overall for Arsenal, the second fewest in a match this season (9 vs Man City is the fewest).

0 – Big Chances created, the second time this season Arsenal were blanked on creating a clear cut chance (the other was against Man City)

20 – Times lost possession through dispossession or a bad touch (2nd most the season, 21 against Man City was the highest)

122 – The total turnovers for Arsenal, 2nd fewest this season behind 115 against Chelsea. This includes misplayed passes, dispossession, bad touch, off sides and shots off target.

Overall this was a mixed bag of a match for Arsenal.

The team put together a pretty strong defensive showing, allowing the fewest shots, the lowest xG allowed . This could partly be due to Newcastle not doing much to put Arsenal under too much pressure but it was still an encouraging step in the process to solidifying the back line.

The worrying trend of this is that the last 3 teams that Arsenal have faced have put up more final third touches and touches in the box than their average against Arsenal. West Ham average 20 touches in the box and had 25 against Arsenal, Cardiff averaged 15 and had 21, and Newcastle average 12 and had 18 on Saturday. These are all teams that Arsenal have a talent advantage against but still were given too many opportunities to attack in dangerous spots.

The offense well, that leads into the next point.

Time for Torreira?

*Arsenal also scored an own goal while Lucas Torreira was on the pitch putting the total goals scored at 5.

The stats for Matteo Guendouzi don’t show that he has played poorly, or that he should be replaced. In fact for his age and relative inexperience this is down right impressive.

All of that taken into account the team play, and the overall balance just seems to be better with Lucas Torreira in the team vs Guendouzi. Outside of the Chelsea match where Arsenal looked like they tried to shut up shop and hold on for a draw when Torreira came on Arsenal have attacked and defended better. This is still very much in the small sample area has it is just a few hundred minutes of action but a change might be called for.

With the extra mid-week matches coming up there will be enough game time for both of them to get minutes but I think that it is time for Torreira to get a chance at a full 90 minutes in the Premier League.

Aubameyang worries?

1 – Touch in the box against Newcastle, 6 overall for the season, 1.3 per 90 minutes

13 – Final third touches against Newcastle, 47 overall for the season, 10.2 per 90 minutes

2 – Shots against Newcastle, 12 overall for the season, 2.6 per 90 minutes

0 – Danger Zone Shots against Newcastle, 4 overall for the season, 0.9 per 90 minutes

0.04 – xG against Newcastle, 1.3 overall for the season, 0.3 per 90 minutes.

I keep reminding myself that it has been just five matches and that Arsenal are working on getting a new coach and tactical approach integrated but the lack of production from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has gone from; “it will be fine” to “yeesh there might be an issue” over the last couple of weeks.

I am not ready to panic yet, but there are signs that things are not working yet for Aubameyang in the Emery system. Arsenal’s attackers all want to play in similar positions and finding the right way to get the most out of a them will be a big task for Emery and his coaching staff in the coming weeks.


Sources: Whoscored, Opta, my own personal database

By the numbers: Glossary

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Just shows that a player can play well, but if his style of play does not compliment his teammates, the team could suffer. Matteo played well, but him and Xhaka are not a good combination. His strengths do not offset Xhaka’s weaknesses and vice versa. For his age, Matteo is a gem. We now have the most talented group of youngsters coming through at any club in England. I hope to see Xhaka played with Torreira more consistently, we need to see if these flashes of quality with them in midfield can become the new normal. Matteo though is a… Read more »

Faisal Narrage

” We now have the most talented group of youngsters coming through at any club in England”

That’s a pretty bold claim.
As someone that literally only knows about our academy player and couldn’t tell you about the other clubs academy, I’d like to know what you’re basing it on.


We already play a 4-2-2-2 in attack though, basically a 2-2-4-2 with fullbacks pressing up just behind the level of the attacking midfielders. It was Emery’s standard attacking formation at both Sevilla and PSG and has been the preferred tactic this season. Depending on the ball position, one “winger” (usually Ozil/Mkhi) shift inside to form a attacking midfield pair with Ramsey. The other “winger” (usually Auba) then pushes up to form a striker duo. Granted this is a fluid system and these roles are frequently reversed with frequent interchange but the main strategy remains the same. To play narrow through… Read more »


The thing that makes me scared is that if he is to sign new players, it will probably be in defence. The personnel from midfield and upfront seem set, and probably won’t be allowed to be changed. The problem here is that the defence has its shape set and they are getting their organization slightly right. The problem of a press and counter press is in forward areas where he probably can’t make any personnel changes. I hope he can get this team playing how his PSG team played in home games against big teams. They pressed high, attacked at… Read more »

Dat guy

I’d still like to see us try a 442 with auba and laca up top. Although I can’t see ozil fitting in that system I do wonder if it would help us create more scoring opportunities. That said playing poorly and still winning is what it takes to be a top 4 side so for now I’m happy.

Faisal Narrage

Sadly, we don’t have the midfield-2 for that. Xhaka-Torreira would get overrun. Imagine a 2-man midfield getting pressed by the 3-man midfield of City or Liverpool? Also a 4-4-2 means more of Ozil, Mikhi and Ramsey out of position (all 3, compared to 2 of 3 currently).

Maybe a 3-5-2 is better, and I wouldn’t mind that, but in that position you can only play one of Ozil, Mikhi and Ramsey in the 10.

Dat guy

I think xhaka and torreia would be fine provided we had the likes of Ramsey Miki and Iwobi on the flanks. The style is more suited to getting the ball up quickly so I don’t think the press would be a huge factor considering we’d have two outlets up top

Faisal Narrage

But then aren’t we back to playing CAMs on the wings again? Won’t they all just congest in the middle like they are now?

Billy Bob

Spot on Faisal, definitely think we should go with a 3-5-2 formation


Auba fluffed a great chance just after Özil’s goal and really should’ve had a tap-in when Ramsey bolloxed a simple chip-cross. Scored a cracker at Cardiff too. Personally I’m not worried about him at all (yet!). Mustafi, on the other hand, makes me shit myself.


Thanks for the write up. I quite liked the combination of match stats with an embedded “breakout” analysis of Torriera v. Guendouzi. Strikes a nice balance between gross and fine measures.

One question though, how is OVA and Passing Value calculated? This is the first time I’ve seen them used.


I’m getting lost in all these stats now! Used to be far simpler than all this – Simulated XG, Patreon Radar, Simulated Match Result etc

I think I’ll just watch the games and figure out who does well and if we won or not ?


This lack of support for Bellerin on the right is a real issue. Only time I’ve seen support had been from Mikhi, who rarely plays. Still, some simple instruction, reinforced with a 2×4 should help.

Faisal Narrage

Hi Scott, Doubt you’ll see this, but on the off chance that you will (and I’ll probably ask you on twitter in the near future), the comparisons between Guendouzi and Torreira got me thinking…. Are there metrics out there that somehow try and quantify passing quality? There’s stats on passing volume, but if we’ve learn anything from Denilson, it’s that simply the volume of passes (and completed passes) doesn’t tell us enough. If there aren’t I wanted to make a couple of recommendations to see if they are valid metrics; 1. Average passing range. I know there’s a difference between… Read more »

Faisal Narrage

I’ve just noticed “passing value”. I guess that’s the same as what I described above?

DB’s first touch

The “players bypassed” passing stat does exist. There was an analysis published a couple of years back that showed Xakha was the best midfielder for this very stat in his last season in the bundesliga. Sorry I can’t remember where I saw that though.

DB’s first touch

This is the piece I was thinking of (interestingly it also shows that ozil’s off the ball movrment and ability to find space is excellent and can be measured by how many defenders get bypasses when he is on the receiving end of passes):

Faisal Narrage

Very interesting. Thanks. Though not sure on the name “packing”. Maybe it’s something Scott can use? Also great it helps to quantify Ozil’s ability to find space. Ultimately this shows that maybe he simply can’t work in a structured pressing system as he needs the freedom to do whatever he wants to find space. Wonder if it were possible to quantify the defensive cost to his freedom. He’s really a conundrum I’m not sure there’s Ann answer to. Maybe we really should just try a 3-5-2; Emery doesn’t play with wingers anyways, we have 2 £50m strikers and maybe a… Read more »

DB’s first touch

Scott, do you know how a back pass is scored in terms of passing value (OVA) ?
Intuitively, it should yield a negative value in most cases, because it results in the ball going from a higher ova location on the pitch to a lower ova area. But you defined negative passing values as a loss of possession in your glossary piece. So does that mean that backpasses are assigned a neutral (0) value?


How does Laca number looks up? Is it any better playing with Auba?


I’d like to see Guendouzi’s stats in comparison to Xhaka’s rather than to Torreira’s. I think Torreira will be starting games sooner rather than later. The question is does he fit better with Xhaka or with Guendouzi. I think Guendouzi is a better passer than Xhaka and wins back more balls than him, too. Everybody is saying than Xhaka plays better when he’s playing with Torreira but I don’t know why this shouldn’t also apply for Guendouzi. Think Guendouzi won’t smash in 30 yard free kicks but apart from that I don’t think that Xhaka is a better player than… Read more »


Exactly my thoughts, how would Torreira and Guendouzi compare if Torreira was starting and Guendouzi was coming on to help us win the game in the 2nd half.


Exactly my thought, but in the mid-term though. You cannot fill our midfield with two newbies, especially that young. They need time to adapt.


Why not Matteo and Torreira? I’m not on the Xhaka out bandwagon but, although early days, it seems Matteo may have more upside. At this point Matteo’s shortcoming is his positional sense on defense. A quality that Xhaka has issues with as well. But Matteo can dribble, and make space and time better than Xhaka and has shown (especially in his first match) that he has a similar range of passing to Xhaka. Perhaps the freedom that Xhaka is afforded by Torreira is just the thing to truly unlock Matteo’s full potential.


It’s more about Xhaka’s playmaking ability. Most players have Xhaka’s range of passing, better positional sense and better defensively, but what can’t be quantified is his decision making on the ball. Playmaking is a very underated quality. Players like Xhaka are not very good when it comes to a lot of metrics other than passes, but it’s what they do with those passes that makes them integral to most teams. Xhaka controls the tempo of the game (not alone though, the team has to help by making movements) and he allows our most dangerous players to play in the areas… Read more »

A Different George

When we first got Xhaka, the player he brought to mind was Xabi Alonso, but everyone complained because he was not Busquets.


NO surprises with Aubameyang. All these people who like to claim “world class” Granted he will get better but he is shunted firstly left sidewhere Henry also struggled at Juve. More importantly, superficiality otherwise, he is not Henry and cannot get pass his man. With regard Torreira and Guendouzi, as mentioned it is NOT a zero sum game. We will need both to play a part along with Granit to sustain 90 minutes pressure. Torreira was easily turned in the match and misplaced a pass or two as well but conveniently in the minds of some, he is suddenly the… Read more »


so true.


Enjoying the depth of stats given more now I know what it all means.

Not really sure the comparison between Torreira and Guendouzi is a fair one, they haven’t been on the pitch at the same time so the momentum in the games isn’t taken into account. You even allude to it citing the Chelsea game.

Against Newcastle we played with a completely different midfield shape in the 2nd half pushing on of the 2 forward (see Xhaka crossing for the 2nd goal).

For me a better comparison is Guendouzi and Xhaka.. Just my 2 cents.


Aubameyang isn’t a left sided forward, he’s an explosive and lethal penalty box striker.

You’ll struggle to fit both Lacazette and Aubameyang into the same 11.
Like we’ll struggle to get the best out of Ozil wide right.

We should look at selling Ozil and one of Lacazette or Aubameyang, and then go out and buy a top class wide forward, shoehorning players into a dysfunctional 11 needs to stop


Christ, we’re winning away games and that second half showed real promise. Why the constant negativity?

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