Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal: By the numbers

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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.

@oh_that_crab

Sources: Whoscored, Opta, my own personal database

By the numbers: Glossary

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Devlin
Devlin

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 really exciting prospect, with his confidence, I can’t see him not improving.

I still have a feeling though that a 4222 will get the most out of our best players, or at least get them on all on the pitch, but it is hard to press with it from the front. Atletico play with it and without wingers. They press sporadically and in their own half.

I hope Emery finds a solution because we have a player who has hit 39 and 40 goals in the past two seasons before he joined us. We shouldn’t waste his talent in a position that he doesn’t have the skills for, besides pace.

Faisal Narrage
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.

tw_ht
tw_ht

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 the middle and rely on intricate link up play and inside-out runs, and for the fullbacks to overlap and provide most, if not all, of the team’s width. I think this suits our players but so far there has been only flashes of cohesion in attack.

Conversely, we press more in a 4-1-4-1(ish) with the CAM and ST pressing the center of the pitch (goalkeepers and CBs), the LW/RW choking the wings with fullback support and DMs alternating between pressing up and covering behind. However, our pressing strategy has been so inconsistent this season, so it’s tough to tell what exactly what’s going on with that. And this doesn’t even begin to address how poor our counter press has been with opponents flying up the wings unimpeded when a turnover occurs. Maybe playing Torreira will fix this but it more a structural issue.

At this point, it’s difficult to tell what’s working and what isn’t. We looked horrible at everything for 20 minutes at Chelsea, then looked like an elite pressing and attacking team for the next 25 (without Torreira), before looking distinctly mediocre in a static defensive 4-4-2 with no pressing for the remaining 45 (with Torreira). And the other games have been a similar mixed bag (albeit with very different opponents and varying personnel). It’s all rather nebulous. Hoping there’s a master plan in all this but it will definitely take time to develop.

Devlin
Devlin

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 pace and were very clinical when chances came. He had fast defenders just like he has now, and yes Sokratis is fast, he just needed time to adjust to the league.

I am also afraid that he is looking for both the benefits of a 433 and a 4222. Defensively, the 4222 is able to press the centre and force play outside, but all of this can’t happen in the opposition half unless we go full on gegenpressing like RB liepzig. If we attack via 4222, are we good enough to switch to 4141, for the counter press?

I think he will change his system halfway through the season. He inherited a top heavy squad and is trying to implement his style with players that are not compatible with it. I hope he can find a solution quickly.

Dat guy
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
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
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
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
Billy Bob

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

Ron
Ron

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.

tw_ht
tw_ht

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.

GraeB
GraeB

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 😞

COYG1001
COYG1001

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
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 short and long passes, but considering how varies even short passes can be, would be good if we could get an average of length of passes (or length of short and long passes). Basically to know if someone is just doing a Denilson 5-yard pass to the easiest person to pass to.

2. “Channel/bypass” floor passing. Not a term at all but just got me thinking; is there a way of calculating ground passes and not just if it’s been completed or not, but how many opposing players does it bypass? A more risky and creative pass through the channel might take out 4-6 people maybe, and if someone makes regular passes that generally takes out 2 players to advance the ball, that’s surely a more valuable pass than just a pass to the net person that takes out no one. And at the end the average “bypass” per pass or the total “bypass” in a game is a better indicator of passing quality.
I also said “floor” passes because of course, it’s easier to route one and launch into the air to bypass people, and surely that’s not the type of pass I’m talking about.

As you can see, the question is too long for twitter.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

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

DB’s first touch
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
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):
http://www.espn.com/soccer/german-bundesliga/10/blog/post/2915634/stefan-reinartz-new-metric-packing-helps-us-understand-effective-passing

Faisal Narrage
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 Torreira and Xhaka midfield can be enough to cover whatever structural openings Ozil brings, but gives him the freedom to find space (and for Xhaka to find him) and he will have 2 strikers to find.

Dino
Dino

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

Berlingoon
Berlingoon

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 him. Guendouzi is better with the ball on his feet, more aware of danger and rarely misplaces a pass. He had 100% in the first half against Chelsea (94% overall) and misplaced one pass out of 40 against Newcastle. Not that I dislike Xhaka but I’ve seen enough good things from Guendouzi to give him and Torreira a try.

Hurensohn
Hurensohn

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.

Lesster
Lesster

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.

Goonarf
Goonarf

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.

Devlin
Devlin

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 where they can cause the most damage. Matteo can play passes, but Xhaka’s value comes in knowing when to pass, when not to pass, who to pass and where to put the ball to progress our play. It’s like the difference between Pogba and Kroos. Pogba can do everything that Kroos can and more, but doesn’t have the playmaking ability to have a similar impact on a game that K roos makes.

It is something that is hard to teach. I coach young player and I have a boy who has playmaking ability, I have not been able to leave him out the team even though he has glaring weaknesses. The team just plays better with him in. I have boys who can run faster, are bigger and dribble better, but having him to transition the ball allows all the other players so much better.

I think is an example of British football’s lack of appreciation for this fundemental skill. It is not even a technical skill, it is mentally where these players thrive. Maybe that’s why Scholes and Carrick were so misunderstood for the national side and underused as well. Madrid have Kroos, PSG have Verratti (who has a disciplinary record just like Xhaka), Barca have Rakitic, Chelsea just got Jorginho, Roma have De rossi, Juventus have Pjanic and etc.

So lets not limit Xhaka’s performances to the quantity of passes made and the range, that’s what he does. What is most important is why he played the passes he played and what the team got from those passes. I love the concept of pass value, but a back pass can be a very big positive, it all depends on the match situation and what you want to achieve from the pass.

A Different George
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.

santori
santori

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 magic pill in midfield.

Taking nothing away from him, all our mids have their plus and minus.

The sooner some people understand this the better.

And you don’t need stats to understand this.

afan
afan

so true.

Hurensohn
Hurensohn

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.

Rich
Rich

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

Bob
Bob

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