Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal: By the numbers

Arsenal’s winning streak came to an end at 11 matches, but the unbeaten streak continues.

Arsenal went through the period that Clive from the Arsenal Vision Podcast dubbed #Project24 with 7 wins and 1 draw for a total of 22 points of the possible 24. It was more than I expected and has brought Arsenal from 17th place into 4th (depending on what happens with the Spurs vs Manchester City Match on Monday).

It was disappointing to see the win streak come to an end, especially when Arsenal had come back to hold a 2-1 lead late in the second half. Yet, this was probably a deserved draw or perhaps one that Arsenal were fortunate to split the points in.

As was far too common during this run, Arsenal didn’t play well but did just enough to be in position to get a win.

Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal: By the graphs

Running xG

xG Map

Shot Placement xG Map

Simulated Match Results

Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal: By the numbers

Out Shot and Out Played

16 vs 7 – Total shots for both teams

7 vs 4 – Shots inside the penalty area (not including the two penalties)

10 vs 4 – Shots created from open play

72 vs 69 – Passes completed in the final third

144 vs 114 – Touches in the final third

13 vs 8 – Passes completed in the box

30 vs 12 – Touches in the box

3 vs 0 – Through balls attempted

10 vs 2 – Chances created (these are intentional shot assists, so the Alexandre Lacazette hand of god style assist are not included as it was deemed that he was not looking to play in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang)

1 vs 0 – Big Chances created (not including the two penalties)

It is never easy in the Premier League to go away from home, especially to a fellow London club, but having a performance this bad is simply unacceptable. Breaking up the match into 15 minute periods, there was not one of these periods where Arsenal took more shots than Crystal Palace. So while Arsenal had more of the possession, it was sterile and could not be converted into shots, let alone good chances or goals.

Crystal Palace on the other hand, took the most of their chances on the ball. They completed more passes in the final third, and passes into the box, and were miles better at creating chances. Even away from home, against a team of Crystal Palace’s quality, Arsenal should be doing better.

Iwobi has a stinker on the right

8 – The number of times Iwobi lost possession (bad touch plus times dispossessed), most on Arsenal

18 – Total turnovers (bad touch, times dispossessed, misplaced passes, offside, shots off target for goal kick), most on Arsenal

1 – Dribble completed, of 4 attempted

0 – Crosses completed, of two attempted

0 – Chances created

Alex Iwobi has been one of the bright parts of Arsenal’s early season winning streak. I think that he has looked really good, and has been playing with a new found confidence. From watching the matches (plus looking up where he is said to be positioned in the event data) he has primarily played on the left hand side. According to the data on Whoscored, Iwobi has primarily been on the left in 6 of his 8 appearances this season for Arsenal. Within the Arsenal system, there is still license to switch sides and interchange with the other attacking midfielder but to my eye and the stats, sticking to the left plays to his strengths.

I asked this question on the Arsecast Extra and Andrew and James (aka James from Gunner Blog™) were kind of enough to weigh in. Comparing it to Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg having a strong side and not doing well on the opposite side. Iwobi is a good player and with his natural inclination to want to cut inside, he is better at that coming in with his right foot.

With Arsenal’s lack of wide player depth, figuring out how to get the best of this team and the players that we have probably means figuring out a different alternative to who starts on the right.

Granit Xhaka, not a left back

4 – Tackles of 4 attempted, second most on Arsenal

0 – Times Dribbled Past*

1 – Interception

2 – Clearances

1 – Foul committed*

0 – Crosses completed from open play (only 1 attempt)

1 – Amazing free kick scored

For the third match in a row, Granit Xhaka was asked to play out of position as a left back. The first two times he needed to do it he did a passable job, and in this match he did fine before the worst nightmare of many Arsenal fans were realized when he was matched up against Wilfred Zaha one on one inside the penalty area.

What is obvious from his time out on the left, at least to me, is that Arsenal really miss what he brings to the table passing the ball when he isn’t in midfield. Xhaka isn’t the best at defending space in midfield, he doesn’t have nimble feet to dribble past a man to relieve pressure, or create dangerous late runs into the box. What he does do better than any one else in the Arsenal team is act of the connector of play between the defense and the attack.

I have a statistic that is call final third entries, this looks at the number of passes and times a player runs with the ball from outside the final third into the final third. In this statistic, Xhaka is among the best in all of Europe completing just under 11 final third entries per 90 minutes. In this match Matteo Guendouzi was tasked with this role and was only able to completed 6 final third entries, nearly half of what a typical Xhaka performance would be.

Arsenal had a huge possession advantage in the middle third of the pitch, but were unable to convert that into dangerous possession in the final third. That is something that Xhaka is one of the best at doing but when he is at left back he is unable to influence the match in the same way.

For Arsenal’s sake I really hope that this full back injury crisis is over soon. I have seen enough of the Xhaka at left back experiment for a lifetime.

*Wilfred Zaha dove, Xhaka didn’t cover himself in glory by sticking that leg out but that was a rather theatrical buying of the penalty.


Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone, and my own database

Stats Glossary

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You guys can hate me as much as you want or call me idiot but i believe Emery is an average manager based on statistics and that’s why PSG sacked him , firstly just look at our XG in all of our matches , we have been lucky and should have lost most of them , in fact statistically we have been much worse than last season , in the XG table we are one the worst teams and based on the players we have it shouldn’t be like that , secondly last season despite our losses we had a… Read more »


So all our wins are lucky and other top teams only lose matches because of bad luck? I don’t hate you John but find your assessment highly amusing. Of course we will be challenging for a top 4 place. We have one of the most potent attacks in the country and yes we need to improve defensively but things are falling into place


when Unai came in (Holding I think) said the first objective he wanted to achieve with the team was establish a winning culture in the club. when you think about it, this was the appropriate thing to do since it would not make sense implementing his philosophy on a squad short on confidence we may not have dominated as we would like but we are winning. in between, the team has played some Unai-ball, passing it out from the back and going all the way to finish off with a great goal We are coming off a 22 year old… Read more »


John being sacked by PSG was a blessing for Emery and seen as how you mention Tuchel I will be interested if he is a roaring success at the money bags club. I think Tuchel is a decent manager but I think he struggles with defence Dortmund were great going forward with him but poor at the back. Back to Emery at PSG I thought he did a fine job But he lost his job long before he was sacked as he was replaced by Neymar. I must say I like klopp even though he is at the bin dippers… Read more »


You’ve been saying that in a number of different places now, why, I don’t have the foggiest, the man has just arrived and he’s had little transfer monies to spend. He’s won trophies over in Spain and in France. Klopp, he didn’t look too hot when he started out at Liv, and when in his second season, he only barely pipped us, just about, and that was despite the turmoil happening within the Arsenal. This is Tott’s best start to a PL season, and you’re going on about Emery being average. Liverpool and Tott, as well as some others, yes,… Read more »


Emery inherited a lopsided squad with plenty of weak areas.
It’s going to take him a season or two to get us really going again, if he gets us back in the CL this season? Then he’s slightly overachieved.

Under this owner I think CL qualification will be the extent of our ambition

A Different George

I watched Spurs-Man City and most of the things that are said about us could apply to Man City in that match. They were clearly the better side, especially in the first half, but they didn’t take their chances and they were very lucky indeed that Spurs did not take theirs either. So Man City were lucky. Last season, they were lucky 100 points worth. It’s football.


A good point then. Pray for Nacho. If unavailable we’ll have to roll with AMN.


Credit to Xhaka for actually admitting it was a penalty. It was the sort of silly challenge caused by poor body position that often gets him a yellow card in midfield. Good points made on Xhaka contribution to our performances. We didn’t deserve to win but I’d take it every time and shrug off the new Harlem Globetrotters (Holding and Laca) similes by pointing out our fantastic goals recently have come from that same sporting pass locker. Pressure off the continued wins figure and time to focus now on how to beat the Scousers by stopping the defensive errors. Monreal… Read more »


Xhaka went from MOTM to goat by making a “rookie” mistake, taking Zaha’s bait. I feel bad for him. Laca made a truly horrible pass and Mustafi just danced with Sorloth in midfield rather than taking him out and let him advance the ball to Zaha. I have also been noting than this game was a chance to see the subtle but important contribution Xhaka makes to the team. Good to see some numbers to back that up. Iwobi was shit but indeed he was put on the right to accommodate Auba. I think Emery was justified in bringing in… Read more »


So you believe is now the greatest of all time (goat). Seriously I’ve watched the incident several times and despite what Xhaka has said I still see it as a blatant dive by Zaha which wouldn’t be the first time.

A Different George

If you stick your leg out as an opponent goes by, it is a foul, regardless of whether it is in the penalty area or not, and regardless of whether you actually make contact. If the opponent tries to jump over the leg and succeeds, the referee will probably choose to play the advantage. If he tries to jump over the leg and falls, it is a free kick. Pretty simple.

DB’s first touch

“Tries” being the operative word here… the only thing Zaha was trying and succeeding at was making sure he jumped into Xahka’s leg on his way down. Having said, that penalties have regularly been awarded for similar contact so at least this was not an inconsistent call, however frustrating and unfair it seems.


The importance of Granit in midfield shows again. He is not really the best at anything that catches the eye, but his importance is understated and in a league were people look at players in terms of defence or attack, he is good at neither. His importance is in transitioning from defence to attack, and that does not really have the stats that match tackles, interceptions or goals and assists. Guendouzi is a talent, but he is a younger (and better as of now) version of what Ramsey is supposed to be for us. He is better at driving with… Read more »

A Different George

I think people are finally coming around on this issue. One more time: he is not Kante or Fernandinho or Busquets (or Torreira). But when he is in midfield, Ozil, Aubamayang, Lacazette, and Iwobi are all grateful.


Thank you Scott for a robust quantification of the match.
It would have been intresting to analyse a map of interceptions and fouls.
Also I wonder if you could find a way to visualise the high tempo moments we have since Wenger era. Of course running xG is one way.

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