Wolves 3-1 Arsenal: By the numbers


That’s two losses in a row for Arsenal.

The top four race which Arsenal once controlled their own destiny in, now depends on other teams slipping up.

Losing away to Wolves isn’t into itself an embarrassing result but Arsenal sure did their best to try to make it that way.

Things are looking pretty bleak.

This run of fixture congestion, with a few extra injuries mixed in, exposed Arsenal’s stretched squad and lack of depth. These losses have really hurt Arsenal’s pursuit of the preseason goal of returning to the Champions League. Arsenal have three League matches left and with no margin for error left to play around with.

Wolves 3-1 Arsenal: By the graphs

Running xG

xG Shot Map

Shot Placement xG Map

Simulated Match Result

Wolves 3-1 Arsenal: By the numbers

70.6% – Possession for Arsenal in this match

74.7% – Percentage of total final third touches that Arsenal had in this match

64.7% – Percentage of total touches in the box that Arsenal had in this match

38.5% – Percentage of total shots taken inside the box by Arsenal in this match

42 – Tackles + Fouls + Interceptions + Blocked Passes for Wolves

24 – Tackles + Fouls + Interceptions + Blocked Passes for Arsenal

Possession is nice, mostly it is a positive, but it really has to be with a purpose.

In this match (and like so many others before it this season) Arsenal’s plan A to attack the half spaces of the box to deliver cutbacks were well defended by Wolves. Arsenal didn’t or couldn’t come up with something else to threaten a well drilled Wolves defense.

Arsenal also failed to use their possession edge for defense. You will see other possession heavy teams like Manchester City use possession to stifle and suffocate teams, Arsenal could not do this against Wolves. Wolves were especially threatening after they scored the first goal even with most of the ball in their half and were by far the more dangerous of the two attacking teams.

Nacho Monreal’s time as a fullback has probably come to an end

95.5% – Pass completion percentage

0 – Dribbles

0 – Crosses completed, of two attempted

1 – Chance created, a shot for Henrikh Mkhitaryan from outside the box with an xG of 0.03 (3 goals scored per 100 shots)

1 – Shot, from outside the box with an xG 0.02 (2 goals scored per 100 shots)

1 – Aerial Duel won, of 3 attempted

1 – Tackle

1 – Interception

1 – Clearance

1 – Foul committed, that ultimately led to the opening goal

Times I hold my breath when he has to defend a pacy winger in space out wide

I don’t want to come across as unduly harsh on Nacho Monreal, he has been a very good player for Arsenal and was an underrated member of the FA Cup winning sides of the late Wenger years.

All that being said, it is becoming more clear week after week that he no longer can do everything that is required from a fullback in Unai Emery’s 4231 system. He is still a very good technical player but he no longer has the athletic abilities required to be both an attacker and defender any more. With Sead Kolasinac also not a fit as a true full back, a player who is a proper fit in the back four is rapidly rising up the summer transfer shopping list.

Leno has a day to forget

3 – Shots on target for Wolves

3 – Goals scored for Wolves

100% – Shot on target conversion rate for Wolves

0.8 – The expected goals for those shots on target determined by where the shot was taken and where it was within the frame of the goal.

1 – Cross not claimed (also classified as an error)

25% – Long pass competition percentage (1 of 4)

Bernd Leno has had a very good season for Arsenal (I have really caveated my criticisms today). This was not a good match for him however, probably his worst with Arsenal this season.

The second and third goals scored by Wolves can have a good amount of blame appropriated towards him. He came out to claim the cross for the second and never got close to it. The third was aimed toward the corner but it was a tight angle and Leno was positioned well that he probably should have not let it through.

On a day that his teammates didn’t create much Leno was unable to perform at his usual level and keep Arsenal in the match. I hope he bounces back quick and gets back to his previous form.

Özil can’t pick the lock

87% – Pass completion percentage

33 – Final third passes completed (led all players)

2 – Chances created (0.14 xG assisted)

0 – Shots

1 – Dribble

9 – Turnovers (6 times dispossessed and 3 bad touches)

0 – Tackles + Interceptions + Blocked Passes + Fouls Committed

-0.18 – Total offense value added (this basically means that his contributions helped Wolves more than they helped Arsenal, mostly driven by the number of times he lost the ball which was worth half a goal towards Wolves)

Some of the top line numbers for Özil look pretty good. He led all players in final third passes and passes completed into the box and even added to chances created. Yet, these really don’t tell the whole story of his match. He didn’t contribute much defensively in this match and his ability to stay on and keep hold of the ball were severely lacking.

Using my Total Offensive Value Added statistic which looks to try to put a value on things players can do in attack (progress the ball through passing, dribbling, carrying the ball, creating shots and getting shots) was the worst of all players. This is a statistic that is practically designed to capture all of the nuanced things that he contributes through his creativity but here it captures just how poor overall he was. With Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out for the match it fell on Özil to step up and he didn’t.

Not all doom and gloom in the top 4 race

I ran a simulation of the rest of the season and Arsenal finished in the top 4, 44% of the times. FiveThirtyEight has Arsenal projected at that same amount to finish in the Champions League spots.

Arsenal are also favorites in their last three matches. 44% (48% 538) to win against Leicester, 65% (76% 538) against Brighton and 55% (45% 538) against Burnley. That still leaves a 16% chance of winning out given these odds and that would put a lot of pressure on other teams fighting for those spots.

It is out of Arsenal’s hands but it is still just under a coin flip from happening.


Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone, my own database and FiveThirtyEight for the simulated odds.

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Why pick and choose your scapegoat?

care to highlight the great partnership of Sokratis and Koscielny?

Or Torreira?

Sterile possession numbers always very useful.


I would say that the biggest issue isn’t the individuals, but the team’s tactics. Emery is lauded as a tactical coach, but if you have ever coached professionally before in your life, you will see that all he does is alternate players and not systems. He switches formations, makes substitutions and rotates a lot, but those only form the structure within which tactics can be applied.

Changing from a back four to a back three isn’t that tactical if you don’t put the tactics around the change in place for the players to follow. Playing five strikers doesn’t mean he plans to attack if he hasn’t told the players to attack.

This whole season we have had only one route to goal that can be considered tactical, and that is using the fullbacks/wingbacks to overlap and put in low crosses. Other than that, we do not really do much besides shoot more from distance. We try to play on the counter too, but there really isn’t any other tactic to get us goals, there isn’t freedom for rotation of positions of our forward players which is why we always lack movement up front we use our number 10 as a decoy, and rarely play through the attacking midfielder, so Ozil will never do well consistently under Emery, it is also why Ramsey works so well in that role, because he is used how Fellaini was used at Manure, in that he is playing in attacking midfield for what he does defensively rather than attacking wise.

Defensively, we have been poor since Wenger’s reign, but what is different is that under Arsene there was a system for the players to follow. It was a bad one and U though Emery would find a good one, but all he has done was leave us without a defensive strategy, system or even shape. We don’t press but we tackle a lot, we also hold a high line and we don’t intercept. We just seem to run more. We have been terrible the whole season, and those talking up Holding need to lower those expectations because we were bad when he was playing, we just didntbget punished and we will get a reality check when he plays and we perform like we just did against Wolves.

Until we find a style of play, we will not know what needs to be solved because any combination of players will still fail. Van Dijk has been amazing this season, but his praise seems to be taking away the amazing job done by every single player in the side to give him as little work to do, and it all starts from the manager. I am all for giving Emery time, but if fans think that individuals will solve this team’s issues, they will be very disappointed.

Football is first and foremost, a team game and the manager’s tactics are the guidelines that direct the players on the pitch and if you set your team up negatively, dontbbe surprised when they can’t dig themselves out of a hole if they concede first. Just like many teams that used to play defensively against us, the game was easier if we got an early goal. Now we are like those teams because we try to keep the opposition at bay so much that we can’t take initiative when we have conceded first.


Thanks for putting this much more eloquently than I have been able to in my other comments regarding my views on Emery.


Very well said, even if it falls on deaf ears.


If Arsenal don’t make it to the top 4, it’d be because we don’t deserve to be there.
I feel like our away from went down hill after we got rid of all the best dribblers in the team.

Julian Gheiler
Julian Gheiler

I agree wholeheartedly with your first sentence. Who are you thinking of when you say best dribblers?


Sanchez, cazorla, the ox wilshere all left in a year

Ko Aunglinn
Ko Aunglinn

Never win without mettle


You forgot the biggest star of all…

Shits given by the Arsenal players: 0

Matty Cakes
Matty Cakes

Possession is just total passes in the game. That’s how they measure that stat.
So two passes sidewards aren’t as threatening as one good pass forward.

I think Emery must have lost his video tapes because anyone who has seen Wolves against a top six side this season knows their game plan.

Really worried for the rest of the season, and next without Ramsey. Desperately need some pace and physicality on the wings. If not it’s all so predictable

Scott Willis
Scott Willis

That is typically how it is done yes and it is actually very close to the stop clock chess style metric


It’s the story of Arsenal at the moment, that instead of a player rising above the mediocrity, to rescue a game, we seem to find one player each time, who has a complete shit show performance that ensures the game is beyond redemption. Against Palace it was clown car Mustafi, this time it was Leno (of all people).


Fatigue = skill – desire.

Wolves have played one less game than us since 30th March but are – like us – only “up for it” against the big teams. They beat us and Manure but lost to Watford, Southampton, Burnley and couldn’t score versus Brighton.

I had high hopes that Emery would sort our defensive frailties out but it has continued with just the personnel being adjusted.


Emery is such a limited coach, but he was the only one who was ready to join.

Arsenal fans need to take the blame. They have been non-stop rabid for so long, they have lost all sanity. Instead of going after refs, they started to fight each other.

Emery started by doing the managements bidding and getting the big wage earners off the books – ramsey and ozil. Then came his love for doozi. Then came his one and only tactic, that of the cutback. As long as the strikers were firing it worked. Now they are found out.

They then went and bought the smallest DM in the world. Smart move. Sent Xhaka to RB and CB to get him to leave too.

After 3-4 years of taking a hammer to everything that made Arsenal Arsenal, finally we turned up at wolves with nothing in our arsenal and no surprises for the opposition. Playing Mkhi, Iwobi an Ozil in the same team…with no tactics or plan.

People will now understand it isnt easy to put a squad and a playing style together. Even the Girouds, Coquelins, Artetas, Walcotts and Gibbs are badly needed. What would we have given for Giroud as plan B, for Coquelin next to Xhaka, for Arteta to control the tempo, for Walcott to run down the wing, for Gibbs – a serviceable left back.

We kicked these players out on the kerb, lynchmobbed Wenger, dumped Cazorla, humiliated Wilshere and now are trying to drive out Ramsey and Ozil. For what? For this? The softest and most immature of our teams, the team of Vela, Denilson, Song, Chamakh was still better than this. Atleast you enjoyed watching them play. Screw this.

I fell asleep during half time and it was a struggle to stay awake till then. Twenty years…and this never happened before. I just dont care anymore. What crap is going on?

Some matches were saved by our strikers, some by Ramsey, some by Ozil, some by Leno and some by Torreira /Mkhi ..but thats it….there was never any team. And this coach doesnt blood youngsters. Nelson gone on loan. Willock sitting and watching doozi swan around and a 5ft 4 dm scurry around like a clockwork mouse. AMN shunted to the wingback position. Nketiah without any opportunity.

This is a genius management which let Ramsey go on a free and took Lichsteiner on a free from the same club. For what? for supposed “dressing room leadership” ? And they have you believe that this was the smartest transfer business. Letting Ramsey go is sensible and buying lichsteiner even more sensible. Have we all gone mad? This is Arsenal, a club of culture and sense and style….not this hatefilled cesspool. What is wrong with everyone.

We mocked wenger for staying past his sell by date. But at least he was doing his job. In less than a year, Gazidis scoots off, Sven scoots off and Ramsey is dumped off. It used to be years before one senior figure would change at Arsenal, and now, its just chaos. What happened Sven? What happened Ivan? Couldnt even commit to 2 years here when we needed stability? Is it that hard? Now you know what it means when you have to take responsibility?

What has happened to the fans? Its unbelievable. Arseblog must have seen its traffic halve..but they dont find it significant. Fans are bloody falling asleep watching the match and expecting defeat against Watford and Wolves…..this is what we have come to.

over and out.


I feel your pain Xhaka. I have also turned away from Arsenal games this season, for the first time in my life. It happens even when we are winning.

I tried to explain a while ago that Arsene was one of the best tacticians in the world, but his work was overshadowed by this narrative of him being a laissez faire manager. It is assumed that he just let his team out and said “go and enjoy yourselves” or “you are better, go and show it”. But nobody tried to analyse why we seemed to score so many combination goals, because the players get praised for it, nobody analysed how we dominated possession, they just thought because our players are technically gifted, they will just walk out and dominate.

At Man City, right now, Pep doesn’t tell his team anything before games. He doesn’t work on anything different in midweek or alter his side’s entire approach in game. But he isn’t considered laissez faire, He is tactical.

The difference between managers like Wenger and Pep, to managers like Emery and Mourinho, is that the former are phylosophy manager who use repetitive drills to make their tactical requirements a part of their players game, and leave those players to use the sessions to solve in game problems. These managers are mostly successful in the long term and at the top sides more than the smaller sides. The latter type of manager, who has being given the title of “tactical”, changes according to the opposition and requires experienced players who haven’t been successfull before to win.They want to solve problems themselves, rather than the players doing it, because their tactics are limited to certain game situations and for certain opposition. They win a lot in the short term and mostly do well with small to midtable sides.

Arsene is probably the most underated tactic in the history of football because his tactics have been attributed to his players, but people forget that we have rarely seen anyone perform better after working with Arsene and then leaving. Arsene’s style was distinguishable, even when losing, just like Guardiola. People would stupidly ask if he would rather lose beautifully than win ugly, he always said “you don’t think like that”, because then we would sit back after a loss and wish that we could play uglier to win, but everyone loses sometimes. What we can see now is what it is like to lose, and deserve to lose too. To lose and sit back and say Wolves won because they were better, without even a referee killing us with a bad call.

I am hopeful of a trophy this season, but I think Wenger deserves respect for his tactics. Just because he wasn’t using his mouth to relay them, doesn’t mean what he did on the training field wasn’t tactical. So many players thrived under that style of management and he is one of the greatest t acticians along with Runis Michels.


Thank you for responding to my scream into the void. Love what you wrote about how Wenger did what he did, inspite of the the board, inspite of the referees and inspite of the fanbase…. we were so lucky.

Ramsey being let go has hurt really badly. Arsene I could take, because this fanbase didnt deserve him anymore, and he didnt need to do this job anymore. but Ramsey, after 10 yrs, without a single blemish, with cupwinning goals, being shown the door and maligned…. This is not my club anymore.