Monday, March 20, 2023

Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace: By the numbers

Arsenal are in a state of disruption right now that much is pretty simple to see. Things are getting ugly and there doesn’t appear to be an easy fix to the problem.

Today’s match was another in a string of poor performances this season but it probably wasn’t so bad that whatever opinion on the coach and the team in general probably wasn’t changed by it.

Not much left to ramble on about, let’s get into the numbers.

Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace: By the graphs

Running xG

xG Shot Map

Shot Placement xG Map

Simulated Match Result

Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace: By the numbers

7 – Shots from open play for Arsenal (Crystal Palace also had 7 open play shots in this match)

2 – Shots from open play for Arsenal between Arsenal scoring their 2nd goal and when Crystal Palace scored their 2nd goal. (Crystal Palace had 4)

0.81 – Expected goals for Arsenal from those 7 shots. (1.28 xG for Crystal Palace)

0.39 – Total expected goals for Arsenal between Arsenal scoring their 2nd goal and when Crystal Palace scored their 2nd goal. (Crystal Palace had 1.64 [0.88 not counting the penalty] in that same time frame)

89 – Attacking third passes completed for Arsenal (69 for Crystal Palace)

27 – Touches in the penalty area by Arsenal (24 for Crystal Palace)

It is one thing to play poorly on the road, that has come to be expected with Arsenal. It is one thing to play below expectation with heavily rotated squads in the cup competitions. It is another thing to have an incredibly poor performance in your own home stadium. It is even less excusable when it comes against a team that at the start of the season would have been expected to be fighting to finish with the mid-table clubs at best.

Crystal Palace are not a bad team, with the riches of the Premier League, there aren’t really any more bad teams in the league. However, this is not the type of team that should be able to come into the Emirates Stadium and fairly casually come back from a two goal deficit. The inability to hold on to a match with the lead, the inability to continue putting opponents under pressure with a lead is becoming increasingly frustrating to watch.

***VAR RANT***

2 – VAR decisions against Arsenal. Excuse me for a quick rant about the implementation of VAR so far this season. For the first 9 weeks of the season, it appeared that the bar for evidence to overturn a referee’s decision on the field was essentially on par with video proof of a player being assaulted on the field and it being missed by the referee. I thought that the burden was too high but it was what the League had decided and we would have to live with it. Instead, that burden in today’s match seemed to be magically lowered to a new standard. I don’t think that the first decision was wrong, it looked like a foul (with a dive to sell it but still penalty) and a penalty but so have so many others this season that VAR did not change. The changing level of proof needed to overturn a call is maddening and will have had effects on the outcomes of matches. The second decision to call a foul on Callum Chambers is laughable at best because at worst he was fouled before he made any contact with the Crystal Palace player and the amount of contacts on corner kicks means there should almost never be a clean goal. VAR can be good and correct mistakes, the way that the Premier League has implemented it is bad and has honestly given the worst of VAR with delays and lack of communication to fans and players without correcting the large majority of calls.


The Captain is pulled

26 – Passes completed, 6th on Arsenal

78.8 – Pass completion percentage, 6th on Arsenal

7 – Attacking third passes completed, tied for 6th on Arsenal

1 – Pass into the box completed, tied for 4th on Arsenal

1 – Key pass, tied for 3rd on Arsenal (0.12 xG Assisted)

0 – Dribbles completed

0 – Times dispossessed

2 – Tackles, tied for 4th on Arsenal

1 – Interception, tied for 2nd on Arsenal

0 – Clearances

Was Granit Xhaka the worst player on the pitch for Arsenal? Possibly but probably not given how poorly Arsenal played as a team. Was his substitution justifiable? Absolutely, Arsenal had just coughed up a 2 goal lead and the decision to bring on a forward for a midfielder makes perfect logical sense. Should Xhaka have been sarcastically cheered when substituted? That’s the right of Arsenal fans, it’s also not a great look. Is Xhaka a symbol of Unai Emery’s decision making and tactics? Yes he is, he is one of the first names on the team sheet and has been ever present in the team. Is Xhaka getting more scrutiny because of this? Yes, I think so. Should Xhaka have showed more urgency getting off the pitch? Absolutely. Should he have shown petulance towards the crowd after their display? Absolutely not, that is making this so much worse. Can Xhaka find a way back with the fans after this? I am not sure but it was a very bad look and because of the previous baggage and association with the struggles under Emery this is even more difficult.

Nicolas Pépé shines again

2 – Shots, 2nd on Arsenal (0.19 xG)

4 – Key passes, led all players (0.26 xG assisted)

2 – Pre-Assists with his very good delivery from corner kicks

10 – Attacking third passes completed, 3rd on Arsenal

5 – Passes into the box completed, led all players

5 – Crosses completed, led all players

4 – Dribbles completed, led all players

5 – Tackles, tied for most among all players

1 – Interception

Pépé didn’t technically find his way on to the scoresheet after this match but he was in my opinion Arsenal’s best attacker for the second straight league match. He was the only player on the pitch that looked to be a threat every time he was on the ball. His delivery from corner kicks in this game was the most dangerous that Arsenal looked in the entire match. In a match that ended with a sour note the performance of Pépé provided green shoots of optimism that he is starting to settle and show his quality in the Premier League.


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

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Thanks for this and your great work in compiling the numbers…

The shitshow continues.


Totally agree, starting from club and going till the VAR everything is practically turning into shit.

Dave M

This was one of the craziest games I have witnessed in a long time. At least it was more entertaining that previous games, sadly not so much from a footballing perspective [sigh]. (1) VAR decision 1: correct decision – but of course Arsenal are one of the first examples of overturning a decision. Like Emery says where was this during the painfully obviously penalties we haven’t got – easily as clear cut as this. (2) Giving up a 2 goal lead – we did it again… (3) Xhaka affair – maybe it isn’t the best look in the world to… Read more »


I keep asking the guys around me what our formation/tactics/plan was because even a blind man can see we have none. Believe me I’ll take Wengers last days to this shit over and over. We are just a group of players kicking the ball around and hoping it gets into the net. Who am I? What do I even know about football more than an experienced coach like Emery? ?

Prince Gunneralaysia

If Wenger was given more than 100m for transfers like Unai hasd, there will be no such thing as Wengers’ Last Days..Stupidity of Unai that keep playing Xhaka must end. Good that xhaka reacted that way, now there is no reason to him not being dropped and let Auba be the captain. His contribution to the match has nothing significant. Better to give Guendouzi his midfield role and add Torreira. Problem solved.


Wenger did sign Xhaka tbf, and Mustafi!


he asked for kante and he got xhaka.

Runcorn Gooner

A fish rots from the head down. Stop it now.

Viju Jacob

Thanks mate!

Mentally Drained Gooner

Xhaka is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with emery hence he gets all the slack. He’s been playing for arsenal for 4 years now and he hasn’t changed or improved a bit but why is it that it’s now he’s getting this treatment. He got booed because he is indispensable in this emery’s system which is producing shit week in week out. So booing xhaka means booing emery. And his antics only amounted for further fan fury. Time to get rid of emery is now before top 4 goes out of our hand. Either we give away 6… Read more »


Xhaka is definitely worse now in Emery’s system. He’s always made mistakes and taken his silly yellow (and red) cards, but under Wenger he was used properly: according to Michael Cox at The Athletic, during the 17-18 season Xhaka was fifth in the league in “shot-ending sequence involvements” (basically a stat that tries to show contributions to goals beyond just assists and key passes). Pépé is now the man topping the list for Arsenal.

Dave M

Under wenger he was still 2nd in the league in yellows, 6th in fouls. Emery didn’t make him a poor defender, and Wenger also employed him as a DM/deep-playmaker. Difference right now is Emery is playing Douzi in a deep role along-side him to make us a bit stronger defensively – but it also makes us weaker creatively. We shipped 51 goals that year. Since he’s been in our midfield we have never qualified for the Champions League. He was overused then and is overused now. Took me some time to realise how poor a fit he is in the… Read more »


100% agree. His reaction times are to slow for PL. Sometimes when he gets the ball he takes quite a while to sort his feet out. He is not as bad as people make out and is very good for National team.


Granite xhaka is where quick counter attack go to die.


I think there are also a quite commonly known stat that simbolizes how disastrous this season was so far (and how much more deeper our problem is than the case of Xhaka).
The 1st quarter of the season has left, and our goal difference is:



All eyes on the hierarchy. Though if its Mourinho, Im done.

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

I warned you arsenal fans about Emery but you guys made me look like i was born to be negative.
The board needs to make a decision now… If Emery is giving more time in the premier league then the Europa league will be our only hope… Let’s get a new manager now and give him the time he needs in the premier league and also the Europa league…ljunberg should get the job as interim then in the summer arsenal should go aggressively on Erik Ten Hag or Marco Rose!!!!

We would have been better off with Mikel Alteta. I keep wondering who made the decision to employ Emery and yet the person never checked is track record beyond the three Europa league cups he won with Sevilla. A man who went a whole season without winning an away match in La Liga and you expect him to win away matches for you at Arsenal who were already struggling with winning away in the later years of Arsene Wenger’s rein.

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

They felt Mikel Arteta would be too inexperienced for the job..they didn’t want a backlash from the fans… Emery rushed in to deceive them…he told them about how much he has studied each of our players and how he can improve them…. But Allegri pulled out immediately Juventus signed Ronaldo….Enrique salary demand was too much…not too talk of the Transfer budget he demanded for

Left to me we should have taken a chance on Eddie howe and see how it goes….but it’s alright…whatever happened happened for a reason


Agree. But the bad news is according to David Orstein, Emery is still trusted by Josh Kroenke. We have to suffer from this for a while, at least till the end of the season.

I really want Ljungberg to get a promotion to be our acting head coach but i don’t think this is gonna happen.

Naked Cygan

Before this season started I hated the Arsenal owners. Since last week I have started to hate Emery. Now I hate are capitan….wtf is going on…

Dave M

Welcome to modern football.
$$$ and no soul. Fans don’t matter as long as we keep paying our dues.

Faisal Narrage

Guys, to talk about something different, I think we need to talk about Luiz and the very real argument of if he should be starting. Heck argument could be made for both Luiz and Sokratis starting.

Doesn’t really matter I guess, when our midfield never protects them.


Luiz may have scored and almost scored again but how many simple passes did he give away?

How many times does he eschew the simple pass to play to a man marked? How many times does he just try the spectacular long pass and we lose it? Is he directed to always play wide or long?

He lust lost Ayew inside 6 yard box for CP equaliser (after Xhaka allowed easy cross). He is generally lazy and unaware.

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

and as for xhaka getting booed… I don’t think Sylvestre, chamakh and andre santos were booed even as bad as they were….. Xhaka should evaluate his arsenal career and know that he has hurt fans badly with his consistent errors sandwiched with his ARROGANCE which i think is his biggest issue…… There’s a reason why players like Henry, Viera,Cazorla,Pires,Giroud,Rosicky,Gilberto,Adams,bergkamp,lacazette and Aubameyang are so much loved

My worry is how this will be perceived in the dressing room if he is a popular player and leader (hence Captain). If other players don’t think he is being well treated, will they lose the faith?

Dave M

This is the problem with modern footballers (especially at Arsenal) they play for each other and not the fans. The fans make then so rich, but a lot of players will probably take Xhaka’s side on this. Let’s be clear, there were a few boos and cheers when Xhaka’s number came up, but it was pretty quiet – those boos and cheers escalated significantly after Xhaka threw the armband that ended up on the ground and not in Auba’s hands and then proceeded to walk off when the team is 2 goals down. Just after that boos were loud, then… Read more »

Win,lose or draw Emery remains the wrong choice

I believe Xhaka knew he was going to be booed immediately his number came up.. So he prepared those antics before hand… I’m very sure of that

Prince Gunneralaysia

I hope Xhaka reads this


Arsenal never looked into Emery’s club record before he was hired.His tactics,lack of leadership qualities and poor managerial skills when it comes to having big players in his squad has been evident in all the clubs he couched before now. I wonder why Ozil sits on the bench and a bunch of inexperienced lads play week in week out in our mid field. Emery’s decision main is the poorest in the premier league right now. He makes blunder week in week out when it comes to making substitutions. Emery has to be sacked before it’s too late. How can Arsenal… Read more »


I said after the game on Monday that we would find a way to NOT win against palace. Nothing that the team does under Emery is convincing, we will not progress whilst he is still in charge.


Most of the points have been mentioned already.
What bothers me the most is our *total* lack of or rather inability to get goals from open play.
This to me is the biggest worry.


It’s simple. You can’t score it you don’t shoot.


To some extent I agree, but strikers need service from midfield to get into shooting positions and they dont get that now. Our passing is too slow in midfield, to the point , that our defense now tries to make those passes. Nothing wrong with it, but it also shows how poor our midfield is. Separately on Xhaka, regardless of who is to blame, I dont hold anything against Xhaka and media in general is trying to hype it up along with many trigger happy fans on social media. Players have done much worse. I will take in your face… Read more »


So looks like we were lucky to get a point. Versus Crystal Palace. At home. After being up two goals.

Such a disjointed setup, once again. At least Pepe is settling well and Tierney had a decent debut. Bodes well for the new manager.


Can you give us the team’s performance statistics with Xhaka on the pitch compared with Xhaka replaced. Which Arsenal performed better??


As this is a numbers piece, thought it would be worth mentioning that despite being 5th in the table, we are closer to relegation (8 points) than 1st place (12 points).

What’s worrying is I can see us sliding only one way at the moment………..

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