Saturday, May 21, 2022

Arsenal 3-2 Watford: By the numbers

Arsenal won the London Colony Training Ground Derby and in the process made Troy Deeney sad.

It wasn’t the greatest match for Arsenal and it certainly raises red flags for next Saturday’s FA Cup Final. It is hard to put too much stock into a match where there was nothing on the line (beyond pride) and the team the gunners were facing were fighting for survival, lets just leave it at being a bit worrying.

Arsenal 3-2 Watford: By the graphs

Running xG

xG Shot Map

xG Shot Table

Simulated Match Result

Arsenal 3-2 Watford: By the numbers

100 – The probability that the foul on Alexandre Lacazette gets called a foul if it is anywhere else on the field.

0 – The probability that Mike Dean was going to give that foul if not forced by VAR (even with VAR I wasn’t more than 25% sure it was going to be given).

100 – The probability that Mike Dean was going to hunt for a makeup call.

5 – The probability (in my estimation) of getting a penalty call after you get a shot off, no matter how bad a player gets fouled.

100 – The probability Mike Dean was pointing to the spot on the Danny Welbeck foul.

100 – Percent wanker that Mike Dean is.

The penalty calls in this match were really something. For the first one, it was the perfect encapsulation of the idea that referees shouldn’t get too involved in determining the outcome of the match. The commentators for the American broadcast were making arguments that it shouldn’t be given because of how early in the match it is (like that really matters if it is a foul or not, should we make the first 5 minutes of the match “purge” rules?) and that he was making a play at the ball (like that isn’t almost always the case outside of cynical fouls to break up counter attacks and straight red cards). Thankfully VAR was able to rectify the missed call but what are the odds that Mike Dean gets any sort of constructive criticism for missing a rather obvious call, where he had a clear view of things? I’d say close to zero.

For the other penalty you could tell from the moment that he reluctantly gave the penalty, Mike Dean was going to do anything in his power to even things out. Which brings us to the other penalty. This is something that is almost never called a foul as well because a player is able to get a shot off. It is like when players make an attempt to stay on their feet while they are being fouled and it is something that should be called more often.

I am thankful that Arsenal shouldn’t have Mike Dean officiating a match for them for at least another 7 weeks.

Pepe excels in a wide open match

1 – Shot (blocked)

2 – Key passes (tied for most on Arsenal)

2 – Passes completed into the penalty area (tied for most on Arsenal)

6 – Progressive passes completed (second most on Arsenal)

14 – Touches in the final third (tied for second most on Arsenal)

2 – Touches in the penalty area (tied for fifth most on Arsenal)

2 – Successful dribbles (tied for third most on Arsenal)

6 – Progressive carries (second most on Arsenal)

It was an uneven season for Arsenal’s record signing but this match showed flashes of where Nicolas Pepe can excel. With Watford badly needing to win, Arsenal not having much to play for, tired legs from several weeks of 2 to 3 matches per week, there was tons of space for both teams to attack. In this type of match, Pepe looked as dangerous as he has all season. He was a dangerous outlet, he provided thrust and the Watford defenders looked like they wanted to be anywhere else when he was running at them. Arsenal won’t always have open, basketball style matches but hopefully Mikel Arteta can find a way to create similar situations where Pepe can attack at speed in transition next season.

Dani Ceballos makes another strong case for coming back

53 – Passes attempted (third most on Arsenal)

86.8 – Percentage of passes completed (on 83.3 expected pass completion)

275 – Progressive distance in yards gained with his passing (fifth most on Arsenal)

5 – Progressive passes completed (third most on Arsenal)

8 – Final third entries (led Arsenal)

2 – Key passes (tied for most on Arsenal)

2 – Dribbles completed (tied for second most on Arsenal)

12 – Pressures (second most on Arsenal)

2 – Tackles (tied for second most on Arsenal)

2 – Interceptions (led Arsenal)

2 – Blocked passes (tied for third most on Arsenal)

Since the restart, I think that you can make a very strong case that the most important midfielder at Arsenal has been Dani Ceballos. In this match he made another strong statement that Arsenal should look to make a deal with Real Madrid to either bring him in permanently or another season long loan. Ceballos technical quality is something that Arsenal have been calling out for since Santi Cazorla left the club. Arsenal still have needs in midfield that should be addressed in the transfer market but if Ceballos comes back that would go a long way to helping turn this from a flashing red warning light with sirens blaring, to simply a glaring need for the club.


Sources: Opta via WhoScored, my own data base, StatsBomb via FBRef

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It was a pointless game before the cup final.
To be honest I am just glad this season is done and dusted.
We desperately need to rebuild – specially our defence. One of two decent games and good defence does not make.
Also, I would prefer permanent deals not silly loan deals – there is little commitment and so far loan deals have hardly impressed me.
Glad to see Tierney get off the mark – he will turn out to be a top quality player..


I disagree that this was a pointless match. A) It’s important to try out different options with the FA cup in mind. B) Psychologically it’s important for the team to win after that disastrous performance against Villa. And C) There is a difference in PL revenue For the club. I’m not sure of the exact figure but I read somewhere that there is around £6 million between finishing 10th or 8th.

VAR will solve the problem

Yes. Also if wolves win the Europa league this season, they will play in UCL next season….so the Europa league will go to the 8th place club. it was therefore actually necessary to finish 8th to give us a mathematical chance of getting in to Europe even if we lose the final.

VAR will solve the problem

Thats why I mentioned in my other post that Man Utd finishing 5 th would have given us better chance of qualifying for europe. Then 2 English teams would have been fighting for Europa league and mathmatically raise our chance.
But Leicester fucked it up.


So Ceballos hasn’t impressed you?


Ceballos has played well since the restart for sure but before COVID I don’t think there was too much to write home about. I do like him as a player though..


What it did show Arteta was how shambolic our defending was in a back four. Same formation and possibly same team as semi final and we have a chance.


It’s pretty clear we need to park the bus with a 5-2-3 and play hard and fast on the counter and look for the high press to win the cup. We need a disciplined performance and we should not be focussed on possession. Our current midfield gets battered by mid-to-lower half teams when we try to out play them with passing so we have no chance against the top 4 clubs. We should play: Martinez Bellerin-Holding-Luiz-Tierney-Saka Xhaka-Ceballos Auba-Laca-Pepe Front three need to work hard off possession and play fast on it. Xhaka and Ceballos need to be very disciplined and… Read more »

Danger Mouse

It was actually really important to send Troy Downey and his little cajones back to the division they belong in.


Good game, really tired players, Watford needed it more, outstanding Martinez, enough positives to build on. Being able to fall back in love with football after the Unai shitfest was Artetas greatest achievement for me. We have a massive gap to make up with limited resources, but we have solved d biggest puzzle of them all, by appointing a good coach. Now we need to really focus on our greatest trouble spot, our midfield. None of our midfielders can be a starter in the top 6 teams, they are simply not good enough. If we can tweak this in the… Read more »


“None of our midfielders can be a starter in the top 6 teams, they are simply not good enough.” Ceballos is a shout. He is definitely improving and he is the only one with the right attributes to do so. Torreira is a maybe if he had the right players around him, but with our lack of creativity, pace and drive in midfield he is exposed as a very limited player. If we signed Partey, I could actually see a Torreira-Partey-Ceballos combo doing really well. He is very effective for Uruguay in the holding role with more effective advanced midfielders.… Read more »

David Hilliers Arm Cast

I would have liked to see some stats on Holdings performance. Feel like he was a bit harshly criticized despite (from my recollection) making more clearances and tackles than any other defender.


A bit off topic here, but I put together a list of positives that have come out of this season. I know we are all frustrated – it has been a poor season to be fair – but nonetheless there have been some good takeaways. I’m sure that I’ve forgotten some things, and I haven’t mentioned some players who I think might leave the club in the short to medium term. Would appreciate people’s thoughts on this list: Auba: one goal short of consecutive Golden Boot. Emergence of Martinelli and Saka as potential future stars and, importantly, a new contract… Read more »


Lots of positives to take into the next season.
Aubameyang has also played well.
I would add Nketiah and Willock as well.
Some class signings and not dross signings and we should be OK…


Nelson looked really good when he came on late as well.


London ‘Colony’?

Damned auto-correct 😉


What these stats show us is that the cabal of misfits under Deeney’s captaincy (I’ll exclude Welbeck from this motley crew) didn’t have the cojones to get a result against us.

I would be interested to see what the goals conceded / XG against differential is per game under Leno and Martinez respectively.


I think we underestimate the difference motivation can make in a game. Playing for nothing when the opponent is fighting to stay in the premier league is an enormous disadvantage. Just look at Liverpool after they won the title, not the same team. I also think that PSG losing Mbappé for the Champion’s league against a weak St Etienne team was also in the mind of the players. Who would want to give 100% and risk missing the cup final ? We manage to win this one and we did it with Mike Dean at the whistle. That’s a huge… Read more »

SB Still

I like Ceballos. While he and the reborn Xhaka can do this
I still think midfield (along with central defence), is our biggest problem area. We haven’t been able to dominant any team, even after Arteta’s appointment.

We really have to address this through the transfer window, to start moving up the table.


There’s been an awful lot of negative reaction to yesterday’s Arsenal performance, both here and in other media, but personally I’m neither surprised nor bothered about when went on at the Grove. I said that we should have played a reserve team, didn’t I? Having all the big guns turn out for a meaningless match was dumb: the players had nothing to play for and were all worried about getting injured before the big one on Saturday. Effort was half-hearted. It’s a good thing that the Watford players, desperate to stay up, didn’t kick one or two of our stars… Read more »


Am I missing something here, who’s is it on arsenal?

(tied for third most ‘on Arsenal’)


Why is it*


When did we start excluding Key Passes from a midfielder’s stats. Have we fallen so, much that we need to get Craig Gardner sort of runners to fill up our midfield. We need to someone with a bit of dribbling skills to carry the ball through the center. Joe Willock showed that skill a bit but he is too raw and doesn’t seem to have enough minutes under the belt to carryout such a critical role. I watched a couple to games that Chelsea played and I noticed the similarities between Santi Cazorla and Matteo Kovacic. Matteo is able to… Read more »

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