Thursday, April 25, 2024

Willian: By the numbers

Arsenal have made their first signing of the summer with the free-agent acquisition of Willian. Lot’s digital ink has already been spilled on the merits of the deal and how his agent may or may not be directing moves at the club so I will be ignoring all of that today.

Willian Shooting Stats 2019-20

2.5 – Shots per 90

1.6 – Open play shots per 90

0.1 – Shots in prime locations per 90 (within 12 yards of the center of the goal)

19.5 – Average distance for his shots in yards to goal

0.14 – Expected goals per 90

0.17 – Actual goals per 90

0.06 – xG per shot

0.19 – Goal per shot on target

Willian Creative Stats 2019-20

2.6 – Key Passes per 90

0.24 – xG Assisted per 90

0.24 – Assists per 90

5 – Shot creating actions per 90 (a new StatsBomb stat that gives credit to the two offensive actions directly leading to a shot, such as passes, dribbles and drawing fouls. Note: A single player can receive credit for multiple actions and the shot-taker can also receive credit.)

3.4 – Shot creating actions from open play passing

2.3 – Passes completed into the penalty area per 90

Willian Ball Progression/Passing Stats 2019-20

77.9 – Pass completion percentage (75.1 on my expected pass completion model)

87.8 – Percent of passes with Willian’s right foot

6.9 – Progressive passes per 90 (my definition is slightly different than StatsBomb, I count passes that move the possession at least 15% closer towards goal compared to “Completed passes that move the ball towards the opponent’s goal at least 10 yards from its furthest point in the last six passes, or completed passes into the penalty area. Excludes passes from the defending 40% of the pitch“), StatsBomb has it at 6.5 per 90.

2.5 – Final third entry passes completed per 90

4 – Final third entry carries per 90

11.7 – Progressive carries per 90

238 – Progressive carry distance per 90

1.8 – Carries into the box per 90

4.8 – Touches in the penalty area per 90

2.2 – Dribbles completed per 90

1.4 – Dispossessed per 90

Willian Defensive Stats 2019-20

1.5 – Tackles per 90

78.4 – Dribbled past percent

18.3 – Pressures per 90

5.2 – Successful pressures per 90 (the team regained possession withing five seconds of applying pressure)

1.4 – Interceptions plus blocked passes per 90



Sources: StatsBomb via FBRef, Opta via my own database

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so is he good or not!


The main unknown here is how he would do if played in a central role behind the strikers.

Scott P

A good point also not addressed in Tim’s column today. Would be interested to hear both Scott & Tim’s thoughts on that.


Precisely, his stats to date are unquestionably good, the real (& probably unanswerable) question is when – and how quickly – they will start to deteriorate. I think if we get two good years out of him we will have been lucky.


Would like to see his radar plot vs Arsenal players, were not even top 5

Johnny 4 Hats

In order to answer your question, you have to add up all the numbers on this page and divide them by his squad number.

If it’s even he’s good and if it’s odd then not so much.


Sorry if this comes across as ungrateful – it was a little jokey and I certainly appreciate all the effort that has gone into these numbers. I guess Willian is a good attacking midfielder as we know. Would be interesting to compare to some of his peers as others have said below

Paul Roberts

I for one find this stuff hard to understand and the crab thing really doesn’t help. 🙂


I’ll count his addition a success if he helps get us back to UCL.


So, he’s a chance creator that doesn’t shoot or score much, with mediocre to low numbers for defensive stats. Sound familiar?

What I’d really love to see is these stats head-to-head with Ozil’s, both offensive and defensive.

Maybe his defensive stats are a little better? But anecdotal spewage Aand opinions are not enough to say that. If there’s not much difference, why have two of them? And he’s even older than Ozil!

Scott P

I mean, the biggest issue in our team is that we are asking players like Auba to do it all on their own up front. And Auba’s been doing that with an almost unreasonable amount of success. But we need players who can do more than shovel it in his or Pepe’s direction and wait to see whether they do something amazing and score. Willian will help us get the ball into more dangerous areas and progress the ball forward if these stats are anything to go by.


Yeah, I’m not sure why the club isn’t investing in a few players with stronger defensive abilities who can, with Arteta’s improved structure on the pitch, gain more of the ball so that we can, ultimately, replace one of our 5 defenders on the pitch with an attacker who can, hopefully, create more chances for our goalscorers. I guess it’s not that easy …

Scott P

That’s going to stem from deeper in midfield than where Willian will play. Agree that the recruitment path there isn’t super clear though. How balanced will we be if we get Ceballos back and Partey? A midfield of those two plus Xhaka is hardly creative. Perhaps Partey as defensive player, Ceballos as box-to-box and Willian as AM? That leaves out Xhaka who’s been a mainstay for Arteta. I dunno, it’s a hard question.


Exactly, that’s what I mean – why aren’t we smashing heads together trying to find the players who can give us a midfield that can defend and attack with equal potency, and a centreback pairing that can back them up? How long has this been our problem now? I don’t know if Arteta sees these qualities in the players we already have (whether young or more experienced), which is why we’re spending a significant amount on an attacking midfielder, but I expected to see investment in the longer-term future of the team this summer, if there was investment at all.… Read more »

Todd A Parker

If Arteta won’t play Ozil that then is the reason. If Ozil will not do what Arteta tells him to do then he shouldn’t play. May explain why Arteta rightly benched him and why he wanted Willian? In other words, head to head stats tell less than Mesut Ozil not playing and Willian getting signed on a free.


What a load of blabber mate, what is the point of all this if you don’t compare it to playmakers across EPL. Stats without context are just numbers


While you have a valid point, it is put across rather abrasively. What Scott is doing is investing a lot of time and providing us free content – surely there is a better way to communicate your suggestions (as others have done below)?

Scott P

Doesn’t the first radar chart do that?

Also, comparing to other EPL players is useful in determining we got the best player to do this role we could; however, I’d argue it’s almost more important to compare against Arsenal players from 2019-20 since we are really looking to add a dimension to the team that we didn’t have before. If he offers ‘more of the same’ compared to last year’s players, I’d be more concerned than if he doesn’t hit the 90th percentile of stats relative to other EPL attacking mids, if that makes sense.

EddieRitchie Bottom

Jog on mate

Rambo sambo

I don’t find these numbers particularly interesting or helpful without percentiles or some other Comparison metric.

I appreciate the hard work putting this together. I’m just saying if you want to make these articles better then it needs some context so we can tell if he’s actually good or not.

Naked Cygan

He is better than David Luiz, Gallas, and Cech. 100%.


If he is as effective as Cech was, I will be delighted. A great keeper who saved us countless times.


Those stats suggest a royal blue shafting to me i know stats don’t tell the whole story but we have gone full circle regarding players who are 30yrs old or more now we sign them on huge wages,i still think he’s a really good player i remember he was outstanding against spurs,i’m on the fence till the end of the transfer window.


So do the numbers suggest he’ll be poor in a pressing style of defensive play? Or am i reading that wrong?


We’ve already got an aging playmaker on ridiculous wages who doesn’t score goals. We want to get rid of that one, but we haven’t done it, and it doesn’t seem we’re likely to be able to do so. I guess that’s why we had to fire 55 people and eliminate our scouting department to get the funds to pay Joorabchian his agency fee.


All this is interesting but it’s how he plays for us, with the players we have, and the tactics that Arteta uses that will determine whether Willian is a good addition or whether we’ve wasted a large amount of scarce resources. The truth is that nobody knows yet.

Lord Bendnter

Sorry I just had a terrible day at work and need to vent
Arsenal board, Go Fuck yourselves! Not for any specific reason.

PS: nothing to do with the article



Another useless number post that someone else is suppose to put this into actually good article maybe? Someone else will have to work really, really hard to make a sense of what Willian will do for us. Will see it before you’ll put it together anyway.


Watching Bayern tonight Muller and Lewandowski destroying Barca. Not all players in their 30s are past it. Modern players keep in good shape so I think we have made a positive signing here


Top goal scorers in the Prem, Bundasliga, La Liga and Serie A are all 30+. Runners up in Prem, La Liga and Serie A were also all 30+. People really need to calm down about his age, especially considering his physical fitness, professionalism and excellent injury record.


No question, but give some credit here to Davies, Gnabry, Goretzka, and Kimmich (all 25 and under) who were sensational and really ran riot all over the pitch for BM – Barca had no answer.


Been skeptical about this signing but have to stay positive. Hopefully he gives us some better retention and use of the ball either from right in lieu of Pepe or through the middle. AND….who knows maybe they’re on to something with Countiho…. Complete melt down by Barca done in by German Blitz… Coutinho rubbing salt into the wound with a good assist and goal. Coming in from left, we could do with some added firepower with Saka still young and Auba either not extending or if he does maybe going up top. Beyond numbers, hope Willian can give us at… Read more »


Now I understand why the Chelsea pensioners wear red


The other numbers that need to be factored on business end is whilst free at 220K and 32 years on 3 year contract, if we haven’t seen this before with Mhkitaryan still on books (let alone Ozil), we will struggle to offload if he is instead a waning force. David Luiz also still extended as we still try to load yet another Cback having bought Saliba last summer for 27m (with pepe on 72m) and not having luxury of his use for Emery…then adding Mari for 14m. Do we actually know what we are up to cos it looks like… Read more »


And don’t believe these stat merchants. They have it that Pepe wins plenty of take ons when in reality he is more likely to be dispossessed which is why we are bringing in Willian in the first place to add some proper ball retention and use over 90mins. Stats…they show you what they want you to see. Pepe stats looked good last season but its over one season so it carried risk on 72m Saliba look like a good deal but at 27m on a player again on first season starting 19 games… These are intangibles you cannot feel with… Read more »

Bamzee Blaze

William is gonna play through the middle I suspect. He certainly has the nous for it having watched him play. He is very intelligent player that can adapt…just like Santi did. Pepe is going to be awesome. He is already a threat to any premier league defence add to the fact that he seems to be a big game player too.


I asked a lifetime Chelsea season ticket holder friend who I think is pretty knowledgable and balanced what he and his friends think of Willian signing.
Very good signing, solid player & defo got a few years left in him at top level
Good defence work too
Our best player since restart

Not quite the stats analysis but made me feel happy.

I remember he wasn’t so complimentary about Cech and laughed hard at us signing Gallas.


Well, if one out of three signings from Chelsea fully lives up to expectations that will be something I guess. Nobody knows of course. We’ll all find out fairly soon though.


2.3 completed passes into the penalty area per 90? That’s at least 2 goals a game for Auba then. I’m sold.


Sanllehi out – wow!

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