Friday, February 3, 2023

Man Utd 0 – 1 Arsenal: By the numbers

After years of disappointment from trips to Old Trafford, it is absolutely amazing to be able to write and bask in a really good Arsenal performance.

There were complaints and worries before the match, but I think overall the performance shows that for the most part, Mikel Arteta got things right. Overall it wasn’t all that different than what Arsenal has done over and over this season, limiting both teams attacking chances, look to create high quality scoring chances at the expense of volume, and hope that this leads to things falling in the favor of Arsenal.

Man Utd 0 – 1 Arsenal: By the graphs

Summary Stats

Running xG

xG Shot Map

xG Table

Simulated Match Result

Man Utd 0 – 1 Arsenal: By the numbers

7 – Shots for Arsenal, 0 after scoring

8 – Shots for Manchester United, 4 after Arsenal scored

1 – Big chance for Arsenal (Penalty kick)

0 – Big chances for Manchester United

77 – Passes completed in the final third for Arsenal, 3 completed after scoring

94 – Passes completed in the final third for Manchester United, 55 after Arsenal scored

10 – Passes completed inside the penalty area for Arsenal, 0 completed after scoring

15 – Passes completed inside the penalty area for Manchester United, 10 completed after Arsenal scored

This is a match that I really feel that the regular statistics don’t tell the whole story of what happened. You look at things and Arsenal only had 7 shots and outside of the penalty kick didn’t create many expected goals. Part of that is that two of Arsenal’s most dangerous moments didn’t turn into shots, specifically Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s open shot at the back post (that is probably 30-40% chance) and Alexandre Lacazette swinging and missing on a pull back (that is probably a 25-35% chance). If both of those are actually shots that is another 0.6 added to Arsenal’s expected goals and probably better represents the threat Arsenal created.

Looking at non-shot xG, you can see that Arsenal was well in control and the better team for most of the match, with Manchester United not closing the gap until Arsenal basically stopped attacking after the penalty.

I think that this much better reflects what I saw from the match. Arsenal was the better team for most of this match but it was mostly a close match. After the goal, Arsenal switched to defending deep to see out their one-goal lead. This match is a very good example of what score effects will do to statistics if you look at how things tilted towards Manchester United after Arsenal scored.

Mohamed Elneny runs and runs

59 – Passes completed at 90.8 a completion percentage, led Arsenal.

4 – Progressive passes completed, tied for 3rd on Arsenal

7 – Final third entries, tied for most on Arsenal

1 – Shot creating action

54 – Pass receptions, of 54 pass targets

0 – Turnovers

0 – Tackles

3 – Interceptions

3 – Passes blocked

8 – Pressures, 3 where Arsenal won the ball back within 5 seconds

This is something that I would love to access to running statistics because Elneny’s ability to do lung-busting runs after already having run for 90 minutes is really amazing.

I have been highly critical of Elneny, but it is hard to look at a performance like this where he was able to be all over the middle third of the pitch and not appreciate what he can do. Sure you make a trade-off where he is a more conservative passer and not a guy is known to create for others but he was pivotal at times in cutting out counter-attacking chances.

One of the things that you know that you will get with Elneny is that he is not going to make mistakes, in this match, this certainly happened where he completed his passes at over 90%, was able to have all 54 of the passes that were targeted towards him completed and never have the ball taken off of him.

Thomas Partey shows why he was signed

53 – Passes completed at 89.8 a completion percentage, 3rd on Arsenal.

8 – Progressive passes completed, led Arsenal

7 – Final third entries, tied for most on Arsenal

1 – Shot creating action

45 – Pass receptions, of 46 pass targets

3 – Successful dribbles of 4 attempts, led Arsenal

4 – Turnovers

5 – Tackles, tied for most on Arsenal

2 – Interceptions

15 – Pressures, 8 where Arsenal won the ball back within 5 seconds, tied for most on Arsenal

I think that this was one of the most athletic midfield that Arsenal have fielded in a long time and it was a really cool thing to be able to watch. If Elneny was the safer player, Partey was the one that added more all-around action to the midfield. He looked like he really relished the idea of matching up with Paul Pogba and overall came away looking like the better player. When Arsenal went out and bought a player who is at the peak age for a midfielder and ready-made for action, this is exactly the type of performance that I imagine they were hoping to be able to expect, and he did not disappoint.


Sources: Opta via whoscroed, StatsZone and my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.

Related articles



newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I like the El-Partey midfield combo.


Partey completely dominated pogba, and the one time he got dispossessed by him he won it straight back.
A personal highlight was Partey intercepting a fred pass then nutmegging him for the pleasure.


Fred cost £8.1million more as well


One of the happier surprises of this crazy 2020! Who would have guessed that a rough running Arsenal midfield duo of Elneny and Partey would boss Man U at Old Trafford to break the top 6 hoodoo. Defensively we’re starting to look more solid than we have in years. Just need that extra little spark of creativity from behind the #9 to properly secure top 4. More please!

Johnny 4 Hats

Just had a horrible thought totally unrelated to all this…

Is Saka going to only have two years left at the end of this season? And if so, do we have to sell or extend?


Umm he signed a four year deal just 3 months ago..

Johnny 4 Hats

Thanks man. Had a horrible thought that he signed a three year contract this summer. Didn’t realise it was an extension. Thanks for all you do Scott! Legend 👊🏾👊🏽👊🏻

David Hilliers Arm Cast

Being Downvoted to hell for being worried about losing one of our best prospects is a bit odd!


Downvotes for his misunderstanding of the situation, not the worry… In much the same way you are also being downvoted for your misunderstanding.
Nothing personal I’m sure. Question asked and answered.


So glad that Partey slotted right in without us having to come up with the “welll he has to adapt to the league” excuses

Artetas Assistant

He’s a grown arse man , definitely physically but obviously especially mentally .


Would be interesting to see Lacazette’s stats for this game. He seemed to press really well in the first half, putting in a good performance even if it wasn’t a typical “good striker performance”.

A Different George

One of the things stats obviously can’t measure is Lacazette’s constant movement to cut off the passing lanes. It’s not pressing, exactly, but it forces the ball into areas where his teammates can press. Lewis Ambrose’s column today really highlights this.

cognac gooner

I would like to see a stat which shows penetrating (or threatening) progressive passes, of the type we used to see Cesc or Mezut do = look up, see potential, and get the forwards running and deforming defences. Too often, you see the forwards threatening a break, but the rear/midfield are not looking for that type of pass


There’s a metric for that that was created recently by a team from Germany, called packing. Maybe Scott can have a look at it? Not sure about it’s availability but it would be a good stat to measure how effective a passer is playing an offensive pass and how effective an attacker is making runs to get onto those.


Nice analysis, as usual. Thanks.

I’ve always liked Elneny, and am delighted to see him in this form. We have four very good central midfielders, with Willock not far off their level and improving. Thomas is the closest to being complete, but they all provide important qualities. This is a damned good squad. The goals will come, and when they do, look out!


I remember a few years ago, there was an interview in the programme with Mo, and talked about his school days etc, and when he was at school he used to run marathons every day in the Egyptian heat (I can’t actually remember the exact detail, but that was the list), which its why he has an engine that keep going to the 95th minute.


*jist*, not list!


Per Grammarly: Gist means “essence” or “the main point.” In a legal context, gist is the grounds of a legal action. Jist is a common misspelling of gist.

Jane Pearce

Looking forward to seeing Martinelli back in the mix with this gang!

Sir Arse-a-lot

Nice post, but don’t think Auba’s chance at the back post was that great… he was a fair way off and to the side of the goal already. As for Laca’s chance, it was taken from him by the defender, so not really a chance at all. For me the best chance was Saka’s header, surprised that doesn’t have a higher XG. Still a bit worried overall by Arsenal’s chance creation, but what a relief to get a result at OT… and while we could really use one more signing up front(ish), i think there’s just enough creativity in the… Read more »

Scott Willis

I just went back and looked again, on the PEA chance he is right about even with the far post and it is a wide open net. Very much if he gets his foot to that it is a huge chance and think that is pretty well estimated at the 30-40% on an xG model but more realistically that is probably higher because it is an open goal with De Gea on the near post. On the Saka chance, last season there were 1652 shots that were 11.5 to 13.5 yards from goal in the center of the box (Saka’s… Read more »


So that’s how that works? I’d guess most of those 1600 were from corners etc where the attacker is surrounded, while this was a completely free header.


Yeah, hadn’t realised it was only based on positioning. Given that the XG is being calculated using data from mostly contested headers, this kinda confirms that the Saka free header probably is a much higher chance than the XG shows, right?


Everybody’s Mondays been as sweet as mine? I’ve been giving it large the whole day. Will come back to bite me in the arse I’m sure but heck this doesn’t come around often 😂😂


Don’t know if anyone noticed, bellerin for some reason is getting picked out for foul throws. It has happened earlier in the season and there was one yesterday too. Didn’t see anything wrong but weird seeing him getting picked out for these.

No foot Norbert

Tbf they were all foul throws


He almost kicked himself in the back of the head before he released it. I saw it clear as day on the broadcast, and was actually starting to think somehow Mike Dean missed it since it took so long to blow for it. But let’s be honest, Mike Dean missing something like that wouldn’t be that surprising.


Elneny is so efficient. He gets his passes away so much more quickly than Xhaka and Ceballos.

Artetas Assistant

Boy gets space


The Saka header is only considered 3% chance of goal? That seems really low to me. Bale’s header – which he scored from is 25% according to this site (I’ve no idea who they are but just wanted a comparison). I think if you gave me that header 100 times I would score more than 5 goals easily… Just my 2 cents

Scott Willis

Yep, so looking at where it is marked by Opta after the game it is 12.5 yards from the center of the goal. Looking at a replay it is probably closer to 9 (about half way between the penalty spot and the 6 yard box).

That doesn’t make a huge change to the xG but would probably mean it is closer to a 6% chance rather than a 3% chance.

Headers are hard.

Scott Willis

The Bale chance get’s the “Big Chance” qualifier, probably due to things like where the cross came from and that he is more open compared to Saka. I have that shot rated as a 14.6% chance.


Does the fact that the nearest defender to Bale was not blocking the path to goal, whereas Saka had one protecting De Gea’s near post affect the XG?

SB Still

Saka’s header (which was off target) from around the penalty spot, doesn’t count as a big chance?

It should get interesting once Arteta gets to add the creative player(s), he wants.

Scott Willis

It’s not that common for headers from this type of location to be marked as a “Big Chance”. When you look he doesn’t really get a running start of anything so generating tons of power is hard, it is relatively free but he is still in between defenders. It is from a cross that isn’t coming from a particularly dangerous location.

I think that he does really well to make it close and look dangerous but historically this is converted at a low rate.

SB Still

Thanks for that clarification 👍

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x