Thursday, March 30, 2023

Arsenal 0-0 Villarreal: By the numbers

Arsenal is all but assured that they will not be in Europe next season with this loss and in the end, Arsenal was kind of close to getting to the final but they were far from deserving it.

This probably won’t be too long because it’s not a fun one to dwell on.

Arsenal 0-0 Villarreal: By the graphs

Arsenal 0-0 Villarreal: By the numbers

Shots by Arsenal by quarter (23 minute period) of the match: 0, 4, 3, 7

xG for Arsenal by quarter of the match: 0, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4

Possession for Arsenal by quarter of the match: 53%, 46%, 46%, 71%

Touches within 25 yards of goal for Arsenal by quarter of the match: 6, 11, 6, 16

I look at the numbers above and I am dumbfounded. They do not look like the stats of a team that is desperate to win a match or score a goal. In the first 45 minutes of the match, the game was played at a snail’s pace. Arsenal had just 21 attacking possessions and Villarreal having 20, both teams seemed very content to probe, see if a mistake would be made, and otherwise settle for 0-0.

In the second half, Arsenal came out fast in the first 10 minutes creating what would be probably the best chance of the game (Smith Rowe chipped shot 20% probability of scoring) but after that, they looked dead on their feet. After that period Villarreal was comfortable and actually was able to hold on to 68% of the ball until Arteta made the change to bring on Martinelli.

Arteta said after the match that Arsenal had the chances to win and yeah maybe they did but in the end, Arsenal created just 3 shots that were 10% or better for a probability of scoring and had 0 that were greater than 25%.

Running the chances through a simulation and the most likely outcome is still 0 goals and in a sport where there is a lot of variance failing to create enough to where that won’t bite you is massively important. Over both legs, Arsenal and Villarreal are even on the quality of the non-penalty chances and that let’s chance play a huge role in determining who will win.

For the tie Arsenal’s shot chart shows lots of low and medium quality chances.

Quick hit stats

9 – Progressive passes received by Nicolas Pepe, leading Arsenal. The plan in this match very much looked like Bukayo Saka (5) and Pepe were the outlets for big switches in this match (Arsenal completed 21 of these), with a lot of this wanting them to go do something magical.

8 – Touches in the box for Pepe. He continued to excel in the Europa League.

8 – Progressive carries for Emile Smith Rowe, tied for the most on Arsenal (Saka also had 8). His ability to drive forward with the ball was when Arsenal always seemed the most dangerous.

9 – Final third entries for Kieran Tierney, tied for the most on Arsenal (Pablo Mari also had 9). In this match, he played the left-back very similar to how Granit Xhaka would have done it, rather than how he played before he got injured. He ended the match with the most pass attempts for Arsenal.

3 – Passes into the penalty area completed by Hector Bellerin, leading Arsenal. After the match, I thought Bellerin was bad but after a re-watch in the second half he was much better and he seemed like one of the players where something good come from. He was tied for second with 3 shot-creating actions in this match.

6 – Times Thomas Partey lost possession in this match, 2nd most on Arsenal. Four of the six times he lost possession came in Arsenal’s half of the field. This was a tough match for Partey because he was asked to be essentially the entire midfield by himself but some of the times he was very careless with the ball in dangerous situations. Thankfully for Arsenal, Villarreal did not capitalize on any of those mistakes.


Sources: Opta via whoscored, my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.

Related articles



newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I wonder if odegaard/esr would have played better as the Deep lying playmaker to progress the ball forward. Party’s size and strength can then help higher up to hold the ball.

Scott Willis

Ødegaard looked like he was the one who was supposed to do that and did it really poorly.

Bleeding gums murphy

I actually think we may have all got a bit carried away with Odegaard. He was sublime against West Ham in the second half but taking an overall view I think we looked more of a threat with smith Rowe in the ten. He was closer to saka and Lacazette and was linking up beautifully.


It probably won’t matter one way or another as I don’t see him staying with us..

Some fans do tend to get a little carried away with players – even before they’ve kicked a ball! I remember the reception Ceballos got (on this site and others) along the lines of the best thing since sliced bread, we must buy him etc, except that particular loaf has got a little stale and he’s certainly not at the top of our shopping list now. Ødegaard is a better player, but it’s wiser to base views on any player over a longer period.

Bleeding gums murphy

Interesting George, I just think smith rowe played it quicker. I think odegarrd could fit in lovely at Man City with the possession patient football. It’s just we try to do that and are clearly not that good. In 14 home games this season we lost 10 and drew 4 scoring just four goals.

A Different George

Odegaard is coming off an injury, and was just coming into full form before that. I think if you go back and watch the matches where Smith Rowe came in as our 10, he was nowhere as good–but he made a huge difference anyway because it changed the static and predictable way we had been playing. Odegaard did that too, but with significantly superior vision in his passing. (For the record, I think Smith Rowe has shown enough to be reasonably sure he will be a star for the next decade; I am talking about Odegaard, not Smith Rowe.)


Not really sure what to make of Odegaard’s play. He’s not an obvious world-beater that’s for sure. He was of course tapped as one of the world’s great youth prospects… but those very, very seldom pan out. (My theory on that having played against a couple of those a million years ago: they are kids with incredible physical advantages over their peer group, who grow up and get “caught by the pack” that matured a little more slowly). Now he has the halo of being on Madrid… but it’s telling that he couldn’t break into a midfield that has exactly… Read more »


We conjured a grand total of 0.89 open play xG over 180 (+injury time) mins of football…hahahahaha…sob, sob, sob.


Bureaucratic football, brought to you by The Process™.

Johnny 4 Hats

Jesus. I knew we were bad. But I didn’t realise we were this bad.

All change please. All change.

Eazy Deezy

I think it’s actually 1.37 xG over 180 minutes (excluding the 0.78 from the penalty). The 0.88 xG figure was for the second leg.

Still agree with you that its really poor though! I really though we would turn the screw in the second leg when backs were against the wall, like against Sparta.

But I don’t know why I was surprised – we’ve been terrible throughout the Europa knock out. We’ve managed a couple of strong half hours to pull us through ties. Does Arteta have a problem on how to approach two legged ties?


Open play vs set piece.


“I look at the numbers above and I am dumbfounded. They do not look like the stats of a team that is desperate to win a match or score a goal. “

That’s because they weren’t. Arteta clearly told the team not to take any risks until the 75thh minute. This was a team that was playing the first 75 minutes of the game just trying to keep a clean sheet and nick something, not to seriously pressure the opponent.


0 . The amount of minutes I have to listen to Karen Carney next year on a Thursday night. Every cloud …


Off topic but Joe Willock has scored again! What does it say about Arteta if Steve Bruce, of all people, is able to get more out of Willock than him? And wouldn’t it have been better if we were bringing him on in 70th minute to chase games instead of Willian (ZERO goals all season!)?

Nostalgic Gooner

He’s score 5 consecutive, crucial goals for Newcastle. He was also scoring for fun in Europa. It reflects badly on Arteta.


It’s not a good look, especially considering we’re on course to score just 51 goals this season, our worst tally since the mid-90s.

Hank Scorpio

Most impressive given how prolific Auba has been across his career. Lego ball just doesn’t cut it.

Hank Scorpio

Does anyone believe we’d be even worse off putting minutes into Willock rather than Ceballos (who isn’t even our player) or Mohammed ‘6/10’ Elneny? Even if it ended up he wasn’t good enough for Arsenal (hard to tell who is under Arteta), his value would have increased.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Maybe Willock would have scored in the dying minutes like he has been doing at Newcastle.


Maybe, and maybe he’d have been crap like he was in all the games he played for us this season…


Willock struggled with everyone else in the PL but he played very well for us in the Europa League, and he helped MA with transitioning the team to a 4231 by adding some drive and creativity. Willock and Arteta were adoring each other. I think the fact that he’s playing so well at Newcastle shows that the loan was timed perfectly to continue his development. I’ve always liked him and hope he comes back to play next season.


Totally agree; Arteta gave him several chances in the PL but he couldn’t produce what he did in the EL in the PL. We’ve done many really bad loan deals sending players out. I hope, with everything else going to shit, that we can acknowledge that this is a good one, rather than judging it as another failure that we didn’t keep him. I get more excited cheering for Joe at Newcastle than I get watching us play these days.

A Different George

Absolutely. If Willock comes back, he will be a much better player because of his loan. If he is sold, it will be for much more money than if he had stayed with us this season.


Yeah but he didn’t have an agent we could pay 5 million and then….well, let’s just say, wink wink, nudge nudge, wouldn’t want to get Arseblog sued.


Since Joe Willock joined Newcastle on loan, he has scored five Premier League goals for the Magpies – in that time, no player from his parent club Arsenal has managed to score more goals than him in the competition.

A Different George

I watched that match. Willock was very impressive in the way he controlled the centre of the pitch (with Shelvy), It was when he went off that Leicester was able to score its two late goals.




Waste of time.

The only numbers you need to know is we are STILL in 10th with no improvement since Xmas. and Zero chance of trophy or Europe.

Arteta was brought in same time as Ancelotti. 4 teams ahead of us have far poorer resources.

…and yes, genius manager lost to Good Ebening.


14% of our shots on target…pathetic, truly pathetic. And Joe Willock scored again for Newcastle. Willock has five goals on loan and four in his last four. Tough call whether to cash in on him or keep him and bet on this loan spell pushing him from promising youngster to consistent goal threat at the highest level…something we obviously need.


Yes, shots on target is something I bang on about on this site from time to time. With the odd exception, our number is anything from poor to pathetic. I don’t understand why this should be so on such a consistent basis.

Regarding Willock, I’d bring him back to The Emirates. He’s a very talented young man and with money even tighter now we’re not likely to have any European football, we’ll need to focus even more on our own youngsters.


The hopelessness and incompetence of Arteta-ball, by the numbers. What utter crap football this man has us playing.

Yet still we persist with this fraud. Truly, Mikel is the Fraud-iola that the British press had so wanted Pep to be. All hat, no cattle as we say in the States.

Here’s what I wrote a month ago. Still true!!!

”[sigh] Arteta-ball simply does not create enough chances. 3 vs 2 shots in the first half. Against a club headed down. 

Rinse and repeat. Same story every week.”

A Different George

I was interested in your comments on Bellerin. I thought he and Pepe were our best players in the second half (I don’t know if anyone was our best player in the first half). Those were the two who kept trying to create something, to force things on the opposition. Inevitably, this also means they will lose possession more often, drive into blind alleys (Pepe) or fail to connect on high-reward but difficult passes (Bellerin). My guess is that this is the reason (along with his height) that Arteta has preferred Chambers to Bellerin and (for a long time) Willian… Read more »


The hopelessness and incompetence of Arteta-ball, by the numbers. What utter crap football this man has us playing.

Yet still we persist with this fraud. Truly, Mikel is the Fraud-iola that the British press had so wanted Pep to be. All hat, no cattle as we say in the States.

Here’s what I wrote a month ago. Still true!!!

”[sigh] Arteta-ball simply does not create enough chances. 3 vs 2 shots in the first half. Against a club headed down. 

Rinse and repeat. Same story every week.”


I have a theory as to why Arteta selects players in general and Willian in particular. Seems he wants the team to play these highly choreographed, complex patterns, which I guess they practice on the training ground. Perhaps Willian is one of the players that “gets” what he wants? Perhaps the players around him are not executing Arteta’s instructions, and that makes him look shit? And perhaps that’s why Arteta has persisted with him, because he is actually one of the few players doing what the manager has asked? And perhaps against West Brom Willian was finally surrounded by other… Read more »

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x