Thursday, April 25, 2024

Arsenal 3-1 Sp*rs: By the numbers

Arsenal had a dominant first half, Arsenal’s project looks to be moving in the right direction, Sp*rs look like they don’t believe in what they are doing, North London is RED, Arsenal is above Sp*rs in the table.

The world is healing.

Before the match, I was cautiously optimistic but still worried that somehow Sp*rs would do a smash and grab in this one like they have done already this season. Thankfully Arsenal came out fast, got a deserved goal, then added on, scoring three wonderful goals and killing the match.

Some of the stats are going to be massively affected by the score because going up 3 goals in the first effectively kills the match and Arsenal was mostly content to see things out.

At halftime, given the team’s general strengths, Arsenal goes on to win that 98% of the time and it felt exactly that certain. Even the consolation goal, wasn’t enough to really move the needle.

Basically, it was a delicious 45 minutes, followed by an additional 45 minutes of relatively stress-free enjoyment. The perfect Derby day.

I think that also in that first 45 minutes we saw exactly the type of attacking system that Mikel Arteta wants. The first half passing network looks like a textbook 3-2-5, with each of the 5 attacking channels supported. I’ll leave it to one of the very good tactics writers to go in-depth on it but it was really nice to see more of the ultimate vision of how Arsenal will look in attack here,

Arsenal 3-1 Sp*rs: By the graphs

Arsenal 3-1 Sp*rs: Breakdown of three beautiful goals

3 – Incredible knee slides

4 – Passes in the build-up to Arsenal’s first goal.

It all starts with Ben White winning an Aerial duel against Harry Kane, White advancing the ball straight up the pitch to Granit Xhaka who then finds Martin Ødegaard who gets it to Bukayo Saka. Saka carries the ball into the box, where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s run takes two defenders to clear space Emile Smith Rowe to slot home (Big Chance, 0.53 xG).

Arsenal started 70 yards from their own goal and in 11 seconds had the ball in the back of the net.

10 – Successful passes in the build-up to Arsenal’s second goal.

In the build-up to this goal, Arsenal was on the fortunate side of the Premier League’s change to letting small contact go for non-fouls (maybe it is frustrating but for the most part it was called consistently in this match which is the biggest thing that you ask for, that contact was not a foul all day, for either team). What the build-up diagram here misses is that some of these passes were wonderful one-touch layoff passes. From the time Xhaka recovers the loose ball, Arsenal goes 70 yards in 10 seconds, with a beautiful one-touch layoff by Smith Rowe to Kieran Tierney, who finds Aubameyang doing some excellent center forward work with an outside of the boot flick to spin the ball into space for Smith Rowe to carry and then finally cut it back for Aubameyang to slot home (0.07 xG).

3 – Successful passes in the build-up for the third Arsenal goal.

This play starts with Thomas Partey tackling Harry Kane (I love that two of Arsenal’s three goals start with winning the ball off of him), Granit Xhaka recovering the ball and getting it to Ødegaard, who finds Smith Rowe who is able to get the ball into space for Saka to run at the Sp*rs defense. Saka tries to find Partey but Kane’s blocked pass falls to Saka who calmly puts the ball in the back of the net (Big Chance, 0.37 xG). Arsenal goes 78 yards in 11 seconds and puts the game to bed.

You may have noticed on these graphics that there are little numbers highlighted above each action. These are how much each event added to the team’s probability of scoring, sort of like expected goals but taking things a step backward from the actual shots. If you want a bit longer explanation I have written it up here. Overall for the match, this is how Arsenal looked:

Takehiro Tomiyasu clamps down the right side

39% – Percentage of attacks that came down Sp*rs left side (Arsenal’s right defensive side)

0 – Times dribbled past

1 – Tackle

1 – Interception

3 – Clearances

2 – Blocked Passes

8 – Ball recoveries

It was pretty clear in this match, that Sp*rs were attempting to get Son Heung-Min matched up on Tomiyasu as much as possible. For the most part, Tomiyasu was more than up for it. Son managed just a pair of shots, 1 pass completed in the box, 3 progressive passes.

Looking at where Sp*rs tried to get the ball into dangerous locations from shows how generally ineffective they were. Tomiyasu was directly challenged by one of the best wide forwards in the League and came away looking very good.

The Hale End Boys shine

2 – Goals for Saka and Smith Rowe

3 – Shots for Saka and Smith Rowe

2 – Assists for Saka and Smith Rowe

4 – Key passes for Saka and Smith Rowe

7 – Shot creating actions for Saka and Smith Rowe

4 – Progressive passes for Saka and Smith Rowe

10 – Progressive carries for Saka and Smith Rowe

6 – Progressive passes received for Saka and Smith Rowe

8 – Touches in the box for Saka and Smith Rowe

Beating Sp*rs is wonderful, beating Sp*rs with huge contributions from two players who came up through the Arsenal Academy is spectacular.

One of the big things I think that we all wanted to see from Saka and Smith Rowe was end product. We can see the talent oozing from these players but sometimes it still takes time for that to translate into goals. It might still come in fits and starts but it was excellent to see both of these players directly involved in the goals that Arsenal scored.


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

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1 more stat, Harry Kane league goals this season 0! Thanks for the assist Hazza.


60 – years since they won the league
30 – years since an FA Cup win
4964 – days since a trophy.

Keep going Sp*rs!


Love the fact that their last league title is now closer to the reign of Queen Victoria than the present day…


Will soon be closer to the 1800s than today.

Spiffy The Dog

Their last league title happened before construction had started on the Berlin Wall


They have also missed that opportunity that comes around every 10 years when the year ends in a 1 to win a trophy.
Surely Mourinho’s Roma are destined to deny them the Europa Conference next year too.


139: Years since they’ve been shit.




The scum were “founded” 1882. And they’ve been shit since.


For Sp*rs, form is temporary, shit is permanent.


Founded 1882. And they’ve been shit since!

Never Happen

It happened!!
Thanks for the analysis Scott.


Tomiyasu – aka Spike Spiegel – is an absolute destroyer of footballing souls. Man, he was fucking outstanding defensively and going forward. I’ve heard Regulion, Nodombele, and Son all woke up whimpering, in cold sweats last night.

I’m totally running with the Spike Spiegel Nickname too. A few of us have been discussing Cowboy Beebop in reference to Tomi, and it’s so bang on. For those not in the know, Spike Spiegel might be the most badass Anime character of all time. Tall, strong, dominating, and cool AF. Tomi and Spike even have similar hair.


The Tomi-nator.


10- years since Tottenhum recorded a win at the emirates.
1- Total wins the c*nts have recorded at the emirates .. EVER


I had the displeasure of being there…


You must be old David

Cranky Colin

Sorry….. who are you talking about🤷‍♂️?


Stress free second half???

Jesus Christ. I didn’t relax until the 3rd minute of injury time. Been following football too long.

As an aside, I have a confession. After we have won a derby, I have a sneaky listen to the Sp*rs podcasts. It feels dirty but listening to those clowns implode is delicious delicious schadenfreude!


I could give that a try, could you recommend which one will have the most tears?


They’re all shit. Genuinely. When you think about the absolute quality that we have in the arsecast and arsenal vision and some of the others that are also grand, sp*rz ones are appalling. To be born a gunner is a glorious thing.

The fighting cocks was my favourite because the pundits are so unlikeable as people as well as being spuds. You can really double down on the enjoyment


It’s “Expressions Oozing” for me lol! Man, he was seething after the match

Top Tier-ney

Ben White’s importance shown right there in the “Goal Probability Added” stat…

His ability to effectively pass between the lines, as well as to read the game well and win the ball higher up to pitch, compared for example with Holding, adds so, so much, and makes games immensely easier, because we frequently bypass the oppositons front line of defense that way and have players going at the the other team in more space, and with more creative options, as well as just keeping the other team constantly on the back foot through quicker recycling of possesion.

Top Tier-ney


If you want to be a team that dominates games, White is exactly the type of player you need to have in your team.


Seems kinda mental how low Odegaard is on that list.
I was also a little surprised at how low Auba’s goal rated on xg. Maybe just that he makes it look easy

Top Tier-ney

Odeegard was involved in the build up to the first and third goal yesterday if I am not mistaken, even if he didn’t do anything too flashy.


On the US broadcast they were talking about how that Auba’s was actually a really tough shot even though he made it look easy, so i guess the pro-level eye test and the advanced stats are in agreement.


Does xG take into account weaker foot and first time shot as modifiers? That may account for Auba’s shot being so low in terms of xG. Else I have no idea.

Vaibhav Pandey

Yes, this play is important and I believe Spurs initial setup was plain wrong which facilitated Arsenal bypassing their midfield. Kudos to White, he is improving game by game and impressed to see Ramsdale so higher in that table 😀


Absolutely, this is exactly why Ben cost the £££ – comparing outright defensive contribution and shrugging is easy, but combine that with his excellent deep attacking play and it’s like being allowed to field an extra player.

Great result, and really pleased the summer signings are so far looking like big value adds.


This is a great take. He alone is on of the major reasons why we are able to go right and through the middle much easier in this game as you can see with his high possession and connections in that figure. I still have issues with his price tag, because I think Saliba could be doing much the same AND that transfer alone is what really pushes us into big questions in terms of FFP; I don’t want us to be a sugar daddy team. But it is becoming quite clear why we signed him. There might be a… Read more »


1 – Number of times ESR and Saka had spuds for breakfast


Thierry Henry seen cosying up to 1 rich dude.

Viju Jacob

Now I get it…wasn’t it the Spotify guy next to him?


That’s right.

Ghost of Fabregas

Just wonderful.

I’m surprised the xG stats are so low – is would never “think” Saka’s chance, once it becomes a shot, only has 0.37xG

Philip Visser

Thanks Scott. I’m a bit surprised that Ødegaard doesn’t features higher on goal probability addition. I thought he was excellent seeing and shaping the movement that led to 2 goals. I suggest that his obvious and growing connection with the Hale End boys was crucial and fun to watch

DB's first touch

The interesting thing is that Ødegaard has the highest XG chain but the lowest value (of the starting XI) for goal probability added. It just shows that stats are quantifying very specific things and can on the surface appear contradictory because we take the specific thing they represent and use to them to try to understand things in a more general manner; i.e., does Ødegaard contribute to our attack? The answer, according to those two metrics and for this match only, appears to be that Ødegaard is involved in a lot of our good attacking moves (high XG chain), without… Read more »


these stats are very limited when it comes to picking up the job MØ does i think. he is so important in retaining possession and allowing us to dominate as he always seems to find a pass and is always happy to receive it (and able to keep it) in very tight situations where he is heavily marked. i think he is going to be a huge signing for us.

A Different George

I think your eyes are clearly right. This is not a knock on statistical analysis, only that–as DB points out–by their nature they measure very specific actions. I think anyone who understands football thought Odegaard was brilliant *and* important in the first half.

Humbled yet?

Interesting to see whether the Ramsdale haters come back on these boards and eat some humble pie.
Likewise the clowns who attack Granit and any other player that is one of our own.

Credit Edu on the summer recruitments too I would say


Well, i will say that xhaka was the only player in red making me nervous. The foul where he needlessly bear-hugged the other guy? The time when he went to ground out wide of the area and the spud skipped away to get into our box? Oof. That said he also did a lot right and i appreciate his endeavor, here’s hoping he’s not hurt too badly. On ramsdale i was skeptical based on the fee (because keeper didn’t seem like a critical position to upgrade and it wasn’t clear from the stats that he’d be an improvements on leno)… Read more »

Wrighty's hats

Agreed. Overall he was great, and helped us win the game for sure. I hope he’s okay and back in contention for the squad as soon as possible, it’s great to have choices for our midfield. But at the same time it really seems like he can’t help but go in for those careless tackles that can (and have, many a time) cost us dearly – luckily there were no consequences this time. This is another example of him playing well and yet still putting everything the team works for in a game at risk. It was something that he… Read more »


Problem with your analysis or Xhaka is that in actual fact he was involved in both goals, with his passes unleashing and Arsenal player to run at the disorganised defence of…. (can’t for the sake of me remember that name)


yes. this is the perennial problem of xhaka isn’t it? we can all see the talents he has and he always puts a shift in and works for the team but every single game he seems to do at least a couple of crazy things completely at random – either playing an insanely risky pass across the pitch for no good reason or the consistent silly fouls he makes in dangerous areas, again for no reason. having said that, on his day he is v good and i am fine with us keeping him around for this season at least.… Read more »

Reiss Neverseen vs the DicTeta

Ramsdale arguably doesn’t have haters but doubters instead. Many of whom on this site are evidently coming around. It’s good for him that he has started his Arsenal career well but it’s still early days. Xhaka indeed does have people who hate him in this fanbase. I think the hate is obviously not necessary. Though, after five years at this club, it’s pretty clear that he can’t always be relied upon. Had the club accepted the Roma bid, we’d have put an end to a toxic situation and given the player (and club) a reset. Instead we, chose to persist… Read more »


As a former Ramsdale doubter I agree, i never hated him, but was not at all keen on us paying 20m+ for a keeper instead of a xhaka upgrade or a proper right back, then we got tomi and I’m happy to say Ramsdale now seems an excellent signing.


To be fair I’ve started nibbling on some humble pie, I still think he is a good shot stopper but suspect on crosses. IMHO he was also over priced (not his fault). So if he keeps improving, keeps marshalling the defence, keeps clean sheets then I’ll happily munch on the rest of the pie….. If nothing else it’s given Leno a wake up call and much needed competition since Emi left… Anyway still smiling from Sunday and COYGs….


Yeah, he was the signing I was the least excited about, and I have to say he’s been changing my mind. Even though I watched him quite a lot last year (living in Sheffield, loads of blades mates) I didn’t really see what Arteta et al saw in him. So yeah, while it’s early days, I am happy to eat some of that pie.


Great shout out to the knee slides!!
ESR’s knee slide was absolutely world class. One of the best I’ve ever seen.


He had such wonderful raw emotion when he scored, great to see.

Also these guys must practice knee slides, most of us would end up face planting.

The next NLD is on January 18th during the group stages of the ACN so we’ll be missing Auba, Partey, Pepe, Elneny.

So Laca in for Auba, and Lokonga in for Partey.

Should be another 3-1 win which by that time moves Arsenal into the top 4 and leaves Sp*ds in the relegation zone.

Wrighty's hats

Love it. Bring on the rest of the season


Scott, any insight on why Auba’s goal graded out so low on xG? If not in prime it’s very close to, no pressure on the shot action, and few defenders directly between the shot location and the goal. It’s not an easy chance, per se, but .07 is below conversion standard.

This isn’t meant to be a criticism, just curious. Love what you do.

Reiss Neverseen vs the DicTeta

Weaker foot?

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