Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Arsenal 0-0 Burnley: By the numbers

This was a disappointing result with a weekend of mixed results for Arsenal.

Arsenal picked up a point relative to last season (this was a loss last year) but were expecting all three. Arsenal are also 5 points better than. they were last season after 21 matches played

Two of their competitors for the top four lost, but one was against another direct competitor who jumped over Arsenal. With the number of matches played varying the table is sort of lying at the moment.

Team Played Points Per Match GD Per Match
Manchester City 23 2.48 1.78
Liverpool 22 2.18 1.77
Chelsea 24 1.96 1.25
Tottenham 20 1.80 0.10
Manchester United 22 1.73 0.27
Arsenal 21 1.71 0.38
Wolverhampton Wanderers 21 1.62 0.14
West Ham 23 1.61 0.43
Brighton 22 1.36 0.00
Leicester 20 1.30 -0.15
Aston Villa 21 1.24 -0.19
Southampton 22 1.14 -0.36
Crystal Palace 22 1.09 -0.14
Leeds 21 1.05 -0.76
Brentford 23 1.00 -0.52
Everton 20 0.95 -0.55
Norwich 22 0.73 -1.45
Newcastle United 21 0.71 -1.05
Watford 20 0.70 -0.85
Burnley 18 0.67 -0.61

It wasn’t the best weekend for Arsenal but Arsenal are still right in the middle of the fight for top four.

Arsenal 0-0 Burnley: By the graphics

Arsenal 0-0 Burnley: By the numbers

20 – Shots for Arsenal, this is the 7th time that Arsenal have taken 20 or more shots this season in the Premier League. Arsenal only had 20 or more shots twice last season.

0.07 – Arsenal’s average expected goals (xG) per shot in this match. This is the third-lowest average for Arsenal this season (Brentford 0.05, Brighton 0.045)

2 – Shots in prime locations (within 12 yards of goal) in this match.

3.3 – Touches in the box per shot in the box. Third-highest touch in the box per shot in the box ratio for Arsenal.

18.5 – Arsenal’s average distance for shots in yards. the fifth-highest average distance this season.

23% – The probability of Arsenal scoring zero goals with the expected conversion values of the shots Arsenal took in this match. It is 20% if you only consider the shots that were on target (5).

35 – Crosses attempted by Arsenal in this match. 4 were completed and 3 turned into shots.

23 – Crosses attempted by Arsenal from open play in this match. 2 were completed and 1 became a shot.

The stats from this match are very mixed. On the one hard Arsenal took plenty of shots and created chances that in most matches would have been sufficient to score at least one goal. On the other hand, this match for long stretches never felt dangerous for Burnley.

Arsenal weren’t especially ponderous in this match, by my calculations they averaged a speed towards goal of 2.1 yards per second in possession, which is not far off the 2.2 yards per second that they average this season. Arsenal did have periods of long uninterrupted possession, with 27 possession chains consisting of 10 or more passes but these also led to Arsenal advancing towards the Burnley goal, with 65 touches within 25 yards of goal (2nd most this season). What didn’t happen was turning possession in promising positions into clear-cut chances (just 1 big chance in this match, Lacazette 67′). The non-shot expected goals race chart (a measure of the probability of scoring based on where events are taking place but only for actions that are not shots) illustrate this well, especially in contrast to the expected goal race chart.

This is always the struggle against a team that is putting 9-10 men behind the ball. In this match. In this match Arsenal resorted to lots of low and medium quality chances, with many trying to go through multiple Burnley defenders, leading to 7 of Arsenal’s shots being blocked before it could threaten the goal.

Arsenal also resorted to attempting lots of crosses in this match, with Kieran Tierney and Gabrial Martinelli attempting 7 crosses from open play. This was something that Burnley don’t really mind teams to trying against them, especially when the crosses are coming in the air, which 20 of the 23 Arsenal attempted were.

Getting the first goal against Burlney is tough, they are not a good team but they are a stubborn defense that ranks as the 10th hardest to create chances on when the game is tied. Arsenal threatened but couldn’t find the breakthrough.

Brunley’s time-wasting

37 – Seconds that Burnley took on average for their 10 goal kicks in this match. Arsenal took on average 24 seconds for their 8 goal kicks.

21 – Seconds that Burnley took on average for their 11 throw-ins in this match. Arsenal took on average 11 seconds for their 20 throw-ins.

35 – Seconds that Burnley took on average for their 13 freekicks and corner kicks. Arsenal took on average 24 seconds for their 25 freekicks and corner kicks.

112 – Total possessions in this match for both teams (56 each). A possession is when a team is in control of the ball and is able to string together 3 attacking events consecutively or take a shot. By definition, each team will have an even number (plus or minus one) by this measure. This is the fewest possessions that Arsenal have had in a match this season and I think is a reflection of Burnley trying to shorten the game and take advantage of variance in their favor, with fewer chances for the superior talent of Arsenal to show through.

60 – Minutes of the ball in play time by my calculations. The average ball in play time for the Premier League this season is 60.07 minutes.

Burnley certainly tried to milk as much clock as they could in this match but ultimately the game time was typical for a Premier League match. It is frustrating to see players move in slow motion when they are looking to get the ball back into play and I think that the referees should deal with yellow cards earlier and actually back that threat with second yellows (sometimes it feels like once you’ve got your first one you are immune to keep doing it because the outrage of time-wasting red would be huge).

Ultimately, the answer is to institute a stop clock but the running clock thing for this sport is so ingrained with the pros and cons that come with it, that a change that big would probably be a non-starter.


Sources: Opta via whoscored, StatsZone, and my own database.

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Viju Jacob

@Scott, there was no “by the numbers” for the Man City match and I wonder if that can be put out please… thanks

Scott Willis

I was traveling so I never had time to write up that one.

Olawale Olayemi

I was so looking forward to that one, honestly


Passing map highlights the disconnect between the back 4 (Gabriel-Holding-White-Lokonga) and the front 6 (Tierney-ESR-Ode-Laca-Saka-Martinelli) in this game and the “doughnuttiness” of our passing and crossing. Not what you’d call a tactical masterclass.


I see what you’re saying, though as there are also plenty of vertical lines (and as Scott said, we averaged a speed towards goal of 2.1 yards per second in possession), it seems that this wasn’t the main issue. I do note that there were more passes between Ramsdale and ESR than between Lokonga and ESR (no line=less than 5), and that Lokonga’s only significant connection to the front 5 was to Ødegaard (who tended to receive these passes a lot closer to Lokonga than the passing network suggests). Not putting the blame on him, just an observation, though I… Read more »


Maybe if you don’t isolate him he can make those connections. The issue is the glaring space between their average positions. Lokonga was clearly instructed deep and ESR and Odegaard as AMs and even forward and wide trending attacking mids. Where is the link up between the #6 and the forward line? You expect Sambi to just pick defense splitting passes through two lines of defense to heavily marked attacking players? No you need players filling that space to advance the ball through it, or it simply gets forced wide – which is EXACTLY what we saw in this game.… Read more »


I think that’s more of a consequence of Burnley playing the compact 442, they had two players to screen passing angles into Lokonga. So it forced us out wide much earlier than we would have liked. Things were also compounded by Holding being our most xG Build up player, if you look at this most common passes being into Ben White and then back out to Gabriel, which are basically safety passes, it goes to highlight why we struggled to unpick Burnley and create anything of real substance. One more thing I would add is, I thought Lokonga really didn’t… Read more »


To your “forced us out wide earlier…” point – I feel like there was a noticeable dropoff in natural positioning from Tommi to Benji White (as he should be known when slotted at RB). He seemed less willing to push forward than my memory tells me Tommi would & seemed to be standing on top of Holding at times. I actually don’t think Holdings’ play on the ball was the main issue & was more down to White not providing width / an early out ball. White didn’t have a bad game by any means – I just saw it… Read more »


Yeah Whites positioning was definitely flatter than Tommi probably would have been, but I guess that’s not something that can be helped when you have a centre back playing out there. Someone will always revert to type instinctively, very little that can be done to prevent that from happening when its stand in/ad-hoc cover. I still think our biggest problem on the day was the single midfield pivot against two strikers in a mid block passive press in the central area. Things were then compounded by Lokonga’s unwillingness to make himself available as quickly as possible, and the distribution from… Read more »


Arsenal is erectile disfunction in the shape of a football club.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

That explains the ‘clean sheet’ against Burnley.

Viju Jacob

Hey, didn’t you join Mora on loan?!?!😁


whichever way we look at it is 2 points lost;
to reach 70 points we need to make 34 points in 17 games,
if replicate same form 1.71 per mach we reach 65 points,
65 points is 4 points more than last year, but only enough for a 6 spot,
which is where we sit now.
it’s a difficult situation

A Different George

The only law relating to time that I know of is the requirement that a goalkeeper can handle the ball for a maximum of six seconds (including bouncing it, etc.) or an indirect free kick will be awarded. I have seen this enforced exactly once, in favour of the United States women’s national team against (I think) Canada. Keepers violate this law in almost every match; it is not only never enforced, I have never seen a keeper warned by the referee.

Naked Cygan

Why do we go wide every time we have the ball? This gives the opponent an advantage. And why are we crossing the ball in the box when we only have one or two players in the box who can’t win a header to save their lives? We need to be more unpredictable and creative with our attacks, just like the ESR shot from the corner which should have been a goal but the keeper made an amazing save. When your own keeper is complaining about the pointless crossing in the box against a physical side we have an issue.


Look at the average positions of Odegaard and ESR. They are so far foward. Burnley effectively left Lokonga and the backs time on the ball from deep and covered the forward players providing no avenue through the middle. People talk about “the hole” in front of midfield and behind the strikers – it is about as glaringly obvious as it could be in this game. We need a second midfielder – no question. Playing two attacking mids is not more attacking, it actually blunts our attacks because it’s so hard to get the ball to them.


David Dein has been proposing independent time-keeping in football for years. If both codes of rugby, basketball, etc., can all do it, what is stopping football? As long as the parameters of clock-stopping are closely defined for injuries, substitutions, goal celebrations, players haranguing the referee, etc., there is no reason why the job could not be handed over to the 4th official. The on-pitch referee has enough to do.


I can see why that would fair, and in the game’s best interest, but we’d never again have an Anfield 89, or Wembley 79, or that Paul vassaen header v Juventus 🙁


Oh no! VAR for clocks!!!

Q3 Technique

Lokonga needs to stop channeling his inner Denilson and pass to someone other than a defender. No wonder the build up is so slow when the pivet is passing the ball backwards so often


Maybe, just maybe giving him someone in midfield to pass it to and between might help. We just allowed Burnely to compress their two lines of defense and shut out the middle of the park with our tactics. Denilson played in midfield with Cesc. Lokonga played in midfield with NO ONE.


Sambi’s first thought always seemed to be “pass back”. Yes he was alone in midfield because, against a Burnley tactic of dropping off, we got up to 90% possession and high up the pitch. He could quite easily have been taken off and Eddie thrown on earlier to get into the box.


So you’re response to having no play through the middle of the pitch would be to take off the already lone and isolated midfielder and replace him with another forward in an essentially 3-0-7 formation? In sure we’d create a tone of chances through the middle that way.


Great article Scot. 15 minutes of Burnley taking goal kicks, throw ins, freekicks and corners. May they be relegated. Btw any chance these By the Numbers pieces could include a link to all the definitions of the metrics.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Burnley only did to us, what we did at Anfield two weeks ago.


Xhaka >>> Lokonga

Regardless of red cards, at the very least he can actually compete at this level. Lokonga is so overrated by the fans. You can find plenty of his likeness in lower level football. Great physical and technical qualities, can play a decent long pass and dribble. But doesnt do the basics very well, and simply put isnt that difficult to play against. We cant be building our team around him for the future. Have to find one or two new young quality deep lying midfielders.

A Different George

Yes, Xhaka is better right now. Yes, Lokonga was ridiculously overrated after his first appearances. But, as you say, he has “great physical and technical qualities.” I would add that he seems eager and a hard worker. Which means there is a very good chance that he can develop into a top-level midfielder. That’s what having physical and technical ability means.


Can’t we phone Raul Jimenez’s agent and try and unsettle him?

Okay so one of our players smashed his skull but surely he can forgive?


Agreed. We need someone like that who can play deep but get forward quickly when the attack is progressed. Laca does the first part only.

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