Statistics are becoming more prevalent than ever in football and particularly here in the Premier League.
Whilst some of the beautiful game’s most beautiful acts – a Lionel Messi drop of the shoulder, a bicycle-kick clearance off the line, for example – are impossible to gauge in numerical terms, there’s something uniquely reassuring about quantitative analysis, compared to the subjective opinion of a usually misinformed pundit.
It seems to put football into a simple case of black or white, which is why the likes of Sky Sports News and BBC Sport turned to data from Sports Interactive’s highly popular Football Manager series when attempting to analyse rumoured targets of the Premier League’s top clubs during the summer.
So with that in mind and seven games now under our belt, Football Fancast have been rustling through Arsenal’s statistics for the new Premier League season in the hope of finding a few anomalous gems.
Fortunately, we did – so here’s FIVE Gunners statistics that will surprise you.
As you can see below, Arsenal’s attack is the most uneven in the Premier League, with just 28% coming down the right hand side. As a consequence, 40% of their forward play comes down the left and 32% through the centre – ranking them second on both fronts throughout the division.
How can this be explained? Well, primarily due to the role of Aaron Ramsey in right midfield. The Welsh wizard may appear there in the team sheets and cover the right flank defensively, but when the Gunners are on the ball he nearly always drifts inside, allowing speedy right-back Hector Bellerin to provide the width instead. Here’s a collection of Ramey’s recent heat-maps (versus Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester City from left to right) to prove it.
Arsenal aren’t exactly known for shin-shattering tackles. In fact, if there’s been one recurring criticism of the Gunners during the latter portion of Arsene Wenger’s reign it’s that they often get bullied out of games, failing to match the physicality of the opposition.
But in stark contrast to that preconception, Arsenal have already totalled their number of Premier League red cards from last season in just seven games – two. They both came in the same fixture, when Gabriel and Santi Cazorla were both sent for early showers during a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea, courtesy of Mike Dean. Here’s a look at the league’s disciplinary record:
Interestingly enough, however, their yellow card count is the second-lowest in the league; trumped by only Everton and West Ham. Coincidently, the East Londoners are the only side to claim more red cards than Arsenal this season – three.
Arsenal’s attacking and creative threat is well-known. In fact, it’s the biggest weapon in their Arsenal. Get it!
We’re used to seeing them near the top the Premier League’s creativity charts as they were last year (above) but the Gunners have gone one better this season; beating the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, PSG and Real Madrid to claim pole position across Europe’s top five domestic leagues, as shown below:
And much of Arsenal’s prolific creation comes down to one man – £42million signing Mesut Ozil. Many still question whether he’s proved a worthwhile addition for the Gunners but the 2014 World Cup winner has certainly produced the goods this season, topping not only the Premier League’s but Europe’s chance creation charts in terms of key passes (assists that weren’t converted) per-match, with midfield accomplice Santi Cazorla a close second.
Many have been impressed with Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott’s goal return this season, netting five times in a combined 679 minutes, which works out at one goal every 1.5 games. But considering how many chances Arsenal have actually created, a world-class centre-forward could be netting a hat-trick every week.
Whilst we’re on the subject of Mesut Ozil, there’s a few statistics from last season I’d like to drag up. Far from the walking-paced playmaker often assumed, it has been revealed that his work-rate is actually pretty much in line with the rest of the attacking midfielders from the Premier League’s top six. Here’s a look at his sprints per-match compared:
And how many times per-match he wins the ball back:
Despite his previously discussed potent creativity, he hasn’t let standards drop in that regard: