By Tony Attwood
A reader recently raised the point that he didn’t particularly want Arsenal to buy more players but buy better players. So I wondered just how good Arsenal players actually are.
I’ve taken two measures. One a list of the top 20 from today’s Daily Telegraph, which runs its own listing, I think with the help of Opta, and one from WhoScored.com which has a detailed set of stats on its site and reaches its numbers from combining these stats.
Of course no set of figures is perfect, but it seems to me to be interesting to compare these two sets of findings. First the Daily Telegraph’s top 20.
1 – Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
The Telegraph says, “Ozil has made nine assists in the first 10 league games of the season and while at times is said to disappear from sight during a match, you should realise by now that he’s just doing a sort of Predator thing. You’re never safe. When this current Arsenal team goes forward in full flow, Ozil is the magic ingredient that makes it all work and he is playing like the number 10 the Arsenal fans all went doolally over when Wenger spent all of his money on him. A class act. A lot of Arsenal goal celebrations at the moment are strikers running over to Ozil waving a finger at him as if to say “there is no way you actually knew I was there”, after receiving a no-look first time pass into the box. But he did know. He knew all along.”
The statistical point they make is that Mesut Özil has the best games/assist rate not just in the PL at the moment but in the entire history of the Premier League. No wonder they made him number one.
2 – Dimitri Payet, West Ham
3 – Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
The Telegraph’s view is “In addition to either scoring or being involved in all of Arsenal’s goal, Sanchez dribbles past a defender an average 3.7 times per game and has 4.5 shots per game. He plays out wide. If this is him tired, what is he going to be like when he’s fully recovered? And he’s only 26.”
It seems that a sense of realism does actually exist within the old vicars and colonels right wing daily.
4 – Jamie Vardy, Leicester
5 – Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City
6 – Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
“Santi Cazorla is at the centre of everything Arsenal do well.” And yes one has to agree as “he completely controls the pace of the game and is the best player on the pitch in most games that he plays. Other players get more goals and more assists… but Cazorla brings others into the match and allows them to finish and set up moves. And anyway, he already creates 3.5 chances per game and has a 91% passing accuracy.”
And of course he is doing it in a new deeper role. “Cazorla is the best deep lying playmaker in the league.” Yep, I’ll go with that.
7 – Chris Smalling, Manchester United
8 – Nicolas Otamendi, Manchester City
9 – Anthony Martial, Manchester United
10 – Petr Cech, Arsenal
“Against Swansea, Bafetimbis Gomis had half a pitch and all the time in the world to get a goal one-on-one against Petr Cech but the keeper stood tall, waited his arrival and controlled the exchange completely.” Well, yes he had the defender in the right place at the right moment to pick up on the last bits of the move, but still, Cech certainly did everything possible. “Cech really looks like the missing piece in Arsene Wenger’s Premier League title push jigsaw.”
11 – Riyad Mahrez, Leicester
12 – Christian Eriksen, Tottenham
13 – Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal
“Koscielny is easily one of the best central defenders in the league.” (I love putting bits about Kos here because as I have now reminded him 74,387 times my mate Ian once said at the end of a disappointing home game, “Koscielny simply isn’t up to it.” I begged to disagree and for just once in my life I got a footballing prediction right. A rarity. That’s why I keep reminding Ian.
“His partnership with Per Mertesacker is extremely well balanced and with Petr Cech dependable as the last man, their hard work is producing clean sheets and a big goal difference advantage for the Gunners. Man of the Match in the 3-0 win over Swansea and the scorer of a crucial goal against Everton which earned Arsenal three points. Koscielny’s biggest strength is his ability to read the game – he makes an average of 4.3 interceptions per game, the highest in the league.”
And for once in my life I agree with a Telegraph assessment. What is going on? If I can’t disagree with the Telegraph who can I disagree with?
14 – Odion Ighalo, Watford
15 – Romelu Lukaku, Everton
16 – Ross Barkley, Everton
17 – Yohan Cabaye, Crystal Palace
18 – Georginio Wijnaldum, Newcastle
19 – Manuel Lanzini, West Ham
20 – Virgil Van Dijk, Southampton
So what does this mean in terms of players per team in the top 20. Well, it is rather, err, shocking, at least for the “buy better” boys.
- Arsenal 5
- Man C 2
- Man U 2
- Leicester 2
- WHU 2
- Everton 2
|1||Riyad Mahrez Leicester,||9(1)||779||7||5||8.29|
|2||Jamie Vardy Leicester,||11||982||11||1||7.87|
|3||Santi Cazorla Arsenal,||11||979||–||3||7.80|
|4||Mesut Özil Arsenal,||10||848||1||9||7.79|
|5||Dimitri Payet West Ham||11||988||5||3||7.72|
|6||Alexis Sánchez Arsenal,||10(1)||867||6||–||7.72|
|7||Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City,||6(1)||560||3||4||7.68|
|8||Virgil van Dijk Southampton,||7||630||2||–||7.66|
|9||Laurent Koscielny Arsenal||9||810||2||–||7.65|
|10||Nicolás Otamendi Manchester City||6||540||1||–||7.62|
|11||Anthony Martial Manchester Utd||6(1)||565||3||1||7.55|
|12||Ross Barkley Everton,||11||990||3||3||7.55|
|13||Nacho Monreal Arsenal,||11||990||–||2||7.54|
|14||Yaya Touré Manchester City||10||799||2||4||7.53|
|15||Christian Eriksen Tottenham||7(1)||632||2||3||7.52|
|16||Francis Coquelin Arsenal,||10||790||–||–||7.49|
|17||Jordan Amavi Aston Villa,||8(1)||746||–||2||7.48|
|18||Mousa Dembélé Tottenham,||7(1)||524||2||–||7.48|
|19||Héctor Bellerín Arsenal,||10||900||–||1||7.46|
|20||Fernandinho Manchester City||11||969||2||1||7.46|
A different source, different ways of analysing, and different answers. But just look at the totals once again by teams. (Obviously as with the above list I am not putting the clubs with one top player in, in my totals lists).
- Arsenal 7
- Man C 4
- Leicester 2
- Tottenham 2
Having top class players in your club does not make a club win the league. But let me ask a question.
We have the finest stadium, and it seems, the finest players. Was this worth waiting for?
Of course having asked such a pompous rhetorical question we’ll probably have a rotten night in Germany, but even if we do (and of course I hope not), these figures ought to give every Arsenal supporter a good feeing about the rest of this season.
Footnote: I am extremely sorry for the disruptions to Untold in the past week. If I weren’t grey haired already I would be now! Believe me it hurts me more than it annoys you, and I’ve been going bonkers trying to work with IT experts to solve the problem. If you find you can’t get on to the site at any time, please visit www.facebook.com/untoldarsenaltoday and you will find the article there. Oh and while you are there, you could like us too. In fact, if you do enjoy Untold, you could like us on Facebook anyway. Such little things do help.
Please stay with us. I’m really trying to sort it out. Tony.