Arsenal maintain shooting record; ref ups the ante. Arsenal v Forest



Arsenal maintained last season’s average and had 15 attempts at goal in that game and dominated the match.  So we might have expected more goals, but at least it was a win…

Of course, when looking at referee statistics for yesterday’s game we can only see the events, not the cause of the events.   And what we found was that Michael Oliver not only gave more fouls against Arsenal than his average for the home team last season he gave more fouls against the away team than his average last season.  Maybe our pre-match review is getting somewhere.

He gave 9% more fouls against Arsenal than he gave against home teams on average last season, but 16% more fouls against Forest than he gave against away teams last season.   In giving each side two yellows this was 16% above his average for a home team last season and 71% above his average for an away team last season.  

Arsenal had 80% possession in the game, and 15 shots (seven on target)  Forest had six shots, (four on target).    Defensively each side committed 12 fouls and two yellow cards.

But of course, the main point of discussion was the difficulty in getting into the ground.  Fortunately, my friend and I had decided on a particularly early arrival, not least because of my own unhappiness with the way the new entry system was working for me.

As you probably know, everyone attending the game in the Arsenal sections had to put their membership card into the “wallet” of their phone, and could no longer present their membership card onto the card reader at the gate.

I was worried about this because I had extreme difficulty getting my membership card onto my Google Pixel 6a, and worries increased when having got it onto my phone I found that suddenly a second membership card which was nothing to do with me also was on my phone!   I deleted it of course.

What was also troublesome for me was the way of accessing the card on my phone so I could present it to the card reader at the ground.  I have to press “Wallet” then press “Top charts”, then search the list of “Google Wallet” and then press “open” then look down the list and find “Arsenal” (which for some reason shows only half the normal logo) and there I have the ticket for the game.

It is hardly intuitive, and I did spend hours working that out before the match, so was ready, and yes for me, arriving about two hours before kick off it worked perfectly.   As long as I had retained my list saying “wallet, top charts, open, arsenal”.

And yes the system was a success in dealing with the touts – we only saw one such person between Arsenal station and the ground whereas in the past there have been loads of them with their “Who wants tickets” and “I’ll buy and sell tickets” etc.  So that was good – but otherwise….   arriving early is going to be part of the deal for a while I fear.

Now of course Arsenal don’t mind this – which is not to say they set this situation up deliberately – but it did mean that they probably sold a lot more beer and a lot more burgers than normal because people were in the ground for so much longer.

And since most sites won’t print this, we will.  Here’s the league table for the morning of Sunday 13 August 2023.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Newcastle United 1 1 0 0 5 1 4 3
2 Brighton and Hove Albion 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 3
3 Manchester City 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 3
4 Arsenal 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3
5 Crystal Palace 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 3
6 Fulham 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 3
7 AFC Bournemouth 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
8 West Ham United 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
9 Nottingham Forest 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
10 Everton 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
11 Sheffield United 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
12 Luton Town 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0
13 Burnley 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0
14 Aston Villa 1 0 0 1 1 5 -4 0


The Guardian said, “One of Arsenal’s revamped systems failed but another just about held up. If this season is to be a sinew-straining exercise in keeping pace with Manchester City then they got the first step more or less right, although a late wobble from nowhere was a reminder nothing will come easy.”

The Telegraph, with their amusingly simplistic vision of the world that one event can allow us to know the future said, “Saka finished last season with his goalscoring form formidable, ending with a hat-trick for England against North Macedonia. His 14 goals in the league were a best-ever return in what has been a steadily rising contribution. Yet in this Arsenal side it will be the case that he will have to score many more if they are to mount a credible title challenge.”   

So it is all down to him and nothing to do with Martinelli (15 goals), Odegaard (15 goals) and Gabriel Jesus (11 goals despite being crippled in the lunatic mid season world cup).

The Mail has “Piers Morgan blasts Kai Havertz despite Arenal’s Premier League win over Nottingham Forest.”

So it is nice to see that nothing (for the media at least) has changed.

14 Replies to “Arsenal maintain shooting record; ref ups the ante. Arsenal v Forest”

  1. “Arsenal maintained last season’s average and had 15 attempts at goal in that game and dominated the match. So we might have expected more goals, but at least it was a win…”

    Just what I thought. From what I saw, we totally dominated, barring a few breakaways. Which is why I couldn’t understand the official XG’s for the two teams respectively. These are yesterdays stats:


    79% – 21%


    15 – 6


    7 – 2


    8 – 3


    763 – 196


    130 – 50


    63 – 23

    So in all those offensive parameters we have 3 times the amount that Forest do, parameters that I would of thought would be the ones to indicate the amount of goals you would be expected to score, yet we get the following XG’s

    ARSENAL = 0.66

    FOREST = 1.12

    Okay, Forests XG is fair enough. Scored 1 and missed a sitter.

    But we scored 2 goals. We hit the post. We hit the target 7 times.

    I know it’s only the XG but even so, how on earth did it come up with those results. Maybe someone can explain to me how it works?

    Anyway, as for the performance. Decent enough but should of put it to bed and failed to do so and it nearly bit us on the backside again. We must sort that.

    Otherwise happy enough.

  2. The Mail has “Piers Morgan blasts Kai Havertz despite Arsenal’s Premier League win over Nottingham Forest.”

    You can bet your bottom dollar he had that written before the match even kicked off. From the moment Kai was signed he’s had a target on his back, and the pathetic Morgan is the epitome of a ‘cheap shot’ specialist.

    Okay, he didn’t set the World alight yesterday, but he was solid enough. He won 3 Ariel duels, the most from our forwards, which is an ability that will come in handy in the coming season. He had a couple of shots and almost 90% pass completion.

    Look, as I say, it didn’t set the World on fire, but was it a performance worthy of a ‘blast’ from anyone? Not really, but some people just cant help themselves can they.

  3. My impression is that Kai Halvertz is still learning to fit into the Arsenal system…as is Declan Rice. Neither of them shone like the sun…but they didn’t need to. It was interesting to see Partey played on the right side. He, too was OK but not up to Zinchenko’s standard (which is understandable since I think it is the first time he’s been used there)…and that is where I think there is cause for optimism.

    Yesterday, we were dominating without being outstanding. That will come. We are playing without Zinchenko and Jesus. Rice and Halvertz are still bedding in and Timber got crocked and lasted only half a match…and we still dominated and won easily.

  4. I actually enjoy watching Havertz ghost around the box. He’ll have his chances and will start banging them in. Plus he’s big and good in the air. I’m a fan of Ben White as well, but he had position for that run into the box and hesitated at the end. Should have stopped it. Not his fault he had to sprint 60 yards but still, he had it covered.
    The early defensive lapse (how did he miss it?) and the late one put me in mind of defensive comedies of seasons past. Birmingham City anyone, lol?
    But it’s just one game, they’ll get it sorted and stay the course. The players and manager are top quality. Edu has brought in reinforcements and they won’t be gassed and have that late season let down again.
    Another really enjoyable season ahead. COYG!!!!!

  5. Why does Morgan feel entitled to give an opinion on anything?

    He is the sort of Arsenal “fan” we could do without.

  6. Kai played well, he was over thinking when it came to shooting and became hesitant and the ball is nicked off him.

  7. seismic

    Possibly, but the XG is a post match analytical expression of a past performance. It’s not predictive, which is usually what is used to manipulate a betting market. What will, or might happen, not what has happened.

    I also wonder what parameters they use. Is it subjective? Is it an analysts subjective assessment of the value of a goal scoring chance?

    Is it a computer, or at least a matrix, putting value on ‘attacks’ or ‘chances’?

    My guess is it is subjective, and as such why am I not surprised that a non biased, impartial, analyst saw Nottingham Forests performance as much more dangerous than ours.

    I mean it’s so obvious.

  8. @ Nitram

    From StatsBomb “Each xG model has its own characteristics, but these are the main factors that have traditionally been fed into the large majority of Expected Goals models: distance to goal, angle to goal, body part with which the shot was taken, and type of assist or previous action (throughball, cross, set-piece, dribble, etc…). Based on historical information of shots with similar characteristics, the xG model then attributes a value between 0 and 1 to each shot that expresses the probability of it producing a goal.”

    Interestingly, it does go on to explain how a different xG can be given for the same shot based on the model calculating it. So yes, it’s open to interpretation…..and abuse!

    (And re. the last article, no I don’t know why Ben White was booked but it was in added time if you check a re-run of the game.)

  9. @ Nitram

    I just checked. White was booked after taking about five seconds over a throw in in the 92nd minute.

    I seem to recall several throw-ins that took much longer which went unpunished but Oliver clearly felt he had to make a point as it was late in the game.

  10. Mikey

    Thank you for that. The XG attained from those stats still seems bonkers.

    Nketiah’s goal alone was a clear chance from 6 yards out straight in front of goal. How under any matrix is that not a clear goal scoring opportunity? It actually resulted in a goal for heavens sake. As you suggest, a system clearly open to abuse.

    As for White. Sounds like as I suggested. If they cant book us for fouls, as we hardly ever tackle, they’ll have to find another way, and that will be to apply all these other new rules to us by the book. It will be interesting to see if they are applied to all the other managers and players to the same degree. We will see.

    A small note. During the City match, Pep twice put his arm around the 4th official. By the book, this is ‘unnecessary contact with an official’, which is a Yellow Card offence. No card was forthcoming. Over the weekend I saw mangers straying from their technical area. I may of missed it but I didn’t notice any of them get a card.

    So, already we have, is it okay to ‘cuddle’ an official? Is it okay to stray half a yard, a yard outside the technical area? Does it depend who you are? How far you stray? What point in the match?

    I think it will depend on who you are.

  11. “Nketiah’s goal alone was a clear chance from 6 yards” Probably closer to 12 yards, but point stands.

  12. Mikey

    Liverpool managed 1 shot on target yet had an XG of 1.23. Arsenal had 7 for an XG of 0.66

    Despite Arsenal having the 5th most shots on goal, and the 4th most dangerous attacks, every other team bar 1 (Sheff Utd) had an XG bigger than us, and not only that the XG of most were double or nearly double ours. Only us and Sheff Utd, who had 1 shot OT, had an XG bellow 1.

    Look, I know it’s only the XG, but even that doesn’t appear to have any connection with reality.

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