Of course there are nine more points to play for, so nothing is settled as yet, but that has been a good first half in the competition.
However, we might turn away from the excitement of last night to ponder the implication of the figures that come out of that game.
Arsenal transformed their normal Premier League approach of dominating possession, into one in which the opposition could have possession, and this is not something commentators normally note as it is not seen as a “good thing.”
But the fact, as we noted at the very start, is that Chelsea are currently second in the possession chart in the Premier League but 10th in the league. We can also note from the table below that West Ham are 9th in the league but 19th in the possession table.
|7||Brighton and Hove Albion||9||5||1||3||22||18||4||16||58.6%|
|9||West Ham United||9||4||2||3||16||16||0||14||37.9%|
What last night reminded us, and the table above shows once again, is that while possession is generally a positive thing to have (obviously since one can’t score without it) and while possession generally equates to winning, these links are not automatic.
Chelsea have the second-highest level of possession in the Premier League but languish in 10th place. Sevilla had 56% of the possession in last night’s game, at home, and lost. West Ham United have a possession level that is worse than Sheffield United and Bournemouth, and only 0.8% better than Luton Town, and yet are ninth in the league.
My point, therefore, is that commentators who rage over some imagined Arsenal failing and base their view entirely on a single stat, after often missing a point. While of course you can’t argue with the points total gained, picking one statistic and suggesting Arsenal should be doing better in that regard (whatever it is) will often be misleading.
Part of the brilliance of Arteta in my view is that he is able to change Arsenal’s playing style. We noticed it (although I don’t think many other commentators mentioned it) when he moved Arsenal from being the most yellow-carded club in 2019/20 to having just one card more in 2020/21 than the great yellow-card avoiders, Manchester City. Indeed this season Arsenal currently have fewer cards than Manchester C.
Obviously, you don’t win anything by having fewer cards, but as Tottenham with their 29 yellows so far will soon find out, a multiplicity of cards can start messing up the team selections.
The aim should always be to score more goals than the team gets yellow cards, and this season only five teams are managing that (in the final “percentage” these are primarily the clubs with a figure above 1.0. Chelsea and Tottenham from the lower reaches of yellow card land are included below by way of comparison).
More anon. Here’s the video
A ✨𝒎𝒂𝒈𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍✨ turn from Gabriel Jesus
An ❄️𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒅❄️ finish from Gabriel Martinelli
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) October 24, 2023
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