Those attacking midfielders. What next for Arsenal?

By Walter Broeckx

I don’t usually like to talk about the most important positions on the field for a team as I think that you can only win when all 11 players are performing well enough. But the attacking midfielder certainly is one of those positions that can decided if your attack can score enough goals.

So for this analyse I took Santi Cazorla, Mesut Özil and Rosicky who is clearly our third choice in this position.

The numbers:

Santi Cazorla   Mesut Özil Rosicky
37 Games Played 22 15
2992 Minutes played 1859 576
2367 Passes 1398 446
89.1% Passing accuracy 88.3% 86.1%
87.3% Passing accuracy opp. half 87.5% 84.5%
211 Duels won 111 41
187 Duels lost 99 28
53% Duels won % 52.9% 59.4%
5 Aerial Duels won 5 9
26 Aerial duels lost 11 8
16.1% Aerial duels won % 31.3% 52.9%
251 Recoveries 106 42
46 Tackles won 21 8
13 Tackles lost 7 2
78% Tackles won % 75% 80%
24 Clearances 6 7
5 Blocks 1 1
41 Interceptions 11 8
0 Penalties conceded 0 0
61 Fouls won 26 11
20 Fouls conceded 10 7
5 Yellow cards 0 1
0 Red cards 0 0
7 (6 penalties) Goals 4 2
427.4 Minutes per goal 464.8 288
33 Total shots on target 13 5
25 Total shots off target 11 4
56.9% Shooting accuracy 54.2% 55.6%
14 Successful crosses 19 1
63 Unsuccessful crosses 37 0
18.2% Successful crosses % 33.9% 100%
11 Assists 5 1
78 Chances created 70 7
2 Offsides 9 0
1 Penalties won 0 0

Santi Cazorla played in 37 matches in the PL. An amazing number for the little Spaniard who is slowly getting a bit older. Well, as we all do. He will become 31 this winter but when you look at him running around the field you would think that he is just 21. Mesut Özil was out a big part of the season and I really believe it cost us a lot of points. When he came back we played much better. The tactical adaption with Coquelin and Santi being pulled a bit back down the middle by Wenger did the rest.

The passing accuracy of these 3 players is amazing. Keep in mind that these are the players who play the difficult passes to set up other players. And they do go for the difficult key passes a lot so it is amazing to see that Santi over the whole season got a passing accuracy of 89.1%. Özil just behind him with 88.3%. Rosicky with “only” 86.1% is in third place.

When we look at the passing accuracy in the opposition half we see that Özil takes over the top position with 87.5% (but only just) from Santi (87.3%). Rosicky also with a very high respectable number to his name.

Looking at the duels won percentage we see that Rosicky has the best score with 59.4% duels won. The difference between Santi and Özil is 0.01 %. But still both Santi and Özil won more than 50% of their duels. Not bad for a lazy German and a Spanish midget.

In the aerial duels we again see that Rosicky has by far the best score of the three. Tomas gets a score of 52.9% won and Özil only won 31.3% of his aerial duels. But I don’t think anyone expects Özil to be the king in the aerial duels. I find the score of Santi rather amazing. Despite his height handicap he still wins 16% of his aerial duels is how I look at it.

When we look at the recoveries we see that Santi made most recoveries. He has around 7.5 recoveries per 90 minutes. Rosicky has 6.5 and Özil has 5 recoveries per match. The fact that Santi played a bit deeper might have helped him in this stat.

When it comes to tackles we see that all the players score above 75%. That is not bad for players who are more renown for their football genius than for their tackling.  Özil has the lowest score but he wins at least one tackle per match on average. Rosicky has the best score with 80% tackles won.

Rosicky is also the best when it comes to clearing the danger. This indicates that he also is the most box to box midfielder of the three. Santi and Mesut are not really the types to clear the danger a lot. But we don’t pay them to clear balls, do we?  And blocking the ball is also not really their forte. But we don’t want them their, we want them upfront and do their magic there.

Whenever we need interceptions neither of them will be first pick. Rosicky doing best of the 3 closely followed by Santi. Özil clearly not the man for this job.

On the disciplinary front we see that Rosicky is the player that makes most fouls. One per match on average when he playes. Santi despite his position in the second half of the season is a very clean player. Özil hardly makes fouls against opponents.  He was the only one to stay out of the books of the referees. Santi being top in the yellow cards, also maybe down to his position in the second half of the season.

Let us take a look at their attacking skills now. Santi scored most goals in total with seven. But we have to add that 6 of them were penalties. Özil scored four goals and Rosicky two. But when we look at the minutes played we see that Rosicky was the best finisher with one goal every 288 minutes. Santi in second place thanks to his penalties and finally Özil.

The shooting accuracy of these three players is rather similar. Somewhere between 54% and 56% when it comes to shooting on target.

For knowing the successful crosses I should leave out Rosicky I think. He made one cross and that was a successful one so he gets a score of 100%. Özil’s crossing accuracy is 33.9% and that is one of the best scores I think. Santi is third in this with 18% successful crosses.

Assisting is what Özil is known for but last season it was Santi who got more assists than the German world champion. Santi had 11 assists and also had more assists when we look at it per 90 minutes. Rosicky had the lowest score on this.

But maybe Özil should have had more assists if his team mates would have finished the chances a bit better. Because when we look at the number of created chances we see that Özil creates more than three chances per match. Surely our strikers should have done better to get Özil more assists. And them more goals of course. Santi comes second in this with more than 2 chances created per match.

So when Santi and Özil play we are almost sure to have at least five good chances to score.  It’s all down to finishing them of course.

Looking back at all this we see that both Santi and Özil had a rather difficult start to the season. All because of Blatter’s and Fifa’s stupid world cup. It sure had an impact on their early season form and they needed a few months to get rid of that world cup hangover. And for Özil the injury he sustained and might have helped him recover to come back stronger.

I’m really looking forward to the new season with finally both Santi and Özil back with the team from the start and having a normal pre-season at Arsenal. As for Rosicky he is a great valuable squad player. I love him to bits as a player (even from his Dortmund days – apart from the time he killed us in Dortmund) and a character. I hope he will stay with us as his experience is still very valuable.


21 June 1958   George Swindin became manager.  He was the final manager after the Shaw – Allison – Whittaker – Crayston sequence who had worked for the club in various guises before becoming manager.

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13 Replies to “Those attacking midfielders. What next for Arsenal?”

  1. What these stats confirm for me more than anything is just how good our third choice player in this position is.

    Like you Walter, I love Rosicky.

    Another great player that could of been even better if it wasn’t for those pesky injuries again.

    I really hope he stays.

  2. And if the successors are patient enough – jack, ox then zelalem and crowley, we may have a seamless handoff of power in our midfield for years to come. And the deepest midfield in the league.

  3. I agree that you need to drop Rosicky’s data on crosses, as 1/0 is hard to work with. I converted a number of the statistics to per 90 minutes, and where you did the same in prose they seem to agree (which means I didn’t make a mistake). In many circumstances, I think differences between these player are phantom (ephemeral?), they don’t exist. It is just statistical noise that seems to show a difference.

    Per 90 minutes of play data
    _ _ _ _Cazorla _ Ozil _ Rosicky
    Passes _71.2 _ _ _67.7 _ 69.7
    DuelsW _ 6.35 _ _ _5.37 _ 6.41
    DuelsL _ 5.65 _ _ _4.79 _ 4.38
    ADuelW _ 0.15 _ _ _0.24 _ 1.41
    ADuelL _ 0.78 _ _ _0.53 _ 1.25
    Recov _ _7.55 _ _ _5.13 _ 6.56
    TackW _ _1.38 _ _ _1.02 _ 1.25
    TackL _ _0.39 _ _ _0.34 _ 0.31
    Clear _ _0.72 _ _ _0.29 _ 1.09
    Blocks _ 0.15 _ _ _0 _ _ _0.16
    Int _ _ _1.23 _ _ _0.53 _ 1.25
    FoulW _ _1.83 _ _ _1.26 _ 1.72
    FoulC _ _0.60 _ _ _0.48 _ 1.09
    ShtOn _ _0.99 _ _ _0.63 _ 0.78
    ShtOff _ 0.75 _ _ _0.53 _ 0.63
    Scross _ 0.42 _ _ _0.92 _ 0.16
    Ucross _ 1.90 _ _ _1.79 _ 0
    Ass _ _ _0.33 _ _ _0.24 _ 0.16
    Chnc _ _ 2.35 _ _ _3.39 _ 1.09

  4. Excellent Article.

    Would be interesting to compare our above three AMs stats with the same players of the other teams ala Silva Hazard Erikson.

    Also can anybody shed light on why Wenger is giving less playing time to Tomas who is such a fine player and give so much to the team.

    Hope Tomas gets a good playing time in the coming season.

  5. Like you, I was a fan of TR7 long before he joined us. But I’m a bit surprised by his numbers, as he had a couple of shockingly bad games around sept/oct. I know he’d been out with an injury just before but he was really poor. So to have such good figures it really impressive. Although thinking about it, one of the bad games was the TinPot Cup exit, so probably isn’t in the numbers.

  6. OT watching the France v Korea Womens World Cup match. The officials are just so tasty – I don’t mean as officials but as good looking women!!

  7. Menace


    Referee: Salome DI IORIO
    Assistant Referee 1: Maria ROCCO (ARG)
    Assistant Referee 2: Mariana DE ALMEIDA (ARG)
    Fourth official: Marilin MIRANDA (PAR)

    The referee is a lawyer for a day job, and has officiated some men’s reserve games, among other games.

  8. Walter
    I haven’t written but I’ve really enjoyed these reviews. Thank you.

    Menace and Gord

    Yes. Dat ref.

  9. Nice work Walter . Some of the passes from them were truly heavenly . I am very glad with the purchase of Ozil , as it showed that we could and did strengthen our team .
    The intent shown by the club then , has changed the others perception of us .
    We are very good in this department .

  10. Great read. We are lucky to have such players. I too would love to see Rosicky stay, but only if he is genuinely happy to do so and has a realistic chance of getting a few game, perhaps through rotation. Still an excellent player.
    If reports that he is unhappy or frustrated at the lack of games, and this is likely to continue, perhaps it is better to let him the opportunity to play elsewhere…..but we are not to know what goes on behind the scenes

  11. Thank you Gord. Those ladies would really enhance the EPL if they officiated here. Problem is the players would be disrespectful (some of them for sure!!)

  12. The best part is the trio can play together with devastating effect. I’m sure more to come from Rocisky next season.

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