Why we need to be very careful in quoting Arsenal statistics

By Walter Broeckx of Arsenal Worldwide

Is every 6-0 the same? It is a question we could ask ourselves on the day, well after a few days in fact, when we won 6-0 and Chelsea also won their first home game with  6-0. A popular score in London for the moment.

The pundits are wild about Chelsea doing this twice against a newly promoted team(WBA), like we did with Blackpool and against a team (Wigan) that just had been beaten by that same Blackpool.

I do think that when we come in may we will see those 3 teams very close to the bottom 3 of the league. I do hope for Blackpool they find a way to avoid relegation as they seem to be a team that is trying to play football and don’t use the ‘kick you to pieces tactics’ as we have seen way to many times being used against our players.

So maybe it’s time to look at some match statistics and I will take both the home games from us and from Chelsea as it can make a difference if you play at home or you play away.

We had a total of 30 shots against Blackpool and Blackpool managed to get 5 in total. Chelsea had a total 19 shots against WBA who had 11 shots in that game.

We had 8 corners against the 2 from Blackpool and Chelsea had 3 corners and WBA had 2. We made 10 fouls in total and Blackpool only made 5 fouls so we were almost a dirty team at times. Chelsea made 12 fouls against WBA who made 10 themselves.

The passing success was almost the same as we had 87,9 and Chelsea had 88,4. It would be interesting to see how many passes actually had been made but I couldn’t find this information anywhere.

We made the same number of tackles as Chelsea did (15), but they are a far better tackling team than we are as their tackling success was largely better than our 66,7 against their 73,3.

One somewhat amazing statistic is that we only had 54,5 % of possession and Chelsea had 60,1 %. And if you compare this with the territorial advantage you see a completely different picture. We played in their half for 63,5% of the time and Chelsea played only for 50,3 in their half. This means that we spend a lot of time in the Blackpool half even when we didn’t have the ball and that Chelsea had the ball a lot but where playing in their own half.

The main conclusion you can draw from this is that we attacked Blackpool the whole game having the ball or not. But then I still had the feeling that we had more off the ball than this 54,5 %.

Because after having seen these statistics and I have found them on Sky Sports, I really started wondering if my thoughts of the game and my general feeling of the game was that bad.

And so I looked around and I found statistics on the BBC and they said we had 65% of possession. Now I will not moan about one channel having a difference of 1, 2 or even 3 or 4 % in possession compared to another, but having a difference of 10% is very much.

Who is right and who is wrong?  I had the feeling that we certainly had much more of the ball and that 65% should be the right number for this game.

Maybe one of the conclusions about making conclusions about possession is that it all depends on the way they measure these things and there is a difference between them, but I just don’t know which. But who is wrong and who is right? And if for the rest the statistics are almost the same why then suddenly this big difference between two ‘reliable’ channels.

Off course a shot is a shot and this is something that we all could measure if we would take the time for it. But possession is something different to measure and I really have no intention to do this to get a third number. So maybe we could agree with 60% possession in the Blackpool game.

But we can say that we created a lot more than Chelsea did and as we almost got 30% more shots than they did. But you can also say that Chelsea are a more cynical team when it comes to finishing their chances. One thing is for sure we can enjoy the game more as we always try to bring the ball up field and bring it to the opponents penalty area and try to play our game over there. We play attacking football and Chelsea play somewhat more counter attacking play. But I think most of us didn’t need all those numbers to come up with this conclusions.

But the main conclusion could be: be careful with statistics on possession.

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18 Replies to “Why we need to be very careful in quoting Arsenal statistics”

  1. You forgot the biggest statistic- Blackpool were playin with only 10 men for more than half of that match. Maybe if they had 11 men, then our statistics would have not been so good.

  2. Dark Prince – I actually felt like we were just starting to take an iron grip on the game and were slicing them apart at will when the sending-off occured. You could argue just as easily that Blackpool might have been more likely to keep trying to attack with 11 men, and that might have resulted in even more (and clearer) chances for us, and maybe even more goals. We will never know either way.

  3. yeh dark prince, and maybe if we had been chelsea against 10 men we would have won close to 20-0 cos we would have been better finishers. I wonder how much Chelsea would have beaten Blackpool with if they only had 10 men on the pitch. Surly it would have been more than 6 dont you think?

  4. @Paul C- Arsenal were definately goin to win that game by a good margin. But Blackpool had created some good chances before the sending off. I reckon we would have conceded a goal if they had 11 men coz at some instances, they played good football. Infact, i felt we were lookin at a club which were tryin to play arsenal at its own game (the passing game). They had a clear chance to draw level after they conceded the first goal, but their striker headed it wide. But nonetheless, they could hav scored one or two goals.

    And i’m suprised that arsenal didn’t score more bcoz blackpool were not playing defensively even after the sending off.

  5. @gulp- i think the concept of comparing teams on how they play other teams is completely baseless. Also for a better fact, statistics are never good to compare teams. Just because arsenal has better goal scoring rate or better possession than chelsea doesn’t mean we are better than chelsea. The only way to compare on who is a better team between Arsenal and Chelsea is when they play each other.

  6. Arsenal v Bl passes 554 total 486 success
    Chelsea v WBA passes 555 total 491 success
    Not a lot in it. Guardian chalkboard has all sorts of stats. They don’t seem to give possesion
    Be careful you can spend hours messing around with it.
    They don’t really do stats for goalkeepers pity as it is so topical

  7. I don’t care about those stats. Just think Chelsea pretty much had their best XI playing and all had a decent pre-season. Had Cesc and RVP had a full pre-season and started that game, and we had Song DM and Koscielny at CB. We could have scored even more.

    If we had won 1-0. People would have said you should be beating them 6-0. When we beat then 6-0 people say, well it’s only Blackpool. We cant win. Well we can, 6-0, but you know what i mean.

  8. Just a thought, regarding the possession of the ball.

    The differences between different measurement could be if they measure the possession over 90 min or only when the ball is in play.

    As example, Arsenal has a goal shot off target and it is the keepers ball. It takes almost a minute for the keeper to get the ball in play again. If this minute counts as possession of the ball and Arsenal has 20 shots of target while the opponents only have, say 5 shots, could explain why the percentages are 45% vs 55%.

    If its only measured when the ball is in play, it may go up to 65% vs 35%.

    As I said, it was just a thought…


  9. Diamindave, thanks for the link. I will keep it in mind whenever I feel like looking for some stats

  10. Six is never enough is it? Sure they had ten men and we had over 60% of the ball, to me the important thing is we found the net (you know that thing that stops the ball going into the crowd) a thing we couldn`t do last season. Ian Holloway summed it up when he said “I was just grateful Arsenal didn`t score anymore”(or words to that effect). Be nice to stick six up old Sam on Saturday, wouldn`t it?

  11. This weekend we square up against blackburn away, it shouldnt be a hard game but it always is, blackburn at home is a fortress and the way fat sam sets up his team always makes it very difficult for us, i would like to see the more energetic gibbs playing for clichy, the ultimate encouragement for me would be a cleansheet, there’s something about hoofing the ball into the box that we’re inable to deal with. So is kosc or squillaci our partner for the vermanator? im happy we’ll have the precision of fabregas and the god’s first touch of rvp back in our arsenal, with walcott hopefully still on fire. Asharviin is still nowhere but he does contribute and often has moments where he switches on and it often leads to a goal. rosicky needs to keep playing, i would favour him on the front left over asharvin on current form but i dont think wenger has the balls! this is the game i would want a new keeper for as there is bound to be errors, hopefully song can help out the back four.. i feel confident, we cant make the same mistakes, we need to push hard in defense because they cannot operate at our tempo, dont expose the backline, and get the early goal. from there gunners, go for the jugular, no place for complacency this season! good luck…

  12. I think the likes of Jeery are not thinking straight. Perhaps overseeing the building of a new stadium and training ground, as well as keeping the club financially healthy has something to do with it.

    He deserves to be well paid as far as I’m concerned. The only current manager in the Prem to win more trophies than him is Fergie. Plus, seeing as this could well be his last contract with Arsenal, his loyalty and doing his job well deserves to be rewarded. Dont think its fair of you to suggest he’s greedy, because if that was the case then why hasn’t been on that kind of money in his 14 years at the club so far? If it was about money he could have walked away when we had little finances at the club, and managed Real Madrid when he was offered the job.

    The only manager thats served a club longer than Wenger is Fergie, and you can argue that the Arsenal gaffer has done a better all round job for our club than the Scottsman has for United, and not just risked everything, livelihoods and bankrupsy, for the sake of filling the trophy cabinet.

    Mourinho, Ancelotti, Benitez, Hiddink, Mancini have all been paid much more at various times, yet they haven’t served their respective clubs nearly as well. Also, as good as the managers mentioned above are, none of them could do what Wenger has done with the comparatively little money he had to work with. Can you imagine Mourinho working within buget contraits? Wouldn’t happen because he cant do it.

    Also, there’s not many other managers would have discovered players like Cesc, Viera, Henry, Kolo, RvP, and many more when Wenger did until much later in the players careers.

  13. I do beleive that arsenal will absolutely wallop another prem side one day getting into double figures.
    Good to read your comments Frankbuch.

  14. Hey we won 6-0 and yet ppl still complaining?
    We were up 5-0 and what did we do? We sent in Cesc and RVP. Its like Chelsea winning 5-0 without Lampard and Drogba, which I doubt can really happen.

  15. The style we play creates a lot of chances but not always clear chances Chamakh for example had 5 shots 1 goal 2 of his shots were clear chances you would expect him to score he scored 1. Chelsea dont create anywhere near as many chances but they create clearer chances they had maybe 10 chances you would expect the players in question to score against Wigan we had roughly the same against Blackpool I also think this is evident when we played Chelsea last year we created more chances but the took their chances as they were easier to do so. Its the same thing when we defend we concede less chances than other top teams but we concede better chances which is a reason why our goalkeepers have a low save to shot ratio. Sometimes you have a day when everything just seems to go in when that happens for Arsenal it will be a cricket score when it happens for Chelsea it will be 6 or 7 if its against a poor team.

  16. Hi Walter,

    100%, yes 100% of league matches against The Arsenal have resulted in a sending-off of an opponent. Surely, this means that it will always happen?

    Ah, statistics, the bane of our lives. 😉

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