And so we play Burnley on Sunday at 7.15pm. Tactics, statistics and injuries

By Bulldog Drummond

It’s become quite clear what Arsenal need to do, and it doesn’t have anything to do with mucking about with agents and money laundering (see How the media provides a cover for money laundering in football.)  It has to do with tactics.

At the time of writing this here’s the foot of the table…

Club P W D L F A GD Pts
14 Leeds United 12 4 2 6 17 22 -5 14
15 Arsenal 11 4 1 6 10 14 -4 13
16 Brighton and Hove Albion 11 2 4 5 15 18 -3 10
17 Fulham 11 2 1 8 11 21 -10 7
18 Burnley 10 1 3 6 5 18 -13 6
19 West Bromwich Albion 11 1 3 7 8 23 -15 6
20 Sheffield United 11 0 1 10 5 18 -13 1

Burnley’s record is clearly rather shocking, but let’s take a look at the home and away division.  We know that the Guardian this week published an outrageous piece saying that the away advantage has vanished, but the statistics show this is completely untrue.

Here is the last set of figures we put together (this accurate up to 8 December and just relating to the Premier League, unlike the Guardian’s figures which were for all of Europe, last season).

Subject Home Draw Away
Percentages of results 2019/2020 (crowds mostly present) 43% 29% 28%
Percentages of results 2020/2021 (mostly empty stadia) 37% 20% 43%
Difference between the two sets of games -6% -9% +15%

So in a game of evenly matched teams we have the advantage with the away side (43% chance of a win to our 37% chance).

We can also look at our playing report, and find that indeed there is little between the two teams and we are a long way away from Tottenham’s whose figures are similar to Liverpool and Chelsea.

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Arsenal 132 112 1.18 16 7.00 1 0 15
Burnley 138 102 1.35 13 7.85 0 1 18
Tottenham 161 142 1.13 13 10.92 2 3 1

These are remarkably similar records with neither club anywhere near the approaches used by the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea.  I can’t quite see why Arsenal are not adopting these.

Do we really have no one on the books who can give us another couple more tackles a game, every game, taking the fouls up if need be by two or three a game but keeping the tackles per foul ratio down, and so doing it all without picking up more yellow cards?

It is noticeable that when measuring fouls committed per yellow card given, we are in the realm of Burnley, not the realm of Tottenham, and that is part of the problem.   And don’t forget that we are not just comparing Arsenal with Tottenham in terms of tactics.  Chelsea and Liverpool are the same.

You can see the full table drawn up after last weekend’s games in The Stats that show what Arsenal must do.

Arsenal’s home record is virtually identical to the media’s favourite, Leicester.  But let us also compare home and away form for this game…

Pos Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
12 Arsenal home 5 2 0 3 5 8 -3 6
18 Burnley away 5 0 2 3 3 12 -9 2

So even without any tactical change of the type noted above we could still expect to win.

As for the injuries, we are now back up near the top – and once again we find that none of the people who for years said the high number of injuries we got were all Mr Wenger’s fault, have come up with a reason why once again we are in the upper reaches of the injury list most weeks.

  • Liverpool: 9
  • Aston Villa: 8
  • Newcastle United: 8
  • Arsenal: 6
  • Brighton and Hove: 6
  • Everton: 6
  • Burnley: 5
  • Crystal Palace: 5
  • Leicester City: 5
  • West Bromwich Albion 5

Here’s the table from Physioroom – and at least Pepe will be back after this match, and although Martinelli’s 50% shouldn’t be taken as a sign he’ll play (I suspect he needs a 90 minute game with the under 23s) he is getting closer.

The injury file from

Player Reason Further Detail Potential Return Condition Status
Nicolas Pepe Suspended Sending Off – Red Card 16/12/2020 None Ruled Out
David Luiz Moreira Marinho Head/Face Injury Dec 11: “We will have to assess him today and tomorrow to see how he is feeling and whether his is able to compete or not.” 13/12/2020 Late Fitness Test 50%
Reiss Nelson Head/Face Injury Head Injury 13/12/2020 Late Fitness Test 50%
Sead Kolasinac Other Undisclosed 13/12/2020 Late Fitness Test 25%
Thomas Partey Thigh Injury Dec 11: “Thomas will be out for a few games. It is the same area where he got injured previously, we will have to see how long it is going to take to heal.” No Return Date None Ruled Out
Gabriel Martinelli Other Dec 11: “Played his first 45 minutes for a long time [U21s vs AFC Wimbledon], he came through the game and felt really good.” No Return Date Currently Being Assessed 50%

More on the game anon.

3 Replies to “And so we play Burnley on Sunday at 7.15pm. Tactics, statistics and injuries”

  1. We can’t even take a throw-in without picking up a card I dread to think what will happen if we start this tackling lark !

    Perhaps we should start ‘rotational throw-ins’ to see if that helps avoid picking up cards.

  2. The throw ins have been picked on but are not foul throws. The movement of the ball from over the head is clear as VAR has shown but the yellow cards and fouls are not apologised for. The official is obviously biased by some outside influence and needs to be retrained.

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