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Whilst arranging my end of season numbers, which I'll be posting around the SBnation football sites over the next week, I came across the percentage of minutes played for each player.
The usual method used of telling us, the fans, of how much any given player played for his side is total minutes played, I think those numbers can be taken and turned into a percentage using the total minutes the team played in the season. By using this we can come up with a depth chart for each position and this can tell us a few things.
-Who was used the most
-who was available for selection considering injuries and suspension
-Who was trusted by the manager
After the jump I'll introduce you to something I'll call ToP(time on pitch) %
Arsenal played 3612 minutes in the EPL for an average of 95 minutes per game.
Each players % is of the total mins they individually played against the total number of minutes the team played. An example X player plays 361 minutes of the 3612 minutes Arsenal played this season and thus has a ToP of 10%
So the Arsenal depth chart looks like this
Szczesny 23612 Mins 100% ToP%
Koscielny 2874 mins 79.5% ToP%
Vermaelen 2478 mins 68.6% ToP%
Metersacker 1830 mins 50.6% ToP%
Sagna 1701 mins 47.1% ToP%
Gibbs 1253 mins 34.6% ToP%
Djourou 1166 mins 32.3% ToP%
Dos Santos 1012 mins 28% ToP%
Coquelin 630 mins 17.4% ToP%
Jenkinson 493 mins 13.6% ToP%
We can see a certain level of consistency here with the CB's with Vermaelen and Koscielny being the de facto 1st choice pairing with the new signing in August, Metersacker, jumping in when injury struck.
The full back areas are a mess though, Sagna less than 50% ToP %, Gibbs and Dos Santos not nailing down the position, mostly due to injury and with Sagna breaking a leg twice in a season. The problem here being the back up full backs not being of the required quality.
Arsenal were in the top 4 of every statistical category that I counted for the 2011/12 season, bar two very important measures. Goals conceded (8th) and save % where Arsenal were staggeringly 19th out of 20. Consistency of selection and the growing maturity of the young goalkeeper should improve those numbers dramatically and enable Arsenal-if they keep Van Persie-to improve next season.
Song 2999 mins 83% ToP%
Arteta 2475 mins 68.5% ToP%
Ramsey 2465 mins 68.3% ToP%
Rosicky 1759 mins 48.6% ToP%
Frimpong 218 mins 0.060% ToP%
We can clearly see who was the work horse here, it was Alex Song and his 83% ToP%. He has improved steadily throughout his career and this was a breakout season of sorts for the player. Arteta and Ramsey came next on the depth chart with very similar ToP%'s, Arteta being an especially good signing and Ramsey continuing his development. Rosicky played very well when his fitness held up, and, was mightily impressive late in the season.
Has Fabregas been replaced? I don't watch Arsenal week in week out but purely from a statistical point of view, I'd say yes. Arsenal were very strong statistically, except for the save % and goals scored, and although a little responsibility can be portioned to the midfield and it's shape, I'd say that selling Fabregas, for that amount of money, was a very good deal for Arsenal and his loss and it's effects have been minimal.
Walcott 2747 mins 76% ToP%
Gervinho 1685 mins 46.6% ToP%
Benayoun 901 mins 24.9% ToP%
Arshavin 722 mins 19.9% ToP%
Chamberlain 556 mins 15.3% ToP%
Walcott is the undisputed #1 wide player and he had to be as this group looks a little light in quality. The playing time Walcott received should do him no end of good. Benayoun was a key loan signing, and a player who should be brought back if the cost is minimal. Arshavin is gone.
Now, Oxlade-Chamberlain. For me, he looks a tremendous prospect, quick, skillful and blessed with the ability to have an end product. This is the key difference between himself and Walcott, I call it football intelligence. Chamberlain appears, although it's early days, to have a footballing brain. He picks the right pass, knows when to run at a player, understands the tempo of the game when he appears from the bench. All told, I think Wenger used him very sparingly and this, although Arsenal fans disliked it, will be good for his development. Expect to see a ToP% figure of around 30-40% next season. A quality, quality prospect.
Van Persie 3334 mins 92.3% ToP%
Chamakh 169 mins 0.046% ToP%
Henry 94 mins 0.026% ToP%
Van Persie not only played the most minutes for of any of the outfield players for Arsenal, it also looks to be the highest ToP% number of the teams I have looked at so far. He was a revelation for just staying fit and healthy and not burning out. Because, my Lord, that is the definition of an overworked striker. The fact he was able to post the sensational, and generational numbers he posted this season is incredible. He was 1st in goals, 2nd in assists, 3rd in minutes per goal, the one negative was his scoring % (shots on goal/goals) regressed steadily from February from around 44% to the 36.5% figure he finished on. He was a revelation and owner of one of the best seasons for a striker the EPL has ever seen.
Chamakh, ugh, an irrelevance, he should of been so much more. Henry did well in his short cameo. But the real story here is the lack of depth or an alternative. Arsenal would have been in trouble if Van Persie's new found durability had been breached. No player, league wide, was so heavily used and depended on like Van Persie was (40% of all teams goals, involved in 52.7% of all teams goals) and that is a situation that couldn't go on. Hence, Podolski. Is he the answer? We don't know, but he is help and that is what Arsenal need right now. It doesn't bear thinking about where Arsenal would have finished without Van Persie's incredible season.
Food for thought for the near future no doubt.
Thanks for reading. I write for Bitter and Blue on the SBNation network.
Twitter @ Benjamin Pugsley