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The Value Of Arsenal's Goals

At SB Nation, we're privileged to have an extremely intelligent person in Graham MacAree as our soccer section overlord. Graham, as I'm sure most of you know, runs the Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History and is editor for He's also the creator of a personal-favourite baseball statistic of mine, in tRA, and developed a win-probability model for soccer, which he graciously lent to me for this project. So, most of the work was done by Graham; all I had to do was input data.

The win-expectancy model that Graham has developed is fairly rough. It is by no means perfect, as it only deals with goal-scorers and people who get sent off. It does not, as of yet, measure the value of events like assists, passes, interceptions and tackles. What this analysis does give you, though, is a rough estimate of how valuable certain players have been to Arsenal, although some, like Alex Song and Laurent Koscielny, are given a false value because they don't score goals. At the very least, it's a fun exercise, and lets me write more about Robin van Persie being awesome.


Arsenal's most valuable player was, surprisingly, some Dutch striker called Robin van Persie. With 30 league goals, he was always going to amass lots of points (22.18, in fact), which is why it might be more interesting to look at his points per goal, and per 90 minutes. He loses out in both categories; Yossi Benayoun, Tomas Rosicky and Thierry Henry scored fewer goals, but almost all were game-changing. Arsenal's second best contributor was Thomas Vermaelen with 5.31 points, followed by Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun. Obviously, Alex Song, Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny miss out because they don't score goals and, as of yet, we don't have a way to measure the exact value of passes, tackles, interceptions and saves.

Best Bang For Your Buck (Minute)

Thierry Henry scored one very crucial gone and one very not so crucial goal in 94 minutes. He is the winner of the Most Efficient Player award, with second place going to Robin van Persie and the bronze medal going to Yossi Benayoun. There will be a minimum time played for next season.

5 Most Important Goals

1. Thomas Vermaelen v Newcastle (2-1) (+1.98)

Vermaelen's goal just beats out Thierry Henry's winner at Sunderland on account of Vermaelen's strike being the last kick of the game.

2. Thierry Henry v Sunderland (2-1) (+1.95)

This goal may have been one of the most important in Arsenal's season, kick starting the run that would see Arsenal catch up to Tottenham. Without Henry's goal, turning one point into three, Arsenal might not have had the belief to come back and win the games that they did.

3. Robin van Persie v Liverpool (2-1) (+1.78)

This goal was pretty fun, and was the 'smash' part of 'smash and grab'. But it happened in the second added minute of eight and Liverpool brought on vaunted goal-scorer Andy Carroll in response.

4. Yossi Benayoun v Aston Villa (2-1) (+1.78)

Yossi Benayoun's header from a corner (!) was the first of a trio of important goals. This 87th minute winner was important enough to make it on the top 5.

5. Robin van Persie v Chelsea (4-3) (+1.69)


And the wooden spoon goes to...

Alex Song's own goal against Blackburn (-1.05 points), making it 2-2. Arsenal wouldn't recover from that own goal, with Laurent Koscielny adding one of his own in one of Arsenal's worst displays of the season.

And, to show off the win-probability charts, here's Arsenal's mad 5-3 win over Chelsea from Stamford Bridge. Once again, thanks to Graham for giving me access to his model.


If you want to view the value of each goal, you can download the file below. Just be sure to contact this site if you wish to use it in any way.

Arsenal's goal value (click to download)