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xGunners: North London Derby Stats Review

Arsenal had one of their best performances of the season.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - FA Cup Third Round
What was the score Theo?
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Living in the Pacific Time Zone is normally a sports watchers delight, if you are so inclined you have sports from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. The only real complaint that I have are these super early kickoffs.

Thankfully Arsenal put together one of their most complete performances of the season and made waking up for a 4:30 am kickoff a happy occasion where I was buzzing all day after watching instead of one where I questioned my life choices.

Anyways, these following stats should provide context to the performance, but they should also not be considered the final conclusion on the match.

xG and Passing Value Added

Running xG for Arsenal vs Tottenham
Running xG for Arsenal vs Tottenham

The opening of the match was full of intensity but not many shots. Arsenal created some danger, especially the Héctor Bellerín cross across the six yard box that was nearly put home by Alexandre Lacazette.

Arsenal got their 2 goals and then in the beginning of the second half held their defensive shape defending their lead. Then after about the 70th minute the game opened up as Tottenham pushed forward more.

xG map for Arsenal vs Tottenham
xG map

The xG map shows that while the shots were even at 14 a piece, Arsenal’s were of much better quality.

Simulated results for Arsenal vs Tottenham
Simulated results

The simulated results really illustrate how dominate Arsenal were in the match. The 2 goal margin was the most likely result at 28% but this very easily could have been a 3 or 4 goal win for Arsenal.

Passing Value Added for Arsenal vs Tottenham

Player Value Added Passing Percentile
Player Value Added Passing Percentile
Ben Davies 0.33 92.25
Mesut Özil 0.29 90.47
Alexis Sánchez 0.29 90.15
Mousa Dembélé 0.28 89.11
Moussa Sissoko 0.27 88.82
Kieran Trippier 0.24 85.76
Christian Eriksen 0.21 83.24
Nacho Monreal 0.15 74.56
Jan Vertonghen 0.12 68.55
Aaron Ramsey 0.09 62.61
Fernando Llorente 0.09 61.82
Granit Xhaka 0.06 54.68
Harry Kane 0.06 54.62
Héctor Bellerín 0.04 46.96
Davinson Sánchez 0.02 39.78
Alex Iwobi 0.02 37.55
Alexandre Lacazette 0.02 37.22
Francis Coquelin 0.01 35.12
Dele Alli 0.01 33.13
Harry Winks 0 32.39
Son Heung-Min -0.01 27.95
Eric Dier -0.01 26.55
Laurent Koscielny -0.02 20.92
Sead Kolasinac -0.04 15.35
Hugo Lloris -0.07 9.79
Shkodran Mustafi -0.15 2.97
Petr Cech -0.18 1.8

For the second match in a row, Arsenal were beat by their opponent in value added passing. This time, there is a major mitigating circumstance that explain why this was the case and that was the score and the way that Arsenal sat back in the second half.

In the first half, before Arsenal switched to defending their 2-0 lead they out passed Tottenham 0.42 to 0.25 and had more high value passes (PPVA > 0.05) with 5 compared to 2.

Mesut Özil man of the match

Mesut Özil passing value added map
Mesut Özil is really good and Arsenal fans should appreciate him while he is here

You can make a few arguments about who put in the best performance for Arsenal, but with how often Özil has been beat up for not showing up in “big games” his master class cannot be overlooked.

His match by the numbers:

  • 4 key passes
  • 1 Assist
  • 0.7 xA created
  • 0.29 Passing Value Added
  • 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 5 ball recoveries
  • One reporter who tried to troll Arsenal fans before the match made to look stupid:

Really the only thing that wasn’t quite up to his usual standards would be his pass completion. He was overall 70% and just 62% in the final third but with Arsenal employing a more direct style to bypass the Tottenham press (Wenger doesn’t do Tactics tho), I will give him a pass for this.

Alexis Sánchez: the beast of London

Özil was the man of the match but you can really point to the entire front three as having great performances as well. I specifically want to single out Sánchez for some praise as well.

Sánchez was an absolute beast on the day and he showed why he is one of the best players in the world. He will cause frustrations for fans with his theatrics and loss of possession but in my mind that is more than outweighed by the frustration he casues the opposition.

In this match he was central to nearly every Arsenal attack. Of the 14 shots that Arsenal took, he was directly involved in the buildup, the assist or the shot of 10 of them. One of the few shots that he wasn’t directly involved in was the Shkodran Mustafi goal but he did draw the foul that set up the free kick to be taken. So overall he had a hand in some way on 79% of Arsenal’s shots.

You can this is in this xG chain for the match (every player who is involved in the play that leads to a shot gets the xG credit) which lead all players at 2.1 which is 91% of the 2.3 xG that Arsenal created on the day.

Adding to this Tottenham fouled him 6 times, he dribbled past them 5 times and was an all around menace for their back line to handle.

Arsenal center backs appreciation

Being a defender at Arsenal is a thankless job and one that is nearly impossible to do well. With this in mind when the center backs have a great day it is important to point them out for some love.

As a group they were exceptional.

They closed down the passing lanes to the Tottenham front 3 with 2 blocked passes and 12 interceptions. They were 4 of 7 on tackles and gave away just 3 fouls. They combined to make 29 clearances and had one amazing block (by Mustafi).

A great game from the back three and a well deserved clean sheet for the whole defensive unit.