EDITOR’S NOTE: Please welcome Scott Willis to The Short Fuse! You may be familiar with Scott’s work at Crab Soccer Stats. We are thrilled to announce that Scott’s bringing his awesome stats and analysis work to TSF, and will be part of the TSF family from now on. We’re really excited to have Scott on board and look forward to his great work.
On Sunday, Arsenal were convincingly beaten by Manchester City 3-1. In the end it was a fair margin, but one that very well could have swung a number of different directions, and is a great illustration of the inherent variability of this game.
These following stats should provide context to the performance, but they should also not be considered the final conclusion on the match.
A good place to start is with the xG for the match:
If you are unfamiliar with xG, the short explanation is that it is a measurement of the quality of chances for each team, using the probability of a goal being scored for each shot, and is set to the scale of goals (the closer you get to an xG of 1.00, the higher the quality of the chance). A full explanation, including how it is calculated, can be found on my website.
What this shows is a fairly even match until the penalty, and then Manchester City have the better of the chances even with Arsenal pulling a goal back. If you watched the match, though, it should be fairly obvious that this misses some things.
One of the drawbacks of xG, is that it requires a shot to be taken for it to register. Early in the match Manchester City had 4 dangerous crosses across the Arsenal six yard box, which in the first half very nearly turned into goals. If contact had been made there would likely have been 0.4 or greater xG chances. There is also the matter of the penalty, which was a foul but was soft, and then there was the offside pass in the buildup to the third goal. These controversies are missed in xG analysis, but if they go in Arsenal’s favor the match looks quite different.
Overall the best player on Arsenal was Aaron Ramsey who lead the team in both xG with 0.19 and xA at 0.25.
Next let’s look at passing:
Value Added Passing
|Value Added Passing
|Value Added Passing
|Kevin De Bruyne
The short explanation for this stat is that it tries to capture how well a player passes, and how effective their passing was at moving the ball toward the opponent’s goal. The percentile rank column gives added context to help us understand what is a good number and what is a bad number. The full explanation can be found on my website.
The best passers list pulls heavily from Manchester City, with just four of the top 13 marks belonging to Arsenal players. What is most concerning is that Arsenal’s two superstars, Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez, are both well down the list. Each was well below the per 90 averages of 0.6 and 0.5 respectively that they had averaged before the match.
What else really sticks out from an Arsenal perspective is Francis Coquelin’s -0.3 from the match, which is one of the lowest full game marks in my database (2017-18 season for Top 5 European Leagues), and was made even worse by the fact that it was accomplished in just 56 minutes on the pitch.
Lastly, a word on Petr Cech and penalty shots.
Cech has now faced 12 penalties in the Premier League with Arsenal, and has not saved one. There is an awesome website that allows you to view all the penalties in major competitions going back to 2009, and from it I have pulled the information for Cech:
The penalty faced on Sunday isn’t in the database yet, but in looking at the previous 11 faced it is becoming fairly clear that his inability to save penalties is less likely an issue of bad luck and more likely some flaw that shooters see that allows them a better chance to score. Based on the expected values for @PenaltyKickStat and run through the expected goals simulator created by Danny Page, there is just a 7.9% chance that all 11 would have scored.
I am not a goalkeeping expert, but this is a concern, and it’s something that Arsenal should really use some of their resources to examine and try to fix.
This is my first post on The Short Fuse and I would like to make these stat reviews of the matches a regular feature. I am interested in hearing what you would like to see in these posts, so please let me know in the comments if there are other things you would like to see going forward.