I’ve been writing a form of this column for over 5 years and I have yet to really settle into a format I like. When I first started writing these post-match stats columns I called them “7amkickoff’s Index” because they were styled after Harper’s Index. But over time this post-match review has become something of an eclectic mix of writing styles: mostly the Index style but sometimes a bit more of a classic paragraph style. What’s changed over the years is the reader’s patience - I know some of you are just dying to know what Ozil’s stats are - and what both the the Harper’s Index style and the classic writer’s blocks (!) require is patience. Which brings me to a style that my writing for work has started requiring from me, I call it “twitter style” and it goes a little something like…

Özil brings balance and control to the attack

  • 11 - Key passes from open play against BATE in the first leg, 9 down the left side, 7 by Kolasinac
  • 15 - Key passes from open play against BATE in the second leg, 7 down the right, 8 down the left
  • 16 - Shots by Arsenal against BATE in the first leg, 13 of them from the left, 1 in the middle, 2 on the right
  • 22 - Shots by Arsenal against BATE in the second leg, 6 from the left, 11 in the middle, 5 on the right

Mesut Özil was fit to start against BATE and Emery chose to deploy him in the more free, central role he’s been playing Aaron Ramsey this season. Özil led Arsenal in passes in the final third with 51, 15 more than Xhaka, and had an incredible 91% completion rate (51/56). With Ozil acting as the passmaster, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, and Iwobi were free to create on all sides of him:

  • 4 - Key passes from open play by Mkhitaryan (led all players)
  • 3 - Key passes from open play by Iwobi
  • 2 - Key passes from open play by Ozil, Xhaka, and the Lich

Set Piece Goals

  • 2 - Big chances created by Xhaka off corners
  • 2 - Assists created by Xhaka off corners
  • 3 - Set piece goals by Arsenal this season in Europa League play
  • 2 - Set piece goals by Arsenal last season in Europa League play
  • 15 - Set piece goals by Arsenal last season in Premier League play (2nd in the League behind Bournemouth’s 16 and tied with Man City)
  • 10 - Set piece goals by Arsenal this season in Premier League play

It may look like it from watching the games but Arsenal aren’t better at set piece goals than ever before. We are the same. In fact, we look statistically worse in many ways. In 2017/18 Granit Xhaka took over most of the corner responsibilities for Arsenal:

  • 2015/16 - Ozil led Arsenal with 39 key passes off corners, 2 assists
  • 2016/17 - Ozil led Arsenal with 23 key passes off corners, 3 assists
  • 2017/18 - Xhaka led Arsenal with 13 key passes off corners, 4 assists
  • 2017/18 - Ozil had 6 key passes off corners, 0 assists
  • 2018/19 - Xhaka leads Arsenal with 8 key passes off corners, 1 assists

I know what you’ll say “Xhaka is more efficient” and I guess that’s true but only if you count the ratio of assists to key passes. Here is some more unusual data:

  • In 2015/16 Arsenal were 6th in the League in corners taken with 227 corner kicks and 2nd in the League in key passes off corners with 51 but only scored 4 goals. 22% of the corners turned into shots, 2% were goals.
  • In 2016/17 Arsenal were 4th in corners with 227, 12th in key passes off corners with 31, and only scored 3 goals.14% and 1%
  • In 2017/18 Arsenal were 6th in corners taken with 225, 18th in key passes off corners with just 22, but scored 4 goals. 10% and 2%
  • In 2018/19 Arsenal are 10th in corners with 129 (on pace for 188), 18th in key passes off corners with 17, and have just 2 assists. 13% and 2%

I don’t see more efficiency in either scoring or creating. In fact, it’s been a massive drop off in total creation numbers and in percentage of key passes off corners. So while I applaud Xhaka setting up the goals last night from corners, I have no answer as to why he’s taking corners. Maybe it’s a defensive thing? He’s not going to score, we can’t have him hanging back because he will almost certainly get a yellow card, so you have him take corners to… no that’s dumb. I’d at least put him in the box to be annoying or train him how to win headers. This whole corner system at Arsenal is weird.

Auba shots

Auba had 6 shots yesterday and as noted here at the start of the year, more shots is exactly what Arsenal need in order to get Aubameyang and Lacazette up to 20 goals each. Of course it’s rather simplistic to just say that Arsenal should shoot more. There’s zero chance that Unai Emery is instructing his players to shoot less.

  • In 2018/19 Arsenal are 12th in the League in shots per game with 12.2
  • In 2018/19 Arsenal attempt 4.3 shots per game outside the 18 - 35%
  • In 2018/19 Arsenal are 9th in key passes per game with 9.4
  • In 2018/19 Granit Xhaka leads Arsenal with 328 total accurate final third passes (14.9 per game)
  • In 2018/19 Granit Xhaka is 2nd on Arsenal with 27 total key passes, 1.2 per game
  • In 2017/18 Arsenal were 5th in the League in shots per game with 15.6
  • In 2017/18 Arsenal attempted 5.9 shots per game outside the 18 - 38%
  • In 2017/18 Arsenal were 5th in key passes per game with 11.7
  • In 2017/18 Mesut Ozil led Arsenal with 845 total accurate final third passes (3rd overall in the League, 32.5 per game) and Xhaka was 4th overall in the League that season with 804 total accurate final third passes (21.2 per game)
  • In 2017/18 Mesut Ozil led Arsenal with 85 key passes (5th in the League) 3.3 per game

If you want Arsenal to take more shots (and you should) then you absolutely need to see more Ozil on the pitch. End of debate.

Unfortunately, that’s all I have time for this morning.

Qq

Sources: whoscored.com, sofascore.com, StatsZone app