Detailed Analysis of the Performance Against Sunderland

We controlled the game yesterday with 65 percent possession. The opponents didn’t create much and had only one shot on target. But they took three points and we got zilch! And that’s the most important number. Nothing else matters at the end of the season.

Now there are many different ways of looking at this result. Some people see this as bad luck on the night, others see it as lack of steel, and some like me, as an attitude problem and a lack of desire. Opinion about our title hopes is as divided as ever and every loss brings out the negative voices just as each good run strengthens the believers.

I thought it might make sense to take the student of the game approach rather than an expert of the game one. This article attempts to look at some statistics from yesterday’s game and see if there are any insights. I am not claiming that these stats are 100 per cent accurate.  Various reputed websites have differing stats but they do provide a decent picture.

For instance, according to the telegraphs stats, Ramsey made 56 passes in an hour’s play with 84 per cent accuracy. If you have seen my earlier statistical analysis during the interlull, you will see that these are great statistics. Similarly Cesc had 82 with 87 per cent accuracy. Passes don’t tell the complete story but they show that players are mobile and available to receive the ball and pass it quickly. It is clear that the two creative midfielders were going about their job.

Compare those numbers with Rosicky (38 – 76%), Eduardo (18 – 89%) and Nasri (69 – 84%). First two played only for 71 minutes but they have clearly done less than Nasri and the midfielders. A striker will always have less number of passes than the rest and that is understandable, but should it be so few?

Let’s look at the front three in terms of their movement. I have created the following image from the Guardian Chalkboard.

Movement of Nasri/Rosicky against Sunderland

(c) DesiGunner

It is clear that Nasri was far more involved in the play than Rosicky. It also shows that Rosicky came inside far too often. Nasri shifted to the middle for the last twenty minutes so he is more involved in central areas. But if you look closely, neither of them was really involved in the final third and that is where the problem lies.

Now let’s compare the movement of Eduardo with that of RvP. I have taken Van Persie’s performance against Wolves for this comparison but it is similar in other games as well

Eduardo V RvP movement passes graph

(c) DesiGunner

Van Persie had better movement and involvement than Eduardo. It’s no secret that the Crozilian doesn’t have the same physical presence or pace that Robin has. So, it’s very important for him to have better movement if he has to contribute in a tough physical league.

The movement of the front three also shows why the midfield couldn’t create too many chances. If the front players don’t make the right runs, the midfield is forced to pass sideways. That is not the fault of the central players like Ramsey, Song or Cesc.

If we have to be successful and cope with the loss of our flying Dutchman, the front three really need to step up. I think Arsene knows the problem and here is what he said after the game

I believe that going forward especially we lacked sharpness and desire to go behind the defenders. We had chosen the easy part of the game, that is always come to the ball and not to be exposed then with our pace in behind. In football, if you want to score goals, you have to go behind the defenders.

The question is, what will it take to develop a ruthless streak in these players?

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20 Responses to Detailed Analysis of the Performance Against Sunderland

  1. Indo_gunn says:

    Good analyzing..i think edu still hasn’t reach his peak of physical strength..he mustn’t run or move around the box eveytime but as the front three he should be more tricky and should be in a good position to be passed or just get the rebound..i think we lack of a goal from rebound

  2. Vertino says:

    Desi, first of all credit to you for going deeper in reinforcing your thoughts with detailed statistics. As someone with an academic background in statistics, they are a part of my my life so I can never quite dismiss them so emphatically as some would.

    Now with regards to your analysis, I think the comparison of Eduardo and RVP is way, way too soon to do.

    This was I believe Dudu’s first game this season, where he has played up front on his own. It would be more apt to do this comparison 5 games later. Yes he didn’t have the best game but neither did Bent for Sunderland and his goal was a fortunate strike.

    Secondly, Dudu wasn’t helped by the fact that Wenger went for 4 central midfielders (Nasri and Rosicky were central midfielders before they joined Arsenal and still don’t have the natural ability to go out wide like Theo and Vela who latter did this for us). Even Eduardo is more adaptable as a winger because of his ability to take players on and get behind the full backs.

    As the player movement shows, Rosicky and Nasri prefer to come in the central areas and in the whole game there was only once where Rosicky ventured into the box and that was the volley effort.

    Sunderland defended really deep. As we lacked pace for 70 minutes of the game, the Mackems knew all they had to do was stay close to their penalty box as no one besides Eduardo would be in the box.

    I think Wenger went with 4 central midfielders to offset the loss of Diaby who was improving defensively and in Wenger speak was “magnetically attracted to our forward play”. It also meant that we could keep 65 % possession and look largely not at risk. This is the same argument Liverpool fans use when they lost at fulham despite keeping 72 % of the ball (estimate) and something similar vs Bham when they drew 2-2.

    There are no doubts in my mind that Diaby would have been in the box at least couple of times in that last 20 minutes alone where around 12 passes/crosses went into the box but no-one was there as Eduardo was off and Vela and Walcott aren’t really the natural strikers yet like dudu is.

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks Vertino.

      I agree that its too soon to compare RvP and Eduardo. In fact, I am not trying to criticize Dudu as a player. However, I felt after last game that he could have moved more into the channels, especially as the wide players were drifting in.

      As I noted in my match report yesterday, Nasri, Ramsey, Eduardo, Rosicky and Traore had only 6 starts between them this season. So I don’t expect them to gel immediately. The idea is to identify areas of improvement.

      I don’t agree with the 4 CM argument. Nasri played on the wing last year and did reasonably well. Rosicky has played most of his Arsenal games out wide. And they are really talented players who can certainly perform in those roles. I thought Wenger failed to see the pattern and change the game.

      And in such games when we are chasing the score, I would expect Cesc, Arshavin and others to attack the balls in the box. There is no point if Vela drops deep and Walcott is out wide and no one in the center or on the left.

  3. […] the original post:  Detailed Analysis of the Performance Against Sunderland « Desi Gunner By admin | category: desire game | tags: always-come, behind-the-defenders, […]

  4. Vikithegooner says:

    I think edu is not as clinical as he was before..may be a fitness issue..and i salute you for a very good and deep analysis on the movements of players..we lack some aerial threat on front live torres for liverpool and drogba for Chelsea we need some aerial threat..think that bendtner will be the one in the future..any way i am looking forward to a win against Chelsea..gunner 4 life..

    • desigunner says:

      I think the team will improve. Sometimes they are not on the same page. Eduardo hasn’t played enough this season but he has enough talent to deliver.

  5. mohammed says:

    If you play with sunderland by on player in the box you can’t win the game, but if you played like Wolve by tow players in the box and Arshavin and Fabregas assist them you will have a good movement in the box.
    In sunderland’s game you had 4 playmakers,Fabregas , Rocesky , Nasri and Ramsey. You didn’t need 4 playmakers in this game you need to increase forward’s players.

  6. fikadu says:

    sunderland player not allowed space so arsenal player would be played longball and wenger wrong formation because only one attaker eduardo, others all midfelder. I liked the formation would be 4-3-3 why not arshavin first form? ok all pass arsenal will be built new teem spirt and work hard for chealse clash

  7. Waffi says:

    We may not be statistitians but it was clear to see that Ramsey was awful.Denilson had the best stats in the league but one of the most hated players at the Emirates,how do you explain that? I’ve seen a thousand games where RVP was more invisible than Dudu was saturday,so no need for the comparison.Let’s not forget the pedigree of Steve Bruce as a defender,he got his tactics spot on.Please no comparison with the Wolves backline.We will do better against chelsea.

  8. Jazbo says:

    It was a perfect example of “be carefull of what you wish for coz you just might get it” no Diaby or Denilson along side Song = no win!

    Ramsey i am sure will develope into a great player for Arsenal but no right now, he should not be rushed into the midfield hurley burly of the EPL, it’s all very well playing on off games for Wales but it’s a huge step up to play in the league.

  9. Austino says:

    Just listen to them.Before the last match,all of u were thinking u have the best team in the world.Now,you can see that u lack strength indepth.Just because of a loss of one player(Vampire or watever),all of u are shaking,and couldn’t line up a team that could have beaten Sunderland.Its a big shame.Chelsea without Drogba,Lampard,Michael Ballack,Deco,Cavalho,Ivanovich.How many? Six(6)were able to roast Wolves.So u can see the wide difference btw you loosers and the boys from the bride.Le Sulks.Keep crying.

    • Diceman1984 says:

      Congrats on ur big win against Wolves, what a match…

      Oh, We re laughing at the fact that after your club sold out to a rich dude and spent maybe a billion on players, your club still manage to have no history…

      Not to mention a bunch full of losers and hyprocites….I’m not worried cause Arsenal will always a better club than the blues.

    • desigunner says:

      Our only problem was that the game was too easy and some players switched off.

      Lets see what happens next weekend.

  10. Vikithegooner says:

    Hey jazbo …..i think you are a Chelsea fan..wolves are no way equal to sunderland..they had only six players out…..we played matches without 11 players and won the match..against spurs rvp and cesc spoiled their party single handedly..look out for weakened Chelsea after jan..all black heads will go for anc competition and it will the blues crying at may..when season ends..gunners rock..

  11. Vikithegooner says:

    I am sorry jazbo…..its for the other guy who supported Chelsea..

  12. mayank says:

    amazing post again. gr8 analysis and it shows that there was lack of desire than anything else.
    And if there is no desire even after 4 years without a trophy then there is some serious issue…
    I would love to be wrong about it but….

  13. Northbanker says:

    Lets get a bit of perspective here. Didn’t Chelea lose 2 away games on the trot to Wigan and Villa…WIGAN the team that shipped 9 goals in 1 game.
    Yes it was a poor show last Sat but, at the end of the day it took a jammy goal and a nailed on pen not given to Vela to beat us. Strangely enough, after we went behind and changed a couple of players we actually showed more desire and began to look threatening but, too little too late. I fail to see why we don’t start games in that mode as we have the players to do it.
    As for the Chelsea game being the make or break for Arsenal that is B/S. Burnley, Wigan, Sunderland, Fulham and Villa have all beaten the so called big 4 this season. There will be a lot more surprises between now and May so lets get the desire and those injured players back please.

    • desigunner says:

      I feel Chelsea game is a big one because of its psychological implications. If we win that I can see us putting a winning streak together on the other hand if we lose it will be a big test of the players’ mentality.

      • Northbanker says:

        I see your point and it is valid. But defeat to Chelsea would give Wenger the opportunity to distinguish between those that have the right mentality and, those that don’t. Better to find that out sooner rather than later. But I still hope we win.

  14. Vermaelen says:

    It my thought that without much playing time, Rosicky and Nasri have not yet settled in to the new formation. They still think of themselves to be in a 4-5-1 formation instead of 4-3-3, which might be to reason for their reluctance to make runs. Also both these players are really midfielders instead of wingers, they will need time to adapt to playing as a front three instead of a midfield of five

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