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.
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
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?