I was looking at some statistics and the passing stats interested me. I think Arsenal games can be classified based on these numbers. It’s more of a post game classification rather than a pre-game one, although it wont be difficult to predict in many cases.
First up are the games we dominate
Amongst our recent games, the wins over Portsmouth, Hull and Stoke are in this category. We tend to have 550 passes or more with a high success rate that translates into a very healthy possession count. This means we keep the ball for long periods and move it at speed which implies that our pass and move game is working, and normally we get enough chances to win the game.
Only on rare occasions, like the recent home game against Everton (569 passes with 86% success), we fail to create enough opportunities in the final third.
The second type are the games that are really close and tough.
These are the games where we typically manage between 350 to 400 passes with a relatively lower success rate. Obviously, our possession stats are also affected. In these games the opponents close us down well, denying our players space and time on the ball. The other team tries to give as good as it gets and the results are often decided by individual moments. Needless to say these are the games where we really have to fight for the points.
The third and final category is everything that falls in between these two.
Sometimes the opponents are happy to let us keep the ball. They try to keep the defense tight and hit us on the break. Occasionally, they enjoy sustained spells of pressure but most of the game is about Arsenal trying to break the opposition down. We have seen mixed results in these cases.
For instance, against Villa the game was tight but an inspired cameo by El Capitan changed that into an impressive scoreline. On the other hand, against Chelsea we had enough control but a five minute spell before the break resulted in a depressing final score.
These games are deceptively tough and the score often does not tell the complete story. Being hard fought, these games too are influenced by individual performances and mistakes.
At times, we see a mixture of the first two types. For instance, the Bolton home game was very tough for us in the first half when we didn’t get our passing game going and we really dominated it in the second half when we played at a higher tempo.
The big question is, which category will the next four games belong to?!