These Stats Tell a Story

Individual achievements and performances in the 2020-2021 season by statistics – Part I.

For the summer break before the Euro21 is started I plan a 5-part series to put our players into PL perspective. For that purpose I use only the publicly available statistics from WhoScored:

To avoid unnecessarily long posts Part I-II. will deal with general and defensive statistics in the PL, followed by offensive and passing performances in Part III-IV. and conclude it with all of the above in the Europa League. Don’t expect expert analysis though, I will use the ranking to see if there is an Arsenal player in the Top20. Maybe a sentence to evaluate – to invite discussion among the comments, but I’ll do my best to refrain from criticism. Some of the attributes are cumulative, some are calculated on a 90 minutes ratio, but they can all be compared to other players’ similar statistics.

General statistics

Appearances & mins:

There are plenty of players with 38*90 minutes under their belts (including Martinez). However we don’t have an Arsenal player in the Top20. In fact, Leno is #50 with 35 games and 3132 minutes. (If you’re interested, Saka comes second with 30+2 and 2562 minutes.)

I don’t think this should be a competition though, and hope for a less imbalanced GK situation next season, with our #2 – whoever he may be – more involved.


As you know, Kane won with 23. Lacazette is #9 with 13 goals. Which is only a bit more than half of Kane’s, but if we take the game time into consideration, Harry scored every 134 minutes, so Lacazette’s 148 is only about 10% worse. And while the trend from winning the Golden Boot 2 seasons ago, running up last year and being ninth now is not reassuring, but looking at the big picture and context, it is not that bad either.


This is something I’m less proud of. While there are 5 players with more than 10 assists (with 2 from Tottenham, including Kane, who came first in this category too), our best is Willian with 5, which places him az #29-48. He needed 1407 minutes to accomplish that, but compared to KdB’s 12 assists in 2001 minutes it’s not particularly efficient.

Yellow cards:

Again, there is a statistic with an Arsenal player in the Top10. John McGinn won the title with 12 (in 37 games), while Bellerin is at #8 with 8 yellow cards in 25 games. (Xhaka follows with 7 in 31). This shouldn’t be too alarming, as I’m not particularly satisfied with the impartial refereeing; and especially as I expect this figure to go down next season as Arteta must prioritize reducing red cards, which will likely bring down the number of faults and yellow card warnings.

Red cards:

Only Lewis Dunk got 2 red cards in the PL this season, and there are 35 players with a single marching order by his name. Statistically – with 20 teams – one should have 1,75 players, but Arsenal actually had 5 (Luiz, Leno, Xhaka, Pepe, Gabriel). This is way too much, and even though some of it was unjust or even biased, it should really be a priority to bring this down to 1-2 next season, as it obviously contributed to missing out European football. Especially as we don’t play particularly rough or aggressive.

Aerials won (per game):

Don’t ask me what this indicator does in the ’general’ category; my guess is that it doesn’t belong under defensive, offensive or passing either. And this is also a general statistic, as you can find players of all positions at the top. Benteke (ST) leads with 6.8, Soucek (CM) is second with 6.2 and Tarkowski and Magurie come at #6-7 with 4.6 duels won. Our towering trio of Mari (2.6), Gabriel (2.5) and Holding (2.4) are around the 36-44 places.

Man of the Match awards:

With Kane claiming the Golden Boot and the most assists it is not surprising that he won this category too. With 13 awards he is way ahead of KdB (8) and Mané (7). Our best candidate is Pepe with 4, sharing the 9-27 positions. So let’s say he is #9. J By the way, Nicolas Pepe needed only 1614 minutes for the 4 MotM awards, this was only beaten by Bale (923) and Saint.Maximin (1568 minutes, and 5 awards). This is not the same as a fanblog’s such award, as theoretically a blog would give this 38 times  for a member of the team (often even shared), but WhoScored grants 1 award each game for the best player on the pitch. So Arsenal got (only) 20 in the whole season. Behind Pepe Lacazette and Willian (!) got 3, Saka and Ceballos 2 each and 6 players (Holding, Bellerin, Elneny, Partey, Auba and Martinelli) 1.

Fun fact: Pepe wins the most EL MotM award category with another 4, but I’ll talk about it later.


Apparently this statistic favors attacking midfielders as 4 players from the 2-6 positions (behind Harry Kane, obviously) are AMs for trade. HK leads this category with 7.79, Mason Mount is #6 with 7.33. Arsenal’s best is literally Ryan with a 7.1 average in 3 games, but we should exclude him due to the small sample. So in reality our best rated player – according to WhoScored – was Lacazette with 6.89 (placed at #81 on the list), followed by Saka, Ceballos, Chambers and Holding. (Our 4 worst players with 1000+ minutes in the PL this season were Willian [6.65], Leno [6.56], Luiz [6.51] and Elneny [6.43].) But let’s not forget that substitute appearances decrease the rating, so players with many 10-15 minute cameos are not assessed properly.)

This was the first batch of statistics.

What are your opinion? Where shall we improve individually next season?

Assuming that WhoScored has no anti-Arsenal bias, where/why do you think it under- or overrates players?

Please let me know if you’re interested in the other indicators, as I know that not many are such number-muncher comparison-freak than yours truly.

By Peter Barany.

15 thoughts on “These Stats Tell a Story

  • Cheers PB for a well researched post. I guess the stats in your first post reflect where the team ended in the league. Yet they don’t reflect the two-stage nature of our season. Things have been so much better since Christmas.

    It would be great to have a regular assist producer next season. Who could this be?

    ESR? Still too young to get into double figures..

    Odegaard, if he stays? Quite possible.

    Partey? Will improve but unlikely to hit double figures.


  • That’s what worries me Peter and why I’m a bit sceptical about some of the transfer targets I’m hearing about, we have so much talent in our academy that is a year or so away from blossoming into top talents and I don’t want to see them blocked off by short termism from Edu and Arteta even if I also understand the pressure they’re under to deliver. I guess they can’t win, but it’s the career they’ve chosen and they just have to deal with it.

  • TA, it depends on the style and philosophy.
    In Liverpool only the 2 fullbacks and the 3 attackers managed to provide more than 2 assists in the PL (and the highest of them was 7). Their midfielders didn’t contribute to the attack much. But they play 4-3-3, so it’s quite alright. I don’t mind switching between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 and put the assisting pressure on the fullbacks and wingers in the latter formation. But other teams playing 4-2-3-1 they have more fertile attacking midfielders. De Bruyne assisted 18 (12 in the PL), for Bruno Fernandes it is 17/11. But even if we don’t compare out attacking midfielders to the absolute world class, there are a lot of more prolific players. Maddison had 11 assists, Olmo 12, Nkunku 11, Mount 9, Calhanoglu 12, Havertz also 9. Hell, even Alli had 5 assist (and 3 goals) in 1300 minutes. ESR’s 7 assist in 2500 minutes and Odegaard’s 2 (in 1300) show an inferior attacking efficiency.
    However Emile is still very young, while Martin had to adapt to a new club and different league, so it can improve next season (assuming Odegaard stays), but we have to cut down the byline crosses. That is just inefficient without a tower of a striker and depressingly pointless.

  • If we sing Aouar it could improve the attacking threat in a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3. But he is not an attacking midfielders, and I don’t expect much more assist fro Xhaka and Partey. As defensive midfielders they break opponent’s attacks and facilitate transition, but they don’t suppose to split the defense with through balls. Or at least under Arteta they didn’t have the license to try…

  • A tower of a CF could make all the difference then, PB. An assist maker will need somebody to put their attacking ball in the net.

    Good follow up stats.

  • Pb, great stuff. The stats on Pepe seem to bear out the way I see him as a player. Not simply star potential. A very high ceiling as to how good he can be. The way I’d characterize him is a guy who can have a couple of moments of brilliance in a game. Not just long distance curling goals, but sublime assists also. Using power to bully defenders (we see that now since he gained confidence and cut out over dribbling).
    But those observations are not to minimize the fact that he tracks back much better and gives effort consistently now.

    On yesterday’s Buendia discussion. I feel a tiny bit better if we outbid them, because it would mean we didn’t drop the ball or lose out for being cheap. But the humiliation I instinctively felt was that if our offer was equal and the player made the mistake of choosing Villa, it says something about our state of affairs and the challenge we’ll have luring quality players.

    The administration of the club should use this outcome as a reason to push harder and faster to get some midfielders in, because we see we can be pipped by any club with some money.

  • JNHC,

    If you would like to join in our prediction competition for the Euros you can fine the details on the last two posts.

  • GunnerN5 says:
    June 5, 2021 at 14:30

    Welcome to the game OMG I just need you to make a few clarifications:-

    1. You only need to predict scores for the games with an aster-ix
    2. For the Wales game you predict an away game but your score is for a draw?
    3. For the Netherlands game you predict a draw but your score is for a Netherlands win?
    4. For the Scotland game you predict a home win but your score is for a draw?

  • Re Buendia, it is of course all speculation. Maybe he wanted a first team guarantee or maybe he prefers a smaller step. Maybe Arsenal have used him to land another player instead. Let’s give it time this summer. 😎😏⚽

  • June 5, 2021 at 14:30

    Welcome to the game OMG I just need you to make a few clarifications:-

    1. You only need to predict scores for the games with an aster-ix
    2. For the Wales game you predict an away game but your score is for a draw?
    3. For the Netherlands game you predict a draw but your score is for a Netherlands win?
    4. For the Scotland game you predict a home win but your score is for a draw?

  • Well done Peter, that’s a fine analysis.

    Our team is a a multi junction in our history – even a crossroad would easier.

    Our squad is full of if’s, but’s and maybe’s.

    Our youth have shown exasperating “potential” for so long it’s becoming like Arsenal “folk lore”

    I look forward to the new season to see what the new management team will have achieved during the summer, but frankly I do not have high expectations that much will have changed, especially if we have to contend with the same ownership.

  • J, I already feel bad that I might undo the effect that made you feel better, but as the details of the transfer emerge it seems that Villa was quite generous on the bonus scheme, thus Buendia’s initial transfer of £34M (€38M) could go up to £40M (€44M).
    Which might be higher than our £35M offer, while it is not public what kind of bonuses did Arsenal offer. So it is possible that the total package of Aston Villa was more attractive, or at least more reassuring, as the Argentine seems like a must-start for Villa, while he probably would be a ‘contender’ only for the 3 attacking starting spots (behind the striker) along with Saka, ESR, Pepe and Martinelli, (assuming that Romano is right about Willian leaving, which I seriously doubt). Anyway, out proposal would mean obviously less minutes for Buendia – due to the increased competition and the LACK OF European football – which could have been a factor for either the club or the player to choose Villa Park.

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