Individual achievements and performances in the 2020-2021 – Part II. – Defensive statistics
This is the second installment of the series that aims to put our individual performances into perspective, which started with this post: https://bergkampesque.com/2021/06/07/these-stats-tell-a-story/
Following up the general statistic summary earlier this week, here are the best players and their Arsenal counterparts with regards to defensive skills and contribution. Still, every data is from WhoScored.
This indicator mostly favors defensive midfielders and full backs as they are often targeted with dribbles. Leicester’s Ndidi sits on the top with 3.7 per 90 minutes, but Tyrick Mitchells’s (CP) 3.4, along with Allan’s (Everton) and Romeu’s (Southampton) 3.3 are pretty impressive too. Bissouma is #6 with 2.9. Our best tackler, Thomas Partey is at #55 (1.8 tackles per 90 minutes), and Xhaka follows him with 1.6 az #74.
Cooper (Leeds), Ndid and Bednarek sit on the top with 2.4 and 2.3, Bissouma is #11 with 1.8. This skill is probably more about reading the game, hence it is not surprising that our best is Ceballos with 1.4 a game (#42) followed by Bellerin with 1.3 tackles (#52). Keep in mind that the number of tackles is less correlated with the individual skills, and depends more on the opponents’ formation and tactics. Yet it is quite important, as most counterattacks start with a smart interception followed by swift and direct passes.
This applies to clearances, in 2 ways. It’s less about skills and more about not possessing the ball to score high on this statistic, and gives the team more opportunities when the opponent crosses a lot. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the PL’s best are from weak teams: Fernandez from Newcastle leads with 6, Adarabioyo (gossipped to Arsenal) from Fulham with 5.8 is second and Bartley from WBA is third with 5.3 per 90 minutes. Our highest numbers come from Holding (4.0 at #20), Chambers (3.6 at #27), Gabriel (3.2 at #38) and Mari (2.9 at #44). Regarding our on-loan defenders Saliba makes 4.0 clearances while Mavropanos ’only’ 3.1 but the latters 2.0 tackles and 2.8 interceptions per 90 minutes show a hugely superior defensive contribution than William’s 0.8 tackles and 1.3 interceptions a game.
The Premier League’s main bad boys are Barnes (Burnley), Ndidi with 2.1 and Thiago Alcantara with 2.0 fouls ’delivered’ per game. Following our previous discussion on playing dirty I submit Arsenal’s foul statistics below to the evidence that we don’t play as violent or aggressive as our extreme red card statistics indicate: Xhaka is only #41 with 1.3 followed by Lacazette and Gabriel at #92 by 1-1 foul per 90 minutes each.
To be entirely honest I don’t know how exactly this indicator is measured. Nevertheless this is a statistic for the defenders, so I assume it reflects some kind of positional awareness. The PL leader is Joachim Andersen from Fulham with 1.1 offsides won per game, followed by Bednarek and Adarabioyo with 0.8. Arsenal is quite equipped in this department with Mari’s 0.6 (#9) as well as Holding and Gabriel at the #18-20 place with 0.5 offsides per 90 minutes. (Caught on offside will be an offensive statistik due next week.)
Another statistic focusing on center and full back with superior defensive positional skills. I have already mentioned 2 of the top 4: Cooper could be familiar for leading the interception charts, Fernandez is the clearance master, and they are joined by Ben Mee and Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa) by 1.3 blocks per game. Our boys come just slightly behind with Holding positioned at #18 with 0.9 and Gabriel at #22 with 0.8 blocks per game.
The penultimate statistic is an interesting indicator where the high figures are not simply not desirable (as in fouls and cards) but kind of show limitations, as ’dribled past’ shows how often has the player been the victim of a successful dribble. The PL ’top’ 3 are Allan, Gallagher and MU’s Fernandes around 2.3 per 90 minutes. Fortunately Arsenal doesn’t represent itself in the top 30 as Partey is #33 with 1.3 followed by Dani Ceballos at #45 with 1.2 successful dribbles against him.
Finally this block concludes with another nightmare for the players. There were 29 players finding the back of their own net. Among them only Craig Dawson managed to achieve that twice, the remaining 28 players did it only once. Statistically 1.4-1.5 own goals should haunt Arsenal this season if the distribution would be even. Unfortunately – just like the red cards – the distribution is far from uniform, and Arsenal managed to score 4 own goals during the campaign, featuring Leno, Saka, Aubameyang and Holding. While it is probably not a key priority I would appreciate it if we can complete next season with half as many own goals.
Let’s not forget that these defensive statistics don’t tell the whole story, but at least make things quantifiable and comparable. It seems that our defenders are not in the PL’s elite, but not too far from either. In most categories we had Rob Holding leading our charts, and he was awarded MotM once – being the only Arsenal defender (apart from Mavropanos) receiving this honour. To my surprise Luiz came last in most categories, but apparently Mari, Gabriel and Holding are about the same level when it comes to defensive skills and awareness.
This was the second 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 (still) interested in the other indicators, as I know that not many are such number-muncher comparison-freak than yours truly.