The Day I Became Hooked for Life to Arsenal

An Arsenal Blast from the Past

1947/48 League Division 1 Championship

One night during WW11 I was lying in bed when the room was suddenly lit up with a nearby searchlight coming on. Thinking it was a raid coming, I jumped out of bed and I started to get dressed. Looking out of the window, I saw dozens of searchlights sweeping the sky and waving backwards and forwards. I went into the front room where Mum and Dad had the radio on and they were just announcing the end of the war in Europe. Our next-door neighbour rushed in and everybody sat talking until the early hours of the morning. The next day nobody went to work and we had an impromptu party down at the corner of the road. People took cakes and sandwiches down to be shared out and a radiogram was fixed up to provide music for people to dance to.

Germany had officially surrendered and Londoners could now try to rebuild their damaged City and lives.  Life was still very difficult, good jobs were scarce, food was still rationed, we still used Cow and Gate powered milk, and bomb sites were scattered all over town. But gradually life was returning to the streets and the daily fear of bombing raids, and having to dash to air raid shelters for safety, was now just a horrible memory.

The Arsenal ground in North London was not spared from war damage as the North Stand was extensively damaged by fire and the roof had collapsed, the South Stand terracing was also badly damaged and in need of repair.  The debts from the construction of Highbury and the costs of repairing the war damage were a heavy financial burden, and Arsenal struggled when competitive football resumed. The war had cut short the careers of many of the club’s star players, including Bastin and Drake and nine of the pre-WW11 had been lost during the war.. They lost 6-1 on aggregate to West Ham United in the third round of the 1945-46 FA Cup, and upon the league’s resumption in 1946-47 the club finished a disappointing 13th.

After close to forty years with the Arsenal George Allison decided to retire from football at the end of that season, and was replaced by his assistant Tom Whittaker, who had been the clubs trainer under Herbert Chapman. So Tom Whittaker took over the reigns at Highbury with Joe Shaw joining him from Chelsea. Arsenal kicked off the1947/48 season with a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at Highbury, an ideal start for the new management team. Leslie Compton, the previous club Captain who had been playing cricket for Middlesex Cricket club, returned to Arsenal and they won the next six games.  Joe Mercer had been Arsenal’s Captain in Compton’s absence but Whittaker felt that now Compton was back he should, once again, lead the team but Compton felt differently and persuaded him to keep Joe on as the clubs Captain.

1947 was a milestone year in the life of GunnerN5, I was nine years old and, for as long as I could remember I’d spent endless hour’s playing football on Avenell Road with my mates and kicking a rag football (made by my Mum) about and using the main gate into Highbury as our goal. We were in awe of all the grown ups as they streamed in and out of Highbury on Saturday afternoon’s and wished we had the few pennies it cost to get inside. The different noises coming from the ground always left us wondering what was happening inside but we always knew when the Gunners had scored as that caused the biggest roar of all.

My maternal Grandfather then changed my life and gave me the best present I have ever received, for my 10th birthday he took me to my very first Arsenal game it was November 22nd 1947 Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town and we won 2-0. My memories of the game are somewhat of a blur but we stood, in what was our family section under the Clock, (you see nobody ever told my Grandfather to move – he was a 6”5” local coalman and made of steel).  I often feel that the young Paul Ashworth, in the movie “Fever Pitch”, was none other than a young GunnerN5 because after being inside Highbury for the first time there was nothing that was going to keep me out, lack of money, broken glass topped brick walls, turnstiles, stewards, were just mere obstacles to be overcome – I was hooked for life.

Tom Whittaker enjoyed immediate success with the club, winning the League in 1947-48; led by Captain Joe Mercer and with goals from the attacking front two of Reg Lewis and Ronnie Rooke, Arsenal topped the table from October and never looked back beating second place Manchester United by seven points. Given the age of the Arsenal side at the time (Rooke and Mercer were both over thirty, as were Denis and Leslie Compton), it was a remarkable achievement however long-term success was never on the cards. In response, Whittaker started to rebuild the team with younger players and brought in Doug Lishman, Alex Forbes and Cliff Holton.

In a remarkable family double Denis and Leslie Compton played alongside each other at football in Arsenal’s League Championship of 1947/48 and at cricket in Middlesex’s County Championship title in 1947.

The highest ever Football League attendance was on Saturday January 17th 1948 when a crowd of 83,260 watched Manchester United play Arsenal at Maine Road the game ended in a 1-1 draw.


Pre-season Observations: Some Players Are Not Ready, Others Are Already!

10 observations from the pre-season friendly against (Glasgow) Rangers FC

The game was an improvement over our first pre-season friendly against Hibernian FC. Our defence improved and we created more clear-cut chances, too. And we eventually took a point home, however we deserved more.

See the source image

Here are some specific observations from the game:

  1. Nuno Tavares blew me away with his MotM performance. Maybe he was already in peak form due to his medical earlier that week, or he is really this good. While he wasn’t really tested defensively, the way he created his chance and the way he converted it were equally promising.
  2. I really like Rob Holding, and he was a true leader in the first half. He wasn’t particularly tested either, but he tried to impress with no-nonsense defending, and his long(er) range passing, which was a hit-and-miss this afternoon (but a fine assist). I’m not that hard to impress, but the new haircut has to go.
  3. If it weren’t a pre-season friendly the media would have crucified Aubameyang. He was wasteful beyond interpretation. The only promising sign is that there is only improvement from here, but our captain and top earner must put himself together – preferably in the USA already.
  4. The other player who didn’t seem to suffer from post-holiday fatigue was Pepe. (The Scottish commentator kept calling him ’Pépi’ – it was a real joy to listen.) He wasn’t as dangerous as against Hibernian, but he was surprisingly active in defending. Which might be a sign that he doesn’t want to lose his hard-fought place in the starting line-up.
  5. After his nightmare performance Okonkwo didn’t put a foot wrong, but couldn’t really redeem himself due to the tame attacks of the Scott team. The goal conceded was not his fault though, the other Balogun’s (Leon) header was a rare beauty, simply unstoppable.
  6. We conceded the second goal after a corner too, the defense didn’t tick yet, however neither Chambers nor Kolasinac are classic, tall man-marking central defenders. Hein couldn’t save the header, but later made a crucial stop that would have put the game to bed. Other than that the Estonian teenager didn’t have much to do either.
  7. While the majority of the fans would like to see Nketiah sold or even released, I’m not afraid to say that the majority are wrong (again). Eddie created his chance from nowhere – like he did against Hibs, but he couldn’t convert that – and posed a bigger threat than any other forwards in his 30-minute cameo. Maybe he could benefit from a quality loan, but selling him would be a major mistake.
  8. Willian, Willock and Nelson also had the same half an hour to impress, but only Reiss managed to do that for me. Lacks a killer instinct at the moment, but always willing to take risks in the final third. Willock wasn’t bad at all either, but couldn’t live up to the crazy hype around him.
  9. I admire Elneny as a person, but he didn’t contribute to either game. It was not Mo’s fault, let’s be clear on that, we simply didn’t need another DM against 2 slow pre-season Scott teams. He couldn’t prevent the headers (nor the quasi own goal vs. Hibernians), and he could’t improve neither the quality nor the quantity of the chances. If he was sent of in the first minute, the result would most likely be still 2:2 against Rangers, but a closer to equal ball possession.
  10. After his dominant display against Hibernians Lacazette was rather anonymous facing the Scottish champion. I expect more impact from him in Florida. He has only one year left on his contract, so he could be sold in this window, or sign an extension. But it’s Arsenal, so we cannot really rule out that he runs out his contract and leaves on a free.

By PBarany

Do Arsenal Really Need Another Defender? No but Ben White is Much More

By all accounts Arsenal are close to signing Ben White from BHA for a huge amount of money, reportedly around the £50m mark. If money is tight then that seems a weird choice by Arteta and Co. Surely, Arsenal could really do with a quality ‘nr10’ type or a tall beast of a CF instead?!

Arsenal to sign Brighton’s Ben White in £50m deal – BBC Sport

We don’t know what the club’s plans are this summer and how much it is willing/allowed to spend. We have been linked again with Aouar and a return of Odegaard seems also on the cards. I was also pleased to see us being linked with Tammy Abraham who I rate highly.

But why spend so much money on another defender? If you look at this footage of Ben you may get an idea.

Ben White | A Rolls-Royce of a Centre Back | 19/20 Highlights – YouTube

Arteta has of course a vision of football for Arsenal, and key to it all is being able to build up the game from the back. For this he has relied a lot on Xhaka and also Partey rather than his central defenders. But getting this done mainly from midfield slows us down as they will have to find space and the defence needs to be able to get the ball to them quickly and accurately. Mari, Holding and Big Gab are decent at this but certainly not great. Rob is probably best at playing out from the back but I am pretty sure Arteta wants more. Holding’s final ball is below par and he seems to get over-cooked when he is blasting forwards.

Ben White

Now look at how White runs so well with the ball. He is fast, very ball-tight and his final pass is razor sharp. This is exactly what Arsenal have been missing and having such a threat from the centre of defence as well as the flanks (through Tierney and co) will make us play a very different game. White is not the tallest but seems to have a good jump and timing when he is defending set-pieces. Furthermore, he is a strong and fast tackler and puts his body on the line. Actually, White reminds me a bit of Thomas the Verminator in his best years for Arsenal.

He is right-sided CB and we do need an extra man there. Holding and White can compete for the RCB spot but I can also see them both play in a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 formation.

I trust Arteta to make the right budget choices and Ben White may well the man he wants more than anybody else, right now.

Let’s wait till it’s formally announced at but I am all for White joining us this summer.

By TotalArsenal.

Bukayo We Love You. Refreshing Euros. Xhaka Please Stay: Summer Thoughts.

The Euros are over and we have a winner. Football came nearly home but the lure of the eternal city was simply too great. Did the best team of the tournament win? Well if you set yourself up hard to beat but can also play good attacking football you will have a very good chance. That is what Italy and England did and that is why they ended up in the final. The best teams were probably France and Spain, and especially the latter showed some fabulous football at times, but they did not have the bounce of the ball and probably also not the best system of football to win the Euros. The French did not look like a team and Spain lacked a bit of luck. But then again, if you lose out in a penalty shootout against a team that misses two out of five, you don’t really deserve to go through. Italy won’t believe their luck that they got away with missing twice two out of five pens and still ended up lifting the trophy. It was definitely the tournament of the demise of penalty taking.

England are a work in progress and that seems to have been forgotten by many of the fans. This team benefited from being on the easier side of the draw, playing most games at home and Gareth Southgate’s fine management. Better preparation with the pens could even have meant the ultimate victory, but it cannot be denied that this England team is strong and will only get stronger given the age profile.

From an Arsenal perspective, Saka did very well and so did Xhaka for the Swiss. I am glad that Granit is still a Gunner as I write this and that Saka signed a long term contract. I think Holding could have done a good job in this England team and it is only a matter of time before Emile will become a member of the national squad. Tierney played well for Scotland, and all three Euro internationals will have grown during the tournament.

Why Southgate thought it would be okay to give three young players the final three penalties is a mystery for me. Yes they may have been good during training sessions but doing it in front of 60k nervous and highly demanding supporters is a totally different ball game. Surely, the likes of Shaw, Sterling and Maguire, all with much more life and football experience, would have been a safer bet?!

It was a high risk strategy by Southgate and it back-fired. The subsequent racial abuse was sadly predictable and this should also have been in the back of Southgate’s mind in my opinion. Saka, Sancho and Rashford will all bounce back and will hopefully get opportunities in their footballing careers to make amends for the national team, but surely they should have been protected from this very predictable outcome at so young an age. Did the older players bottle it or did Southgate really make such a bad call?!

Bukayo we love you man.

The racist abuse may have been predictable but strong action is now required. It is extremely sad that racism is still so prevalent in our times and it really isn’t just a few Twitter idiots. It is a long road to full equality and colour-blindness when it comes to people, and we all need to fight for it tooth and nail.

I found the footie during the Euros refreshing and I am hopeful that we are going to see a slight shift away from the pass-the-ball-to-death-alongside-the-lines that teams like Liverpool and Citeh do twice a week, and Arsenal are guilty of too at times. I saw the ball being moved much faster between the lines and the reemergence of ball-tight dribblers. Raheem Sterling was a joy to watch and so were Grealish and our very own Saka. The Italians had Chiesa and Jorginho, and the Dutch had Frenkie de Jong and (a disappointing) Memphis trying to add a bit of footballing magic to the game. There were more good footballers on display, especially the Germans have some very good dribblers.

So now we have to wait 4.5 weeks to kick-off of the new PL season. First Arsenal will play a few friendlies, starting tomorrow against Hibernian and for those prepared to pay for it, you can watch it life on

By TotalArsenal.

40.6% Shot Conversion Rate, but Do Arsenal Feed Him Enough?

Individual achievements and performances in the 2020-2021 – Part III. – Offensive statistics

Following up the general statistic summary and the defensive attributes earlier this week, here are the best players and their Arsenal counterparts with regards to offensive skills and contribution. I will highlight (with bold) if we have our players in the TOP20. Still, every data is from WhoScored.

Offensive statistics

Since the number of goals and assists were already covered among the general attributes I will not repeat the statements/discussions. If interested or have missed that post, please visit it using the link above.

Shots per game:

There is a reason I didn’t mentioned in the lead that I would expect to see an Arsenal player in the TOP20, maybe even in the TOP10 of every statistic. Besides the negative indicators (like yellow cards, own goals, successful dribbles against a player) there are neutral stats where leading the charts is not necessarily desirable. For me shots per game falls in this category. While I don’t doubt that Tottenham and Liverpool fans are proud of Kane and Salah sitting on the top with 3.9 and 3.4 shots per 90 minutes respectively I think this is a sign of being selfish and often making the wrong decision, as I appreciate a smart pass or a cheeky dribble instead of shooting from every possible opportunity. Similarly it is debatable who is considered the better striker, the one who scored more goals, or the one with the superior goals per shots statistics. I wish there were available data on the latter, but apparently I have to research it on my own.

Kane: 23 goals in 134 shots = 17,1% conversion ratio

Salah: 22 goals in 116 shots = 19,0% conversion ratio

Fernandes: 18 goals in 114 shots = 15,8% conversion ratio

Son: 17 goals in 63 shots = 27,0% conversion ratio

Aubameyang: 10 goals in 52 shots = 19,2% conversion ratio

Lacazette: 13 goals in 32 shots = 40,6% conversion ratio

Pepe: 10 goals in 30 shots = 33,3% conversion ratio

I didn’t make a full comparison, but Lacazette (and Pepe) obviously stand out. Would you request it in the comments, I can make similar calculations for a few more players.

Key passes:

An important statistic I have the impression we seriously neglect under Arteta both on the individual and the team level. De Bruyne and Grealish are the key pass machines of the PL with 3.2 and 3.1 major chances created per game. Our best passers are Odegaard and Smith-Rowe with 1.4 each, which gets them to #34-36 position, behind players like Cresswell, Digne, Westwood or Moutinho – who are less known for their creativity.

Dribbles per game:

I consider this an important skill to have for wingers and midfielders, but I don’t insist on having multiple players in the top20. So I’m quite pleased with Saka (#42 with 1.4 dribbles), Partey (#62 with 1.2 dribbles), Ceballos and Pepe (#79-87 with 1.0 dribble), and I expect this stat to slightly improve next season. Traore and Saint-Maximin sit on the PL’s throne with 4.1 and 3.8 dribbles per 90 minutes, with Anguissa & Grealish following with 2.7.

Fouls against:

Another indicator where the top 2 sit way up high – Grealish with a shocking 4.2 figure, then Zaha with 2.9 – and the rest of the PL come after quite a gap. And we have a player in the top: Saka was fouled twice every game (on average) making him the 10th most frequent victim of faults. Based on my subjective recollection of Arsenal games I’m not surprised. However this is a statistic I would happily swap for places in the key passes top10.

Offsides ’lost’ per game:

I’m not sure whether this statistic is something to be minimized – like yellow cards – or an indicator that implies predatory instincts that could still improve. Vardy and Mané are the offside collectors with 1.1 ans 0.9 rules against them per 90 minutes. Aubameyang (0.6) and Saka (0.5) take the #14 and #19 positions.


Another negative statistic; but don’t confuse this with the technical abilities (see next one), as this rather shows that the player is taking or more than he can deliver. A signature Alexis Sanchez statistic, if you remember the late Wenger years. The 2 persons dispossessed the most were Sterling and Zaha with 2.7 and 2.6 per game (with a large gap behind them). Our only player dispossessed too frequently is Saka with 1.3, and he is only at #41, so I think the coaching team does a quite good job in this department.

Unsure touches a.k.a. bad ball controls per game:

This last offensive statistic confirms that our squad is well equipped technically – unless we consider the low figures a sign of an unhealthy balance n the discipline-creativity scale. But again, we have a single player in the top 50, young Bukayo saka takes the #24 position with 2.3 bad controls. Zaka leads with 3.6, then Lookman, Salah, Watkins and DCL follow with 3.1 clumsy touches each.

Similarly to defensive statistics these figures don’t tell the whole story either. However there are a few of conclusions I can draw. Firstly that we underappreciate Lacazette big time. His insane shot conversion ratio shows that he has the brains to decide when to shoot and when to pursue different options. Were he playing every PL minute, he would have shared the Golden Boot with Kane – reaching 23 goals assuming a similar 1.5 shots per game ’temperament’ and a 40% conversion rate. The other conclusion is that we are behind in the critical offensive indicators, and only competitive in the less important statistics. However this is quite common knowledge, as we have already discussed that Arsenal has a capable defense, now we have to focus on more creative and efficient attacks, including chance creation and long shots.

My last last thought concerns Saka. Since TA gave the title of the last piece ’defensive stats showing one clear winner’, this post might lead to a similar conclusion that Saka is the weakest link since he leads most of the dispreferred or unfortunate offensive statistics within Arsenal. Doesn’t that contradict him being the player of the season? I believe it doesn’t. Most of these statistics can be explained by the combination of youthful exuberance and Saka often being the only player trying to create things even when the rest of the team is in apathy. Nevertheless it shows that Bukayo is far from being a complete product, and him being our player of the season as well as the most valuable Arsenal player should be strictly interpreted in the context of his young age, as Pepe seems to be ahead of him in almost every skill and statistic. Risking to see a lot of challenging comments I sign off with a controversial idea that there might be some bias behind Saka’s comet-like popularity, but this is absolutely fine for an academy player who just turned 19 and has a great attitude and personality.

This was the third batch of statistics.

What is 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?

Part IV. will deal with passing statistics.

By PBarany

Why would Granit want to Leave Arsenal? 10 possible reasons

I cannot say that I’m familiar with the regular thoughts and dilemmas of professional football players. So all I can do is speculate. But if a player decides to leave (unless of course it is all fake news) that is generally not a good sign.


What has happened that he doesn’t want to stay any longer? Possible answers and examples (excluding those where the club initiates the transfer like Szczesny’s or Iwobi’s case):
A) a major club wants to buy you, and you couldn’t say no (Ox, Vermaelen)
B) you finally have a chance for silverware (van Persie, Sanchez)
C) you don’t have enough game time and look for less competition and more guarantees (Martinez, Gnabry, Malen)
D) you have won (almost) everything, and you need new challenges, a different football culture (Henry, Fabregas, Gabriel)
E) you primary want 30% higher salaries (Nasri, Hleb)
F) there is a major conflict between you and somebody from the team or staff (Adebayor, Torreira, Guendouzi)
G) finally you can play for your boyhood dream club, or your coach idol (Fabregas)
H) you feel that others get unfairly high salary compared to yours, so the only way to ‘restore justice’ is to run down your contract and move on a free transfer with astronomical wages (Ramsey, Sanchez)
I) you no longer want to compete on the highest level, and/or would move back to your home country (Monreal, Koscielny, Cazorla)
J) you feel seriously underappreciated, and treated unfairly by the fans

Out of these 10 scenarios Xhaka’s rumored Roma move would disqualify 8 of them. F) and J) are possible, but we don’t have data on the former, and there is little evidence that any player has ever left due to fan treatment only, as long they were appreciated professionally (playing minutes) and financially (weekly salary and bonus).

So over to you fellow Gooners: why would Xhaka want to leave our fab club?

By PBarany

The Seasonal Arsenal Defensive Stats Showing One Clear Winner

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:

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.

Defensive statistics


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.

Fouls committed:

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.

Offsides won:

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.

Dribbled past

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.

Own goals:

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.

By PBarany

Arteta’s Eight Big Questions during this Pivotal Summer

Isn’t it great to have a break from club football? I probably would not be saying this if the Euros weren’t about to start, but I feel we all needed a break: the players, managers and supporters.

Last season can only be seen as a transitional one and we’ll need to see a step improvement in the coming one. Arteta will need this summer to make the required squad changes: a few more need to leave after the successful winter moves and a few additions would be nice. But the squad is good and working with them to implement the next stage of the Arteta revolution is key. It’s more about style and system of football, and having good time to work on this, than player acquisitions.

Still, I think Arteta has the following squad-related questions to deal with:

  1. The GK situation: who is Nr1 and Nr2? Do we need to buy a Nr1 or Nr2?
  2. What to do with Saliba and Mavropanos? Let’s assume Holding, Mari and Big Gab are all staying, who is to become the fourth CB?
  3. Are we sorted with FBs? Do we need an extra LFB? Do we need a top RFB?
  4. Central midfield: will AMN and Willock’s return be enough for strong midfield options? How to get the best out of Partey?
  5. How to get more assists from midfield? Will ESR be our main man? Do we need to buy? Can we get Odegaard for another season? Can Azeez step up?
  6. How can we get more goals from our experienced attackers: Auba, Laca, Pepe and Willian? Do we need to sell one or two and get a strong in the air CF?
  7. Who should be captain?
  8. What to do with the loan returnees: Guendo, Torreira and Kola especially?

Over to you fine fellow Gooners! 😁

By TotalArsenal.


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.