New Feature: Arsenal 1-0 Stoke – View the Numbers

Welcome to a new feature, where I will be ‘Viewing’ the stats from the games, in a poor attempt of a pun on the name ‘Gooner View’.

What better place to start than looking at the physical statistics when you play against Stoke. And don’t they just back up everything we know about how Stoke play dirty and rough.

Stoke committed 13 fouls, receiving 3 yellow cards in total although Wenger felt it should have been more, and that Shawcross should have been sent off in his Press Conference.

Arsenal on the other hand committed just the 3 fouls with no cards at all.

Interestingly though, there were 62 aerial duels in total during the whole match. Arsenal won 32 of them, to Stoke’s 30, and this shows a new dimension to Arsenal’s game in recent times. A larger influence in aerial strength and another way to play. The height of Mertesacker, Diaby, Giroud played a key role in this. Koscielny and Monreal also, despite not having the same height, are excellent at heading with great determination to win the ball and this more than makes up for it. Take that Stoke, who says we can’t handle the physical side of the game? A great change to see in recent years from the times of our fragility.

As mentioned in my Match Report, Arsenal dominated the game in terms of attempts and possession. We had 23 attempts, 5 on target, with 10 being blocked by Stoke who tried to put most their players behind the ball sitting on the edge of the box so that stat is understandable; it’s hard to get a ball through so many people, especially that lot.

Stoke had a mere 7 attempts with 1 on target, and 2 being blocked. They didn’t carry any real threat to the Arsenal goal. Nonetheless it’s great to have a clean sheet. It’s been a while!

Possession wise Arsenal had an expected 64% to Stoke’s 36%. So, not only have we added the physical dimension to our game, but we still possess the quality players who know how to keep the ball. There’s still work to be done, and we still need some quality signings, but it’s good to see an improvement in an area we had endlessly complained about over the past 6 years.

Backing that up is our 545 completed passes (88%), whereas Stoke had less than half of that with 232 completed passes (72%).

Arsenal controlled the passing with that pro-passer Arteta completing the most at 105. 30 more than the next player, Diaby. That’s about a fifth of the whole teams passes. But it was Jack Wilshere who created the most goalscoring opportunities with 5, whereas Arteta didn’t get any. It’s hard to compare them when the play in different positions, but Arteta plays a less-risk game. Wilshere has to pick out the final ball which works out less often. Diaby created 3 chances, the second highest. He obviously fits between these Jack and Mikel, in terms of his game play.

Ryan Shotton was one of Stoke’s best defensive performers, with 8 interceptions and 5 shot-blocks.

Theo Walcott suffered 3 fouls, more than anyone else, with Giroud, Koscielny, and Wilshere all suffering 2. No Stoke player suffered more than 1. Brutal.

Finishing today wasn’t as good as it needs to be however, Walcott, Giroud, and Chamberlain all had 4 shots off target, with Chamberlain the only one of the three to be on target (with 2). You expect better than this from your front three really, and this is something that needs improving when against the bigger, better teams, it’s crucial to take your chances when they come (not very often). Was Wenger right not to buy a Striker in January?

Arsenal have won their last 5 home games against Stoke now. Stoke haven’t won at Arsenal for 30 years, set to become 31 by their next visit.

That’s all for today. There will be more View the Numbers next week, after the Sunderland match.

Arsenal 1-0 Stoke – Match Report

Arsenal fought to a well deserved 1-0 victory against Stoke, but the encounter was no less tough than usual. Wenger joked afterwards that it was the biggest ‘cultural shock’ possible for Monreal, who was thrown in to the first team after just one training session at Arsenal on the Friday against the most physical side in the Premier League.

Perhaps it was partly for this reason that Podolski and especially Cazorla started on the bench. After playing many games throughout January it’s also understandable they would need a rest, but Stoke provides a good opportunity when stronger players like Diaby are an obvious choice for the physical battle. It prevents these quick, nimble players getting the living daylights kicked out of them, as Walcott received, with Wenger perhaps having one eye on the Champions League encounter coming up and not wanting any more injuries to key players after Gibbs was ruled out. However, it became necessary at 0-0 with half an hour to play to bring them on and inject the pace and urgency necessary to get the win.

Arsenal dominated the game, how Pullis can say his side deserved something is beyond belief. Arsenal played some good football and if there had been some better finishing it would have been a comfortable win. On the other hand, Begovic did have a great game, making many great shot-stops, especially from close range.

Arsenal had 23 attempts to Stoke’s 7, with only 1 of theirs on target; a long shot and easy save for Szczesny. With an expected 64% of possession in our favour. Plus the fact we got the all important goal. Yes, Pullis, you definitely deserved something. Delusional.

Walcott looked sharp again, despite not getting a goal to add to his great record of 18 starts and 18 goals, now 19 starts. Against Stoke it was obvious they would try to bring him down and stop him running. This was exactly what happened, and Wenger claimed that Shawcross should have been sent off for the number of yellow card fouls he committed. Walcott was subjected to most the bad tackles, but did earn the free kick on the edge of the area that led to the goal from Podolski. It was a deflected shot, but off of Stoke player. The linesman put his flag up for offside as well; the only man offside was Walcott and he was furthest away from the play, therefore not ‘interfering with play’. The goal deservedly stood.

Monreal had a good debut, making many good runs and delivering some excellent crosses. Defensive-wise there wasn’t much to do in all honesty, but what there was he did well, we shall see how he does in that department over the coming weeks. I expect him to start at Sunderland and Blackburn while some may be rested at Blackburn in view of the Bayern clash 3 days later, while Nacho is ineligible.

We move on with the important 3 points. Everton dropped 2 points. Chelsea dropped 3 points. Hopefully Tottenham can drop some points too. We are left 5 points off of 3rd, which isn’t too bad and considering we still have Tottenham and Everton to play and there are many big games amongst rivals, it’s certainly all still to play for.

We have a home game in the FA Cup against Championship opposition Blackburn, an expected win there will see us reach the FA Cup quarter-finals, and a big game in the Champions League against Bayern, going in as underdogs means the pressures off and if we play like we can (minus the slow starts) I don’t see why we can’t put up a good game.

Reason to be optimistic I think. Come on you reds.