While Jaime Vardy has gotten all the press for his 12 game scoring streak, Mesut Özil has quietly been building an even more impressive streak of seven consecutive League matches with an assist. He actually broke the record (6) with his pass to Kieran Gibbs against Tottenham and extended the record to 7 matches in the loss to West Brom. Oh yeah, the Özil assists streak started… at Leicester.
Özil has never had a streak like this at any club. He’s had an occasional 2-3 game run (including fantasy assists) but most of the time assists are spread out over a few matches. How long can he keep going?
There is some debate about whether you start Ox or Joel Campbell. There is no debate, Ox averages 4.79 successful dribbles per90, creates 2 shots per90 for his teammates, is a better passer, and Joel Campbell is a good tackler. Against a team like Norwich, who are going to simply sit deep and harass, you need a dribbler who can unlock the defense. If Ox is 100%, he plays, for me. We don’t need a tackler against Norwich.
Arsenal head into the match against Norwich already leading the Premier League in Big Chances created with 41. Arsenal have created on average 3 big chances per game and have not failed to create a big chance in a single match this season. I hope I didn’t just stats-jinx them!
Arsenal also have more Shots in Prime (SiP) than any other team with 77 (Man City has 76). But the problem is that Arsenal’s conversion rates are still lagging and they are about 6 goals shy of where I expect them to be based on my Expected Goals formula. This is a hangover from the start of the season where Arsenal struggled to score. They have since reverted to mean and are scoring at just about the correct rate.
Along with the creativity, Arsenal have also been exceptional in terms of limiting the opposition’s Big Chances and SiP. Arsenal have let a League best 12 Big Chances and 25 SiP. Last season I showed a correlation between Coquelin and Arsenal limiting the opposition’s Big Chances, we will have to see what impact his absence has on Arsenal’s defense in these two categories.
Arsenal also have the best keeper in the League: Petr Cech has saved 75% of the SiP he has faced and 67% of the Big Chances he has faced. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the other two top keepers are Lloris and de Gea. Tottenham concede a lot of shots in prime, 39 so far this season, but Lloris’ 73% SiP saves, along with some unusual profligacy in terms of shots on goal, has saved them… I don’t know how many goals. This is the first time I’ve done these calculations and I can’t quite figure out how many the keeper has contributed. I do know that Tottenham are about -6 goals (conceded) below (better than) my Expected Goals calculations. They have conceded 9 and I expect them to have conceded about 15.
Two years ago, Arsenal were the League’s flat track bullies and averaged 2.69 PPG against teams who finished in the bottom third of the table. The next season they did it again, 2.62 points per game against bottom third teams. In two years Arsenal only lost 1 time to a bottom third team. This season, Arsenal only have 1.5 PPG against bottom third teams and have already lost twice.
Now, it’s early in the season, but the good news is that Arsenal are top of the League in PPG against top third teams with 2.00 PPG. If you asked me which I’d prefer, it’s beating the top clubs. Because in theory, if you can beat the best teams, you’re probably going to beat the bottom teams. Probably.
Manchester United fans have recently taken to chanting “attack” whenever their club has the ball and for good reason, Man United average 74 passes per key pass. That’s 74 passes for each pass that ends in a shot. To put that in context, Leicester lead the League in passes per shot with just 31.
Just taking the number of passes per shots doesn’t do much which is why I included the passes and key passes in my graphic. As you can see, Leicester City have the best shots to passes ratio and that’s because they have such a low number of passes. Low passes, high shots, they are a terrific counter attacking team. West Ham are similar to Leicester in that regard and Tottenham are somewhere in the middle.
Meanwhile, Arsenal, Man City, and Man U all dominate passes (possession) but Man City has almost the same number of passes as United and created nearly twice as many shots!
Man U and Leicester played to a 1-1 draw today, Leicester had an off day and took 53.2 passes per chance created (not per shot). Man U also had an off day and took 84 passes per chance created. The only thing that saved that match from being the worst match of the season was Jaime Vardy’s goal.
I honestly don’t know what Van Gaal is doing with that United team. They aren’t waiting patiently and only taking shots in key areas, they shoot 50% from distance, and on paper they have the players to create (Juan Mata led the League in key passes at Chelsea, for example). They just aren’t creating.
What they are doing is converting big chances at an unsustainable rate: 65%. There’s no way that they are going to keep that going for the rest of the season. It’s going to be funny when they drop back down to 35-40%.
I was on transfermarkt.co.uk looking at Özil’s assists record and discovered this:
Apparently, the Rapture happened and only Özil’s knee ligaments were pure enough to be taken to heaven. I honestly don’t remember my Chick Tract Christianity very well, if the Rapture happened and his knee ligaments were sent back to earth does that mean we bypassed Satan’s rule or was the period with Özil’s raptured ligaments during Satan’s rule? I suspect it’s the latter, didn’t Chelsea win the League?