Premier League Stats Week 2: Noise annoys

At the start of any Premier League season there is always a lot of noise. This season is no different. The chart below is not meant for forecasting.

It is interesting that Arsenal have the 2nd highest expected goal difference. Though, the Arsenal ease of schedule (facing a weak Stoke side and a leaky Leicester) can account for that. But the signs are certainly ominous for the Gunners, allowing 7 shots in prime and conceding three goals from those shots, the same defending as lowly Brighton.

Most of that data comes from the one truly horrible defensive performance on opening day when Arsenal conceded 3 goals to Leicester. All three were goals in prime.

Man U, Man City, Chelsea, and Everton are already showing their defensive teeth. Everton is probably a bit of a surprise but when I looked at their formation against City, they literally played with a back 8. Even so, keeping City to just a few good chances is a good show.

One of the reasons I think City are such strong contenders for the Premier League is that their defense is so good. That’s not something you’ll hear folks saying. Last season they were top of the pile in terms of expected goals allowed (by which I mean fewest). This is exactly how Guardiola plans these things – possession for him is a defensive art as well as offensive – though sifting through the data what I’m learning is that Guardiola’s City is always going to have a low xGA because they simply allow so few shots.

Liverpool are being Liverpool: Klopp’s clenched jaw, angry grinding his teeth as his team concede absurd numbers of big chances. They have already allowed 4 BC this season, which has to be especially troubling for Liverpool supporters because 1) it’s a continuation of their Arsenal-esque sloppy defending from last season and 2) they have only played actual bums (Watford and Cry Pal) this season. I do wonder how long Klopp can last. His tenure at Borussia Dortmund ended with this exact same problem of building a team which attacks like angry bees but meanwhile the Moose is stealing the honey.

And finally, I’m legitimately worried about Swansea. I’ve watched both of their matches and they look as bad as the stats suggest. I know they played a rapacious Man U but they also allowed 29 shots by Southampton on opening day. I have a lot of respect for that club and their stadium is one of my favorites in Europe. I hope they can find a way to get things together and push out of these doldrums. Hopefully they can use some of that ridiculous Sigurdsson money and get in an attacking midfielder who can create from open play.

Anyway, yes Stoke is on here twice. It actually reads “Stoke Stoke Nuke” which is like duck duck goose.  Based on the stats so far, the Arsenal-Liverpool match this weekend could be a repeat of the famous 4-4. Who will play the part of Arsenal’s Arshavin?

(Noise Annoys is a reference to a single by the Buzzcocks)



  1. Maybe this weekend we’ll find out if there’s any truth to the idea that not having European football midweek is an advantage, given that Liverpool are playing Hoffenheim today.

    Is Sanchez playing this weekend? If so I guess we have chance to win a 4-3 game again.

    1. Put me in the “I doubt Alexis is playing” column.

      I think he’s going to go full blown “transfer request” this week.

      1. Almost a bigger question (in the context of this game but not the season as a whole): is Coquelin available to play this week? If so, I’d play Coquelin beside Xhaka and, failing Alexis’s presence, consider playing Ramsey alongside Ozil as one of the two inside forwards behind Laca (I say ‘consider’, as Welbeck and Iwobi should also be in with a shout for that spot). I think Ramsey has looked confident and in form going forward, he’s just not playing as a center mid. One thing we can’t do is play “forward” Ramsey “alongside” Xhaka in central midfield, unless Arsene has absolutely laid into him this week about his positioning and needing to cover midfield beside Xhaka first and foremost. Coquelin is a liability on the press, but if we match high press with high press, then a midfield four of Xhaka, Ozil, Ramsey, and Coquelin might have a shot.

        And for f*ck’s sake Arsene, choose between Ox and Bellerin and only play one of them, and play Kolasinac at LWB!!!!!!

        1. Is Koscielny OK for this weekend? If so it becomes more important than midfield combos that Wenger play actual CB’s in his CB positions.

        2. You know, the Coquelin thing is easily the most divisive idea in the Arsenal firmament. I happen to think Coquelin is the only answer. It means that Arsenal’s attack suffers, however.

          My solution is 343

          Mustafi – Koz – Monreal
          Ox – GX – Coq – Kola
          Ramsey – Laca – Ozil

          1. That’s my line-up too (if Alexis is genuinely fit and raring to go that complicates matters in a good way; in that case I’d probably drop Ramsey), but it should also be remembered that Coquelin was absolutely awful the last time we played Liverpool, struggling mightily against the press (though he was also going through a particularly poor run of form).

          2. Though, much like Ludovic Giuly back in the day, his forward forays are much more dangerous when they come from deep and he has the freedom of playing centrally. He doesn’t beat people off the dribble, doesn’t cross well from the byline; in short, he is no winger. He comes inside from that position and plays like a supporting striker; Thomas Muller-like when he is at his best, but the past few years he’s had horrific accuracy and luck in front of goal so I understand people who don’t want to play him there. I just think when we pair him with Xhaka we will see the type of thing that led to the Jese goal too often in a league this full of talented players.

            I mean, Stoke used to play people like Big Mama Sidibe, and Mathew Etherington was their best attacker. Now they have players who used to be at Bayern, Real Madrid and Manchester United. It’s a different game and Arsenal have to adjust. That means speed and responsible positioning in midfield, or at least recognition by forwards/fullbacks when Ramsey is so far out of position to drop into his space.

        3. Don’t agree on the choice of inside forwards. For me inside forwards need to drag defenders out of position as well as drive towards the goal.

          Ramsey isn’t the player to do so, something a Pedro or, Hazard do so well. Iwobi should be a more apt choice.

          1. Ramsey is a fantastic inside forward. He had more shots than anyone else vs. Stoke and came closest to actually scoring.

      2. I predict City will come in with an offer of £55 million, after which we will say ‘thank you sir’ and Gazidis will personally chauffeur Alexis to Ashton New Road. Wenger will be on the back seat sulking and pleading with Alexis to reconsider. Alexis, who called shotgun while leaving Atom and Humber flanking Wenger in the back, will keep refusing leaving Wenger with no choice but to make a last minute trolley dash for players who he will then play out of position only to complain about them in the post-match interview after yet another embarrassing loss.

        1. I’ve said repeatedly that we should take whatever money is on offer for Alexis because a) we’re not making the top 4 even with him and b) whatever we get for him helps to offset the cost of whomever we pursue next summer.

          That said, how can the board sell him without “killing” Wenger? He’s never been this publicly determined to keep a player. Even during the Cesc, Nasri and van Persie sagas he was never this clear cut in his language.

          If we sell Sanchez it will be the clearest indication that Wenger and the board are at odds. Prepare for a disastrous season if that fight starts to distract the players.

  2. “Noise Annoys is a reference to a single by the Buzzcocks”

    I thought you were referring to Tottenham playing drum noises through Wembley’s PA system. No money (or crazy idea) spared in trying to fabricate an atmosphere!

  3. Midfield is a serious issue, I suspect Arsene knows this though. We should be good enough to get past Liverpool. Cant say I’ve ever felt such a lack of optimism before, just feels like groundhog day. Same manager, making the same gambles that won’t pay off. Still, I look forward to enjoying some great games this season with no expectation. Not the position we should be in as Arsenal, but here we are.

  4. Why did we sell Gabriel if we’re ostensibly playing a 3-back formation? Just throwing that out there. How can we go from having some serious quality depth at CB (Koscielny, Mertesacker, Mustafi, Gabriel, Chambers, Holding) to needing to deputize LB’s Kolasinac and Monreal.

    It’s so absurd.

    1. I really dont see Chambers and Holding as 1st team quality, they are just relief cup players. Hopefully there is some last minute transfer action to bolster the defence. Just saw Martin Caceres is no longer a free agent he would have been ideal as he plays cb, lb and rb. He would have been a cheap solution

    2. Because Kos is suspended, Holding was dropped (confidence took a hit, Wenger said) and Mert had his face blown open by Chelsea.

      Kolasinac as LCB was OK, Mustafi at RCB was just fine, but Monreal to hold it together in the middle was a leap of faith.

  5. Great article (as usual: this is consistently the most interesting Arsenal/football blog going).
    It may only be early season noise but it looks ominously prescient: United now in full Mourinho mode (defensively tight, with a variety of players who can score), Liverpool and Arsenal still resolutely in their modes of yore (defensively indefensible but always hoping to score more). The City stats are interesting: I’d far prefer to concede the title to Guardiola than to Mourinho come May. In the meantime, buckle up your seat belts: it’s going to be a bumpy ride (again).

  6. If Liverpoo play us like they toyed with Hoffenheim today it will be long, long game.

    Not looking forward to this…

      1. especially as it’s at Anfield. if it were at the Emirates, we might have a fighting chance, but at there place, it could get ugly.

  7. I guess the team selection is simple, if you have a close look at the changes and the comments made by Arsene after last game: out Kolasinac, in Kosc, out Xakha, in Cocq or Iwobi. The rest of the selection remains the same and we’ll have an entertaining game… That’s what Ilike! On a side note, having moved from Brussels to DC, I accepted a mountain bike run at 12L, meaning. I’ll miss the second half… with Verizon it su**s . Is there a good Gooners bar in DC?

  8. For a fighting chance at Anfield with the team that we have, I would probably field a 343:

    Mustafi – Koscielny – Monreal
    Chamberlain – Xhaka – Coquelin – Kolasinac
    Ozil – Iwobi

  9. arsenal lost home and away to liverpool last season. both games saw arsenal, in seemingly typical arsenal fashion, trying to come back from a deficit only to fall short.

    in the opener last season, arsenal were simply thrashed by liverpool, namely mane embarrassing our defense and a coutinho free kick masterclass. arsenal looked lost and it wasn’t until injury to aaron ramsey forced the welshman off, who was replaced by cazorla, that arsenal even looked like a team. too little, too late, so familiar.

    in the away tie, wenger listened to the good idea fairy and decided to drop alexis sanchez. well, we all know how that worked out. anfield is already a tough enough place to win but let’s make it tougher and really test our mental strength.

    to give arsenal even a slight chance, replace ramsey with either coquelin or elneny, put a senior central defender in the back 3. keep ox at rwb while dropping bellerin; play monreal and kolasinac on left. start welbeck at center forward and lacazette at striker. if arsenal need a goal late, they can bring on aaron ramsey top play as a false 8. if arsenal are somehow leading, they could consider bringing on theo walcott, though i would prefer perez. we’ll see.

  10. The high pressing game we are likely to see vs. Klopp will favor someone like Chamberlain or Wilshere in midfield, someone comfortable running with the ball and turning at speed to find the forwards. This is not a game to throw Coquelin in the mixer for the first time this season, as much as I agree with Tim’s premise about his value in defending the counterattack. Whatever we decide is our best midfield combination, it has to stick for a few games so the team can get used to it. What we cannot have is a revolving door next to Xhaka like last season.

    Spare a thought for Jack Wilshere, he looked really good against the Man City U23’s. As he should, you might say, but I also say class is permanent and if he can keep this up there is a place for him in that Arsenal midfield. People wanted Jean Michel Seri this summer, who, as I understand, shares many qualities in common with Santi Cazorla and… Jack Wilshere. I’m not holding my breath, but that would be one hell of a comeback story and I am rooting for him to make it happen.

Comments are closed.

Related articles