Arsenal powered their way to the top of the league (momentarily) with a clinical performance away from home against Sunderland. An early goal by this season’s leading goal scorer Olivier Giroud, from an assist provided by new signing *wait for it* Mesut Özil, laid the foundation of The Gunners’ victory. A brace by Welshman Aaron Ramsey (who is the joint highest goal scorer in all competitions for Arsenal this season with 5 goals) sealed what was a well-deserved victory for the North London club. Arsenal had 69.4% possession of the ball and managed 656 passes with an impressive accuracy of 88%, as compared to Sunderland’s 273 passes with an accuracy of 75%.
The scoreline at half-time was perhaps not an indicator of Arsenal’s superiority in the game. Theo Walcott missed 2 very good chances (created by none other than Mesut Özil) and Arsenal should have easily scored a couple of more goals. Sunderland enjoyed a brief spell of authority after Craig Gardner’s equaliser from the spot in the 48th minute but that was only until Aaron Ramsey put Arsenal ahead with a brutal volley from the edge of the box. The only thing that spoiled Arsenal’s party was a non-tackle injury, to their sensational forward Olivier Giroud in the 90th minute. The fans and club management will be praying that it is not something very serious and that the player is not sidelined for long.
Here’s an in-depth statistical analysis of performances of Ramsey and Özil, with a separate analysis of Giroud and Flamini from the game against Sunderland.
Aaron Ramsey attempted and completed the most number of passes, followed closely by Mathieu Flamini. Ramsey attempted 88 passes (best in the game), followed closely by Flamini who attempted 87 passes. Özil showed no signs of the reported sickness and attempted 79 passes with an accuracy of 90%. Ramsey had the best pass completion accuracy of 92% amongst both teams, followed by Özil and Flamini (89%). All 3 players had a very similar passing rate (mins per pass) varying between 0.97 and 0.99 mins per pass. Flamini had an impressive display at the centre of the pitch and recovered the ball on 7 occasions. Ramsey recovered the ball 4 times and Özil 5. Ramsey and Özil attempted an impressive 38 final-3rd passes each, with Özil completing 89% of them as compared to Ramsey’s 84%. Despite sitting very deep, Flamini attempted 19 passes in the final-3rd and completed 95% of them.
It was a solid performance by the 3 midfield players. The game seemed to have drifted away briefly after Koscielny conceded a penalty, but the team held its nerve and responded well under pressure. Özil adapted very well to Arsenal’s passing style of play and coordinated brilliantly with Ramsey, Flamini, Wilshere, Walcott and Giroud. With that, let us now move on to analyse the creativity stats.
To say that Mesut Özil had an impressive debut would be a bit of an understatement. Known for his creativity and eye for the killer pass in the final-3rd, Özil did what was expected of him. He created the most number of chances in the game (3), 1 of which was a clear-cut chance that was converted coolly by the in-form Frenchman Olivier Giroud. Özil also made the most number of penalty area entries (6), followed by Giroud and Ramsey (3 each). With 2 chances (1 clear-cut) and an assist, Giroud accumulated the second-best creativity statistics in the game. Aaron Ramsey had 111 touches on the ball (most by any player). He gave the impression at times that there were multiple Aaron Ramsey’s on the pitch, due to his swift movement from left to right and back-and-forth. Ramsey created one goal-scoring chance for a teammate, which was unfortunately not converted into a goal. Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud played 3 through balls each but one has to say that there isn’t a better sight in football than Özil’s immaculate through-ball.
Mesut Özil’s debut was the most anticipated debut in the club’s history, after the non-flying Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp’s debut in 1995. With the weight of the world on his shoulders and a reported illness, one can not even imagine what the pressure the German was going through before the start of the season. In a press conference earlier, he had said that people will appreciate his professionalism when they watch him play. He did just that and did not look like a player who was coming from a league which is effectively a 2-team competition.
With this, let us now move on to the final part of this analysis.
The spotlight may have been on Mesut Özil before the start of the game but the limelight was stolen, deservedly, by a player who some Arsenal fans believe is the only Welshman to be worth a 100 million Euros! With 2 goals, when the team needed it the most, Ramsey continued what has been a marvelous return to form. In all, Ramsey had 2 shots on target, both of which resulted in a goal with an accuracy and conversion rate of 67% (best in the game). Apart from this, Ramsey also had the best Mins per Shots on Target Statistics (45) and an impressive Mins per Shot stat of 30. Mesut Özil had 2 shots on target, 1 of which was blocked by a defender. He had a 100% cent percent shooting accuracy but failed to find the back of the net.
Olivier Giroud continued his fine form and has become only the 8th player in history to have scored in the first 4 games of the Premier League. He also tops the list of leading goal-scorers in the league with a goal every 85 minutes. Giroud had 3 shots (1 on target) with an accuracy and conversion rate of 33%. He has looked in top-form and it will be unfortunate if he is sidelined for a very long time.
Aaron Ramsey has been one of the players of the season. With 5 goals in all competitions, in 6 games, he has ensured that his name is the first on the team sheet. With such a wonderful set of players to pick from for the midfield, one wondered whether Mesut Özil was the player Arsenal needed. Well, the one rule that I know is that ‘You do not turn down Mesut Özil if he is available.‘ When asked in a press conference about what he thinks is the best-suited position for Mesut, Wenger said that Özil’s best-suited to be playing behind the striker or “AS A STRIKER”. We may not be able to fully comprehend what Wenger has in mind at the moment but I for one, will be very interested to see how Mesut fares, playing as a striker. Arsenal may have been too naive to not sign another striker, but Giroud is responding well to the faith imposed in him by the manager. With a world-class playmaker and the player with the most goal-assists in Europe in the last few years in the team, Giroud looks set to be a 20+ goal striker this season. In the game against Sunderland, Olivier Giroud also broke the jinx of not scoring outside of London in the English Premier League.
With the much talked about debut done and dusted, the team must now focus on the Champions League tie mid-week and continue the good form in the times to come. After that, they have a tricky game against Stoke City at home, followed by a game against Napoli in the Champions League Group stage. Things look bright at the moment for the 2 clubs from North London, with Arsenal ahead of their fierce rivals on goal difference. All teams will be looking to consolidate their position in the league in the weeks to come and I am very excited to see how things unfold in this very busy phase.
Please note that the comparisons made and inferences drawn are based purely on statistics, which may not always correlate with the actual performances of the players. Some of you may have a different point of view or may look at the statistics differently, so feel free to share it with me here or on twitter (@SilverHawk_24). Until next time, this is me signing off.