Arsenal powered their way to the top of the table with goals from Ramsey, Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna. New boy Mesut Özil made an impressive home debut and set-up all of Arsenal’s 3 goals. It took the Gunners only 4 minutes to break Stoke City’s resilience as Ramsey found the back of the net. However, Arsenal could not manage to control the game thereon.
Stoke City equalised and threatened to take the lead on many occasions. This was until Mertesacker put the North Londoners ahead before the break. Stoke enjoyed a good spell of possession after the break and surged ahead to look for an equaliser. Sagna put the game beyond any doubt as he scored for the first time since scoring a crucial goal in Arsenal’s 5-2 win against Spurs last season.
Although Arsenal registered a 3-1 win, it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests. Stoke City have improved a lot since last season and were in the game until Sagna netted Arsenal’s 3rd goal. Both teams had almost identical statistics in terms of possession, passes completed / accuracy and final 3rd passes. With 7 successive wins, the loss at the start of the season seems like a distant memory for Arsenal’s fans. Arsenal have been on an impressive run for the last 9 months. Starting from their victory against Bayern Munchen in Germany, Arsenal have lost just one game in all competitions and top the league table after 5 games, at the back of some solid performances.
This week, I bring an in-depth player performance analysis of Arsenal’s mid-fielders who started the game at The Emirates on Sunday.
I. Mathieu Flamini:
Former Gunner, Mathieu Flamini was Arsenal’s 2nd signing of the season. When asked at a press conference about the signing of the player, Wenger responded by saying that It (signing Flamini) was a no-brainer and that he was sorry that he did not cost the club 25 million pounds. It was passed on as a joke but the player appears to be proving his manager right. Making his second debut against the rival neighbours, Tottenham Hotspurs, Flamini has been in fine form. He is putting in powerful performances, week in and week out. Theo Walcott said in an interview that Flamini has been inspirational for the team and Aaron Ramsey in particular. In the absence of the pass master Mikel Arteta, Matt Flam has led the mid-field with zeal and inspired players like Ramsey.
In the game against Stoke City, Flamini continued his good form and made 3 tackles (with an accuracy of 67%), 3 interceptions and recovered the ball on 6 occasions. Flamini completed the most number of passes amongst both teams, 96% of 70 passes attempted (a pass every 1.29 minutes). In addition to this, Flamini also attempted 8 passes in the Final 3rd ( a FTP every 11.25 minutes). Due to his impressive performance against Stoke city, Flamini deservedly received the Barclays Man of the Match award.
With injury to a key player like Mikel Arteta at the start of the season, Arsenal needed someone who could control the game in the mid-field, break down the oppositions’ advances and increase the tempo of the game when the team needed to get a move on. Flamini stepped up and assumed the role with great success. Arsenal will be hoping that he continues in same vein as they look to consolidate their position at the top of the league in the weeks to come.
II. Aaron Ramsey:
Aaron Ramsey has without any doubts been the player of the season so far. He tackles, recovers the ball, intercepts, passes with deadly accuracy, creates chances and “SCORES WHEN HE WANTS”. With 7 goals in the last 8 games, he is Arsenal’s leading goal scorer in all competitions.
Against Stoke, Ramsey continued from where he had left in the UCL game mid-week. He was one of Arsenal’s best players on the pitch and got on the score-sheet(again). Ramsey attempted 6 tackles (3 successful), a tackle every 15 minutes and recovered the ball of 6 occasions. Completing 94% of his 70 passes (attempted), Ramsey formed a solid partnership with Flamini and Özil. He attempted a Final 3rd Pass every 3.75 minutes (24 FTP in all), created one chance and took 3 shots with an accuracy of 100 percent.
Barring an injury, he looks set to be one of the contenders for the player of the season and young player of the season award at the end of the day. It may appear to be too optimistic a statement to make after only 5 games, but this is based on my assessment of the player’s performance since March 2013. He ended last season with strong performances, built on it in the pre-season and become stronger as the season progressed.
Giroud is the joint-leading goal scorer in the league, followed by Ramsey who has found the back of the net 3 times already in the league this season.
III. Jack Wilshere:
Jack Wilshere is yet to find his best form this season. Arséne Wenger is persisting with him like he did with Ramsey last season. Being a target of the opposition in all games, Jack knows that he is gonna take a lot of knocks every week. He never sighs away from getting into a duel, Aerial, Ground and even Verbal.
Playing out of his preferred position, Jack attempted 36 passes with an accuracy of 86% (a pass every 2.03 minutes) and attempted a final 3rd pass every 5.21 minutes. Wilshere created a chance every 36.50 minutes (second only to Özil in the game) and took 2 shots with an accuracy of 50%.
Post his injury rehab, Jack has been a work-in-progress but more importantly, gaining confidence with every game. He has been touted as the Future of Arsenal but has a long way to go before reaching there. With his focus and work-ethics, it will not be long before he becomes the player that every one at Arsenal wants him to be. Aaron Ramsey appears to have gone ahead of him but I expect Wilshere to not only catch-up with Rambo but leave him behind and become Arsenal’s key man in the times to come.
IV. Serge Gnabry:
A mysterious injury to Theo Walcott before the start of the game paved the way for Gnabry to make his first start in the Premier league. From what we got to see of him, he looks a very exciting prospect. He is highly-rated by those who have seen him from his junior days and looked upon as the next Theo Walcott.
Playing out wide, Gnabry put in a strong performance in his first EPL start. He attempted 3 tackles with an accuracy of 33%, intercepted thrice and recovered the ball 5 times. Completing 87% of his attempted 38 passes, Gnabry gave a glimpse of what we can expect to see from him in the future. He attempted a FTP every 8.11 minutes, created one chance and took 2 shots with an accuracy of 50%.
With injury to Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski, Gnabry will be expected to get a few more starts. Being young, this will be very important for his growth and for making him a better player. It may not be easy for him to maintain the same level of performance every game, so early in his career, Arsenal will have to be patient with him and give him all the confidence that he needs.
V. Mesut Özil:
The most expensive player in Arsenal’s history is living up to the billing and proving his worth. He is doing what is expected of him and creating chances at will.
In the game played on Sunday, Özil attempted 60 passes with an accuracy of 87% (a pass every 1.33 minutes). He attempted the most number of Final 3rd Passes, 29 (a FTP every 2.76 minutes). In addition to this, Özil created 7 chances, the most by any player (a chance created every 11.43 minutes), provided 3 goal assists and took 2 shots on target.
Mesut Özil has adapted brilliantly to the league and appears to have adjusted to Arsenal’s style of play. It is fair to say that Arsenal’s style of play is best suited for a player like him. With 33 games still to go, Arsenal will be relying heavily on the German to create goals, score a few here and there and help them clinch their first league title in 10 years. After only in his 2nd league game, Ozil leads the table Creativity Stats (in terms of assists provided). Ramsey also finds a place in the top-10 with 1 assist and 4 chances.
Please note that the analysis 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 hoping for another clinical performance from Arsenal in the Capital One tie mid-week.