There are cries of hypocrisy from the comments section of Le Grove.
‘Pedro, you were spaffing xGA numbers all over the internet when you were anti-Emery, now you are SHOCKINGLY not. You sir, are a dirty muffin fancier’
It’s true, I have not performed a deep dive into any xG numbers for Arteta, but mostly because of my religious respect for data.
7 games is a tiny sample to start drawing conclusions from with xG data. The variables are so vast, no true Data Scientist would risk their rep by making appalling apples to dog biscuits comparisons between Unai and Arteta.
I’ve left the explanation to Champagne Charlie of the comments to point out why people looking to use xGA as a hangman’s noose are embarrassingly early to the party. This particular post starts because Emery’s last 7 games saw xGA of 1.42, versus Mikel’s 1.5… the argument is complemented by inane supporting commentary like, ‘both work with the same talent, so the situations are basically the same, and the data can be compared.’
Champagne Charlie: Why xGA comparisons of Emery and Arteta are very silly
The usual frontline warriors with the usual scrap gathering in yet another attempt to dismiss Arteta and instead drive a narrative they’ve long held. I’ll make a quick remark about the sample size of 7 games, it’s painfully low for any hard data to be exorcised from as it’s wide open to anomalous inputs. That should be pretty clear to all, alas.
Stats can paint several pictures, wield your brushes how you see fit:
Emery played 13 games this season in the PL, his average xGA was 1.62
– His highest xGA was Watford away at 2.83
– His lowest xGA was 0.38 against Newcastle opening day
– Number of games xGA was more than 1.5 was nine (9/13).
Arteta has played 7 games this season in the PL, his average xGA is 1.5
– His highest xGA came against Chelsea away at 3.27
– His lowest xGA is 0.31 against Palace
– Number of games xGA is more than 1.5 is three (3/7).
*The Chelsea game we played with 10-men for 70 minutes is the league-high xGA this season, without that match our xGA under Arteta stands at a 1.2 average for 6 games. So a 0.3 jump aka not a sample size to take seriously.*
+What none of the above tells you is one manager was 12 months into a job, and had two summers to nip and tuck the staff he had at his disposal. Whilst the other manager arrived a couple of days before Christmas Day and had to pick up the pieces and work on the fly.
+What the above also doesn’t account for is that Arteta took over and had 3 games in 5 days to contend with as an opener, followed by 4 games that have seen us reduced to 10-men in half of those.
But irrespective of that context we still have a manager that’s taken the basic average xGA number from 1.62 to 1.5 for the season. Yet I’m to establish there’s been no measurable improvement to support the visual evidence on display these past 6 weeks.
This comment on whether Arteta having an advantage as a native (kind of) was also very good (same poster).
Having any of the knowledge you’re talking about matters not one iota when it comes to implementing your own views on how YOUR side is going to play.
Arteta is doing this on the fly and trying to teach and cajole players between rest days and injury maintenance. The game is won and lost at the very elite by minor actions done on autopilot, yet there’s been nowhere near enough time for Arteta to ingrain his methods on any meaningful level.
I’m talking to the point each player knows his role and has a picture of the side in front/behind/to the side of him as he’s receiving the ball. This is huge, Liverpool are the example of this level of work that’s embedded now after years of constant training.
Every game we play early on inevitably throws up situations that are being met in our new approach for the very first time. A clanger at Chelsea, a red card in the early stages, a physical game of high balls, facing sides who press, those who sit deep, losing players to injury and having to rework it etc.
These things all upset the applecart until you’ve dealt with a few situations and learned what to do and what not to do in the respective moments. All the while you’re trying to establish a level of mastery over your new role in the side on a basic level all things being equal.
You simply don’t achieve that without logging hours in practice, the kind of hours we’ve not had the benefit of spending – hence the value of a preseason where it’s all about learning and perfecting. Idk what to tell you if that doesn’t register.
< End >
Context is king in all situations.
Having two full preseasons, £200m to spend, and 18 months working daily with players is a lot of time to make a measurable impact. It’s also a lot of time to do horrendous damage to an already broken culture – as well as the confidence of the players.
Arteta is fighting on many fronts. He’s trying to build a high-performance culture, he’s building the players fitness and confidence, he’s implementing radical ideas and he’s doing it all in the middle of the season.
Confidence is a precious commodity. One of the most valuable in sport (and life). When it goes for you as an individual, it’s terrible. When it goes for a whole squad, it’s very hard to reboot and it takes time. We experience it in our own boring lives, watch a junior staffer deal with being reamed out in a client meeting. We’ve all had it, doesn’t matter how brash you are to the outside world, it impacts your performance. Arsenal fans are the client and we’ve been slaughtering the players for a year. We broke Unai Emery, he went from touchline crazy guy to hiding in his jacket twitching out like a recovering meth addict. He couldn’t make a coherent decision, his English declined, and he reeked of a deadman. Confidence.
This is going to take time. No coach can click their fingers and make magic happen immediately. Jurgen Klopp had a similar set of criticisms when he took over at Liverpool. Worth noting he took over a team in distress far earlier (October 8th) and took them to 8th position in the first year. He had a better squad of players to work with. Firmino, Coutinho, Sturridge, Henderson, Can, Lallana, Milner, Origi, Gomez, Lovren. He also had the same troubles Arteta is suffering right now. Liverpool fans on Twitter rolled hard with #KloppOut after his side were beasted by newly-promoted Watford. Fans spread this below graphic to make the point that Klopp wasn’t a good coach.
The problems look quite similar to those we’re facing now. Tired players and some noisy fans making demands that will embarrass them in a years time. This is Klopp after losing to Palace.
“It is not a problem to lose a game. It happens in football but we have to learn,”
“If we learn, we decide how strong we are, how good we are, how awake we are and how tired we are. Nobody else. We played on Thursday [at Rubin Kazan in the Europa League] but I decide if I am tired, nobody else. Today we needed a few minutes to come into the game. It was not enough. If everyone thinks we gave everything, then it is wrong.
“After the goal on 82 minutes, with 12 minutes to go, I saw many people leaving the stadium. I felt pretty alone at this moment. We decide when it is over. Between 82 and 94 [minutes] you can make eight goals if you like.
It’s a huge trigger for people when you mention Klopp because Arteta is not Klopp, but again, let’s give some context… no manager of Klopp’s standing was going to come to Arsenal in December. We took a chance on the future. If a manager of Klopp’s level needs more than 7 games to shape things up, you’d think some of our fans might go a little lighter on someone with a lesser squad with deeper problems.
If a manager like Klopp can bring in Grujic and Stephen Caulker as his first signings, we can maybe forgive the odd signings we’re attracting (we’ll talk about where Ornstein is unsubtly pointing you on the Soares story tomorrow). He took Liverpool to 8th in his first season. The next season, he narrowly beat us to 4th… by 1 point. They made it happen on the last day of the season. The mighty Klopp only just pipped Wenger on the decline.
Anyway, just a bit of context for the folk that are polluting the airwaves with shoddy takes on data and overblown expectations without the nuance of MAJOR CONTEXT.
See you in the comments. x