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Arsenal vs Tottenham: Statistics Pack

So, it begins. Another clash against the Spuds; that utterly adorable lot up the road. Jokes of homelessness and Arsenal winning the league in their backyard aside – hilarious they may be – it should be acknowledged, truthfully, that they are a good side.

While we can steam at the media attention Mauricio Pochettino and company have garnered – justified or not – some of it is warranted. This may be slightly sacrilegious of me, but there is no harm in admitting that squaring up against Tottenham provides considerable danger.

Since 2015-16, the goal difference between Arsenal and Tottenham stands at plus one (10-9), in our favour. Out of the seven fixtures in question, we have taken three points away on three occasions, including a League cup third round win. Spurs, on the other hand, have blanked us in both of their wins, while the remaining fixtures ended level.

It is interesting to note that our 4-2 win back on the 2nd of this month featured the most goals in a North London Derby since the 2012-13 season when we won 5-2. In the fourteen NLD’s since ten of them ended in just a single goal separating us. Despite this, we still are 6-4-4 against Spurs during that same period. The ball is still in our half, but only just.

Arsenal’s First-Half Struggles

Our second half exploits in our first campaign under Unai Emery are well documented. For better or worse, whether if it is because we simply grow in confidence or because Emery is a genius with tactical adjustments, many of us are far less concerned about going into the second forty-five down a goal.

The home result against Spurs earlier this month serves as a testament to this very fact. Arsenal under Emery does appear to have more fight about themselves when things are not going our way. While that is refreshing, one can assert that the frustrating aspect of these scenarios is the notion that we should not have to rely on second-half heroics nearly as much as we have this season. While the 4-2 at home was peak banter (especially given Eric Dier’s antics), it still raises some questions going into the Carabao Cup clash.

For all the impressive second-half performances attributed to us this season, our first-half displays, particularly at home, have been…well…awful. The first forty-five minutes at the Emirates constitute the fewest goals we have scored this season; three. Three of Arsenal’s thirty-seven goals scored in the Premier League have come during this period; that is absolutely awful. To put a number to it; 8%.

If the 8% is hard to swallow, a little help digesting comes via the fact that we have only surrendered eight in nine home Premier League fixtures. That number is comparable with Manchester City and Spurs (6), Chelsea (7), Leicester City and Crystal Palace (8), and Everton (9). If our defensive record at home was worse than it is currently, the tune being played perhaps would be slightly different. Something to note, however; six of the eight goals we’ve allowed (75%) at home in the league have come in the first half.

Why are our first-half struggles at the Emirates so important to note? Because of how strong Spurs are in the first-half away from Wembley. Not only do Tottenham have the strongest away record in the league thus far (8-0-2; 19-10), but eleven of those nineteen have come in the first half (58%). How many have they allowed in the first forty-five? Two. In addition, Pochettino’s troops have not allowed a single goal away from home from the 16th to 45th minute, and only three from the 1st to the 60th minute. Spurs are the paradoxical version of us if there ever was one. But this is as good for us as it is for them.

Second-Half Redemption

There is merit in the approach Spurs have taken; statistically, if you win the first half, you win the match overall most of the time. This is reflected in Spurs’ overall record in the league (13-0-4), but more importantly for them, their away results.

The question marks surrounding Pochettino is what Spurs do when they have the lead going into the second half; as it stands, they have surrendered eight goals while scoring eight. The eight they have allowed constitutes 80% of the goals they’ve allowed away from home. The eight times they have found the back of the net, though fewer than the eleven they have scored in the first half, is still more goals scored than in either half when they are at Wembley. But their uptick in goals allowed is what plays right into Emery’s hands, as it did two weeks ago.

Arsenal’s first-half performances at home have been woeful, but our second-half form in front of the home support is sublime. Arsenal has banged fourteen goals (82% of our total at home) after the intermission, and even more encouraging are the two we have allowed. Not only are we a vastly superior side after the break, but these numbers trump Spurs’ first-half performance figures. This is where the match will be won and lost for us, and it is likely why we will not deploy a set-up that leaves us too open at the other end in the first-half.

Being down at the break should not be a cause for the squadron scramble either. In the nine Premier League home matches thus far, we have never maintained a halftime lead. The most common scoreline is 0-0 (44%), with 1-1 and 0-1 combining for another (44%), while 1-2 brings up the rest of the percentage with 11%. Despite this, we have won six of nine at home while drawing two others, with the only home loss of the season coming on matchday one against City.

Aubameyang vs Kane; Round 2

The debate over whether Arsenal or Spurs have the better leading striker will – likely – not disappear anytime soon. What we all can agree on, is that both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane are quite good at what they do.

In the four and a half seasons where Kane had been the main man at Spurs, his 114 goals in 170 Premier League appearances (0.69 G90) for Tottenham is obscenely good.

Arsenal has their own quality marksman; and arguably a better one. Since transitioning into the central striker role at Borussia Dortmund during the Rückrunde in 2014-15, Auba’s strike rate outstrips Kane’s; 100 goals in 124 league appearances (0.80 G90). Bias aside, the numbers do not lie; Auba is the better goal scorer. But that is not the only feather in the Gabonese internationals cap when comparing the two front men.

Further head to head data lends additional weight to Arsenal having the better of the pair, but only just.

Data aside, the key in the run-up to today’s quarter-final tie is the way the two strikers have found the back of the net during the league campaign. While his nine goals have him just one behind Auba and Mohamed Salah (10), the worrying underlying number for Kane is that less than 50% of his goals have come during open play. With an xG 2.17 lower than predicted, Kane is struggling a bit more than his goal haul suggests. In this instance, Auba is miles ahead of his competitor. Eight of his ten goals have come during the run of play, in fewer shots (36) than Kane. While Kane needs ten shots before he gets himself a goal, Auba needs roughly 4.5 efforts to find the back of the net.

What the Numbers Predict

Unfortunately for us, all the data points to our recent result against Spurs as a one-off in terms of trends. Away from home, Spurs have averaged just 5 minutes trailing their opponent, while they average forty-four minutes leading. Additionally, they’ve opened the scoring in nine of their ten away matches, while leading at half-time in seven of them. Just as mentioned before, our home form is in stark contrast to how good Spurs have been on the road.

Arsenal averages a lead at home for a shade under fifteen minutes, while averaging a level scoreline for fifty-two minutes. Additionally, our opponents have opened the scoring against us in five of the nine matches held at the Emirates; something Spurs did not do against us the first go around.

All the numbers point to us needing to be – at worst – no more than a goal down at the half to be in with a chance of getting a result.

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