Branded ‘arrogant and naive’ by Gary Neville at the start of the season, Arsène Wenger really is anything but.
The misconception is that Wenger always instructs his players to play the same way, regardless of the opposition, and it costs Arsenal in big games.
However, if he doesn’t watch the big teams, surely he wouldn’t watch the smaller sides either?
“We know what is expected and we have studied Olympiacos,” the boss said ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League clash against the Greek champions.
So, clearly, Arsenal are ready for what will await them in Piraeus.
And there’s more! Many turn their noses up at new analytical methods – Tim Sherwood rubbished ‘expected goals’ just last week – but the Arsenal manager appears to be using them to evaluate his squad.
Speaking about using Aaron Ramsey in central midfield against Sunderland, the boss pointed towards the numbers as proof of his output.
“Aaron is a player who creates a high number of chances when he plays through the middle and his expected goals when he plays through the middle is quite high, one of the highest in the Premier League.
“So I’m not surprised when he plays through the middle he’s always attracted [to the ball]. He could have scored three (on Saturday). That’s why he was so happy when he scored. In the first half he had a back pass from Nacho when he could have scored, after that he hit the goalkeeper when he could have scored, and then he did.”
Wenger’s not wrong, either.
— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) December 6, 2015
Not including Saturday’s game – which saw Ramsey in position for three or four big chances – Ramsey is underperforming expected goals and assists so far this season. That doesn’t necessarily make him wasteful, these things even out over the course of a season, but it does mean he’s creating chances and getting into good positions fairly often.
Apparently some of Wenger’s methods are behind the times but, after the scouting and signing of Gabriel was largely based on stats, the Gunners are now studying expected goals.
Not bad, eh? Seems Arsène is still very much up with the times.