After a disappointing Premier League game week for Arsene Wenger and his players, there is one ray of light.
Exclusive EA SPORTS data highlights there is an unexpected record holder in the Frenchman’s ranks, one who is certainly not regularly credited for his passing displays. Contrary to what might be expected, the player who holds the record for most passes completed in the opposition half has done so by consistently picking and executing quality passes in the attacking half … not what is synonymous with a defensive midfielder.
Many would think the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Alexis Sanchez or even club mate Mesut Ozil would be sure to top the list of players to be successfully completing passes in the opposition’s half, however the current record holder is Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss international holds the record having achieved 1321 passes in opponents’ halves, beating City trio Kevin de Bruyne (1283 passes), David Silva (1212) and Fernandinho (1175) who are the next closest performers this season. Only Nicolas Otamendi (2342 passes completed) beats the Arsenal man (2072 passes) in total passes completed this season, so it goes to show the breadth of Xhaka’s passing abilities and performances this season!
Top 10 players with the highest number of passes completed in opposition halves (PL 17/18 season):
Xhaka has also been performing well compared to Arsenals most lauded creative midfielder, Mesut Ozil. The Swiss player has only achieved 2 less assists this season (Xhaka: 5 / Ozil:7) but has completed over 600 more passes than his German teammate this season … including nearly 175 more in the oppositions half of the field.
Granit Xhaka vs Mesut Ozil – Pass Completion and Assists (PL 17/18 season);
Despite the current form of the Arsenal team, perhaps the ever-present Xhaka can continue his passing form and inspire a change of fortunes for the Gunners as they take on Watford.
Data Courtesy of EA SPORTS, the Lead Partner of the Premier League.
I was eleven-and-a-half. My family had just emigrated from Rhodesia to South Africa. All the kids on my street supported United or Liverpool, because of their Southern African goalkeeper connections: Bailey for United and Grobbelaar for ‘Pool. Problem was: I didn’t like the colour red – so when FA Cup Final day came around in 1979, I supported the team in yellow, even though their name sounded like “Asshole”. At the final whistle, I had bragging rights and a team that had won my heart.
Then I discovered that the Gunners also wore red. Luckily, I remained loyal, and the Arsenal has kicked my heart around ever since… (apart from a few lost years in the ’90s and early ’00s, when I was busy doing grownup things as a composer in Hollywood).
Abandoned invinciblog.com to launch this site with 1 Nil Down 2 One Up blogfather Dave Seager – and we have used this platform to help launch the writing careers of a number of amazing Arsenal bloggers.