This week our statistician Josh James looks at the disparity between Arsenal's performances either side of the half-time break this season.
Saturday's game against Sunderland marked the first time Arsenal had been ahead at half time since beating Reading away December 17 - some 12 matches ago.
In fact, it was one of only 10 matches (out of 38 in all competitions so far) in which Arsenal had held an advantage at the interval, as the second half has proved to be a much more productive period. Indeed Arsenal have won twice as many second halves (20) as they have first halves during the season.
The Gunners haven't lost any of their last 15 second halves (since December 4), and looking at Premier League matches alone, Arsenal have lost just two second halves all season.
Indeed the league table would look very different if only second-half results counted. Arsenal would be top, with a record of P26 W13 D11 L2, having scored 29 goals and conceded just 11 (the fewest of any top-flight side for the second 45). Conversely they would stand 10th in a table consisting purely of first-half scorelines (P26 W6 D14 L6) with 21 scored and 18 conceded.
Premier League table (second halves only)
|9.||West Bromwich Albion||26||9||10||7||23||18||+5||37|
|19.||Queens Park Rangers||26||4||13||9||12||22||-10||25|
Premier League table (first halves only)
|13.||West Bromwich Albion||26||7||11||8||13||17||-4||32|
|20.||Queens Park Rangers||26||2||15||9||7||19||-12||21|
Arsenal have won all but two of the 10 games which they led at half-time (including all six in the Premier League), drawing one and losing the other.
Of the 20 drawing half-time positions, exactly half have been converted into victories by full time, while seven games stayed level, and the other three were lost.
When Arsenal were losing at half time, half of the eight matches remained as defeats, while a draw was salvaged from the other four games. Those four draws, however, include the Reading Capital One Cup fixture, which although finished 4-4 at full time (after the Gunners trailed 4-1 at the interval) eventually ended as a 7-5 win for Arsène Wenger's men after extra time.
Throughout the season so far, exactly 50 per cent of the time (19 games) the full-time result has been the same as the half-time position was.
Win percentages when...
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With an 80 per cent win rate when leading at half time, the importance of a good start is clear. And when the Gunners score the first goal, the record is also impressive. Arsenal have scored the opening goal of the game 18 times this season (47 per cent), conceded the first on 17 occasions (45 per cent) and there have been three goalless draws.
Of the 18 matches in which the Gunners have struck first, they have gone on to win 14 (82 per cent), draw three and lose just one (that being the 'dead rubber' away to Olympiacos on matchday six of the Champions League).
Even when the Gunners concede first, more often than not (59 per cent) they do not end up losing the game. After conceding first, Arsenal have pulled back to earn a draw six times (35 per cent) or turned it around for a win four times (24 per cent) by the end of 90 minutes. Those four wins do not include the victory over Reading in the Capital One Cup, which was a draw at full time.
With the first goal being so crucial, players who can make this breakthrough are obviously very valuable. So far this season, Mike Arteta, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have broken the deadlock three times each, while Jack Wilshere has done it twice.
Statistically Arsenal score the majority of their goals in the last 15 minutes of each half - 16 (21 per cent) in the last third of the first half and 21 (27 per cent) in the final quarter hour of the game.
Where Arsenal will look to improve perhaps, is in the opening exchanges. In all competitions so far this season, Arsenal have scored just 18 per cent (14) of their goals in the first half-hour (and just six per cent in the first 15 minutes). On the other hand, Arsenal have conceded 39 per cent (18) of their goals so far this season (not including extra time) in the first 30 minutes of games.
Stats correct as at February 13, 2013Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 13 Feb 2013