Stats Zone brings you facts, figures and graphics ahead of every Arsenal game.

The Gunners visit Liverpool on Sunday and will be looking to build on their impressive record at Anfield in recent years. Arsène Wenger's side have not lost there since April 2008.

Today's Stats Zone focuses on Arsenal's defensive shape, and the increasing influence of Lukas Podolski.


One of the most notable aspects of Arsenal's first two games of the season has been the improvement in the team's defensive shape and ability to adapt to the challenges posed by different attacks.

The Gunners dominated the opening match of the campaign against Sunderland, enjoying 70.1 per cent of possession and allowing the visitors just four shots on goal during the entire game.

As a result of this domination, you can see in our chalkboard on the left that Arsenal's defenders made a large number of tackles and interceptions high up the pitch, and often in the visitors' half. Due to a solid defensive shape, they were able to push the visitors out wide and restrict their threat through the middle during any rare forays forward.

At the Britannia Stadium, and against a towering Peter Crouch, our chalkboard shows how the Gunners backline defended much deeper, but to similar good effect.

One key element to their success was their focus on defending the flanks resolutely, and they made the vast majority of their tackles in these areas. This denied Stoke time and space to deliver balls into Crouch and nullified a key part of Stoke's attacking threat.

"Defensively we had no major problem," Wenger said. "They had one good chance in the second half when we lost the ball in midfield but apart from that we dealt very well with them in the air."

Liverpool will pose a different threat at Anfield, but the way the Gunners' backline has adapted to the different challenges they have faced so far bodes well for the match.

(Key: green = tackles, blue = interceptions, purple = clearances)

Chalkboard defending Stoke/Sund


Lukas Podolski has made a positive impression since his arrival from FC Cologne ths summer - but made far more impact against Stoke than against Sunderland.

The Germany international was deployed as the central striker against Martin O'Neill's team, and as our first heatmap shows he played a disciplined role by dropping deep to get the ball but rarely drifting out to the flanks.

At times he appeared isolated as chances were limited against a deep-lying Sunderland backline and he was restricted to just 27 touches throughout the match.

But stationed out on the left flank at the Britannia Stadium, Podolski was far more influential and, as our second heatmap shows, he covered more ground and often drifted inside to good effect.

Against Stoke, he had nearly double the amout of time on the ball - notching up 46 touches - and made 33 passes, compared to just 21 against Sunderland. So it's hardly surprising that he was a far more infuential presence in his second game for the Club.

The German will be hoping to make a similar impact against Liverpool on Sunday, who are unlikely to defend as deeply as either Sunderland or Stoke.

Heatmap - Podolski v Sunderland

Heatmap - Podolski v Stoke


  • There have been seven goals scored in the 90th minute or later in the last seven Premier League games between Liverpool and Arsenal and five in the last four
  • There have been own goals scored in each of the last three Premier League games between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield
  • In fact, Liverpool v Arsenal at Anfield has seen the joint-most own goals of any fixture in Premier League history (4)
  • Liverpool have won just one of their last 10 Premier League games against Arsenal (W1 D6 L3)
  • The Gunners are unbeaten in their last five Premier League visits to Anfield (W2 D3) and have come from behind in all those games to secure those results
  • Only Arsenal (19 per cent) have a worse shooting accuracy than Liverpool in the Premier League this season (24 per cent)
  • Arsenal have failed to score in their opening two Premier League games. The longest they have gone without scoring from the start of the season is 224 minutes (last season)
  • Arsenal have allowed the joint-fewest shots on target against them this season along with Sunderland, who have played just one game
  • Liverpool have picked up just 19 points in 21 Premier League games in 2012
  • Arsenal have won just one of their last seven Premier League matches, but five of the other six games have been draws

All stats provided by Opta

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
30 Aug 2012