Tottenham vs. Arsenal: Breaking Down the Key Stats

Peter BrownellContributor IMarch 3, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 03:  Spurs players celebrate their team's 2-1 victory as the final whistle blows during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC at White Hart Lane on March 3, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Arsenal's crippling loss, 2-1, in the North London Derby to Tottenham and Gareth Bale will be a tough pill for Arsene Wenger to swallow after examining the statistics.

In terms of clear-cut chance creation, Tottenham were far superior to their rivals.

The Gunners were dominant on paper.  They maintained the majority of possession, (60 percent to 40 percent), completed nearly four times the amount of final-third passes (104 to 27) and almost doubled Tottenham's cross total (21 to 11).

In most of the advanced soccer metrics, Arsenal played the better match. 

In one critical statistic, though, they fell short.   

Indeed, Spurs' two goals gave them the advantage necessary to secure a massive three points in the English Premier League. 

The statistic, clear-cut chance creation, is a brilliant numerical category collected by Opta that notes how many "absolutely should score" opportunities a team generates.  Spurs created four of these types of chances and converted two.  Arsenal created none. 

Blame poor marking and credit Tottenham's surgical through-ball passing.  Both goals came from golden opportunities.

Aside from this very telling difference, the teams mustered up either very similar numbers, or numbers in which the Gunners were better.

They each had 11 total shots: Arsenal put two on target, four off target and had five blocked.  Tottenham put four on target, five off target and had two blocked.

Midfield ball recoveries often correlate directly to wins.  Not so in this game.  Arsenal recovered possession in midfield 28 times, Tottenham 24. 

The Gunners were the better one-on-one side on the day, winning 65 percent of the aerial duel and 54 percent of the ground duels.  Not only was their passing game more prolific, but it was also more accurate.  They completed 82 percent of their total passes and 67 percent of their final-third passes.  The Spurs connected 73 percent of the former and 41 percent of the latter.   

Even dribbling, a skill Tottenham usually excels at, favored Arsenal: 11 successful dribbles to six successful dribbles.

The old adage that soccer is a cruel game certainly rang true for Arsenal.  Their two defensive mistakes gifted Bale and Aaron Lennon easy chances.  The professionals buried them.

It does not get much easier for Wenger and company in the coming weeks.  With German giants Bayern Munich looming, creativity and quality chance creation must improve.  For Spurs, Europe and Inter are next up, followed by another massive Premier League match with Liverpool.

Spurs do not need to change much.  The win brings them to third place with 54 league points, seven points clear of fifth-place Arsenal.  If they can continue their excellent clear-chance creation in the coming weeks, a spot in next season's Champions League will surely be the reward.

All stats noted courtesy of the EPL Index and Opta.