Which attacker should Arsenal be signing this window?

Ivan Perisic Yannick Carrasco Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics

OK, let us ignore once again the fact that Arsenal seem to be shopping in the wrong position.

Unai Emery is under the impression he might be getting ‘one or two’ players in before the transfer window slams shut later this week.

Forget the fact it is defenders that Arsenal desperately need; after all, not many successful Europa League campaigns have been built around Carl Jenkinson I am sure we can all agree.

Forget the fact that Arsenal are pleading poverty and are not looking to bring in more ‘talent’ and give them crazy money ala Mesut Ozil.

Forget the fact that Emery seems to have stumbled across a half-decent structure with his midfield diamond; a shape that negates the need to bring in yet another left-sided forward player to compete with Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang et al.

Let us for one moment get on board with the rumour that Arsenal are going to sign either Ivan Perisic or Yannick Carrasco this January.

I know, I know.

There are more holes in this one than in a back four contain Mustafi.

But we are here to analyse which of the two left-sided attackers is the better option for Arsenal Football Club.

Ivan Perisic vs Yannick Carrasco

Let’s take a look at each player’s profile.

Ivan Perisic Yannick Carrasco Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics

Perisic is currently playing for Inter in Serie A. As you can see, he hasn’t exactly followed up a World Cup that saw him being linked to every big club in Europe with the same level of performance at the San Siro.

Three goals from 18 matches is a poor return for a wide forward playing in quite an attacking system.

Ivan Perisic Yannick Carrasco Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics

That said, at least Perisic is playing in a credible football league.

Yannick Carrasco is currently playing in the Chinese Super League for Dalian Yifang and is now believed to have had enough of the money on offer and wants to be challenged as a footballer once again.

After all, he is only 25.

The former Atletico Madrid player has seven goals in 25 matches this season.

At this stage, you have to wonder whether Arsenal could be about to make an expensive mistake signing either of these players.

What do the statistics say?

It would be prudent to compare both players.

Ivan Perisic Yannick Carrasco Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
Perisic career stats

Again, we start with the Croatian international.

His career heatmap shows that he has spent the vast majority of his career marauding down the left flank.

He averages 2.78 shots on target per 90 minutes with an xG (expected goals output) of 0.24 per 90.

That suggests he overperforms in front of goal slightly, as his actual goals per 90 comes in at 0.28.

He creates a shooting opportunity for a teammate 1.44 per times per 90 and makes 1.73 progressive runs in a match.

Ivan Perisic Yannick Carrasco Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
Carrasco career stats

When you compare the Belgian international, there isn’t a great deal in it.

The xG is the same, with Carrasco scoring 0.02 fewer goals per 90.

Carrasco creates marginally more scoring opportunities for his teammates and is more progressive on the ball.

Yet, the Belgian takes fewer touches inside the box than Perisic which fits the profile of a more traditional ‘winger’ than a ‘wide forward’ who is tasked with getting in the box more often.


So, it appears we are not exactly comparing apples with apples.

Carrasco is more of a winger and Perisic is more of a wide-forward yet, in true January fashion, both are being linked to the same club in an either-or scenario.

Does Emery himself have a preference?

Which is the better profile for the way Emery seems to be setting Arsenal up to play?

From an attacking perspective, it is hard to say as Arsenal do not appear to have settled on a clear attacking plan as of yet.

In some matches, the wide trickery of Iwobi is apparent and works. In others, it does not. Equally, Arsenal have had success and failure with Aubameyang coming in off the left. The only definite appears to be that neither Mkhitaryan or Ozil really figure as a long-term solution.

But, defensively Arsenal do seem to have a plan. Like many other sides, they look to press high and recover the ball in the opponents half making the stats below more interesting.

Ivan Perisic Yannick Carrasco Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
Carrasco defensive stats
Ivan Perisic Yannick Carrasco Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
Perisic defensive stats

As you can see, Carrasco actually wins the ball back in the opponents half more often than Perisic. More generally, he wins more of his defensive duels as well.

So, for me, that would tell me that if I had to choose between the two (and, again, I’d personally be focusing on issues at the other end of the pitch) I would look to bring in Carrasco.

Realistically, I cannot see a deal for either player happening before the window shuts but they could be famous last words.