The draw for the UEFA Europa League round-of-16 has been made following the conclusion of the round-of-32 last night, with Arsenal drawing Ligue 1 club Stade Rennais and Chelsea facing Dynamo Kyiv.
The Gunners qualified by overcoming a one-goal deficit from their first leg against Belarus club BATE Borisov with a 3-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium early on Thursday evening. With a Zakhar Volkov own-goal and strikes from Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos sealing the deal for Unai Emery’s men.
Their opponents Rennes, currently in the bottom half of the top division in French football, completed an impressive win over Spanish club Real Betis over two legs. Drawing 2-2 in Rennes in the first and then overcoming them on Spanish soil 1-3 last night in the second.
Today, in the wake of the interesting draw, we’re going to carry out a statistical tactical analysis comparing the playmakers of the two teams. For Arsenal, former FIFA World Cup-winner Mesut Ozil and for Julian Stephan’s side, former Newcastle United and PSG man Hatem Ben Arfa. A star who’s haunted the North Londoners a fair amount of times over the years.
For our comparison, we’re going to use the below whoscored.com image and the stats in it to compare Ozil and Ben Arfa. The overall figures we will use come from their respective leagues, the Premier League and Ligue 1, for 2018/2019 so far.
As we can see, firstly, the appearances and minutes in the league of both former international stars are very comparable, with Ben Arfa enjoying just four more outings and just over 300 minutes on the pitch. He’s also scored more goals with five and registered more assists.
The two controversial attacking midfielders have both been shown a single yellow card this campaign and avoided a red entirely, but there is a significant difference when it comes to average shots per match, in the favour of the Frenchman. The better passer of the ball in ’18/19 has been, as the pass success percentage proves, Ozil, who matches the 0.3 aerial duels per match of Ben Arfa, as well.
The number of Man of the Match awards won stats offers a clue as to who has had the bigger impact on the matches they’ve played and that’s the Rennes man as he’s managed five. In addition, Ben Arfa beats Ozil when it comes to average WhoScored match rating, 7.43 to 6.83.
As you may have already worked out, in summary, the winner of our statistics-driven comparison is Ben Arfa convincingly. The 31-year-old beats his fellow veteran 8-3 in individual stats won.
Of course, there is the difference in standard between the top flight of England and the top-flight of France to consider. But if one thing’s certain, it will be an intriguing two-leg battle between the players and their sides.
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