Is Suárez Suitable For Arsenal?

The above question is certainly a logical one to ask at the moment, now that the Gunners have bid £40m (plus, laughably, £1) in order to speak to Luis Suárez. 

The thing is though, based on a look at a few simple statistics, the answer would be a resounding ‘no’.

One of the cornerstones of Arsenal’s football blueprint is that they thrive on possession. They averaged 58.2% in 2012/13, which was the most in the Premier League and the third highest across Europe’s big five leagues. They do not give the ball away cheaply whenever possible. 

Luis Suárez, on the other hand, turned the ball over to the opposition 2.4 times per game last season; the second most in the Premier League, and twelfth worst in Europe. He can not be relied upon to retain the ball in the fashion that Arsene Wenger craves.

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Similarly, in terms of patience in 2012/13 (using a simple metric), Suárez would be moving from the third least patient team to the fourth most.

Whilst Liverpool averaged a shot every 28.9 passes, Arsenal took 37.9 (against a league average of 33; the two sides are virtually equidistant on opposite sides of the mean).

If we break the pitch down further, the theme continues.

Looking at accurate passes in the opposition half of the pitch, the Reds attempted a shot every 16.0 on average, whilst the Gunners took 25.7, meaning the London side were 61% more patient than their Scouse rivals.

Similarly, the final third figures show a shot every 8.3 completed passes by Liverpool as opposed to 12.5 by Arsenal. The Wenger boys were 50% more patient than Rodgers’ mob in their opponent’s defensive third of the pitch.

For Liverpool, this lack of patience can be laid largely at the door of Suárez. The Uruguayan averaged 5.7 shots per game (the most in the Premier League, and second most across the continent). Arsenal’s two most frequent shooters (Giroud and Cazorla) only averaged an extra 0.4 shots per game between them than Suárez did on his own last season.

Of course, there are Arsenal fans who bemoan their team’s lack of shooting and desire to pass the ball into the net, so they would probably welcome Suárez with open arms!

None of this can prove if Suárez can be a hit or miss at The Emirates of course, and as he’s a great player joining a great team, you’d have to say the odds of him succeeding would be in his favour.

But either he is going to have to radically alter his style (which having seen him play ninety-six matches for Liverpool, I can confidently say is unlikely), or Monsieur Wenger will have to change a long established style of play in order to accommodate a player that will cost him over twice his previous record transfer.

Your move, Arsene.

Related posts you might like:

Luis Suárez: With Or Without You – An in-depth look at Liverpool’s stats for when Suárez plays and is missing.

Blame Suárez - Liverpool’s striker is more harshly treated by refs than most entire teams are.

Luis Suarez: Pantomime Villain – Football fans around the UK boo Suarez because he is considered to be a cheat. How does he fare compare to his contemporaries in the ‘dark arts’?

Evra-gate: The Impact on Suárez Performance – How did an accusation of racial abuse affect Luis Suárez’ productivity on the pitch?

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2 thoughts on “Is Suárez Suitable For Arsenal?

  1. Suarez does his own thing and fitting into any system is difficult for him . He is still the street fighter and I believe always will be. So as you say Arsenal will have to change their way of playing which is a big call . As well as his way of playing there is also the attitude on the pitch , will he behave or will this also stay the same . He had his problems in the past brought them with him to Liverpool and even missing matches he still played on the edge so to speak. . A world class player with baggage , such a shame .

  2. Pingback: How Much Is Luis Suárez Worth? | Bass Tuned To Red

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