Arsenal may have lost right-back stalwart Bacary Sagna on a free to Manchester City at the start of the summer, and continue to pave the way for understudy Carl Jenkinson to leave, but by replacing them with Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, the Gunners appear to have strengthened their squad considerably, according to WhoScored.com statistics.
These figures are based on a 2013/14 season in which France’s number one in the position, Debuchy, made 28 Premier League starts and one substitute appearance for old club Newcastle, while Les Bleus’ second-choice, Sagna, got on the teamsheet 34 times and came off the bench once.
Debuchy bosses these defensive numbers, with almost twice as many tackles per match than Sagna and significantly more interceptions over the campaign, while the difference in the pair’s clearance totals is negligible.
While it is true that Sagna was only beaten 0.4 times per fixture on average compared to 0.8 for Debuchy, the ex-Magpie completed 0.6 dribbles per match to his international rivals 0.2, got off more than twice as many shots on average and posted superior assist and key-pass stats.
Some mitigation must be taken into account for the extra defending that was required at Newcastle, who conceded 59 Premier League goals to Arsenal’s 41 last term, while the new Citizens signing’s occasional appearances at centre-half will also have impacted his attacking potential.
However, the numbers are so overwhelming in Debuchy’s favour that it is easy to see why France coach Didier Deschamps only deemed Sagna worthy of World Cup game time in the final Group E game with Ecuador.
The contrast between new signing from Southampton Chambers and Jenkinson, who has been strongly linked with a season-long loan move to West Ham, seems no less stark.
The £16m teenager breezed past the one-cap England man in terms of defensive prowess, while the fact that Chambers made 22 top-flight appearances (four as a sub) compared to Jenkinson’s 14 (seven off the bench) and still posted better numbers points to greater consistency over the course of the campaign.
Jenkinson only comes up trumps on goals-scored and assists, with one strike and two converted key-passes to none of each from the 19-year-old, and in terms of being beaten (0.1 times per game on average compared to 0.7).
However, Chambers averaged more key passes, shots and dribbles, which strongly indicates that Arsene Wenger has identified a player with potential to vastly improve in a stronger team over the coming years.
With regard to their chances of success in 2014/15, Wenger’s men look a lock at 13/20 to finish in the top four for the 18th season running, while the verve with which Arsenal have solved a potential pitfall at right-back – allied with the eye-catching captures of forward Alexis Sanchez and goalkeeper David Ospina – make them very interesting title contenders at 6/1.