Arsenal break unwanted records against Liverpool

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Arsenal came within minutes of winning a football match on Sunday evening. Had they done so, beating Liverpool in the same ground they were thumped 5-1 in February, it would have been a remarkable achievement and may well have rendered Opta Stats useless.

The Gunners conceded an injury time equaliser as the game finished 2-2, leaving both sets of fans dissatisfied with life ahead of the festive period. Liverpool should have won, Arsenal should have won, no one wins, everyone loses, such is life.

But had Arsenal come away with a 2-1 win, then it may have gone someway to proving how worthless some key performance indicators, such as possession, really are in football. It would have left @OptaJoe scratching his virtual head.

Record breaking stats (the bad kind)

That is because Arsenal had their lowest possession (36.5%) in a Premier League game since Opta Stats began its number crunching way back in August 2003. Back then, Arsenal were on their way to becoming Invincibles. Now they fail to string a few passes together.

Not only that but they also conceded more shots since records began. Liverpool were allowed 27 shots at Wojciech Szczesny's goal. If Brendan Rodgers's squad had any decent strikers in the team, the scoreline may have looked similar to the last time these teams met at Anfield.

Only ten of those 27 shots were on target and, of course, only two managed to beat Szczesny. Philippe Coutinho and Martin Skrtel – both not strikers – scored the goals for the Reds.

Changing ideology

The statistics will come as a great concern for the Gunners, who are so used to keeping the ball for large swathes of any game. However, possession doesn't count at the end of a match and it is what you do with the ball that ultimately wins you matches.

But it is another sign that Wenger is abandoning his total football ideology in favour of results. After all, plenty of Arsenal fans would have taken a draw when Coutinho put Liverpool 1-0 up in the first half.

The balance was not quite right, however, as Arsenal sat back, inviting just a bit too much pressure. Anyway, a point was all they deserved, according to the stats that is.

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