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Dani Ceballos’ change under Mikel Arteta

Without any doubt, Arsène Wenger is one of the greatest and most memorable managers football has ever seen. He had an impact on Arsenal unlike any other manager in history at one club. Due to that, it was understandably hard for Unai Emery who took over from him in 2018. 

In the summer of 2019, Arsenal signed the Spaniard Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid. It’s the 23-year-old central midfielder’s first season outside of Spain since he played for Betis, Sevilla in his youth and also played for their senior side before he joined Real Madrid in 2017. However, he wasn’t able to become a regular starter and due to that, it seemed like a logical step to move to London to get more time on the pitch.

However, after only four months at the Gunners for Ceballos, Emery was sacked in November 2019 and Freddie Ljungberg took over as interim manager. In December, Mikel Arteta became the head coach and since then it seems like Arsenal are at the very least a bit more stable. 

In this data analysis, we will compare the statistics of Ceballos in the English Premier League under Emery and Arteta (he hasn’t played when Ljungberg was in charge due to injury). Therefore, by looking at some data of the Spanish midfielder we want to see changes in his role and performance. 

Ceballos has played 708 minutes this season while Emery was in charge and 796 minutes since Arteta appointment. Considering this, he played about the same amount of time under the respective coaches. To have an ideal comparison, I calculated all of the data per 90 minutes. 

Below, we can see the statistics for the central midfielder under Emery (blue) and Arteta (red) in seven different statistics. 

Dani Ceballos' change under Mikel Arteta - data analysis statistics

Basically, we can see that except for losses per 90 and successful defensive duels per 90, we have quite a difference between the two time periods. The greatest one can be seen when we look at the interceptions he made. 1.91 under Emery while he now makes 4.52. One central reason for the better defensive statistics is surely the improved pressing tactics under Arteta. He also loses the ball fewer times but additionally makes 1.19 fewer touches in the box per 90 compared to his time under Emery.

Ceballos makes more back passes and passes to the final third even though he played more passes under Emery (56.95 under Emery vs 54.38 under Arteta). This indicates that he has currently occupied a slightly deeper role and is more often than not the one who brings the ball to the final third instead of receiving it there. 


In general, most of his statistics like passing accuracy, dribbling success rate, clearances, through passes, and expected assists (xA) have slightly improved and it seems like he feels more comfortable under Arteta. Of course, these are only minor changes and we should not take the manager as the sole reason behind his resurgence, but the statistics clearly tell us that Arteta has found a better way to implement Ceballos in his tactical plan compared to Emery.