With the arrival of Gabriel Paulista (by the way his real name is Gabriel Armando de Abreu, Paulista simply means he was born in São Paulo, Brazil), a reporter from the Guardian decided to grill Arsene Wenger on whether Arsenal had used their stats company – StatDNA – to select the Villarreal defender from the array on offer.
“I cannot tell you all but he has good stats,” Wenger replied. “Was that a yes then, Arsène?” “It is not a no,” Le Prof responded warily….
“We look at interceptions, defensive errors, winning tackles – what we call tackles is committing to win the ball,” Wenger continued. “Set piece receptions, these kind of things. The most important thing is through the eye.
“Does this system find players for us? That is what we look for, of course, because it is difficult to watch all the games. But what I mean is that if the numbers confirm the eye, it gives you more.
“If a guy [scout] comes home and says: ‘I’ve seen a good player,’ you can statistically observe this player for five, six, seven games. You send him again, he comes back and says he’s a good player‚ the numbers confirm it, you can say the risk is limited. Though there is always a risk.
“We have our own system [through StatDNA], with qualities we think are important. After that, you have the attitude of the player. Because you can have good stats for a while but if you go out every night until six o’clock in the morning, it won’t last.”
Gabriel is 6ft 2in tall and can also play at right-back and left-back if needed, and has been compared to the ex-Chelsea centre-back David Luiz, but Wenger believes that Gabriel is much more concentrated on the defensive side of the game. “Gabriel is a different style to David Luiz,” Wenger said. “David Luiz looked more like a defensive midfielder than a centre-back because of his level of concentration and his dynamism going forward.
“Gabriel is a more typical defender. He is a real defender, who wants to defend. He’s from São Paulo. He’s a Paulista. You have Rio players and you have São Paulo players. One is a beach area [Rio] and the other is more hard-working.”
So it seems that Wenger does a HELL of a lot of research before he actually decides to make a bid on a player, so it is understandable that Arsenal bought a dedicated stats business which they don’t share with anyone else. Perhaps he could use it to find a cheap DM and a striker?