Life without Arthur: the surprising numbers at Barça in his absence

Valverde has tried three different midfields since he lost the Brazilian to injury, although the team are enjoying more possession without Arthur in the team

Arthur se vistió de Xavi para regalarle un gol a Rakitic con un pase milimétrico que el croata convirtió en el 2-0 | LALIGA

On the 8th February it was confirmed that Arthur Melo would be out for around three to four weeks due to a hamstring injury. The news didn't go down well at the Camp Nou as the Brazilian had become a key part of the starting eleven. Ernesto Valverde, more than anyone, saw the young Brazilian as key to his plans.

Dídac Peyret

@didacpeyret

However whilst the news was disappointing it also didn't come as a complete surprise. When Arthur was one of the more common substitutes, Valverde insisted it was because the Brazilian was feeling a little jaded.

Prior to his injury there was a moment for reflexion too. He attended another injured Brazilian's birthday party, Neymar's to be precise. This was two days before the Copa Clasico.

Arthur, unlike Suarez and Messi, didn't reject the offer to join up with Neymar. He hopped onto a plane to celebrate the PSG's stars lavish party.

Melo was one of Barça's best players against Madrid but felt discomfort in his hamstring. In post-match tests the injury was revealed.

"At the beginning of December Arthur wasn't available either. We have Aleñá, Arturo Vidal, depending on the match. We also have Coutinho and we could look at another player from the B side. It all depends on how we approach a match. Then we'll decide."

Without Arthur, Barça lose a bit of control in midfield as well as the possession. Without him to call upon Valverde went for another player he knows what he can expect from: Arturo Vidal.

The Chilean has offers very different characteristics to the Brazilian but as started two matches and been a substitute in another.    

 

VALVERDE'S COMBINATIONS

Without Arthur, Barça have drawn twice and won once. In the first match against Athletic they drew 0-0.

Valverde opted for Rakitic, Busquets and Arturo Vidal in midfield. It lacked movement and the team weren't able to play their natural game. Barça struggled to gain control of the match until Aleña came on in the 63rd minute for Arturo.

In the next match against Valladolid, Valverde shuffled his park and added Boateng and Aleñá to the XI. Arturo Vidal and Busquets completed the midfield. 

In Barça's last eight matches with Arthur in the starting lineup the team had an average of 59.46% possession; without the Brazilian that's increased to 63.66%

Perhaps the most surprising lineup was the one against Lyon. Wague was named in the travelling squad alongside Roberto and Semedo. Valverde named Roberto in midfield. That match also saw the team fail to get on the scoresheet and Sergi was eventually replaced by Arturo in the 81st minute. 

SURPRISING NUMBERS

It might surprise you to learn that the possession stats aren't as you'd expect in the Brazilian's absence. Of the last eight, Arthur started five. The defeat against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey, the return leg victory as well as the draw with Madrid. All in the cup.

In those three matches Barça avergaed 59.46% possession. That's a number below what you've come to expect with FC Barcelona. However, since Arthur's injury, that has gone up to 63.66% possession on average. The match in which Barça recorded their highest possession numbers came in the 2-2 draw against Valencia.

On that day it ws 68.7% without Arthur or Busquets on the field. Valverde went with Aleñá, Rakitic and Arturo Vidal.

It's a stat which debunks the myth Barça hold onto the ball better when Arthur is in the side. However, that doesn't change the fact that the best version of Barça has been with the Brazilian in the team.

The midfielder is on the road to recovery and hopes to be back for the second leg of the Copa Clasico against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. And everyone at Barça is counting down the days until his return.

  

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