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On Soccer: How Arsenal and Arsène Wenger Bought Into Analytics

Toward the end of Park’s first season at Arsenal, the 2011-12 campaign, two of the club’s executives approached Wenger, the team’s seemingly immovable manager, with a proposal.

Throughout that year, Arsenal had engaged the services of StatDNA, a sports analytics company based in Chicago. The arrangement was based on exclusivity; Arsenal had paid around $250,000 to ensure that StatDNA would not provide insights for any of its rivals.

There had been some skepticism among Wenger’s back-room staff about the value of that deal. Now Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s chief executive, and its head of business development, Hendrik Almstadt, wanted to do something even more radical.

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The Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh, right, with Arsenal in 2011. He scored only 14 goals in three years with the club.

Credit
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

With the use of and belief in analytics growing at many Premier League clubs, a number of Arsenal’s peers had approached StatDNA, looking to employ its services. Gazidis and Almstadt were determined…

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