253 – Attempted passes
166 – Passes completed
87 – Passed failed
66% – Passes completed
86 – Passes attempted in the Arsenal final 1/3
44 – Passes completed in the Arsenal final 1/3
51% – Passes completed in the Arsenal final 1/3
74 – Passes attempted in the Arsenal final 1/3 but outside the box
40 – Passes completed in the Arsenal final 1/3 but outside the box
54% – Passes completed in the Arsenal final 1/3 but outside the box
12 – Passes attempted in the Arsenal penalty box
4 – Passes completed in the Arsenal penalty area
33% – Passes completed in the Arsenal penalty area
4 – Shots
0 – Big Chances
1 – Shot in Prime (miss)
1 – Shot on target (outside of the right boot, from a set play)
1 – Goal scored (set play, assist)
39 – Tackles attempted
20 – Tackles successful
22 – Interceptions
29 – Clearances attempted
22 – Clearances successful
14 – Fouls committed
4 – Fouls committed in the West Brom final 1/3
1 – Penalty conceded
685 – Passes attempted
592 – Passes completed
93 – Passes failed
86% – Passes completed
219 – Passes attempted in the West Brom Final 1/3
164 – Passes completed in the West Brom Final 1/3
75% – Passes completed in the West Brom Final 1/3
176 – Passes attempted in the Arsenal final 1/3 but outside the box
145 – Passes completed in the Arsenal final 1/3 but outside the box
82% – Passes completed in the Arsenal final 1/3 but outside the box
43 – Passes attempted in the West Brom penalty area
19 – Passes completed in the West Brom penalty area
44% – Passes completed in the West Brom penalty area
11 – Arsenal shots
3 – Big chances
3 – Shots in prime (prime and B.C. overlap: all 3 BC this time were prime)
3 – Shots on target
1 – Goal (Big Chance, prime, set play, header, assist)
14 – Tackles attempted
10 – Tackles successful
16 – Interceptions
18 – Clearances attempted
14 – Clearances successful
10 – Fouls committed
1 – Own goal conceded
West Brom’s plan was always to invite Arsenal to attack and hit the Gunners on the break. Even before West Brom equalized Arsenal had 66% of the possession and the Gunners finished the match with 73% of the possession. So, the huge discrepancy between numbers of passes completed, shots, and other numbers aren’t really a surprise.
What is a surprise is just how deep West Brom sat. Arsenal’s pass completion percentage outside of the 18 yard box is 82%. You wouldn’t normally want a team to complete 82% of their passes in your final third. But what West Brom did was literally pack the box. The result was that Arsenal weren’t able to make any entry passes and finished the match with 44% passing in the West Brom 18.
I went back and looked at Arsenal’s matches and that 44% completion rate is the 2nd lowest of the season. Interestingly, the lowest of the season was the 2-0 win over Bayern Munich (40%). Arsenal have played 9 matches this season where they completed less than 60% of their passes in the opposition 18 yard box and they have only won 3 (Stoke 57%, Newcastle 54%, and Bayern 40%). In the 8 matches Arsenal have completed more than 60% in the 18 yard box they have lost just 1 (also weirdly, Bayern 65%) and drawn 1 (Liverpoo 63%).
This match against West Brom had a huge element of bad luck for Arsenal. The goal they conceded was a strike that Eduardo, one of the most technically gifted players I’ve ever seen play for Arsenal, made once in his career. My honest opinion is that Morrison was just trying to get a boot on the ball. There is no way that he tried to samba that ball in off the volley using the side of his right foot.
The part that is most frustrating isn’t that Arsenal conceded a lucky goal and then an own goal but that Arsenal didn’t create as much as we should expect. Arsenal only had 3 shots on target: Giroud’s goal, a shot from distance, and Koscielny’s shot from the edge of the box. Arsenal also had a hard time creating good shots, getting just three shots in Prime (Giroud’s goal, Campbell’s incredible miss, and Cazorla’s penalty slip).
I’m going to go ahead and say it: Özil might have created the assist and Giroud might have scored but the two of them were largely to blame for Arsenal’s lack of bite in this game.
Özil is great at recycling the ball and his vision is second to none. In fact, he got his 11th assist of the season today and that means he now has a 7 game assist streak in League play. Özil also dominated the final 1/3, leading all players with 40/47 final 1/3 passing. But Özil only went 4/6 passing in the 18 yard box.
Comparatively, Alexis was 29/45 in the final 1/3, which means that he “gave the ball away a lot”. But Sanchez was also 8/16 passing in the 18 yard box. And 3 of those 8 completed passes were for shots. Alexis also led all players with 11/14 dribbling.
Giroud scored a big chance, bringing his big chance conversion rate to an excellent 56%. But other than that goal Giroud was missing in this match. He went 1/5 in the final 1/3 and 1/4 passing in the 18 yard box. It’s probably no surprise that he created zero chances for his teammates. He also only took the one shot, failed in his only dribble, failed in his only aerial challenge, and completed just 4 passes in the West Brom half. He spent the entire match in Jonas Olsson’s pocket and that is absolutely unacceptable from a striker at a top team.
Giroud played the full 90 minutes so, and he’s one of the biggest players on the pitch, I can’t figure out why no one was able to find him. Especially Özil, who probably needed to be a little more adventurous in a match where Arsenal are behind and need a win and try a few things that might not have come off, the way Sanchez did.
After all, Arsenal had Cazorla and Flamini there to recycle the ball. In theory that should free players like Özil to be more creative.
Sources: Opta and my personal database