I’m only writing this because I wrote about Mike Dean for the last match and I wanted to be fair here in this match. I don’t want this to be a weekly column about referees. In fact, I don’t know how we would even go about doing that.
Arsenal’s record with Anthony Taylor as referee is actually not bad. Arsenal have never lost a match against a top four opponent when Anthony Taylor is referee and have even won some of their most famous victories when he was in the middle of the park: he was referee in the 2-1 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup final, the 1-0 win over Mourinho’s Chelsea in the Community Shield, the 3-0 win over Man U, and the 4-1 win over Liverpool where he awarded Pool a penalty in a match that saw Arsene deploy a press and force Kolo Toure into some pretty atrocious turnovers.
Taylor averages a penalty every 4.2 matches and his record there with Arsenal is 6 in 22 or a pen every 3.7. Yes, he has given 4 pens to the opposition and just 2 to Arsenal but that’s not an egregious record because the numbers are so small. I really can’t see anything unusual about his record.
Arsenal before the pen
Before Taylor awarded the penalty, Arsenal had the upper hand in terms of shots on target. Alexis had one pushed against two posts, Lacazette had a low shot saved, and Courtoise came up with a huge save off Lacazette’s one on one with the keeper.
But what “expected goals” can often be used to measure is not necessarily how well a team did to get shots on target, but rather how well a team was able to create in dangerous areas against an opponent. In this match, Chelsea created 10 chances inside the Arsenal 18 yard box in the first 66 minutes of this match. To put that in context, Liverpool created just 11 chances inside the Arsenal 18 yard box in the whole 90 minutes.
Chelsea also had a big chance with Morata free to attack Cech, where the Chelsea man thankfully shot wide when I think 99% of us felt like that had to be a goal. I’m being generous to Arsenal not counting that as a much larger missed chance than I did.
A defense can protect the goal by saving shots, blocking shots, forcing the opponent into taking as few shots as possible, or forcing the opponent to take speculative shots from distance. Man U are the save kings this year as de Gea has come up big. Burnley block shots like Dikembe Mutombo in his prime. And Man City haven’t allowed any opponent to take more than 9 total shots in a game all season.
Keeping that Man City stat in mind for a second… In the first 66 minutes of this match, Arsenal were carved open by Chelsea 10 times for shots in their box. You can’t really say that a team has had a good defensive performance, especially in a home game, if they let the opponent take 10 shots inside their 18 yard box in the first 66 minutes. So, what we saw in the first 67 minutes was a fairly close contest but only close because Chelsea had failed to score by their own bad luck rather than anything special that Arsenal had done on defense.
Of course the penalty changed the game, which you can also see in the stats above. Chelsea got much much better after they won the pen. But they were already good for at least a goal before that.
6 – Key passes by Cesc Fabregas (led all players)
6 – Key passes by Arsenal
3 – Key passes by Ozil
6 – Successful dribbles by Hazard (of 9, led all players)
6 – Successful dribbles by Xhaka, Wilshere, Sanchez, and Ozil combined (of 11)
3 – Successful dribbles by Ainsley Maitland-Niles (of 5, led Arsenal)
6 – Successful tackles by Ainsley Maitland-Niles (of 8, led all players)
2 – Number of times AMN was dribbled by his opponent
4 – Number of times Calum Chambers was dribbled (of 5)
0 – Number of times Bellerin was dribbled (of 4)
3 – Number of times Xhaka was dribbled (of 6)
0 – Number of times Kante was dribbled (of 4)
71 – Percent pass completion by Alexis (lowest of any Arsenal player)
13 – Missed passes by Alexis (of 45 attempted)
1 – Key pass by Alexis
0 – Penalties saved by Cech for Arsenal in 15 tries!
10 – Big chances missed by Lacazette this season
6 – Rank of Lacazette among players in the Big Chances Missed category (he’s tied with Lukaku)
15 – Big Chances missed by Mo Salah (leads the League)
14 – Big Chances missed by Alvaro Morata (2nd in the League)
12 – Serge Aguero big chances missed (3rd)
11 – Gabriel Jesus big chances missed (4th)
11 – Benteke big chances missed (4th)
Sources: My database, whoscored.com, SofaScore.com