Arsenal struggled to find cohesion in the first half and created just 7 total shots with just one on target (Mustafi). The problem was that Arsenal couldn’t string together passes because they weren’t occupying open spaces and many players looked static.
Monreal completed just 60% of his 30 pass attempts in the first half; Ozil, who went on to complete 33/40 (83%) final third passes, managed just 78%; and both Wilshere and Elneny looked like they were playing football on another planet as they completed just 85% of their passes in the first half.
This is reflected in Arsenal’s expected goals of 0.56 in that first half compared to Stoke’s 0.36 expected goals. That 0.2 difference between the teams reflects accurately the quality of both teams in that half.
Arsenal were also forced to make a ton of tackles and interceptions in that half. Those stats above are tackles won. Jack led the team with 3/5 and Mustafi won 2/2 tackles in that half. Also Bellerin and Monreal won their only tackles in the game in that first half. Elneny didn’t win a single tackle in this match.
As for interceptions, Mustafi won 3 in the first half and Elneny made his only interception of the game in the first half as well.
Aaron Ramsey’s only defensive contribution to this game was a blocked pass in the first half. He made zero interceptions and was 0/2 in tackles.
Arsenal Box Score Full Time
Please note that I count penalties in my expected goals formula, though I only count them as a regular big chance. It’s just how the math works out for me.
Even though they won two penalties, Arsenal still created two additional big chances. Combined with the two penalties that brings Arsenal to 78 Big Chances created this season, third best in the Premier League. That’s still 23 fewer than Man City who have run away with the League title with their incredible attack. Liverpool are second best with 88 Big Chances created. So, 78 Big Chances in a season where many players were out of sorts and where Arsenal were in transition in terms of attack should give Arsenal fans hope that next season the Gunners will be back with one of the best attacks in the Premier League.
Aubameyang took four shots today (including the penalty) giving him his first back-to-back 4-shot game for Arsenal. However, he had zero shots before Arsene brought on Lacazette. He only had 19 touches in that first 60 minutes and just two touches in the Stoke 18 yard box.
Auba had 17 touches in the final 30 minutes. All his touches were wide in that final 30 minutes except his 4 shots, 3 were in the 18 yard box, one from deep (blocked).
Ozil had another “Ozil” game. Despite being starved of service and struggling to connect passes in that first half, Ozil’s quality shone through and he created three chances in the first half. In the second half, he continued his assault on the Stoke gates creating three more chances for 6 chances in one game. Ozil now joint (with DeBruyne) leads the League in Key Passes per game (3.2) and is second in total key passes this season (84).
Stoke look like a sure bet for relegation this season. Their attack is ok, but ironically, for a team known for their tough defense, this Stoke team has the worst defense in the Premier League.
With Arsenal’s four big chances today Stoke took their total to 79 Big Chances allowed – leading the League by 13 Big Chances allowed over Watford and Bournemouth’s 66. Stoke also have the worst expected goal difference in the League this season using my expected goals formula.
Even bringing in Paul Lambert hasn’t done anything to help Stoke’s defense. They have 17 expected goals against in his 9 matches in charge. To be fair, 9 of those have come in the last three games against Man City, Everton, and Arsenal. But things aren’t going to get any better: they play Tottenham, West Ham, Burnley, Liverpool, Crystal Palace, and Swansea on the last day of the season.
Fingers crossed that they get relegated, that the team goes bankrupt, that they tear down that awful stadium, and that their fans spend that money on dental services. They have been one of the most despicable clubs in Premier League history and relegation alone would be too good for them.
Sources: Opta, Whoscored.com, StatsZone app, and my personal database