Arsenal’s winning streak came to an end at 11 matches, but the unbeaten streak continues.
Arsenal went through the period that Clive from the Arsenal Vision Podcast dubbed #Project24 with 7 wins and 1 draw for a total of 22 points of the possible 24. It was more than I expected and has brought Arsenal from 17th place into 4th (depending on what happens with the Spurs vs Manchester City Match on Monday).
It was disappointing to see the win streak come to an end, especially when Arsenal had come back to hold a 2-1 lead late in the second half. Yet, this was probably a deserved draw or perhaps one that Arsenal were fortunate to split the points in.
As was far too common during this run, Arsenal didn’t play well but did just enough to be in position to get a win.
Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal: By the graphs
Shot Placement xG Map
Simulated Match Results
Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal: By the numbers
Out Shot and Out Played
16 vs 7 – Total shots for both teams
7 vs 4 – Shots inside the penalty area (not including the two penalties)
10 vs 4 – Shots created from open play
72 vs 69 – Passes completed in the final third
144 vs 114 – Touches in the final third
13 vs 8 – Passes completed in the box
30 vs 12 – Touches in the box
3 vs 0 – Through balls attempted
10 vs 2 – Chances created (these are intentional shot assists, so the Alexandre Lacazette hand of god style assist are not included as it was deemed that he was not looking to play in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang)
1 vs 0 – Big Chances created (not including the two penalties)
It is never easy in the Premier League to go away from home, especially to a fellow London club, but having a performance this bad is simply unacceptable. Breaking up the match into 15 minute periods, there was not one of these periods where Arsenal took more shots than Crystal Palace. So while Arsenal had more of the possession, it was sterile and could not be converted into shots, let alone good chances or goals.
Crystal Palace on the other hand, took the most of their chances on the ball. They completed more passes in the final third, and passes into the box, and were miles better at creating chances. Even away from home, against a team of Crystal Palace’s quality, Arsenal should be doing better.
Iwobi has a stinker on the right
8 – The number of times Iwobi lost possession (bad touch plus times dispossessed), most on Arsenal
18 – Total turnovers (bad touch, times dispossessed, misplaced passes, offside, shots off target for goal kick), most on Arsenal
1 – Dribble completed, of 4 attempted
0 – Crosses completed, of two attempted
0 – Chances created
Alex Iwobi has been one of the bright parts of Arsenal’s early season winning streak. I think that he has looked really good, and has been playing with a new found confidence. From watching the matches (plus looking up where he is said to be positioned in the event data) he has primarily played on the left hand side. According to the data on Whoscored, Iwobi has primarily been on the left in 6 of his 8 appearances this season for Arsenal. Within the Arsenal system, there is still license to switch sides and interchange with the other attacking midfielder but to my eye and the stats, sticking to the left plays to his strengths.
I asked this question on the Arsecast Extra and Andrew and James (aka James from Gunner Blog™) were kind of enough to weigh in. Comparing it to Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg having a strong side and not doing well on the opposite side. Iwobi is a good player and with his natural inclination to want to cut inside, he is better at that coming in with his right foot.
With Arsenal’s lack of wide player depth, figuring out how to get the best of this team and the players that we have probably means figuring out a different alternative to who starts on the right.
Granit Xhaka, not a left back
4 – Tackles of 4 attempted, second most on Arsenal
0 – Times Dribbled Past*
1 – Interception
2 – Clearances
1 – Foul committed*
0 – Crosses completed from open play (only 1 attempt)
1 – Amazing free kick scored
For the third match in a row, Granit Xhaka was asked to play out of position as a left back. The first two times he needed to do it he did a passable job, and in this match he did fine before the worst nightmare of many Arsenal fans were realized when he was matched up against Wilfred Zaha one on one inside the penalty area.
What is obvious from his time out on the left, at least to me, is that Arsenal really miss what he brings to the table passing the ball when he isn’t in midfield. Xhaka isn’t the best at defending space in midfield, he doesn’t have nimble feet to dribble past a man to relieve pressure, or create dangerous late runs into the box. What he does do better than any one else in the Arsenal team is act of the connector of play between the defense and the attack.
I have a statistic that is call final third entries, this looks at the number of passes and times a player runs with the ball from outside the final third into the final third. In this statistic, Xhaka is among the best in all of Europe completing just under 11 final third entries per 90 minutes. In this match Matteo Guendouzi was tasked with this role and was only able to completed 6 final third entries, nearly half of what a typical Xhaka performance would be.
Arsenal had a huge possession advantage in the middle third of the pitch, but were unable to convert that into dangerous possession in the final third. That is something that Xhaka is one of the best at doing but when he is at left back he is unable to influence the match in the same way.
For Arsenal’s sake I really hope that this full back injury crisis is over soon. I have seen enough of the Xhaka at left back experiment for a lifetime.
*Wilfred Zaha dove, Xhaka didn’t cover himself in glory by sticking that leg out but that was a rather theatrical buying of the penalty.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone, and my own database