Friday, May 24, 2024

Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: By the numbers

Arsenal continued their unbeaten run with a well earned victory over a very good Bournemouth team.

This very well could have been a classic “trap game” with big rivalry matches coming up in the League but Arsenal were able to weather a trying opening 20 minutes (a maddening habit) to collect all three points.

Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: By the graphs

Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: By the numbers

Arsenal sloppy with the ball

9 – The number of times that Henrikh Mkhitaryan lost the ball, 4 times dispossessed and 5 bad touches.

25 – The number of times that Arsenal lost the ball, 10 times dispossessed and 15 bad touches.

43 – The number of short passes miss played by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Granit Xhaka, Sead Kolasinac, and Alex Iwobi

17.3% – The percentage of short passes misplayed by those four players, typically short passes are completed 90% of the time (205 of 248)

81% – Overall pass completion percentage for Arsenal, including the low lights of 76.2% from Alex Iwobi, 74.7% for Rob Holding, 61.9% from Pierre-Emerick Aubeyang and 42.9% from Bernd Leno

Arsenal were known under Arsene Wenger as a smooth passing, highly technical team that could pass their opponents off of the park. That reputation became less true during the last few seasons and that trend has continued under Unai Emery.

Arsenal are still capable of putting together impressive passing moves but over the last few years the statistics suggest either that the tactics have changed significantly when it comes to holding on to the ball or the technical level of the players is not the same.

Today was a great example of the team struggling to be able to hold on to the ball and control the match.

Hector Bellerin is a good right back

93.7% – Percentage of passes completed (45 of 48)

80% – Percentage of passes completed into the penalty box (4 of 5)

90.5% – Percentage of passes completed in the final third (19 of 21)

0.52 – Offensive Value added through passing, led all players (next best was Sead Kolasinac at 0.24)

4 – Ball Recoveries

1 – Tackle of 1 attempted

I have seen too many people for my liking, trying to right off Bellerin as not good enough for Arsenal. For me he is one of the best right backs in the Premier League, especially with his ability going forward in attack. His numbers today really show this.

On a day where Arsenal really struggled for technical security, Bellerin posted a phenomenal pass completion percentage. His passes completed were also not the easy passes between center backs, with 40% of his passes against Bournemouth coming within the final third.

With Arsenal going with three at the back in this match, his defensive duties were lightened and he was really able to show his skills in attack in this match.

Aubameyang shines as lone striker

4 – Shots

1 – Shot on target

1 – Goal

1 – Big Chance

2 – Key Passes

0.94 – xG for the match

0.16 – xA for the match

Pierre-Emerick Aubeyang is not an all around type of forward who will spend a lot of time on the ball. In fact, I have often compared him to Theo Walcott but with his skills taken to the next level and without the injuries. In this match he had just 26 touches, that is just 4% of Arsenal’s 651 on the day and the lowest of any player who started the match. Even with minimal involvement through directly touching the ball, he was able to be a key player for Arsenal.

There is some debate among Arsenal fans about what to do with the striker position. Both Aubeyang and Alexandre Lacazette prefer the position, to playing out on the wing. It is a tough question and one that there really isn’t an easy answer to as both add something unique to the team.

Lacazette is the more “complete” player with more ability to get involved in the build up and a build hold up player. Aubeyang has unrivaled movement and speed over short (and long) distances as well as the ability to get onto incredible scoring chances.

This match really illustrates for me the benefits of a world class poacher in the center of the attack, and it is really nice to be able to call on that skill set when needed.

… And one great tweet


Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own data base

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Can we put Laca on the right? With Aubameyang central and Iwobi on the left? Why is he not mentioned along with Ozil/Ramsey/Mikhi in that spot? When we bought him all the reports said he could play anywhere along the front three. I’d have Ozil/Ramsey/Mikhi competing for the 10 spot in behind in a 4-2-1-3, with Monreal healthy of course, otherwise 3 at the back and all would be substitutes.

Faisal Narrage

I’d rather Emery’s favoured 4-2-3-1 but Lacca as the 10 and Auba as the 9. It’s clear that Lacca as Scott said, has the better all-round play. I think Lacca could maybe do the job Emery wanted Ramsey to do as his no.10 at the beginning of the season.



3 at the back may be based on Monreal’s (non) availability.


I thought Unai’s decision to push Kola up the pitch in the second half was well-matched with a decision to allow Holding to go a little higher and, at least as importantly, wider. Plays to Kola’s strength and Holding is looking more and more assured on the ball. Especially since Kola isn’t much of a defender, we didn’t sacrifice much there.

So, the question, do the heat maps actually hear that out?


Holding’s comfort with the ball at his feet is a real plus


The technical level of the team is not as far ahead of the opposition as it once was. Our possession has looked like the opposition letting us have the ball, rather than us forcing our game on them. Every team seemed to just let us have the ball, pass it in a U shape, keep organised and wait to counter in the space behind. Teams have also improved massively in terms of recruitment. Jefferson Lerma would have never played at a club of Bournemouth’s stature a few years ago. We failed to address the quality and balance of our squad… Read more »


17 without defeat is a good run and implies we have improved, we have as many wins away already this season as for the whole of last season.

I agree that the matches against Sp*rs and Man U will be a good test though of where we are. Let’s hope we have stepped up.

Faisal Narrage

I’m genuinely amazed at the downvote. This message was spot on, but also not even trolling. @Pedant (below) agreed that 17 games no losses means we have improved, but Devlin’s comment was a clear response to the questions of the article by Scott and is a review of the last 6 or so years of Wenger. It is undeniable the team has declined technically over the years, whilst the lesser teams of the league have improved dramatically. Just a decade ago, we would have a midfield 4 of; Fabregas, Flamini (the least), Rosicky and Hleb, behind Van Persie and Adebayor.… Read more »


I’m afraid the stats to support Hector being a good right back only show him to be a reasonable right wing forward. My definition of a right back is someone who can defend, be in position to defend and get lots of tackles in on opposing forwards. To have a right back who made 1 tackle, albeit successful, is not good. I recognise that he was not a right back in a four yesterday so the rules change, but his defensive work this season has been poor. His renowned speed has been absent in terms of getting back quickly or… Read more »


Completely agree with this comment.
The stats tell only part of the story. He is easily beaten to the byline, rarely if ever stops a cross from coming in, and defensively overall seems shaky at best.

A Different George

Yeah, that’s your definition of a right back, but it’s not the way football is played any more. Who protects the centre halfs for City, Mendy and Walker–or Fernandinho?


I think he is class and often bails us out. Of all the parts of the team, him and Monreal are solid.


Auba is a top athlete, as witnessed by things like his back flips. Quick and clinical.

Top player, top scorer in the PL currently (and will be miles ahead once he has completed his hat-trick against Sp*rs).

Great player, nearest to Thierry that we have had since, including the tendency to drift wide.

Faisal Narrage

“Nearest to Thierry that we have had since”

Listen, we all hate the dude after his treachery, but this simply isn’t true, because Van Persie was the true successor to Henry, and at his peak was arguably the world’s finest 9 (considering pre-Suarez and if you consider Messi wasn’t/isn’t a 9).


Different style of player, though obviously a great player (but to say that easily he should have stayed with us…).

For athleticism, attacking from the left and goals Auba is much more comparable in style to Thierry.

Faisal Narrage

Still not sure I agree with that, personally.
For one, Auba doesn’t actually drift to the wide that much, compared to Henry. Also, he lacks the technical ability (dribbling and passing) that Henry had.

Let’s not forget that Van Persie was actually still very fast (faster when he was younger), played on the wings more so like when Henry played wide, both could dribble and were as capable at creating as they were scoring.

It’s really the speed and dribbling that makes Auba similar to Henry.


Bellerin was our best player yesterday, Torreira was very good, and Iwobi was much better in the second half.
The quality in the league has gone up, and the overall quality of our team has been on the slide for a while.
We’re yet to see Lacazette play out wide, apparently he played there for Lyon, this period of transition looks as good a time as any to try it out.
I’d also like to see Maitland Niles given a consistent run in front of Bellerin, he looks like a player who possesses real quality and composure.


Dunno what all the moaning is about. We won, fact. We didn’t allow them too many chances unlike other games, fact. The quality of the premier league is high and few teams can be steamrolled like in the past except you are shitty for now, fact. I watched the game and aside from the brain fart of mustafi in the dying seconds, our defence held them at bay comfortably. Everyone knows about our slow start and they did their best to exploit it especially from our right in the first 10 minutes. Watch the kickoff closely and notice that they… Read more »


I know Mkhi was wasteful with the ball but he brings balance to the team, his energy and positioning to recover the ball is spot on. For me I have no problem keeping the team as such, maybe for the exception of Laca instead of Auba. Sure we can improve but We were solid and willing, that is enjoyable to watch.


One could easily argue that Arsenal should be unbeaten away from home this campaign. If we don’t miss a handful of sitters at Chelsea…and don’t concede 2 mindnumbing penalties at CP…the Gunners are 6-0 away from the Emirates…think about that.


I’ve not anyone question Bellerin’s ability going forward, it’s his defensive instincts and positioning that are suspect.


*not heard

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