xG Shot Map
Shot Placement xG Map
Simulated Match Result
Arsenal finally go into halftime with a lead
17 – The number of matches in the Premier League that Arsenal were tied or trailing at half time.
90 – The total number of minutes that Arsenal led during that run, the longest lead was 35 minutes against Cardiff where they were almost in with a lead before conceding in first half extra time.
31 – Minutes that Arsenal were in the lead in the first half today against Burnley
It is nice that we won’t have to hear about Arsenal’s weird stat about not leading going into half time anymore. In this match Arsenal did seem to come out as a more aggressive team. In the first half Arsenal took 6 shots to Burnley’s 2, with 5 of those in the penalty box and 4 going on target. What is a little more concerning is that after taking the lead and adding a second relatively quick after the restart Arsenal were really conservative…
Arsenal get conservative
2 – The number of shots that Arsenal had between the 20th and 90th minutes. During this period Burnley had 6.
4 – Shots total for Arsenal in the second half
167 – Completed passes in the second half for Arsenal, Burnley had 133
2 – Passes completed by Arsenal in the Penalty Area in the second half (of 7 attempts), Burnley had 6 completions and 14 attempts.
0 – Final third entry passes by Arsenal midfielders: Xhaka (although he was kind of a centerback), Guendouzi, Elneny and Torreira in the second half. In the first half Arsenal midfielders completed 10.
As this match progressed, Arsenal seemed to get more and more conservative with their tactics. To a certain extent this makes sense, with a two goal lead, your opponent is going to need to become more attacking to have a chance to get a result from the match. Looking at the Win Probability at that point Arsenal were given about a 94% chance of winning but I really think that overstates things given what Arsenal have in defense currently.
This might be a philosophical difference between what I believe and what Unai Emery believes in seeing out a game from a winning position. I think that the better strategy is to look to kill off a game be adding on more goals, while Emery looks to switch things to a more defensive style to protect what is already on the scoreboard.
I disagree with this, especially given the way that Arsenal are built and who they are facing. going into the match Burnley were allowing nearly 20 shots per match, 1.9 goals per match and over 2 expected goals a match. Basically they are a bad defensive team and that meets up with Arsenal’s strength as a team with a wealth of attacking talent. Maximizing your own teams strengths. In the end Arsenal were able to add a third goal to ice the game but if they hadn’t played switched styles that could have come sooner in the match.
Özil comes back into the squad
94% – Pass completion percentage (47/50)
2 – Passes completed into the box, of 2 attempted
17 – Passes completed in the attacking third, of 17 attempted
0 – Chances created
1 – Amazing pre-assist
1 – Shot
1 – Dribble completed
3 – Ball Recoveries
4 – Times lost possession (2 dispossessed and 2 bad touches)
1 – Defensive action, just one blocked pass in this match.
This match will give people on both sides of the Özil debate something to point to, to bolster their talking points. I think it pretty perfectly sums up Özil as a player, he is insanely talented at creating, passing and most offensive skills but if you are looking for defense you won’t find much. I thought that in this match he played really well in the first half but then in the second he really fell off.
My offensive value added statistic suggests the same thing, in the first half he was the best player on the pitch but in the second, he was pretty average. Again, depending on how you want to frame things you can take this a couple different ways with the narrative that you tell.
My own personal opinion is that his influence was diminished because Arsenal got conservative in the second half and especially with Xhaka pushed into the back line the connection between Özil in the final third and the middle/defensive thirds of the pitch was lost.
Regardless of your thoughts on things, I think we can all agree it was great to see Arsenal get back to winning ways, Özil to come back into the squad and provide a moment of magic, and for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to end the match leading the Golden Boot race.
Have a Merry Christmas if you are celebrating, if not enjoy some time off and lots of football!
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own data base