Well, that was bad.
I dread these early kickoffs, first in general they seem to be lower quality matches than the typical Premier League match and second it involves setting my alarm for 4:20 am and if the match doesn’t go well it leads to me questioning my life choices. That isn’t fun and today’s performance made things even worse.
Arsenal are currently in 5th place, 3 points (likely 6 by the time this is published as Chelsea are beating Newcastle currently) off of 4th place, on pace for just under 71 points. Dropping 3 points today puts a the hopes of earning a top four spot through the League on life support and with Manchester United freed of the cancer of Jose Mourinho it isn’t out of the question that Arsenal slip into a battle to hold on to fifth place.
It was always going to be a tough year with Arsene Wenger leaving, but I had really hoped that the top four fight would survive into the Spring, and that sure doesn’t look likely.
West Ham 1-0 Arsenal: By the graphs
Shot Placement xG Map
Simulated Match Result Based on the Shots
West Ham 1-0 Arsenal: By the numbers
0.7 – Arsenal’s xG created in this match, the second lowest total for a match this season (behind City at home) and the third lowest total over the last two seasons (at City last season).
11 – Total shots for Arsenal in this match, the 5th lowest total for a League match this season.
4 – Shots from Arsenal’s Attacking Midfielders and Midfielders (3 for Matteo Guendouzi and 1 for Alex Iwobi)
5 – Shots Arsenal took in the 41+ minutes after falling behind.
0 – Shots Arsenal took after the 67th minute. In. A. Match. They. Were. Losing.
10 – Touches in the box for the Arsenal front three, lead by Alexandre Lacazette with 6
20 – Touches in the box for Arsenal as a team
72 – Touches in the final third for the Arsenal front three, lead by Alex Iwobi with 33
19 – Touches in the box for the West Ham front four, lead by Felipe Anderson with 8
25 – Touches in the box for West Ham as a team.
99 – Touches in the final third for the West Ham front four, lead by Felipe Anderson with 41
I think that most fans can understand that Arsenal might not be a great defensive team. Most reasonable people can look at the roster and see that there are quite a few needed upgrades that will need to be taken care of over the next few transfer windows. What I think that most people will have trouble with, and what I really have trouble with is how bad Arsenal have been at creating shots let alone good scoring chances.
Arsenal spent over 40 minutes behind in this match and still really struggled to create much and then created zero over the last 20+ minutes of the match. Some credit needs to go to West Ham who played well defensively but there is plenty of blame to go around for the Arsenal players and the manager.
This is going to be a long running story, especially with Arsenal’s highest paid player left out of the match day squad. This has also been a long running concern, even when Arsenal were winning matches, they were doing it with mediocre underlying statistics that suggested that things were not going as well as they looked from the points collected.
Arsenal’s Missing Creativity
12.6 – Shots per match for Arsenal this season, down from 15.6 last season.
9.2 – Chances created for Arsenal this season, down from 11.7 last season.
1.3 – Chances created from the zone right outside the “D” of the 18 yard box last season from open play.
0.8 – Chances created from the zone right outside the “D” of the 18 yard box this season from open play.
One of the more notable changes this season is that Arsenal are focusing their creativity into the wide areas and half spaces. The number of cutback attempts have gone up significantly under Emery (not that Arsene Wenger’s teams didn’t attack these spaces as well). Arsenal have created the second most chances from the deep half spaces this season, just behind Manchester City.
The issue is that this increase has come with a correspondingly larger drop from areas just outside the 18 yard box (aka the Mesut Özil area) and especially in the central location where very dangerous passes can be played. If Arsenal aren’t winning, and not playing their highest paid player these kinds of issues are hard to ignore and are worrying.
Welcome back Captain
1 – Tackle of 3 attempted
0 – Fouls committed
2 – Clearances
6 – Ball Recoveries (led Arsenal)
87 – Passes completed, of 89 attempted (led Arsenal)
97.8% – Pass Completion percentage (led Arsenal)
5 – Final third entry passes completed, of 6 attempted (led Arsenal)
This wasn’t the greatest defensive match for Laurent Koscielny but this did show to me how much Arsenal have missed his passing from center back. On a day that Arsenal really struggled connecting midfield and the final third, Koscielny was one of the few players for Arsenal who could progress the ball consistently. As Arsenal start looking for long term center back replacements, a player with the passing skills of Koscielny will be very important.
Sources: Opta via WhoScored, StatsZone, and my own database