These derby matches are miserable affairs. I highly doubt anyone who says otherwise is telling the truth.
The nerves, the expectations, and how much hangs in the balance with bragging rights and table positions makes for an incredibly difficult match to watch for a fan. Today was no different, there wasn’t a time in this match where things ever felt comfortable watching it.
All that, you could see that they Arsenal players gave their all in this one (they were pretty clearly out of energy in the last 10 minutes) and if not for some poor refereeing, and some poor finishing that could have made the bad calls irrelevant, Arsenal could (should?) have come away with all three points. Instead Arsenal gave Sp*rs their first draw of the season and did well to get an important point in the top four race (the undrawables is very much a store brand invincibles and it would have been perfect for them but oh well).
It feels like two points dropped but given the option of a draw before kickoff I would have taken it.
On to the stats.
Sp*rs 1*-1 Arsenal: By the graphs
xG Shot Map
Shot Placement xG Map
Simulated Match Result
Sp*rs 1*-1 Arsenal: By the numbers
5 – Big chances for Arsenal, 2 of these were the penalty and the resulting rebound. Still 5 of 9 shots classified as big chances is among the highest ratio I’ve seen in a match.
2 – Big chances for Sp*rs, 1 of these was from the offside penalty. The other was the great save by Bernd Leno.
17 – Touches in the box for Arsenal, of which 8 turned into shots. That is 47% of the touches turning into shots! That’s really good.
29 – Touches in the box for Sp*rs, of which 6 turned into shots. That is just 21% of the touches turning into shots, Arsenal did well to bend but not break on defense.
26% – Pass into the box completion percentage for Arsenal. Nacho Monreal led the way for Arsenal with 3 completions of 4 attempts.
44% – Pass into the box completion percentage for Sp*rs. Danny Rose led Sp*rs with 3 completions of 4 attempts. Christian Eriksen was the most wasteful, completing just 2 of his 7 attempts
54% – Final third pass completion percentage for Arsenal. Henrikh Mkhitaryan led the way for Arsenal with 10 of 16.
61% – Final third pass completion percentage for Sp*rs. Kieran Trippier led Sp*rs with 19 of 26.
1 – The number of players on Arsenal who passed above 75% today and that was Lucas Torreira at 86.7%.
24% – The percentage of Arsenal’s passes that were long.
18% – The percentage of Sp*rs passes that were long.
19.6 yards – The average length of Arsenal’s passes in this game, the longest average for the season and 2.6 yards longer than their average overall coming into this match.
19.4 yards – The average length of Sp*rs’s passes in this game, 1.9 yards longer than their average overall coming into this match.
This wasn’t a match of the highest technical level. It was a reminder of the old style with quite a lot of playing long and bypassing the midfield. Much of that was down to both teams pressing well, Sp*rs going through an injury crisis and Arsenal defending a lead. It is still taking some getting used to, to see Arsenal play in this way but I think that you can say that in this match it was effective.
The other thing that I found interesting was how efficient Arsenal were at turning their dangerous possession into shots in this match. This is typically what other teams have done to them but Arsenal took that playbook and pushed it to the next level. They allowed Sp*rs to have most of the possession but executed the bend but don’t break defense to perfection, after the 70th minute, Sp*rs were only able to muster just 1 shot (the penalty) and really never looked dangerous. Arsenal on the other hand looked like they could inflict damage at any time they countered. They converted 47% of their touches in the box into shots was amazing, having 4 of those 7 shots (non-pen) classified as big chances is even better.
Arsenal Strikers are wasteful in front of goal
1.14 – The expected goals for the 3 shots for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. 0.19 for the counter attack shot right after coming on in the 61st minute, 0.78 for the penalty and 0.17 (0.8 unadjusted for being part of the same shot sequence as the penalty) for the blocked shot after the penalty.
0.94 – The expected goals for the 2 shots taken by Alexandre Lacazette. 0.38 for the volley on the turn (this was a harder chance than it was rated) in the 2nd minute and 0.55 for the cutback chance in the 53rd minute.
For me this is the biggest story of the match. Yes the referees were bad (see below for that) but Arsenal really did more than enough to create chances that should have seen them collect all three points. Aubameyang has been going through a run of form where he is getting good chances but not finishing them and this match continued that. Lacazette has been finishing above his expected goals for the season (+2.1 for the season) but today he had a big bit of regression come all at once.
Arsenal’s biggest strength is their abundance of attacking talent, and specifically at striker, today they didn’t deliver on the chances that fell to them and it cost Arsenal two points.
An aside/rant on referees
1 – Offside clearly missed by the linesman, on the very very dumb foul committed by Shkodran Mustafi
1 – Encroachment by Jan Vertonghen missed by the linesman, on the rather poor penalty taken by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (my shot placement model says that is saved 38% of the time)
1 – Red Card foul missed by Anthony Taylor on the reckless and dangerous attempt by Danny Rose.
Not the best day for the officials. To be fair, I understand the level of difficulty in doing this as being a referee is one of the things I do in my spare time. It’s a hard and thankless job. Mistakes happen (just like with players) but the lack of ideas in trying to give help to referees is what really makes me mad.
It is crazy to me that with a field of play as large as their is in football that one referee is expected to cover everything in the center all by himself with only one assistant on either side. There should really be another official in the center and an additional two on the touchlines for these top level matches. Even if VAR is seen as a bridge to far more eyes and more help is needed to cover a game that has gotten so fast and so high stakes. /end rant
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, Statszone and my own database