That’s two losses in a row for Arsenal.
The top four race which Arsenal once controlled their own destiny in, now depends on other teams slipping up.
Losing away to Wolves isn’t into itself an embarrassing result but Arsenal sure did their best to try to make it that way.
Things are looking pretty bleak.
This run of fixture congestion, with a few extra injuries mixed in, exposed Arsenal’s stretched squad and lack of depth. These losses have really hurt Arsenal’s pursuit of the preseason goal of returning to the Champions League. Arsenal have three League matches left and with no margin for error left to play around with.
Wolves 3-1 Arsenal: By the graphs
xG Shot Map
Shot Placement xG Map
Simulated Match Result
Wolves 3-1 Arsenal: By the numbers
70.6% – Possession for Arsenal in this match
74.7% – Percentage of total final third touches that Arsenal had in this match
64.7% – Percentage of total touches in the box that Arsenal had in this match
38.5% – Percentage of total shots taken inside the box by Arsenal in this match
42 – Tackles + Fouls + Interceptions + Blocked Passes for Wolves
24 – Tackles + Fouls + Interceptions + Blocked Passes for Arsenal
Possession is nice, mostly it is a positive, but it really has to be with a purpose.
In this match (and like so many others before it this season) Arsenal’s plan A to attack the half spaces of the box to deliver cutbacks were well defended by Wolves. Arsenal didn’t or couldn’t come up with something else to threaten a well drilled Wolves defense.
Arsenal also failed to use their possession edge for defense. You will see other possession heavy teams like Manchester City use possession to stifle and suffocate teams, Arsenal could not do this against Wolves. Wolves were especially threatening after they scored the first goal even with most of the ball in their half and were by far the more dangerous of the two attacking teams.
Nacho Monreal’s time as a fullback has probably come to an end
95.5% – Pass completion percentage
0 – Dribbles
0 – Crosses completed, of two attempted
1 – Chance created, a shot for Henrikh Mkhitaryan from outside the box with an xG of 0.03 (3 goals scored per 100 shots)
1 – Shot, from outside the box with an xG 0.02 (2 goals scored per 100 shots)
1 – Aerial Duel won, of 3 attempted
1 – Tackle
1 – Interception
1 – Clearance
1 – Foul committed, that ultimately led to the opening goal
∞ – Times I hold my breath when he has to defend a pacy winger in space out wide
I don’t want to come across as unduly harsh on Nacho Monreal, he has been a very good player for Arsenal and was an underrated member of the FA Cup winning sides of the late Wenger years.
All that being said, it is becoming more clear week after week that he no longer can do everything that is required from a fullback in Unai Emery’s 4231 system. He is still a very good technical player but he no longer has the athletic abilities required to be both an attacker and defender any more. With Sead Kolasinac also not a fit as a true full back, a player who is a proper fit in the back four is rapidly rising up the summer transfer shopping list.
Leno has a day to forget
3 – Shots on target for Wolves
3 – Goals scored for Wolves
100% – Shot on target conversion rate for Wolves
0.8 – The expected goals for those shots on target determined by where the shot was taken and where it was within the frame of the goal.
1 – Cross not claimed (also classified as an error)
25% – Long pass competition percentage (1 of 4)
Bernd Leno has had a very good season for Arsenal (I have really caveated my criticisms today). This was not a good match for him however, probably his worst with Arsenal this season.
The second and third goals scored by Wolves can have a good amount of blame appropriated towards him. He came out to claim the cross for the second and never got close to it. The third was aimed toward the corner but it was a tight angle and Leno was positioned well that he probably should have not let it through.
On a day that his teammates didn’t create much Leno was unable to perform at his usual level and keep Arsenal in the match. I hope he bounces back quick and gets back to his previous form.
Özil can’t pick the lock
87% – Pass completion percentage
33 – Final third passes completed (led all players)
2 – Chances created (0.14 xG assisted)
0 – Shots
1 – Dribble
9 – Turnovers (6 times dispossessed and 3 bad touches)
0 – Tackles + Interceptions + Blocked Passes + Fouls Committed
-0.18 – Total offense value added (this basically means that his contributions helped Wolves more than they helped Arsenal, mostly driven by the number of times he lost the ball which was worth half a goal towards Wolves)
Some of the top line numbers for Özil look pretty good. He led all players in final third passes and passes completed into the box and even added to chances created. Yet, these really don’t tell the whole story of his match. He didn’t contribute much defensively in this match and his ability to stay on and keep hold of the ball were severely lacking.
Using my Total Offensive Value Added statistic which looks to try to put a value on things players can do in attack (progress the ball through passing, dribbling, carrying the ball, creating shots and getting shots) was the worst of all players. This is a statistic that is practically designed to capture all of the nuanced things that he contributes through his creativity but here it captures just how poor overall he was. With Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out for the match it fell on Özil to step up and he didn’t.
Not all doom and gloom in the top 4 race
I ran a simulation of the rest of the season and Arsenal finished in the top 4, 44% of the times. FiveThirtyEight has Arsenal projected at that same amount to finish in the Champions League spots.
Arsenal are also favorites in their last three matches. 44% (48% 538) to win against Leicester, 65% (76% 538) against Brighton and 55% (45% 538) against Burnley. That still leaves a 16% chance of winning out given these odds and that would put a lot of pressure on other teams fighting for those spots.
It is out of Arsenal’s hands but it is still just under a coin flip from happening.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone, my own database and FiveThirtyEight for the simulated odds.