Arsenal are going to the final!
It got nervy for about 5 minutes but after that it really felt pretty good for Arsenal. I know we all just witnessed two amazing comebacks but this one never really felt like it got to that point and Arsenal were always able to respond when Valencia looked like they might have made a match of things.
Now Arsenal have a cup final to look forward to, even if the actual match against a London rival might be torture.
Valencia 2-4 Arsenal: By the graphs
xG for both legs
Valencia 2-4 Arsenal: By the numbers
18 – Shots for Valencia, of which 3 were on target and 2 turned into goals (both big chances).
9 – Shots for Arsenal, of which 5 were on target and 4 turned into goals.
30 – Shots for Valencia over both legs
27 – Shots for Arsenal over both legs
6 – Shots by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, of those 4 were on target and 3 turned into goals. The 6 shots led all players and were 67% of Arsenal’s total
2 – Shots by Alexandre Lacazette, of those 1 was on target and turned into a goal.
9 – Shots over both legs by Aubameyang, of which 5 were on target and 4 turned into goals
8 – Shots for Lacazette over both legs, of which 5 were on target and 3 turned into goals.
I am going to share some crazy knowledge here: Having two amazing strikers is very helpful and can really help a team that might be weak in other areas win matches that otherwise might have gone the other way.
In all seriousness, these two matches really showed what having two very good goal scorers can do for a team. This Arsenal team is very flawed but it is going to do something that other arguably better more rounded teams couldn’t and go to and have a chance to win a European Cup final.
The strike duo accounted for over 63% of Arsenal’s shots in the tie, 100% of the goals and are the biggest factor Arsenal are advancing. What these two players did was also paper over Arsenal’s inability to create high quality scoring chances, both were incredibly efficient in taking decent chances and turning them into goals. Aubameyang scored 4 goals from and expected tally of 1.6, and Lacazette scored 3 from 2.3 expected.
I’ve banged hard on not loving getting out shot repeatedly this season but sometimes you can over come that purely through having better players. It’s not the greatest long term strategy but in a cup competition it sure can work wonders.
56 – Long passes attempted by Arsenal, completing just 14. Of these 35 came from Petr Cech and he found an Arsenal player with just 8 of them. This wasn’t a match that Arsenal looked to get cute and play out from the back.
45 – Long passes attempted by Valencia, completing 31.
62% – The percentage of forward passes completed by Arsenal.
82% – The percentage of forward passes completed by Valencia.
72 – Attacking third passes completed by Arsenal. Arsenal were led by Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac with 10 each. That would have ranked 8th among Valencia players
139 – Attacking third passes completed by Valencia. Led by Daniel Parejo with 27.
5 – Completed passes into the Valencia penalty box, led by Lacazette with 2.
28 – Completed passes into the Arsenal box by Valencia.
This wasn’t a vintage Arsenal performance where Arsenal successfully pinged the ball around in pretty triangles. With a two goal lead it didn’t need to be but it is still a bit shocking to see Arsenal get so heavily out passed in matches. However when you play a pragmatic style, the result is the ultimate measure and Arsenal got the results.
11 – Tackles for Arsenal, led by Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac. Daniel Wass led all players with 4.
14 – Interceptions for Arsenal, Nacho Monreal led all players with 5.
28 – Clearances for Arsenal, Sokratis led all players with 6, Valencia as a team had just 5.
This wasn’t a high pressing, high intensity defensive match for Arsenal but it got the job done. I think that a lot of what happened defensively in the statistics was down to score effects. Valencia found joy in the space behind Maitland-Niles early but towards the end of the second half that area was tightened up. After Arsenal scored their second they mastered the bend but don’t break defense that played into their scoreline advantage.
Sources: Opta via WhoScored, StatsZone and my own database.