Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa: By the numbers


It wasn’t convincing but Arsenal were able to get three points with a come from behind victory down a man. Whatever you felt about Unai Emery probably didn’t change after this match and there is still a lot of questions about the way that Arsenal have played, especially looking at the last 45 minutes of Watford and the first 45 minutes of this match.

In the end Arsenal got the points, and with rivals dropping points this weekend Arsenal are tied on points for 3rd place. Even better they have a 3 point lead on their other top six rivals after this weekend.

Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa: By the graphs

Running xG

Non-Shot xG

xG Shot Map

Shot Placement xG

Simulated Match Results

Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa: By the numbers

6 – Shots for Arsenal with the match 11 vs. 11

7 – Shots for Aston Villa with the match 11 vs. 11

0.6 – xG for Arsenal with the match 11 vs. 11

1.1 – xG for Aston Villa with the match 11 vs. 11

9 – Shots for Arsenal after the 72nd minute (when Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos were substituted)

2 – Shots for Aston Villa after the 72nd minute (when Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos were substituted)

1.03 – xG for Arsenal after the 72nd minute (when Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos were substituted)

0.19 – xG for Aston Villa after the 72nd minute (when Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos were substituted)

There are a few points in this match that really jump out as turning points. The first 40 minutes where the match was 11 vs 11, the next 30 minutes or so and then the final 20 minutes when Unai Emery changed things with a double substitution.

During the first 40 minutes of the match Arsenal played pretty poorly, and failed to put Aston Villa under much pressure. Arsenal had more of the ball, but had less shots and the worst of the overall chances. The second distinct phase of the match was where Arsenal were a mess after going down to 10 men and were by the far the second best team on the field. Lastly there was the last 20 minutes of the match where Arsenal put sustained pressure on Aston Villa and led to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring a winner.

Guendouzi is ready to take over

73 – Completed Passes, led all players

3 – Chances created, 2nd on Arsenal (0.15 xG assisted)

1 – Shot (0.03 xG)

28 – Final third passes completed, led all players

7 – Final third entry passes, 2nd on Arsenal

11 – Ball recoveries, led all players

1 – Interception

1 – Dribble completed

3 – Foul suffered, 2nd on Arsenal

1 – Penalty drawn

1 – Failure to track a runner leading to the first Aston Villa Goal.

Matteo Guendouzi always seems to find him self in the middle of things. Often times it is good, where he always makes himself available to teammates as a passing option, his knack for looking to move to ball forward and his ability to drive forward with the ball (like on his drawn penalty today). This can also be bad, he can dwell on the ball too long and ends up being dispossessed, he doesn’t always have full awareness on defense (like the first Aston Villa goal) and when there is a controversy after a play he is either the cause or one of the first players on the scene. Overall his contributions ends up with a positive net outcome for Arsenal more often than they are negative but he never shies away or changes the way that he plays. Early in this match he looked like he might be on the way to a negative game, but in the second half where Arsenal looked lifeless he along with Aubameyang added the needed spark to drag Arsenal into a very needed three points. As he matures, hopefully some of the negative aspects of his game will mellow allowing him to fully blossom into a superstar that his talent suggest is there.

Nicolas Pépé opens his Arsenal Account

1 – Goal for Nicolas Pépé, his first with Arsenal.

18 – Shots for Nicolas Pépé this season, 2nd on Arsenal

5 – Shots for Nicolas Pépé against Aston Villa, led Arsenal

1.3 – Non-Penalty xG for Nicolas Pépé this season, 2nd on Arsenal

22 – Dribbles completed for Nicolas Pépé, leads Arsenal and 2nd in the Premier League

3 – Dribbles for Nicolas Pépé against Aston Villa, led Arsenal

11 – Key Passes for Nicolas Pépé, leads Arsenal

4 – Key passes for Nicolas Pépé against Aston Villa, led Arsenal

1.2 – xG assisted for Nicolas Pépé, 2nd on Arsenal

0.6 – xG assisted for Nicolas Pépé against Aston Villa, led Arsenal

It hasn’t been the most amazing start statistically for for Nicolas Pépé but he is starting to show flashes of why Arsenal went out and broke their transfer record to sign him. He has added needed dynamism on the wing with his speed and dribbling ability. He isn’t a creative player in the mold of a Mesut Özil but has been Arsenal’s leader in creating shots for others in this early season. With Alexandre Lacazette injured he has stepped up to take on a bigger burden for taking shots for Arsenal. And today, he dispatched his penalty with confidence and hopefully that will help him to continue to take shots from open play and start converting some of those chances.


Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone, Understat and my own database

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Cliff Bastin

Pepe excites me. We simply don’t have someone who can carry the ball past opposition (well ok other than Saka I guess) Even the legend that is Bobby Pires didn’t have a great first season.


People getting on pepe’s back already are idiots. The kid needs a full season to acclimate and should be given the time to get up to speed. Took Laca a full season before he started playing his best so let’s give the lad some time to find his feet. Similarly, those hyping Guendouzi on here as the fkn second coming of maradona should get a grip. He’s far from the finished article and imo, makes a helluva lot of mistakes and oftentimes leaves our midfield way out of balance and vulnerable to be overrun. Yeah, he had a good second… Read more »

Bob's Mexican Cousin

Emery’s “tactics” make it very difficult to judge the players’ performance; definitely we shouldn’t get on anyone’s back (least of all Pepe).

It’s telling that we played better when we went in full improv mode. #EmeryOut


I wish the defence was as impenetrable as the manager


Emery out??.. We’re in 4th place… Emery’s job is to get us back in the CL, and we have a reasonable chance of 3rd/4th this season. Who would we replace him with? We have a lot of young players, and neither Mourinho or Allegri have any type of form for developing youth. Guendouzi is 20, if you want to buy a 23-24yr old version? He’d cost you a mint, and there would be a line a mile around the block….. If you want the 24yr+ version in your team? You need to give them time to get there, because we… Read more »


Ok So Basically you are saying he is a Young Player. Good Game against Spurs. Check Bad game against Watford. Check Good game against Villa. Check. If he can give me a good Game after every other Game I am ok with that, which means Age and experience gives you more reliability, and in those games where he was excellent he made something happen, A wonderful assist for Auba vs Spurs, Won a penalty at 1 nil. And forced a save moment later. He isn’t flawless so as any other players, but at least he is trying and he isn’t… Read more »

A Different George

I think Guendouzi has clearly improved from last season in two related respects: First, he does not dwell too long on the ball nearly as often as last year–that is, he seems much more aware of an opponent approaching from his blind side. Second, when he is challenged on the ball, he seems physically stronger, much harder to push him off.

Both of these, it seems to me, are examples of adapting to the style and quality of Premier League football. He still has a long way to go, but I for one am very encouraged by his development.

Man Manny

Arsenal is good enough for top 4 on paper. But do we have a coach to deliver on that promise?
Chelsea, United and Sp*rs are all over the place. We have a genuine chance to nail top 4; I hope and pray Emery rises to the occasion.

A Different George

At the end of last season, all three of those teams effectively collapsed, dropping points over and over. Unfortunately, so did we.

Rohit Arora

Pepe needs just a little more time settle down and adjust to the pace of the league. He didn’t have a preseason with us after all. He has shown enough flashes of brilliance for me to be excited about him. Plus, he has the expert guidance of Auba and Laca to work on his finishing.


I don’t think it’s fair to criticise him at all. Considering what a shambles this team is in, I’m actually not surprised he’s not taken off as much as we’d like. As you said, no preseason and still gelling with a team that looks clueless. Even the best player in the world would struggle.

SB Still

Agree. Additionally, I think once he learns English it would be easier as well. At the moment on the pitch he seems to struggle to talk to anyone other than the players who can speak French.


Not too worried about Pepe’s (perceived) lack of stats on goals / assists. The in-process numbers look really good and as he adapts I’m sure the end product will come as well. Bigger issues: Our midfield tends to get by-passed very easily and opposition finds it very easy to turn defense into attack, leading to put our defense under pressure and conceding and unseemly number of shots / cheap goals. Once possession is turned over it is mighty easy for opposition midfielders to transport the ball across the length of the pitch. One of the things that I noticed was… Read more »

A Different George

I would add that this defensive frailty does not seem to depend on who is playing. It looks the same when Ozil is playing (when his suppose unwillingness to defend is blamed), when Torreira is playing (when his lack of positional discipline is blamed), when Willock is playing (when his youth and lack of experience are blamed). Does anyone really believe we don’t have players better than Jordan Henderson?


Give Pepe time. Once he starts to bang a couple in he will get that confidence and belief and away he goes. I am not convinced a penalty will see him kickstart that, he needs a goal from the field to do that. But its coming, and when he does find that mojo its going to be one heck of a good show for the rest of the season.


I would think Guendouzi would play better if he is paired with a more defensive midfielder to relieve some of his defending duty.

Gooners & Roses

That is what Xhaka for, oh wait…


doozi isnt a midfielder… he has had two occasions this season when he contributed anything positive. Once against spurs and once against villa…both times chasing the game at home, and being allowed to forget defending and bomb forward, with two CMs to cover for him. Basically as an advanced CAM throwing caution and team shape to the wind. In this situation, he has managed to draw one penalty with a sneaky shirt pull and dive and give a couple of passes into the box, which led to goals. This shows he might be better suited as an attacking sub off… Read more »


Ceballos doesn’t impress.

Bob's Mexican Cousin

As long as his first name isn’t Mesut he’s safe to not impress.

Woolwich Shepherd

Agree on DC8. Looked good against Sp*rs but that’s it.


And Burnley

Gooners & Roses

He was busy, tried to help defensively also, but looked like his natural gameplay a little bit like typical Wenger’s AMs; excellent in short passes, combination plays, rather than whatever Emery-ball is.

Dave M

Notice all the midfielders struggle when they are on the pitch with Xhaka? Notice when Xhaka is on the pitch all of a sudden we turn into a midfield sieve? We have to play slower to accomodate him, we get drawn up the pitch then we get turned over and smashed on the break – and Xhaka (a deep lying player) can’t do anything to stop their counters because he is SO SO painfully slow. He literally affects our whole system. Without Xhaka (along with Guendouzi and Willock) Ceballos looked like world-class against burnley because we had speed around him… Read more »


You’d forgive him the odd off day, a young player who has come from La Liga into this absolute cauldron of a league. Impressed in most games as well.

Mesut O’Neil

71 – Minutes played this season by the “tired” Mesut Ozil


How was Dani £15M a year Ceballos yesterday? Tired, useless, poor? All of this?

A Different George

You’re not seriously blaming Ozil for not playing? Do you honestly believe he is telling the manager he is too tired to play? You can argue (wrongly, in my opinion) that the manager is right not to play him, but you can’t blame Ozil for the manager’s decision.


Why on earth shouldn’t you blame Ozil for not playing??! I honestly believe that his performances and attitude in training are insufficient to get him into the Premier League first team. I also honestly believe that his performances in cup games etc have not been good enough to change the manager’s mind. I also honestly believe that we haven’t seen anything from Ozil in the last couple of years to suggest he’s not a busted flush right now, and an expensive one at that. Based on wages he should be the bet player in our team. Right now I’d rather… Read more »


Dont understand why Xhaka is still preferred over Torreria? Anyone care to explain to me?

Dale Adams

Only Emery knows


Search me. Doesn’t make sense to me either but my guess is that he apparently has a « bigger «  physical presence.


They are not the same player…Torreira should tuck in behind Xhaka and provide cover for the back 4 allowing Xhaka to focus on linking play up to the front 3…but if you don’t play Torreira alongside him then xhaka is going to get exposed because guendouzi has no defensive qualities…

Dave M

Guendouzi may make a few mistakes on defense, but you’ll notice one thing about him…he is always there on defense. He has improved his positioning immensely and he has a huge motor and is fast and that allows him to get back and recover and try to slow opposition counters. He is young and learning the game and is improving at a brilliant rate – his foibles and errors will be reduced with time as he learns to spot runs and stay focussed positionally. And the problem is he is trying to do the job of two because Xhaka is… Read more »


doozi isnt a CM. He has zero defensive awareness or skill….most opposition players just waltz through our midfield when he plays. He is better off playing in the attacking third of the pitch.

Whenever he plays in midfield, we cede the midfield to the opposition.


Xhaka should tuck in behind Emery on the bench

Tony Adams Nose

Xhaka is not a “link” player. He is too slow of thought. By the time he gets the ball out from under his feet and looks up, the moment is lost. I really don’t understand where he fits in this team and what his best role is. I thought he was a defensive midfielder when he came to Arsenal but he’s no good at that so what is it that he actually brings to the team? Emery is suffering from not knowing what his best midfield looks like and we are nearing October. This is a huge problem. The three… Read more »

Dave M

I think Xhaka must have caught Emery doing something very very naughty.


Did you check the weather?

A Different George

The same logic as Jorginho for Chelsea, for the range of passing when you play out of the back. Think of Xabi Alonso as an example of how it’s supposed to work.


I’d be more worried about Pepe if he was performing like this having come into an established and settled side. As it stands, few of our players truly look like they know what they’re doing and what system we’re playing. When the formation and team selection settles, so will he.


If we play like that against someone more serious than Villa, we’re going to be humiliated. There’s a permanent yawning gap in front of the defense into which anyone is welcome; please take as much time in possession as you like- no-one will close you down, and as for still playing out from the back like we’re the fucking keystone cops FC…..can you imagine what city would do? It’s very hard to have faith in a manager that can’t recognise and address these very basic fundamental flaws, he might as well drive to Dundee in his socks eating Toblerones.


I was all for giving Emery time. However given how much we have transitioned from a squad full of B players to a squad with A list talent and youth players with potentially high ceilings, I’m looking at this squad now and wondering if it no longer fits Emery’s profile as a manager. We still have B players and players on wages far too high. We have two world class strikers approaching or in their prime and running out of patience, and Emery seems more comfortable to support B-level players from whom you know what it is you’re going to… Read more »


Can we cancel the loan of Saliba and bring him into the side as soon as he’s fit? Maybe a back 3 of him Holding and Chambers would help? They could form a human pyramid in front of our goal or something.
In seriousness though, I can’t wait for Bellerin and Tierney to be fully fit and in the side. Give Chambers and Holding a shot in the CB slots. That’s a young back line with lots of potential for this season.

Ed Chin

Sick and tired of so called Arsenal fans piling on players with their constant negativity. With the crap spewed by so called fans, who would really want to play for us? Maybe, just maybe if we support the players we can lift them to greatness.

Tony Adams Nose

The so called Arsenal supporters got behind the team on Sunday in a big way. Even after we were treated to an abysmal 1st half display from most of the team and the ref. The problem was anyone in the crowd with any understanding of football at all could see what is going wrong after ten minutes and were frustrated that others on the pitch and in the dug out couldn’t! The Arsenal fans booed at half time, cheered when he took off Xhaka and roared the team over the line After Emery finally realized we needed to change things.… Read more »


Emery likes to play as underdog. So every match, first half, he make us become underdog.
Then he tells his team, to forget his tactics and their dislike of him, and go for it.