That was a disgrace of a second half by Arsenal and one of the worst 45 minute performances I have ever seen and was statistically the worst of any Arsenal team in the Premier League era. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked after this match (and the overall performances this season) about how to turn this team around.
Watford 2-2 Arsenal: By the graphs
xG shot mapRunning Non-Shot xG
Shot Placement xG
Simulated Match Results
Watford 2-2 Arsenal: By the numbers
8 – Shots for Watford in the first half, 5 on target
3 – Shots for Arsenal in the first half, 2 on target
23 – Shots for Watford in the second half, 5 on target
4 – Shots for Arsenal in the second half, 2 on target
55 – Passes completed in the final third for Watford in the first half, 5 completed into the box
55 – Passes completed in the final third for Arsenal in the first half, 4 completed into the box
101 – Passes completed in the final third for Watford in the second half, 17 completed into the box
28 – Passes completed in the final third for Arsenal in the first half, 5 completed into the box
26 – Passes completed within 25 meters of goal for Watford, 19 of those in the second half. 7 of those were within 15 meters of goal, all in the second half.
8 – Passes completed within 25 meters of goal for Arsenal, 4 in the second half. 1 of those were within 15 meters of goal, 0 in the second half.
0 – Matches were Arsenal have given up this many shots to another team in the Premier League era.
The capitulation of Arsenal in the second half was unlike anything that I have ever seen before. The raw numbers for the second half alone would be a poor outing for a match overall for a team that has the aspirations of Arsenal. Arsenal allowed 23 shots in the second half, 5 shots on target, 3 big chances and 2.8 xG (2.1 without the penalty). This is another among bad data point to start the season. Arsenal have now allowed 9, 18, 25, 13 and 31 shots in their matches this season, while on offense they have failed to attempt more than 8 shots in 3 of their 5 matches.
Arsenal’s playing out of the back backfires
71.6% – Arsenal’s passing percentage in the deepest 20% of the field, compared to an 83% expected passing percentage.
18 – Defensive actions for Watford in Arsenal’s defensive third, 12 in the second half.
0 – Shots created from goal kicks for Arsenal
7 – Short passes from goal kicks
5 – Medium length passes (15 to 25 meters) passes from goal kicks
4 – Long passes from goal kicks
The new goal kick rule creates interesting tactical tweaks for teams but Arsenal don’t seem to be on the forefront of using the new rule to their advantage. Instead Arsenal seem to have done similar things to last year but now with additional pressure on themselves with the ball staying closer to their own goal. Today it really backfired but it really felt like it was something that was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Even when Arsenal were playing out from the back from regular play, they were pressed effectively by Watford and they struggled to complete passes to progress the ball.
Arsenal lose control on midfield in the second half
6 – Final third entry passes for Arsenal in the second half, compared to 16 in the first.
7 – Ball recoveries for Arsenal’s group of midfielders (Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ceballos and Willock) in the second half, Watford’s double pivot of Doucoure and Capoue had 13.
4 – Times dispossessed by the Arsenal midifielders, 0 for Watford’s two.
1 – Interception by the Arsenal midifielders, 1 for Watford’s two.
1 – Tackle by the Arsenal midifielders, 6 for Watford’s two.
77% – Pass completion by the Arsenal midifielders, 95% for Watford’s two.
The biggest weakness of this Arsenal team is that the midfield, no matter if they have numerical superiority, just seem to struggle in so many matches to be able to control things and calm down the game when things get stretched. With a two goal lead, Arsenal didn’t need to push the game to create things but sitting back and defending is never going to be Arsenal’s strength. What Arsenal needed, was the ability to hold on to the ball, string together a few passes and push back Watford who had camped out in Arsenal’s half. The technical level of Arsenal’s midfield should have been more than enough to be up to the task but for some reason, either tactical or performance or a combination of the two Arsenal had a midfield that lost the ball and at the same time was too easy to bypass. Its ugly and depressing to see the fall from the not to distant past where Arsenal regularly had the best and most technically proficient midfield in England.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own database