Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth: By the numbers

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This was such a different type of performance to the one on Thursday. Arsenal ultimately got the win, the three points and are in a good position in the table. Looking at the struggles of their rivals things can be a lot worse for Arsenal but it is still hard to see a performance with four second half shots (including one that would have probably been offside if it got a VAR check) and not wish the performances were better.

Arsenal now have an extra long break between matches thanks to a Monday fixture after the international break, hopefully some of that time can be used to get the team playing better.

Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth: By the graphs

Running xG

xG Shot Map

Shot Placement xG Map

Simulated Match Result

Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth: By the numbers

2 – Clean sheets, in the Premier League now for Arsenal.

10 – Shots for Bournemouth in this match, the fewest Arsenal have conceded this season in a match.

0.9 – xG for Bournemouth, the second lowest have allowed this season.

19 – Touches in the box for Bournemouth, the third fewest in a match this season

For as bad as Arsenal have been this season allowing teams to create against them, Arsenal did fairly well keeping Bournemouth at bay. They had two decent chances in the match, one from a header and the other that didn’t turn into a shot after Callum Wilson dribbled past Bernd Leno. Overall Arsenal did well to keep better control of the match, and got a deserved clean sheet to show for it.

The attack is still a work in progress

6 – Matches with 15 or less shots for Arsenal this season, with Arsenal getting just 12 shots today.

5 – Matches with 1.25 xG or less this season, with Arsenal getting 1.24 today. This also includes the Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang chance at the end that was offside and if it was scored would have likely been over turned. Without that chance Arsenal had 0.84 xG, which would be the third time that they failed to break 1 xG.

2 – Players with more than 1 shot for Arsenal today, just Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (4) and Callum Chambers (3)

4 – Shots in the second half for Arsenal, with 0 on target compared to 8 shots in the first half with 2 on target.

36 – Attacking third passes completed in the second half for Arsenal, compared to 50 in the first half.

The flip side of the decent defensive performance was that it came at the cost of producing much in attack. After Arsenal got their goal and especially in the second half Arsenal looked like they were less interested in extending their lead and were more worried about preserving it. Today it worked out for Arsenal but this is a higher risk strategy for a team with a strong attack and a weak defense to attempt on a weekly basis.

Captain Granit Xhaka

52 – Passes completed, led all players

4 – Final third entry passes, 2nd on Arsenal (Dani Ceballos led Arsenal with 6)

5 – Final third completions, 8th on Arsenal

0 – Chances created

0 – Shots

8 – Ball recoveries, 2nd on Arsenal (Dani Ceballos led all players with 11)

2 – Tackles, tied for 5th on Arsenal (Calum Chambers and Gabriel Martinelli tied for the most with 4)

0 – Interceptions

5 – Clearances, led Arsenal

3 – Fouls committed, led all players

This wasn’t a bad match from Granit Xhaka but it does seem to fit into the theme that the role that he is being asked to play doesn’t get the most out of him. Xhaka is great passer of the ball, with a knack for getting balls from deeper areas into the attacking third. He is at his best as the deep playmaker in a possession oriented attack but struggles when pressed and isn’t a player that thrives in creating quick transitions from defense to attack.

That style of a deeper defense, with the team looking to strike quickly and directly seems to be what Unai Emery is trying to get Arsenal to do more often, especially when Arsenal have the lead. This really doesn’t seem to fit what Xhaka can do best and I think it is one of the biggest reasons that he (and Arsenal) have not looked very good in attack this season.

Xhaka is a very talented player but I think that if Arsenal want to play this style they need to change the player at the base of the midfield to better fit into that role or if Unai Emery wants to persist with his captain in the starting XI he will need to tweak his tactics to better fit the strengths of his deep lying play maker.

@oh_that_crab

Sources: Opta via whoscored, StatsZone and my own database.

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Devlin
Devlin

Funny thing is that Ozil is an amazing transition player (Real Madrid, his best Arsenal performances and Germany), while Xhaka plays well in a possession dominant side. And yet, with Arsenal being set up to play transition football, we are playing Xhaka and leaving Ozil out of the squad entirely.

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

Funny is how you relate a deep lying play maker who sit in front of defense with an attacking midfielder. I mean do I need to even point that out?

Rochester
Rochester

That you missed his point is what’s funny

RedHotHornBlower
RedHotHornBlower

Yep, made me laugh too.

Bai Blagoi
Bai Blagoi

Just that keeping Özil out of the squad isn’t really funny….

AussieGooner
AussieGooner

Maybe if Ozil would just work a little harder in training he might get a game.

Mouise
Mouise

Are you attending to the trainings? No. So you don’t know.

K-Gooner

Well, per mert the BFG is and feels the same too. Looks for his statement on 15th September or something

Crash Fistfight
Crash Fistfight

Apparently Patrick Vieira was a right lazy git in training. Just saying.

Ordnance Dave
Ordnance Dave

Yeah, but Pat put the hammer down in games. Ozil… not so much.

Mouise
Mouise

I’m ok with the downvote, but then some think i’m wrong and so AussieGooner attends to the trainings then!! Lucky him!

RedHotHornBlower
RedHotHornBlower

Watch last week’s training video. Xhaka passes straight to Auba in the opposing team. Auba slams it past Leno. Xhaka does this shit in training! And still he gets picked.

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

I have a question pls.
Are we getting lower xGA per game compared to last season in general, and the first 8 fixture in particular?

PaulS
PaulS

According to the xG data compiled here xG and xGA respectively are 11.69 and 12.88 for this season so far.

In the first 8 games of last season xG and xGA were 10.64 and 11.1.

This suggests a small improvement in creating chances but a small regression defensively.

PaulS
PaulS

Though, as an addendum, we’ve conceded 3 penalties this season compared with 0 in the first 8 games last season. And we’ve been awarded one penalty this season versus 0 last season. Penalties being low frequency largely random events, with a very high xG value, can distort the stat over a relatively small number of games like this.

If you take penalties out of the equation it becomes 10.93 and 10.6 for xG and xGA respectively this season. And same as before 10.64 and 11.1 last season.

Which suggests there is almost no difference compared to last season. You could make a weak argument for a possible very small improvement both in attack and defence.

StuArse
StuArse

I have a very strange feeling about Arsenal right now. I am really pleased we won against Bournemouth and that we are 3rd in the league. However I find myself feeling more distant from the team as I am finding watching the PL team really quite tedious and on the verge of boredom. I mean only 2 shots on target, in that game?
I will always continue supporting the club and the team, but right now my relationship with them feels more functional than fully emotionally invested.
Is anyone else feeling like this? Does anyone have a remedy?

Rostock Gooner
Rostock Gooner

Funny, I thought exactly the same yesterday…Let’s hope it’s just a phase…

BoredArse
BoredArse

I feel the same way too and I have been an Arsenal fan for close to 15 years. I am not sure exactly when but it was since the earlier part of 2019 when I feel bored watching the team play. A lack of urgency and devoid of creativity since Ramsey was injured in the first part of 2019. Nowadays we seem to bypass the midfield while hoping for our strikers to create miracles.

StuArse
StuArse

Bypass the midfield in both directions it seems. We are still susceptible to opposition counter attacks whilst not managing to master it ourselves.
I suspect that buying Pepe was supposed to increase out threat on the counter, but we never seem to be able to get the ball out to him, or Auba, very often. Possibly because opposition sit deep against us and possibly because of the fact our transition from defence to attack is so laboured and slow.
Let’s hope, for the sake of our season and our support Emery actually does have a plan and that the team starts to click.

Man Manny
Man Manny

I am feeling quite the same way. Yesterday’s performance was an ordeal to go through – especially the second half. When the coach comes out and claims a loss of confidence was the reason for the listless performance, it leaves me with more questions than answers.
We are talking about Bournemouth here!
Emery’s hollow explanations are becoming an embarrassment. Inexperience?
This man needs to look at how our main rival, Chelsea, are playing at the moment.

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

All Chelsea youngsters bar Odoi were loaned and have proven themselves consistently in their respective clubs. Chelsea’s youth policy is completely different to ours.
Saka, Gabriel & Willock are experiencing their first continuous top level games. We threw Guen head first into first team action last season too.
Playing inexperienced youth will almost always cause these kinds of problems.

Man Manny
Man Manny

I don’t think the problem of Arsenal is untested academy products. Those three you mentioned have been part of the team that made Forest and Standard Liege look like part-timers.
Our problem is how our coach sets up the “senior” players for the EPL.

Dan
Dan

Posted this in almost the exact words yesterday elsewhere. I think a lot of the time i’m scared of sounding superficial saying this cause it definitely irks some, but is watching that style of play, better than other things I can do for 2 hours on a weekend? All the more frustrating because the players we have are clearly capable of so much more entertainment.

Futsboller
Futsboller

Very well put, all these comments above. I guess winning is supposed to fill in those two hours with belated satisfaction, but I do miss seeing something special from our side. I used to watch the highlights of our matches over and over again, but there isn’t really much to see recently. I understand that the results are the most important thing here, those 3 points (which we shouldn’t forget that we failed to get against Watford, most egregiously, and against MUnited, most lamely), but within that philosophy lies the barren truth: just check the final score.

Kevin1980
Kevin1980

The problem is we all love Arsenal. However bad we are playing or frustrated we are with various aspects of the team as soon as the next game comes round we are all going to watch it. Not sure there is a remedy as such more just blind hope that the next game will be better.

Man Manny
Man Manny

We’ll have to endure this for the rest of the season, I am afraid.
Emery won’t change; he’ll play his captain; Torreira will be played in the wrong position.
Lacazette, Tierney, Holding and Bellerin may come in and make things better; but the essence of UE will still be our lot.
The only remedy I see is: Unai won’t be here next season. The board will not take up the third year option.

Scott P
Scott P

If we scrape into the CL but with bad performances, do you think they would ditch UE? I’m not sure they would

Man Manny
Man Manny

They certainly will.
Who wants to scrape into the CL only to be Tottenhammed.
We won’t get away with guys like Xhaka screening our back four against the big boys of Europe.
If they could be scared at Watford, I sense they may freeze at the Allianz Arena.
I don’t Edu et al are willing to take that risk.

Martin Dufosse
Martin Dufosse

Think you are spot on here. Don’t think for one moment Emery will change. Everyone can see Xhaka is a complete waste of space , but he’s made him captain. You live and die by these decisions. Hopefully the player’s you have mentioned will all come into the side and make improvements. Only time a tell.?

Oregoon

On the nose Kevin. It might be cliched, but all we can do is keep up the love and hope for better football. Drugs, I know, are not the remedy at this point!

rohit
rohit

Well… my distance with this Arsenal team has reached such a high level that I have started treating PL games as optional now. I just come here on Arseblog after the match and read how it went instead of bothering to sit for 2 tedious hours and watch the whole game. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in it, if winning was all that mattered in football, Maurinho wouldn’t be considered shit. There’s a reason coaches like Klopp, Guardiola, Sir Alex and Arsene (in his peak) are respected more than the others.
Style matters.
Class matters.

xjert02
xjert02

I agree. AW always want to make people happy by winning the beautiful game of football with style. I have been always thinking, that this is the one of most important things in the AFC. Since UE’s arrival, I have started to realize more and more, that this was AW’s idea than of the club. He truly was man of higher principle.

Reality check
Reality check

You’ve had caviar for so long, sausages would definitely taste rubbish.. can’t blame you. Atleast with this new batch of academy players coming through, we’ll have some players with genuine connection with the club. Can’t think of a player that has a proper connection with the fans since BFG..

Martin Dufosse
Martin Dufosse

Problem is Emery won’t play them.!!!!!!!!

baluku
baluku

You are absolutely right. Look at Barcelona. They changed managers several times but their style of play remains pretty the same. Arsenal’s style is quite boring at the moment. I no longer get that feeling that I am missing a lot if I don’t watch the match. But yeah, we love the team beyond the style and that’s why we continue committing 2 hours every weekend to watch.

goonero
goonero

I just can’t agree with that analysis of Xhaka. One of the most inhibitting features of Xhaka as an effective passer of the ball is that he has little to no ability to create space for himself.

Xhaka cannot receive the ball facing one way and shift his weight or move his feet quickly to face another way. When we say he’s weak to the press, this is at least what I mean. If he receives that pass and he feels he is in a press situation, he distributes the ball quite immediately back in the direction he is facing.

You could argue it’s an understated role of great importance, but that doesn’t mean people have no ability to appreciate when it is done well. Passing like Xhaka’s is just stat padding. In fact it’s noticeable that he creates additional pressure on Luiz and Sokratis (who doesn’t really look comfortable doing it) to play the ball from our third into players in more advanced areas of the pitch because Xhaka abdicates that responsibility to them unless he knows he has the time and space. Again, there’s nothing inherrently wrong with that, but it’s quite simply not good enough for Arsenal’s midfield lynchpin. You cannot compare what Xhaka brings to any player in that role of genuine quality. The ability to receive the ball on the half turn from a deeper midfield position and either pick out a pass or burst into space yourself first then pick out a pass is massive and he just does not have that. I think great passers of the ball are people who can pick up a ball and execute passes that suddenly create space and momentum for their team. Xhaka’s passing is mostly stat padding shorts straight back in the direction he’s received the ball from. His ability to create actual moments of genuine danger or momentum with quality through balls or long balls is just massively exaggerated.

And that’s just from a possession/transition/attacking point of view. Defensively it’s obviously not much better. Xhaka plays as a kind of screen or foil. He covers the general space his the man in teammates leave and tracks the man in his space. He hardly does this well, he rarely stops a man from progressing either right past him (without fouling him) or from bypassing the space he’s trying to cover and advancing into a more dangerous position. This is because he lacks the mobility to close spaces and get in range to make a challenge, he lacks the agility and defensive know how needed to make timely interceptions or well timed challenges and he fundamentally has a bad approach to making challenges in that his technique is just clumsy and unrefined. So effectively he is at best a stall who sort of kind of jockeys to buy time until someone else makes the challenge, or the attack peters out. Now again, that’s probably him making the best out of his skillset as it is, but again that just cannot be the base-line performance of the Arsenal midfield lynchpin, the player who everything in our game litterally has to go through.

So you get back to the point that everyone from the casual to the committed to former players keeps asking, what is it that Xhaka really brings to this team? What does Xhaka do in games that makes you go, well I’m glad he’s in there because that’s something he’s good at. Other than the impossible number of clear fouls he can make without getting a booking, there’s nothing there for me. At his best he’s a passenger for us who’s limitations just make everyone elses jobs around him marginally more difficult. At his worst he’s literally gifting points to other teams. Of all the things that I find confusing and about Emery as a manager, his persistence with Xhaka in this role is the biggest head scratcher for me.

Spursarewank

Spot on mate!

yen
yen

Was typing up a long ass comment, gave up, bottom line:

Xhaka seems like a great bloke, possibly caring great leadership qualities. The way we’re structured doesn’t help him as he seemed better alongside Torreira, with the Uruguayan having more defensive responsibilities.

That being said, he’s not the way forward. Would love a three man midfield where Torreira is the DM, Guendouzi & Ceballos fighting for the box to box position, with Willock/Ozil having a go for the most advanced position.

Unfortunately, it will probably take either suspension or – god forbid – injury to Xhaka for Emery to try this out in a PL game.

Dave M
Dave M
Elrond Half-Elven
Elrond Half-Elven

Toxic. The state of this fan base is embarrassing.

shaka
shaka

just remove Bummery

Dave M
Dave M

This is absolutely spot on Analysis Goonero!! Well done mate. When Torreira plays as DM, he does exactly what Xhaka does in terms of passing, but the difference is he is a MUCH superior defender, who can press and tackle. He is also more disciplined, but still has the capacity in the right moments to get forward and make a run if he is adequately covered for (and he still can get back when he occasionally does that as the DM).

Like you say Xhaka simply cannot and does not even try turn guys. This is a massive weakness and is completely limiting to a midfielder. It means he can never create space in behind an opposition player by beating their press through his own (creating for himself as you call it). That is such a fundamental part of creating opportunities for your team on the break. Turn past a guy and then you can drive into space – Willock is brilliant at this (Diaby esque as I’ve said before), Guendouzi also really really strong at getting past guys, Even Torreira is excellent at ball retention through a press (and not simply by passing it off like Xhaka [often to players under more pressure]), and Ceballos too.

Even when he uses his long balls, which he is quite good at, it is when we have the ball deep and he sends it up quickly to a winger (usually the opposite side winger), and they are then isolated with the striker (usually the ball side winger has been helping in defense) and our whole attack is isolated – over-to-you Pepe and Auba to individually create goals (tough ask – no wonder Pepe has been struggling to adapt).

So what does Xhaka bring to the team:
(1) Occasional long passing that often isolates our attack
(2) uncreative short-passing that often puts the players around him under undue pressure when we are being pressed high.
(3) poor defense that he tries to prop up by just staying in front of guys, which get’s exposed over and over again against fast attacks and speedy midfielders due to his poor mobility.
(4) Lots of fouls and yellow cards.

Even for his stat padding passing Xhaka is not a top 20 passer in the league based on #s (449, ranked 27th – Douzi ranked 20th with 460) or %s (86.9 ranked 40th – Ceballos 20th 89%, Douzi 33rd 87.6%)

He is ranked 2nd in the league in fouls (18, 1 behind Milivojevic) and 2nd in yellows (4; 1 behind Milivojevic).

So why do we do it?!

Dan
Dan

Spot on, I saw multiple example yesterday where Xhaka couldn’t see a forward pass, turns to face another way, but the ball rolls to his right foot, in the time he’s moved it back to his left, the whole Bournemouth team have moved 10m up the pitch, so he passes to Luiz who lumps it. Worst part was, Luiz lumped it to Saka/Pepe who people then accused of breaking down our play.

Dave Cee
Dave Cee

Excellently put. I would have said something similar if I could even be bothered anymore lol

Duno
Duno

Gawd! Couldn’t have said this better. I’m tired of screaming this to anyone willing to listen. Xhaka brings absolutely NOTHING to this team, at least nothing some one else can’t do better. AMN will do a better job than Xhaka, whatever it is he’s supposed to do. Xhaka is at the core of the reason why Arsenal is so painful to watch these days. It’s no coincidence that we have been fluid for EVERY SINGLE TIME HE HAS NOT PLAYED this season including when he was substituted against Villa. We have quick attackers that need a quick midfield system that transitions at lightning pace. Xhaka’s skill set is a relic of the past to top teams. It’s sad but once I see Xhaka on the team sheet I feel really bad. It’s that bad.

GraeB
GraeB

Hells teeth! These posts are getting longer than a Xhaka build-up play.

Martin Dufosse
Martin Dufosse

Spot on

Vis
Vis

Emery will get the sack very soon and Xhaka will be the cause of it. We all can see it coming.

N10
N10

I’m bookmarking this mate, well done!

bob
bob

2 shots on target. At home. Vs that Bournemouth side?!

With the wealth of attacking riches that we have in our squad, that is almost criminal management.

We have one of the best strikers in world football, in form and at his peak, yet he has zero service. A world Cup winning attacking midfielder, who yes is not playing at a world class level, but can certainly be used to bully teams like our opposition yesterday (and who I thought it was the coaches job to make all players in the squad play to their max? Not prop them up in the shed with the tyres off and complain when they’ve rusted??) And not to forget, some of the brightest young attacking talents I’ve seen in years, who certainly perform better when the shackles are off them and are placed in a team with a coherent attacking structure and gameplan.

I am very happy we won. But this whole approach is unsustainable and I hope our board are looking to fix it in the medium term.

If we make top 4 like this (and I wouldn’t be surprised if we did!) I will still be ecstatic, but it will be on the sheer ineptitude of the teams around us, rather than due to a plan or any sort of quality on our behalf. And carrying that sort of play into the CL, if we make it, could be very scary to watch!

N10
N10

“Arsenal looked like they were less interested in extending their lead and were more worried about preserving it. This is a higher risk strategy for a team with a strong attack and a weak defense to attempt on a weekly basis.”

Sums up my annoyance with emery in a nutshell. Nice work as always, Scott.

What about Willock saying “the coach encourages us to keep scoring and not rest on our laurels” after 4-0 vs. Liege?

NO COMPRENDE

ArsenalFuture
ArsenalFuture

Martinelli – a forward – comes on at 63′ and is tied as Arsenal player with most tackles made in the whole game. Wow!