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