Arsenal are in a state of disruption right now that much is pretty simple to see. Things are getting ugly and there doesn’t appear to be an easy fix to the problem.
Today’s match was another in a string of poor performances this season but it probably wasn’t so bad that whatever opinion on the coach and the team in general probably wasn’t changed by it.
Not much left to ramble on about, let’s get into the numbers.
Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace: By the graphs
xG Shot Map
Shot Placement xG Map
Simulated Match Result
Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace: By the numbers
7 – Shots from open play for Arsenal (Crystal Palace also had 7 open play shots in this match)
2 – Shots from open play for Arsenal between Arsenal scoring their 2nd goal and when Crystal Palace scored their 2nd goal. (Crystal Palace had 4)
0.81 – Expected goals for Arsenal from those 7 shots. (1.28 xG for Crystal Palace)
0.39 – Total expected goals for Arsenal between Arsenal scoring their 2nd goal and when Crystal Palace scored their 2nd goal. (Crystal Palace had 1.64 [0.88 not counting the penalty] in that same time frame)
89 – Attacking third passes completed for Arsenal (69 for Crystal Palace)
27 – Touches in the penalty area by Arsenal (24 for Crystal Palace)
It is one thing to play poorly on the road, that has come to be expected with Arsenal. It is one thing to play below expectation with heavily rotated squads in the cup competitions. It is another thing to have an incredibly poor performance in your own home stadium. It is even less excusable when it comes against a team that at the start of the season would have been expected to be fighting to finish with the mid-table clubs at best.
Crystal Palace are not a bad team, with the riches of the Premier League, there aren’t really any more bad teams in the league. However, this is not the type of team that should be able to come into the Emirates Stadium and fairly casually come back from a two goal deficit. The inability to hold on to a match with the lead, the inability to continue putting opponents under pressure with a lead is becoming increasingly frustrating to watch.
2 – VAR decisions against Arsenal. Excuse me for a quick rant about the implementation of VAR so far this season. For the first 9 weeks of the season, it appeared that the bar for evidence to overturn a referee’s decision on the field was essentially on par with video proof of a player being assaulted on the field and it being missed by the referee. I thought that the burden was too high but it was what the League had decided and we would have to live with it. Instead, that burden in today’s match seemed to be magically lowered to a new standard. I don’t think that the first decision was wrong, it looked like a foul (with a dive to sell it but still penalty) and a penalty but so have so many others this season that VAR did not change. The changing level of proof needed to overturn a call is maddening and will have had effects on the outcomes of matches. The second decision to call a foul on Callum Chambers is laughable at best because at worst he was fouled before he made any contact with the Crystal Palace player and the amount of contacts on corner kicks means there should almost never be a clean goal. VAR can be good and correct mistakes, the way that the Premier League has implemented it is bad and has honestly given the worst of VAR with delays and lack of communication to fans and players without correcting the large majority of calls.
***END VAR RANT
The Captain is pulled
26 – Passes completed, 6th on Arsenal
78.8 – Pass completion percentage, 6th on Arsenal
7 – Attacking third passes completed, tied for 6th on Arsenal
1 – Pass into the box completed, tied for 4th on Arsenal
1 – Key pass, tied for 3rd on Arsenal (0.12 xG Assisted)
0 – Dribbles completed
0 – Times dispossessed
2 – Tackles, tied for 4th on Arsenal
1 – Interception, tied for 2nd on Arsenal
0 – Clearances
Was Granit Xhaka the worst player on the pitch for Arsenal? Possibly but probably not given how poorly Arsenal played as a team. Was his substitution justifiable? Absolutely, Arsenal had just coughed up a 2 goal lead and the decision to bring on a forward for a midfielder makes perfect logical sense. Should Xhaka have been sarcastically cheered when substituted? That’s the right of Arsenal fans, it’s also not a great look. Is Xhaka a symbol of Unai Emery’s decision making and tactics? Yes he is, he is one of the first names on the team sheet and has been ever present in the team. Is Xhaka getting more scrutiny because of this? Yes, I think so. Should Xhaka have showed more urgency getting off the pitch? Absolutely. Should he have shown petulance towards the crowd after their display? Absolutely not, that is making this so much worse. Can Xhaka find a way back with the fans after this? I am not sure but it was a very bad look and because of the previous baggage and association with the struggles under Emery this is even more difficult.
Nicolas Pépé shines again
2 – Shots, 2nd on Arsenal (0.19 xG)
4 – Key passes, led all players (0.26 xG assisted)
2 – Pre-Assists with his very good delivery from corner kicks
10 – Attacking third passes completed, 3rd on Arsenal
5 – Passes into the box completed, led all players
5 – Crosses completed, led all players
4 – Dribbles completed, led all players
5 – Tackles, tied for most among all players
1 – Interception
Pépé didn’t technically find his way on to the scoresheet after this match but he was in my opinion Arsenal’s best attacker for the second straight league match. He was the only player on the pitch that looked to be a threat every time he was on the ball. His delivery from corner kicks in this game was the most dangerous that Arsenal looked in the entire match. In a match that ended with a sour note the performance of Pépé provided green shoots of optimism that he is starting to settle and show his quality in the Premier League.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own database.