The boxing day match was the first match probably since at least September that I was very excited to see Arsenal play in with the new manager (head coach) bounce clearly effecting my interest levels. In the end the result didn’t end up perfect but what did appear clear was that there was a change in the process for Arsenal.
There isn’t too much to play for left in the League (thanks Raul for letting that happen!) so hopefully with less pressure Mikel Arteta can use that time to really focus on instilling his philosophy on the team and maybe look to favor the Europa League knock out stages.
Bournemouth 1-1 Arsenal: By the graphs
xG Shot Map
Shot Placement xG
Simulated Match Result
Bournemouth 1-1 Arsenal: By the numbers
17 – Shots for Arsenal, the most that they have managed in an away match this season. (Would be the 3rd highest in a Premier League away match during the Unai Emery era, thanks to @Orbinho for this nugget)
12 – Shots allowed, the fifth fewest in an away match this season
+5 – Shot differential for Arsenal, the highest in an away match this season. The second highest was +1 (twice, at Norwich City and Sheffield United)
127 – Passes completed in the final third, the third highest mark in an away match this season.
19 – Passes completed into the box, the highest total in an away match this season.
This was far from a perfect match, but there was a pretty obvious game plan in this match to look to exert control on the match through sustained possession. With a further departure from what Arsenal had done this season, there was also a semblance of a plan to turn that possession into pressure. What stands out is that this was by far Arsenal’s best away numbers from a pure shots perspective.
There were still defensive lapses (it is an Arsenal defense after all) but the overall structure looked pretty solid. Another interesting tidbit that will be interesting to watch is that in this Arsenal had 12 interceptions in this match which is by far the most they have managed in an away match (previous high was 9) and the second highest mark this season. Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal were almost always towards the top of this statistic (averaged 6th most from the 2009-10 season to 2017-18, finished with the most interceptions twice). One match doesn’t make a trend but it will be an interesting if this is a blip or a reversion to a new defensive style.
Does Lacazette deserve to keep his starting spot?
4 – Shots, 2nd among all players
0.45 – Expected goals from those 4 shots (0.5 according to StatsBomb and 0.33 according to Understat)
0 – Shots on target, 3 blocked
2 – Shots assisted
0.19 – Expected Goals assisted from those 2 chances created (0.1 according to StatsBomb and 0.16 according to Understat)
90.9 – Pass completion percentage (20 of 22 passes completed)
4 – Passes completed inside the box (of 4 attempted)
1 – Dribble and 1 time dispossessed
3 – Ball recoveries
0 – Aerial duels won (of 6 contested)
0 – Tackles and interceptions
3 – Fouls committed
This match typified a lot of what I have seen from Alexandre Lacazette from his time at Arsenal. He had a pretty good overall match but didn’t quite have the decisive moment to push him from good to great.
There is probably one moment that people are going to remember from this match and that will sway the opinion on his match. The moment is his one on one with the keeper in the 70th minute where David Luiz plays a through ball to set him free and he can’t convert his chance. To be fair I have it rated as a 18% scoring chance so missing it isn’t a massive surprise but it is a moment that you hope on of your more talented players does come through.
That leads to main question, should he continue to be a starter, especially if it means that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has to start from the wing? Before I was much more of the opinion that he should be sacrificed but after this match I have revised my opinion to see more from Arteta’s tactical approach. In this match Aubameyang found himself much more central then he was under Emery and wound up getting 5 shots of his own, so the attacking trade off might not be as high as I had initially thought.
Granit Xhaka given quarterback role
90 – Passes completed, led all players
93.8 – Pass completion percentage, 4th on Arsenal (2nd among players who attempted at least 10 passes)
2 – Chances created, 2nd most among all players (both from open play)
28 – Final third passes completed, led all players
2 – Tackles, tied for most on Arsenal
2 – Interceptions, tied for most among all players
The role given to Granit Xhaka in this match was an interesting one. Instead of playing as the deepest midfielder during the buildup phase, he would often shift to become the left sided player of a line of three with the two center backs. This gave Arsenal a solid base to build from but also allowed him more times with less pressure to pick his head up to be able to progress the ball forward for Arsenal.
This was interesting tactical change that Arteta made, but it might end up being short lived with Xhaka linked to a move back to Germany in January.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own database. StatsBomb via FBref