It wasn’t a pretty match but Arsenal came away from the match with exactly what they wanted.
Arsenal went a long way from home and left Greece with an important road win, a clean sheet, an away goal and a commanding position to advance to the round of 16 of the Europa League.
Olympiacos 0-1 Arsenal: By the graphs
Olympiacos 0-1 Arsenal: By the numbers
2 – Passes into the box completed by Olympiacos in the opening 5 minutes (not counting the open header that was chalked off as offside), at that pace it would be 36 passes into the box over the whole match.
10 – Passes into the box completed by Olympiacos for the rest of the match.
1 – Shot in the box by Olympiacos in the opening 5 minutes (Valbuena’s 2nd minute shot that was just inside the prime area and well saved)
0 – Shots in the box by Olympiacos for the rest of the match.
28.3 – The average distance to goal in meters for Olympiacos shots after the 5th minute.
13 – Possessions that Olympiacos advanced the ball within 30 meters of Arsenal’s goal after the 5th minute. This is out of 65 total possessions.
23 – Possession that Arsenal advanced the ball within 30 meters of Olympiacos’ goal after the 5th minute.
After a scary opening, few minutes (BR Live in the US didn’t start the stream until 1:40, just in time to see Valbuena just about to score) of the match Arsenal settled into relative control of the match. Olympiacos had a relatively even share of the possession but Arsenal’s defense kept them away from the dangerous areas of the pitch. One of the things that really shows this is where the ball spent most of the time, just 21% of the match was played in Arsenal’s defensive third with 27% in Olympiacos third. After the 5ht minute, Arsenal was also able to progress the ball to within 30 meters of the Olympiacos goal on 35% of their possessions compared to just 20% for Olympiacos. In the end, this led to speculative shots on goal by Olympiacos and a deserved clean sheet for Arsenal (3 in a row!).
Is Shkodran Mustafi… good?
68 – Passes completed, led all players with an 88% completion rate, on 87% expected completion.
5 – Final third entry passes, 5th among all players, tied for 2nd on Arsenal
5 – Progressive passes (passes that advance the ball at least 20% closer to the attacking goal) completed, 3rd among all players and 2nd on Arsenal
3 – Successful tackles, tied for 1st among all players
2 – Interceptions, tied for 5th among all players
5 – Ball recoveries, tied 6th among all players
6 – Aerial duels won, 1st among all players
1 – Mustafi (the sliding challenge late that set up a dangerous free-kick opportunity)
0 – Post Match, Back On Top tweets.
It is kind of weird but since Mikel Arteta has taken over, Shkodran Mustafi has been really good statistically and outside of one really bad error watching him he hasn’t made that many brain dead plays that stick in your memory. He is still prone to make rash decisions but the current system that Arsenal are playing has done an excellent job to minimize the opportunities for these to happen. What this has meant is that his good attributes have come to the forefront and have been very positive to see. When he is paired with David Luiz, Arsenal have two very good ball playing center backs. With Arsenal playing a more possession-based game he is asked to be the more aggressive of the two centrebacks and his quickness in challenging balls is very helpful both in the air where he is excellent and on the ground where he is just pretty good. Overall if because he doesn’t get put under pressure as often the big mistakes don’t happen once or twice a match and instead are once every three to four matches… maybe he has a future as a center back on this team.
Bukayo Saka appreciation section
22 – Passes completed, 76% completion rate on 77% expected
6 – Final third entries (3 passes and 3 carries)
5 – Progressive passes completed, tied for 2nd on Arsenal
4 – Passes completed in the box, tied for most among all players
3 – Successful dribbles, led all players
100% – Dribble success rate
0 – Times lost possession
1 – Chance created, the big chance cross that was converted for Arsenal’s goal
After the match, Arteta mentioned that Saka is not a fullback. That is true but he is showing that he has the skills to play at this level and that he is doing it while playing out of position is even more impressive. In this match, his technical level was one of the more impressive things about his game. He plays difficult passes and completes them at a good rate, his ability to control the ball is important as an outlet for teammates under pressure, his ability to beat a man destabilizes defenses and his ability to find players with crosses is impressive enough to make those lower value chance creation types decent options when he attempts them.