Arsenal are into the semi-final of the FA Cup, it is one thing that feels somewhat normal in this incredibly un-normal world.
It was a nervy match and Arsenal will need to play better if they want to have a chance of advancing to the final with their tough draw against Manchester City.
Sheffield United 1-2 Arsenal: By the graphs
xG by Chance
Simulated Match Result
Sheffield United 1-2 Arsenal: By the numbers
5 – Shots from open play for Sheffield United.
1 – Shot in Prime from those open play shots for Sheffield United.
0.4 – xG from those open play shots for Sheffield United.
I’d reckon that Mikel Arteta has spent a lot of time looking at how to improve Arsenal’s defense and while it is far from the finished product the open play defense is looking much improved.
Over the last 3 matches Arsenal have allowed 0.4, 0.5 and 0.6 expected goals from open play. The overall improvement is hard to see but there are several mitigating factors for Arteta since he took over. In the Premier League Arsenal have had 3 red cards, 4 first half forced injury changes.
|Week||Open Play xG Allowed||Open Play Shots Allowed|
I am optimistic that outside of a couple of matches with mitigating circumstances that Arteta has done good work to add additional structure to Arsenal’s team shape. There is still a lot of work to fix (if that is even possible) Arsenal and there is still the glaring weakness that seems to have if not gotten worse, certainly has not gotten better with defending set plays.
Nicolas Pepe has clicked?
3 – Shots, led Arsenal
2 – Shots on target, led Arsenal
0.9 – xG (0.1 not including the penalty), led Arsenal
1 – Key Pass, tied for 2nd on Arsenal
7 – Touches in the box, led Arsenal
10 – Deep touches (within 25 yards of goal), led Arsenal
5 – Progressive carries, tied for 2nd on Arsenal
4 – Deep completions (within 25 yards of goal), 2nd on Arsenal
4 – Progressive passes, tied for 2nd on Arsenal
3 – Final third entries, tied for 2nd on Arsenal
2 – Fouls suffered, tied for 3rd on Arsenal
Mikel Arteta mentioned, Nicolas Pepe has “clicked” with how he has played since the re-start. It is still a little early to be able to make an concrete conclusions but the returns are promising.
One of the things that was clear in this match was that he was able to much more involved in the match than he has been in other matches. In this match he had 42 touches, with a good portion of them coming in central locations. The addition of the wing back next to him really seemed to free him from hugging the touchline.
Sources: Opta via whoscored and my own database