Arsenal won the London Colony Training Ground Derby and in the process made Troy Deeney sad.
It wasn’t the greatest match for Arsenal and it certainly raises red flags for next Saturday’s FA Cup Final. It is hard to put too much stock into a match where there was nothing on the line (beyond pride) and the team the gunners were facing were fighting for survival, lets just leave it at being a bit worrying.
Arsenal 3-2 Watford: By the graphs
xG Shot Map
xG Shot Table
Simulated Match Result
Arsenal 3-2 Watford: By the numbers
100 – The probability that the foul on Alexandre Lacazette gets called a foul if it is anywhere else on the field.
0 – The probability that Mike Dean was going to give that foul if not forced by VAR (even with VAR I wasn’t more than 25% sure it was going to be given).
100 – The probability that Mike Dean was going to hunt for a makeup call.
5 – The probability (in my estimation) of getting a penalty call after you get a shot off, no matter how bad a player gets fouled.
100 – The probability Mike Dean was pointing to the spot on the Danny Welbeck foul.
100 – Percent wanker that Mike Dean is.
The penalty calls in this match were really something. For the first one, it was the perfect encapsulation of the idea that referees shouldn’t get too involved in determining the outcome of the match. The commentators for the American broadcast were making arguments that it shouldn’t be given because of how early in the match it is (like that really matters if it is a foul or not, should we make the first 5 minutes of the match “purge” rules?) and that he was making a play at the ball (like that isn’t almost always the case outside of cynical fouls to break up counter attacks and straight red cards). Thankfully VAR was able to rectify the missed call but what are the odds that Mike Dean gets any sort of constructive criticism for missing a rather obvious call, where he had a clear view of things? I’d say close to zero.
For the other penalty you could tell from the moment that he reluctantly gave the penalty, Mike Dean was going to do anything in his power to even things out. Which brings us to the other penalty. This is something that is almost never called a foul as well because a player is able to get a shot off. It is like when players make an attempt to stay on their feet while they are being fouled and it is something that should be called more often.
I am thankful that Arsenal shouldn’t have Mike Dean officiating a match for them for at least another 7 weeks.
Pepe excels in a wide open match
1 – Shot (blocked)
2 – Key passes (tied for most on Arsenal)
2 – Passes completed into the penalty area (tied for most on Arsenal)
6 – Progressive passes completed (second most on Arsenal)
14 – Touches in the final third (tied for second most on Arsenal)
2 – Touches in the penalty area (tied for fifth most on Arsenal)
2 – Successful dribbles (tied for third most on Arsenal)
6 – Progressive carries (second most on Arsenal)
It was an uneven season for Arsenal’s record signing but this match showed flashes of where Nicolas Pepe can excel. With Watford badly needing to win, Arsenal not having much to play for, tired legs from several weeks of 2 to 3 matches per week, there was tons of space for both teams to attack. In this type of match, Pepe looked as dangerous as he has all season. He was a dangerous outlet, he provided thrust and the Watford defenders looked like they wanted to be anywhere else when he was running at them. Arsenal won’t always have open, basketball style matches but hopefully Mikel Arteta can find a way to create similar situations where Pepe can attack at speed in transition next season.
Dani Ceballos makes another strong case for coming back
53 – Passes attempted (third most on Arsenal)
86.8 – Percentage of passes completed (on 83.3 expected pass completion)
275 – Progressive distance in yards gained with his passing (fifth most on Arsenal)
5 – Progressive passes completed (third most on Arsenal)
8 – Final third entries (led Arsenal)
2 – Key passes (tied for most on Arsenal)
2 – Dribbles completed (tied for second most on Arsenal)
12 – Pressures (second most on Arsenal)
2 – Tackles (tied for second most on Arsenal)
2 – Interceptions (led Arsenal)
2 – Blocked passes (tied for third most on Arsenal)
Since the restart, I think that you can make a very strong case that the most important midfielder at Arsenal has been Dani Ceballos. In this match he made another strong statement that Arsenal should look to make a deal with Real Madrid to either bring him in permanently or another season long loan. Ceballos technical quality is something that Arsenal have been calling out for since Santi Cazorla left the club. Arsenal still have needs in midfield that should be addressed in the transfer market but if Ceballos comes back that would go a long way to helping turn this from a flashing red warning light with sirens blaring, to simply a glaring need for the club.
Sources: Opta via WhoScored, my own data base, StatsBomb via FBRef