Arsenal fell to a third consecutive home defeat as Mikel Arteta’s men succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers. It is another disappointing result for Arsenal who have slipped to their worst start to a league campaign since 1981-82. With the North London Derby next weekend against a top of the league Sp*rs team managed by J*se, Arteta really needs to turn around this teams fortunes if Arsenal are to have any hopes of an even remotely successful league campaign.
Let’s delve into the data to see if we can gain any more insight into another disappointing Sunday night game at the Emirates.
Above are the Possession Value (PV) Gameflow and Cumulative Possession Value Added (PVA) from Sunday’s game. Wolves dominated early on and took their chances and then sat back and almost dared Arsenal to score, with ultimately they did not. Arsenal seem to be able to progress the ball and get into mildly threatening areas, but no great chances seem to come from this.
Above is the passing network from Sunday’s game. The thickness and colour of the lines connecting the players indicate the frequency of passes between those players (with 5 passes being the minimum number needed for a line to appear). Look how completely isolated Aubameyang is from the rest of the team, with Hector Bellerin the only link to appear. Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos meanwhile seem to serve to slow down build-up with Xhaka almost right on top of Gabriel and Ceballos seemingly only able to connect with Bellerin. Saka, Willock and Willian meanwhile seemed incapable of connecting with each other or Aubameyang to any great effect and ended up stuck out wide for most of the game.
Above are the pass maps for each of the Starting XI. What is shocking is the complete lack of ‘Zone 14’ or ‘number 10’ passing. Wolves channeled Arsenal out wide and packed the penalty area with Arsenal attempting 36 crosses and only completing 3 of those attempts.
Above are the ‘Progressive’ pass maps for each of the starting XI. A ‘Progressive’ pass is one that results in the ball being at least 10m closer to the centre of the opponents goal excluding passes originating in the defensive third. Almost all of Arsenal’s ball-progression came from out wide with very few ‘Progressive’ passes coming from central areas of the pitch. This lack of central threat makes Arsenal a much easier side to defend against as Wolves just had to defend the width of their penalty area and focus on winning the aerial duels from Arsenal’s crossing.
Above are Arsenal’s pass maps from the first and second halves. Arsenal were dreadful in the first half with our passes forming the dreaded ‘U-shape’ with little-to-no penetration except Willian’s assist for Gabriel’s goal. Arsenal improved a lot in the second half, with Wolves sitting off and encouraging Arsenal forward, but the lack of a central threat remained for Arsenal as that gap in ‘Zone 14’ (the area just outside the box that covers the width of the 6-yard box) clearly shows.
Above are the attempted passes into ‘Zone 14’ from both halves. Again this exhibits a complete lack of central threat with only 14 attempted passes into what is considered a key area for creating chances. This seems to me to be a structural problem, with Arsenal struggling to find someone capable of filling this space and also struggling to find players who can get the ball into ‘Zone 14’. I do wonder if Mikel Arteta will be forced to go back on his word and bring back a certain Öutcast when the registration window reopens in January. This problem is further shown below where we can see the passes from ‘Zone 14’. These passes, although there are nowhere near enough of them, show the importance of getting the ball into this space as most of the passes result in the ball ending up in threatening positions while the opposition defence must also push out to stop any potential shooting opportunities.
It’s another disappointing defeat which continues a worrying trend for Mikel Arteta (which Jon Ollington discussed in his brilliant piece last week), who will inevitably face a massive amount of backlash if there is another poor result next week against J*se’s side.
Arsenal also continued their terrible November form, with Arsenal having only won 17 of their 41 league games in November since 2010, with only 9 wins from 22 home league games in November since that the turn of the decade (Arsenal’s last home league win in November came 3 years ago with a 5-0 win against Huddersfield on November 29th 2017).
Anyway I’ll be back in the midweek to cover the sweet escape of the Europa League as Arsenal welcome Rapid Vienna (in front of the first crowd to be at the Emirates since a 1-0 win over West Ham in March), before travelling to N17 to face our North London rivals.
Data from Opta via Whoscored