Arsenal managed to escape with a point in a 0-0 draw away to Leeds United at Elland Road. Arsenal struggled to cope with Leeds’ intensity throughout and their task was not made any easier when Nicolas Pepe was sent-off for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski 5 miniutes into the second half. Mikel Arteta’s side were quite fortunate to escape with a point, as Leeds hit the woodwork on numerous occasions and Bernd Leno made a string of good saves to keep the scorelines level.
Let’s delve into the data to see if we can gain any insight into what was a tough game at Elland Road.
Above are the Possession Value (PV) Gameflow and the Cumulative Possession Value Added (PVA) for both sides. Although Leeds had more shots than Arsenal before the red card, Arsenal were still in with a decent shot and were still posing a decent threat themselves, but after Pepe’s dismissal the Yorkshire side dominated and pinned Arsenal back. Bukayo Saka had a good 1-on-1 chance set-up by Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney had a few gallops forward, but other than that Arsenal struggled to land a glove on Leeds after the dismissal.
This is further shown by the above Pass Maps before and after the red card. Strangely, Bernd Leno seemed to have been instructed not to take short goal-kicks, with Mikel Arteta perhaps wary of being dispossessed by Leeds’ high-press. In my opinion this is also a product of the switch to a back 4, as Arteta perhaps feels there is less security if possession is lost in build-up play.
Above are the average touch maps for both sides, with Arsenal’s direction of play going up and Leeds’ going down. What is instantly apparent is how committed Leeds’ full-backs were to getting forward, with Alioski and Ayling almost acting as auxiliary wingers. That was especially apparent on Arsenal’s right-side in the first half, as Hector Bellerin was left 2v1 against Alioski and Harrison who kept his width and doubled up on the Spaniard.
Above are the pass maps for each of the starting XI from Sunday’s match. What is immediately apparent is the dearth of passing in the Arsenal side, with Dani Ceballos leading the way for completions with only 28. Bernd Leno’s kicking was erratic and much longer than usual, with Leeds’ high-press likely to be the reason for this as discussed earlier. Arsenal’s midfield struggled to get into the game, with Leeds’ athleticism in midfield overwhelming the Gunners who simply couldn’t get a foothold in the centre of the pitch.
Above are the Open-Play PVA percentages for each player from Sunday’s game. Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka led the way, with the Hale End graduate showing his quality in a 35 minute cameo that put his more experienced teammates to shame. Meanwhile, Aubameyang, Willock and Pepe struggled to make an impact in open-play, with their passing resulting in Arsenal having less chance of scoring than they did before they passed the ball.
If I had to look for one positive from the game (other than the fact we salvaged a point from a position where we looked doomed), I would point to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who had more shots at Elland Road than he has had in an any game since the opening day victory away to Fulham. Hopefully we see him get a run of games in his natural position.
Anyway, it’s a trip to Molde for Arsenal on Thursday, before they welcome Wolves to the Emirates as the Gunners look to avoid losing three consecutive home games in consecutive seasons.
Data from Opta via WhoScored