Arsenal ran out rather comfortable 3-0 winners away to Norwegian side Molde. It was a night where the Hale End academy graduates shone as Mikel Areta’s Arsenal qualified for the knockout stages comfortably.
Let’s delve into the data to see if we can gain any more insight.
Above are the Possession Value (PV) Gameflow and the Cumulative Possession Value Added (PVA) from Thursdays game. Arsenal struggled at the start of the game, with Molde creating a chance that added 0.9 to their Possession Value (that is very large) which they somehow managed to miss. Arsenal recovered in the second half and controlled the game, limiting Molde’s attack and creating threatening opportunities consistently.
Above are the pass maps for each of the Starting XI. Most of Arsenal’s good possession came down the flanks, with Molde’s compact 4-4-2 shape limiting space centrally. As a result Alexandre Lacazette, playing in an unconventional number 10 role, and Eddie Nketiah were left quite isolated. Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe were particularly impressive, with the Ivorian looking like he had a point to prove following his sending off against Leeds.
Above are the average touch positions for the Arsenal players in both halves from Thursday’s game. Arsenal seemed to gain more control of the game when Pepe and Nelson became more involved in build-up play as indicated by their deeper average position in the second half. Arsenal also seemed content to pass around the back after scoring with the defence and midfielders being more withdrawn in the second half.
Above are the Arsenal pass maps from both halves. Arsenal passed around the back much more in the second half, with their attacks being more focused onto the flanks in the second half than in the first.
Above are the Possession Value Added %’s for each of the Arsenal Starting XI and substitutes. Pepe excelled again with Joe Willock and Cedric Soares also proving to be effective in possession.
#AFC showed signs of better attacking rotation and movement between the lines yesterday against Molde. Willock, Nelson and ESR show this below.
-Create space btwn defenders
-Upset defensive shapes
-Create a 'free' man
using: @MetricaSports #UEL pic.twitter.com/0kPf8U6sqr
— Dom (@DomC0801) November 27, 2020
The last thing I wanted to mention was the increased level of attacking rotations that Arsenal seem to create when Willock and Nelson play. These rotations and movements can be key to creating space and thus creating opportunity. As Johan Cruyff once said “if you have the ball you must make the field as big as possible” and I feel like we do this best when we play Nelson and Willock as their athleticism and intelligence leads to spaces being created as defences are dragged out of shape.
Anyway it’s back to Premier League football on Sunday as Arsenal welcome Wolves to the Emirates.
Data from Opta via WhoScored