Arsenal’s terrible start to the 2020/21 Premier League campaign continued with an abject 1-0 defeat against a Burnley team that had only won 1 game in their first 10 Premier League games. It continues a worrying end to 2020 for Mikel Arteta, who looked like a managerial marvel when Arsenal triumphed in the FA Cup, but looks much more like a rookie manager in a tough job now.
Another red card (Arsenal’s 7th in the league under Arteta) sentenced Arsenal to another disappointing result and Granit Xhaka’s dismissal massively affected Arsenal’s chances of winning the game, which were looking quite promising before the Swiss captain decided to grab the neck of someone who was actually doing him a favour by splitting up a fight.
Let’s delve into the data to see if we can gain more insight.
As we can see from above, Arsenal largely dominated the game until Xhaka got sent off (58th minute) with Arsenal having a Possession Value of above 1.5 and Burnley having a PV of below 0.5. Xhaka’s red card completely flipped the script. Arsenal really should have scored, with Alex Lacazette in particular fluffing his lines after great work from Kieran Tierney down the left. On another day, Arsenal win that game quite comfortably and Granit Xhaka decides to refrain from attempted assault, but Arsenal seem to be running out of luck as quickly as we’re running out of creativity.
The above shows the pass maps for each of Arsenal’s starting XI. Arsenal again looked to focus possession down the flanks, with the centre of the pitch again being left quite empty. Arsenal’s full-backs and wingers again looked to pepper crosses into the box with a little more success than in previous weeks as shown below.
Arsenal’s crossing may have been a little bit better but the quality of opposition has to be taken into account, and at the end of the day, Arsenal still did not score, with the Gunners currently on course to score 32 goals in the Premier League this season.
Above are the progressive (Passes that result in the ball being at least 10 metres closer to the opposition goal) passes attempted by each player. Arsenal’s midfield did very little to progress the ball, with Xhaka, Lacazette and Elneny combining for less progressive passes than Kieran Tierney and the same as Hector Bellerin. Alex Lacazette in particular struggled, as the experiment of playing him at Number 10 continues to stutter.
To emphasis the damage Xhaka’s red card did to Arsenal’s chances of winning, look at the above image. Arsenal were dominating proceedings, with the Gunners firmly planted in the final 3rd, but after Xhaka was dismissed Arsenal just could not sustain any pressure, as Burnley came out of their shell to take advantage of Arsenal’s player deficit.
So another poor performance from Arsenal who face Southampton, Everton and Chelsea in the next 2 weeks. This next few weeks will truly be the biggest test of Mikel Arteta’s managerial career as he has received the ‘dreaded vote of confidence’.
Data from Opta via WhoScored