Arsenal are on a win streak!
One of the big things that I noticed during these festive period matches is that all of the teams look really leggy and sluggish. This certainly looked like a factor for Arsenal in this match, as the first 45 minutes and final 24 minutes were pretty brutal to watch. Thankfully Arsenal sandwiched that with 20 minutes of good attack that was enough to secure a very important three points.
Brighton 0-1 Arsenal: By the graphs
Brighton 0-1 Arsenal: By the numbers
9 – Shots for Arsenal from 45′ to 68′, 3 of these shots were on target with a total expected goals total of 1.3.
4 – Shots for Brighton from 45′ to 68′, 1 of these shots were on target with a total expected goals total of 0.6.
2 – Shots for Arsenal for the other 3 quarters of the match, of which 0 were on target and the expected goals total was just 0.2.
9 – Shots for Brighton for the other 3 quarters of the match, of which 1 were on target and the expected goals total was just 0.5.
The 22 plus minutes right after half time were by far the best period of play for Arsenal in this match. They created their best chance of the night in this period (Aubameyang 50′) and their goal, but it also makes you wonder where this was in the opening 45 minutes of the match.
The first half was a very impotent showing for Arsenal, even by the low standards of this season. In this half Arsenal were pretty soundly beat by Brighton in just about every attacking statistic outside of possession. Final third pass completions, Brighton win 41 to 33. Passes into the penalty area, Brighton won 6 to 2. Shots, Brighton won 8 to 1. Chances created, Brighton won 7 to 0. Dribbles completed, Brighton won 7 to 2. Touches in the box, Brighton won 7 to 2.
I do think that it was encouraging that Arsenal came out in the second half looking like a different team and were able to get a deserved goal.
Bukayo Saka, aka Arsenal’s one man attack
I haven’t finished putting the cleanup touches to make these graphics look as good as I would like but this is the Arsenal passing build up for their goal. It is basically circulated around the back until it gets to Saka and he carries it nearly 40 yards up field before slotting it to Lacazette, who finished the chance wonderfully. This to me also really encapsulates just how important Saka is to Arsenal’s attack, on a day when Arsenal needed someone to do a bit of individual magic he was the one that put the team on his back. This was a little backward from normal but now his stats.
2 – Shots, 0.3 xG, second on Arsenal
3 – Key passes, 1 assist, 0.8 xG assisted, led Arsenal
3 – Passes completed into the box, led Arsenal
3 – Progressive passes, tied for 4th on Arsenal
2 – Dribbles, led Arsenal
4 – Fouls suffered
5 – Progressive carries, led Arsenal
110 – Net Progressive yards carried, led Arsenal
4 – Touches in the box, 2nd on Arsenal
It cannot be stressed enough how special Saka is. There are not many players that have the special sauce of technical and physical ability that he has and I find that it is a treat that he has come through Arsenal’s academy. I feel like I write something along the same lines about him every week but it is a joy to watch him play.
Hector Bellerin looks good in a balanced Arsenal attack
46 – Passes completed, 5th most on Arsenal
86.8% – Pass completion percentage, with an expected pass completion of 81.2%
3 – Final third entry passes
3 – Progressive passes completed
1 – Key pass, 0.2 xG assisted
2 – Tackles
2 – Interceptions
In Mikel Arteta’s system I think that Hector Bellerin has one of the hardest jobs.
He is asked to play a key role in both the build up and creative phases of play. He is often the player that tucks inside instead of whoever plays in the wide attacking position. This attacking assignment also doesn’t take away that he is also asked to shutdown an opposing forward, which means long runs back to cover on defense.
This dual role is hard for a player, especially on a team that will tend to have a bias towards the other flank, where players on the right side of Arsenal’s attack can be very isolated. In this match with the addition of Saka to his flank, it looked like Arsenal was better balanced between left and right. The additions of Saka and Smith-Rowe also took off some of the burden where Bellerin did not need to try to push up nearly as high or as central, giving him better starting spots to cover his position.
This was a good match from Bellerin and hopefully this is something that can continue.
Sources: Opta via WhoScored, StatsZone and my own database