Arsenal have won 2 games in a row!
What seemed to be a dreadful December has ended on a high note as Arsenal won a Premier League match against Brighton for the first time since the Seagulls were promoted as Mikel Arteta’s side edged a tight game 1-0 at the Amex. Things are looking a little rosier as Arsenal have gone from being potentially sucked into a relegation fight to being only 6 points behind 5th placed Aston Villa which just goes to show how tight the Premier League is this season (In fact no team has won 4 games in a row so far this season!).
Let’s take a look at the data to see if we can gain any more additional insight into the game.
Above are the Cumulative PVA and PV Gameflow from each team from yesterday’s game. Arsenal really struggled in the first half after a relatively good first 10 minutes, with Brighton dominating all the way until half time. Mikel Arteta made a few tactical tweaks at half-time and Arsenal dominated the majority of the second half, before sitting back to see out the victory for the last 15 minutes. The final PVA values (1.914 to 1.902) show just how close the game was.
Above are the pass maps for each of the Starting XI. Arsenal managed to progress the ball well but questions may be asked about whether or not Arsenal can break teams down when we start 2 low-touch players (Aubameyang and Martinelli) in our front 4. The overlap of there skillsets seem to make them not particularly compatible and so that presents an issue for Mikel Arteta to contend with in future. Elsewhere Emile Smith Rowe continued his good week as the youngster was secure and tidy in possession as he linked play down both flanks. Kieran Tierney was again an active presence in the final third, with the Scot seemingly enjoying the freedom of being the LB in a back 4 as opposed to the LCB in a back 3.
The above shows the touch heatmaps for each side. Arsenal had possession in their own half a lot, with Brighton seemingly reluctant to press Arsenal much as they sat in a deep block for much of the game. Arsenal’s best source of attacking touches again came up the left hand-side with very little central space to work with in between Brighton’s congested midfield. Brighton meanwhile looked to attack the spaces in between the Arsenal midfield and defence as well as attacking down each flank.
As I mentioned earlier, there was a clear tactical tweak in the second half, with Emile Smith Rowe spending much more time in the right half-space as Arsenal looked to balance out their left-sided bias from the first half. Smith Rowe’s presence on the right side allowed Bukayo Saka to push further up the pitch and allowed him to isolate Dan Burn which was a matchup that ended up deciding the game.
Above are the penalty box entries from both teams. Arsenal attempted much more passes in behind the Brighton defence than they normally do, a possible sign of the direct approach that the introduction of a youthful trio behind the striker has granted Arsenal. This directness has also freed up Granit Xhaka who has enjoyed more space in the last 2 games than he has had for months. Brighton meanwhile were forced to attempt to cross the ball into the Arsenal box, which leads me to my next point.
Pablo Mari and Rob Holding both had solid performances as Arsenal weathered a late storm to escape with a victory. While there are definitely question marks over whether either player is of the level required (I think Holding is much closer to it than Mari), both have performed honourably in what has been one of the most important weeks in Arsenal’s recent history.
That’s all from me for today, next up is a trip to the Hawthorns to face what will probably be the deepest of deep blocks as Arsenal come up against a ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce team for the first time since a 5-1 win over his Everton side at the Emirates in February 2018.
Data from Opta via WhoScored