Europa League Group Stage: By the numbers

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I was kind of struggling to find an angle for a match that had no bearing on how things would finish for any of the teams in the group stage, against an opponent that is well below Arsenal’s level, and then I decided that maybe it would just be better to look at things a little wider.

First the summary stats and graphics from the Dundalk match.

Dundalk 2-4 Arsenal Match Graphics:

I did a little refactoring and redesign on the graphics to make it faster for me to make them while also adding a few more that I would like to use more often. Let me know if you see any mistakes that I haven’t caught yet.

Europa League Group Stage: By the numbers

20 – Goals in the group stage, good for an average of 3.3 per match.

3 – Goals each for Nicolas Pépé, Eddie Nketiah and, Joe Willock in the group stage, leading Arsenal.

110 – Shots in the group stage, good for an average of 18.3 per match.

21 – Shots by Nicolas Pépé in the group stage, leading Arsenal.

42 – Shots on target in the group stage, good for an average of 7 per match.

6 – Shots on target for Nicolas Pépé and Eddie Nketiah in the group stage, leading Arsenal.

14.4 – Expected goals in the group stage, good for an average of 2.4 per match. Arsenal’s xG production in the Europa League has ranked 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9th this season.

4.2 – Expected goals for Eddie Nketiah in the group stage, leading Arsenal. Another fun fact, he has taken 20 shots but still had an average distance for his shots of just 10.8 yards. The guy loves shots close to the goal.

81 – Key passes in the group stage, good for an average of 13.5 per match. For comparison, Arsenal have created just 69 (very not #nice) shooting chances for teammates in the Premier League, even with 5 extra matches.

17 – Key passes by Nicolas Pépé in the group stage, leading Arsenal.

10.7 – xG assisted in the group stage, good for an average of 1.8 per match.

2.7 – xG assisted by Nicolas Pépé in the group stage, leading Arsenal.

105 – Passes completed into the penalty area in the group stage, good for an average of 17.5 per match.

24 – Passes completed into the penalty area by Nicolas Pépé in the group stage, leading Arsenal.

258 – Touches in the penalty area in the group stage, good for an average of 43 per match.

54 – Touches in the penalty area by Nicolas Pépé in the group stage, leading Arsenal.

110 – Cross attempts from open play during the group stage, good for an average of 18.3 per match.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, first I think that we all agree that the level of the opponents is much worse than what Arsenal would face in the Premier League on a weekly basis. Going by Club Elo ratings Rapid Vienna are rated 1592 (about 3rd highest in the Championship, relegation level in the Premier League), Molde 1540 (about 7th in the Championship), and Dundalk 1211 (League 1 caliber). Also, these teams did quite a bit of rotating of their first teams when facing Arsenal, so long story short these teams are well below Arsenal.

What I have taken from these matches is that given the right situation, Mikel Arteta doesn’t want to play a boring style. In these matches, Arsenal pushed teams back deep with overwhelming pressure, until they could find a breakthrough. I think that you can also see that unlike the last couple of League matches, crossing is not the first choice to generate penetrative passes into the box. Arsenal do create overloads and triangles with their players in the Premier League, oftentimes these are just about 10 to 15 yards further from the goal where the resulting pass has less chance of becoming a dangerous opportunity.

It is really hard to look at the individual players because again you really expect that they will be much better than the players they are up against. I do think that it is very encouraging to see that given the chance, Nicolas Pépé looks to be far superior in his talent when playing at this level. I don’t think that he will ever live up to the expectations that came with his transfer fee but if he can take shot and goal production even somewhat close to this into the Premier League it will go a long way to helping Arsenal’s creative problems.

295 – Progressive passes completed in the group stage, good for an average of 49.2 per match.

35 – Progressive passes by Cédric Soares, leading Arsenal.

264 – Final third entry passes completed in the group stage, good for an average of 44 per match.

35 – Final third entry passes completed by Shkodran Mustafi, leading Arsenal.

17,979 – Progressive yards moved by Arsenal’s passing in the group stage, good for an average of 2,996 yards per match.

1,958 – Progressive yards moved by Shkodran Mustafi’s passing, leading Arsenal.

11 – Through balls completed in the group stage, good for an average of 1.8 per match.

2 – Through balls completed by Dani Ceballos and David Luiz, leading Arsenal.

Looking at passing from a high level, I think the biggest thing that we see is that because Arsenal pushed teams back so far that most of the job of moving the team from the defensive and middle thirds of the pitch fell on to the defenders. Arsenal’s full-backs are usually key in progressing the ball in Arteta’s system so it isn’t surprising to see Cedric feature highly on this but the midfielders are all much lower than they have been in the Premier League.

653 – Pressure events in the group stage, good for an average of 108.3 per match.

32.2 – Percentage of these pressures that led to Arsenal regaining possession within 5 seconds.

92 – Pressure events by Joe Willock, leading Arsenal.

235 – Pressure events in the final third in the group stage, good for an average of 39.1 per match.

56 – Pressure events in the final third by Eddie Nketiah, leading Arsenal.

16% – Percent of the touches by Arsenal’s opponents that were pressured by Arsenal in the group stage.

64 – Tackles in the group stage, good for an average of 10.6 per match.

9 – Tackles by Cédric Soares, leading Arsenal.

49 – Interceptions in the group stage, good for an average of 8.2 per match.

6 – Interceptions by Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Shkodran Mustafi, leading Arsenal.

63 – Blocked passes in the group stage, good for an average of 10.5 per match.

10 – Blocked passes by Cédric Soares, leading Arsenal.

Again not sure there is a lot to learn here but it is interesting to see what happens when Arsenal are defending from the front more often.

@Oh_that_crab

Source: FBRef

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Mike_14

Nelson with Pepe seem to work well when playing together. Please play someone from AMN, Nelson, Nketiah, Willock, ESR, Martinelli in every fu.king game.

norcalfan

Thank you for the insights! I think you are correct that while not indicative of how we CAN play in PL, this is how Arteta LIKES TO play/set up when lineups warrant. My takeaway, and forgive me if others have mentioned this, is that there if we are going to play out from the back that there is no substitute for the caliber, pace, and targeting of the passes coming from the back. Personally, I think that is a huge contrast between Emi and Leno. Emi varied the pace and timing of his passes, was quick to look for a… Read more »

Jimbo1

Cedric looked quite threatening with his crosses, but the other stats suggest he is quite a decent player, perhaps underrated by many. Dundalk expected goals of 0.25 and only 2 shots on target still produced 2 goals. Does not reflect well on Runnarsson who seems to lack any kind of spring when diving for the ball. If Leno gets injured Arsenal are going to be in even more trouble.

Chuffy

This group had to be the weakest I’ve ever seen Arsenal play in. Its chalk and cheese withel the Premier league, where Arsenal have looked nearly devoid of any attacking threat. The front 3 are disjointed, look bereft of confidence and ideas. They barely make runs or when they do the midfield aren’t progressive with the ball enough to find them. I fear a squad breakdown if consistent wins aren’t gathered in the next few games, which by the way, Burnley aside, are not easy.

Far East Stand

The good news is, based on how well we’ve dealt with championship calibre opposition, if we do get relegated we should bounce straight back up!

Martin

We are far from being s team to even get into a relegation battle. I assume you were joking

SirL

The teams in this group would be in a relegation battle in the Championship.

Naked Cygan

No disrespect to Dundalk, but given the quality of our opponents, letting in 2 goals seems like a defensive failure to me. Goalkeeper was not great, and the defenders we had on should have done much better. Mari was very poor in the air for the 2nd goal. Going forward it was great to see the youngsters playing and scoring. ESR was really good. Hopefully few of them can get some premier league minutes too.

A5000m555

Thanks very much for all the stats you produce, very interesting. Hearing Arteta talk, it sounds like he takes a very different approach in matches where he is allowed more than 3 substitutes. Do you have an average points per game for all Arteta matches (league, Europa and all cups) with 3 subs and with more than 3. Would be interesting as to me the fact that he can call on more than 3 subs is actually more important than him actually using them. Thanks.