Arsenal maintained their unbeaten run post-Christmas as they drew 0-0 with high-flying Manchester United in a tight game at the Emirates Stadium. It was a game in which both sides had chances to win, but a draw was probably the fair result. It also means that Arsenal have only conceded 2 goals in the league since Christmas, with both being in 3-1 wins (Abraham and Armstrong). Arsenal were without 3 key players in Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, so Mikel Arteta will undoubtedly be happy to see his side still able to compete with some of the best teams in the league even when missing such key parts of the team.
Let’s delve into the data to see if we can gain any insights into Saturday’s game.
The above shows the Cumulative Possession Value Added (PVA) by each side from yesterdays game. Arsenal had the better first half with Manchester United probably creating the 2 best chances of the game in the second half (both falling to Edinson Cavani). In the end a 1-1 draw would likely have the been the fair result, with Manchester United probably the better of the two sides in terms of chances created. What might be slightly worrying for Arsenal is the fact that after the 55th minute, they didn’t really trouble Manchester United too much, with fatigue seemingly limiting our ability to press up the pitch.
The above shows the PVA each side generated by each zone of the pitch. Arsenal’s PVA was very evenly distributed, with chances coming from both flanks equally as Arsenal’s balance in attack continued. Manchester United produced the majority of their PVA down the left-side in the final 3rd which is a feature of their attacking play as Rashford and Luke Shaw link-up.
Above are the PVA by player tree map and a PVA Zone map for each player (again excuse the weird box issue). Nicolas Pepe and Cedric Soares generated the most PVA for Arsenal with Willian also proving a dangerous option off the bench (in what was probably his best performance). Interestingly, Emile Smith Rowe nearly covered the entire pitch from the Number 10 role as he looked to link play around the pitch.
Lastly, above shows the pass map for each of the Starting XI. Thomas Partey had an uncharacteristically sloppy game in possession, but the Ghanaian still managed to break through the United press at relative ease, giving Arsenal a great option when under the cosh. Gabriel Martinelli struggled to get into the game (although he almost had a brilliant assist for Alex Lacazette), which ultimately led to him being subbed off for Willian a half-time.
Up next it’s Wolves in the midweek before Arsenal travel to Birmingham looking to avenge their 3-0 loss against Aston Villa in November.