Arsenal’s defence of the FA Cup ended on the South Coast as a Gabriel own goal was the difference in a 1-0 loss to Southampton at St. Mary’s. It was a much changed Arsenal side as Mikel Arteta looked to rotate his team in what is a very congested schedule. Unfortunately the players who were called upon did not step up as Arsenal never really looked like they were going to win the game against Southampton’s strongest XI. It now leaves the Europa League as Arsenal’s only realistic chance of silverware this season and also means the Gunners will have to qualify for European football through the league for next season.
Let’s delve into the data to see if we can gain any more insight.
The above shows the PV Gameflow and Cumulative PV. It was a tight game with very little separating the two sides, but at the end of the day Southampton scored in the 24th minute and Arsenal were unable to get back into the game. It was a disappointing exit from a competition that has been such a source of success for Arsenal in recent years and Arsenal never truly looked like they were going to get back into the game.
The above shows the pass maps for each of the Arsenal starting XI. Arsenal struggled to penetrate down the left-hand side, with Willian completing more passes to the referee than to Gabriel Martinelli who found himself isolated on the left-wing, with Cedric not overlapping as he opted to cut in onto his right foot. Eddie Nketiah also struggled to assert himself on the game, with the Hale End graduate being forced to come deep to get involved which really does not suit his game. It was also an uncharacteristically sloppy game for Arsenal’s defenders in possession with the 4 starting defenders combining for 52 unsuccessful passes.
Arsenal’s failure to build-up against Southampton’s famed high-press is evident above, as Southampton managed to make particular inroads on the right side of Arsenal’s build-up. These issues began early on in the game and persisted throughout, which stopped Arsenal from being able to get into any flow for a significant portion of the game.
One of Arsenal’s biggest problems was the lack of a ‘Number 10’ presence. Above are the ‘Zone 14’ (the area in front of the penalty area a Number 10 would operate in) touches from Willian and Nicolas Pepe. This was a massive problem as Willian drifted out wide which made Arsenal a much easier team to defend against for Hassenhuttl’s side. The signing of Martin Ødegaard should help provide a Zone 14 presence even when Emile Smith Rowe cannot play or needs to be rested.
Another selection of note was that of Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian played ahead of Thomas Partey who came on for him in the 56th minute and immediately provided more of a presence in the Southampton half. Elneny’s limitations are well known and although he is a decent squad player, he can be detrimental to Arsenal’s attacking play when used and for a centre-midfielder that is not ideal.
That’s all for today. We play Southampton again on Tuesday before Arsenal welcome top of the table Manchester United to the Emirates on Saturday.