This was a really nice attacking performance. It was against West Brom who are not a great defensive team, but that is still a huge improvement for Arsenal who have not been able to do this to teams in the Premier League this season.
Arsenal have a run of matches where they should be favored to win, hopefully the wins and now the good performances can help the team to get back closer to where they expected to be on the table.
West Brom 0-4 Arsenal: By the graphs
West Brom 0-4 Arsenal: By the numbers
3.8 – Arsenal’s expected goals in this match, the most that they have had in a league match this season.
21 – Shots for Arsenal, the most that they have had in a league match this season.
11 – Shots on target for Arsenal, the most that they have had in a league match this season.
14.8 – Average distance from the center of the goal for Arsenal’s shots, the fifth closest average shot location in the league, which is really impressive given the number of shots that they took.
39 – Touches in the box for Arsenal, tied for the second most in a league match this season.
This was an interesting attacking match from a statistical point of view. In this match Arsenal completed just 10 passes in the box (excluding set plays), which is only their 7th highest total of the season, but they managed 39 total touches in the box. This was also not a big match for progressive passing, with Arsenal managing just 33 with my definition and 39 with StatsBomb.
Looking at the map here of the progressive passes that Arsenal completed, it looks like the majority of them are completed deeper in the West Brom half than would be typical. I think that is a combination of the snow making passing harder than normal and West Brom did not do much to contest midfield, in this match West Brom pressured Arsenal just 63 times in the middle third of the pitch which is just the 7th most Arsenal have faced. Pressure events are typically higher when teams have less of the ball, because that gives a team more opportunities.
What appears to have happened instead, is that Arsenal were able to move the ball forward with the ball at their feet instead through passing. In this match Arsenal were able to progress the ball 2210 yards carrying the ball, which is the most they managed in a match this season.
I think that it was very encouraging that Arsenal were able to adapt to what nature and West Brom gave them in this match, and it turned into an excellent attacking performance. The Arsenal shot chart from this match, makes me very happy and I would love to see it repeated over and over again.
Alexandre Lacazette is in great form
5 – Shot for Lacazette, 4 on target, 1.9 xG, 2 goals
3 – Key Passes, 0.2 xG assisted
2 – Passes completed inside the penalty area
10 – Touches in the box
3 – Successful dribbles
4 – Fouls drawn
1 – Time lost possession
11 – Pressure events, 3 in the attacking third
This was a really good performance from Lacazette. I have had my frustrations with him, but those have more stemmed from him being the best fit to play in a false 9 role among a bunch of poor choices. This uptick in form has coincided with the introduction of Emile Smith-Rowe in the number 10 role, which has freed him from needing to do as much of the buildup work which was not his biggest strength.
I was also thinking about talking about how maybe this was an example of how poor Aubameyang looked in comparison but when a took the time to look at his numbers and how he plays I reconsidered. I think that this is almost exactly the type of match that you want from Aubameyang, except with him scoring a goal. In this match he had 3 shots, not counting the cross/shot from Saka that if he gets contact is a sure goal. These shots were really good quality too with an xG of 0.7 from my model and 0.9 on StatsBomb’s. He maybe had a few too many touches away from dangerous locations (26 midfield third touches compared to 24 in the final third) where he isn’t at his best facilitating for others. In this match he could have two goals and the narrative of this performance would be drastically different, but these are the fine margins on which players are judged.
What I think all of this really illustrates for me is that the addition of a true attacking midfielder comfortable in the central zones has freed up both Lacazette and Aubameyang to do focus a lot more on the good parts of their game.
Lastly, it is a new month and I want to gauge fan opinion on how things are going with Arsenal, if you could please fill out this short survey on how you think things are going right now.
Sources: Opta via WhoScored, StatsZone, and my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.