I don’t think that anyone expected much from this match against Manchester City.
Before this match, the odds for Arsenal winning were just 10-20%. Looking forward Manchester City will have similar or better odds in every match in the Premier League going forward (my simulation model says that they will be better than 74% to win League match going forward with a very good chance that they don’t lose again). The long and short of it is that Manchester City is by far the best team in England and probably the best team in the world right now.
Looking at the rotation that Mikel Arteta did before the match, I think that he also understood that things were stacked against Arsenal, with Thursday’s Europa League match weighing much heavier on Arsenal’s goals this season. By the 60th minute of this match, both teams seemed pretty content with the 1-0 scoreline knowing that there were bigger things to play for in the future. Hopefully, that is true for Arsenal.
Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: By the graphs
Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: By the numbers
13 – Touches within 25 yards of goal for Manchester City in the opening 10 minutes of the match. If they had kept that same pace they would have been within 25 yards of Arsenal’s goal 117 times, they actually ended up with 44.
0 – Touches within 25 yards of goal for Arsenal in the opening 10 minutes of the match. Arsenal ended up with 23, making the final 80 minutes a more respectable 23 to 31 between the teams.
4 – Shots for Manchester City in the opening 10 minutes of the match. With 2 big chances, 2 on target, 1 goal and 0.97 xG.
0 – Shots for Arsenal in the opening 17 minutes of the match. Arsenal’s first shot came at 17:33 from Bukayo Saka.
Manchester City blitzed Arsenal in this match, coming out with the intent to get an early lead. Arsenal struggled to get the ball out of their own half (they managed just 13 touches in Manchester City’s half and just 8 touches in the final third) with Manchester City effectively cutting out the exit options.
The way that things went from there, especially after halftime both managers looked pretty content with the 0-1 scoreline and didn’t want to take massive risks to change it.
7 – Shots for Arsenal in this match, better than the 6.5 that Manchester City had on average allowed this season.
0.36 – Expected goals for Arsenal in this match, below the average of 0.57 that Manchester City has allowed this season.
0 – Shots after the 77th minute for Arsenal.
Arsenal’s attack has improved recently, Arsenal ranks 8th in non-penalty expected goals, 11th in shots, and 8th in touches in the penalty box. This is still a far cry from where we would expect the team to rank given the money spent in the transfer market and on wages.
While this was a very difficult matchup against the best defense in Europe, I did find it very concerning that Arsenal couldn’t manage to even get an attempt on goal in the last 18 minutes of the match. I would have been happy even if they were speculative shots from distance, at that point a 2% lottery ticket to come away with a point would have been well worth it.
Bukayo Saka is at City’s Level
3 – Shots, led Arsenal. These shots weren’t the greatest (0.2 xG) but he was the only Arsenal player that ever looked threatening.
2 – Shot creating actions, tied for most on Arsenal. The first was a pre-assist to set up a shot for himself and the second was a dribble to open up space for again himself to get a shot off.
3 – Progressive passes, 2nd on Arsenal
2 – Passes completed into the penalty area, 2nd on Arsenal
23 – Touches in the final third, 2nd on Arsenal
4 – Touches in the box, led Arsenal
1 – Dirrble completed
11 – Progressive carries, led Arsenal (6 final third entry carries and 1 carry into the penalty area)
95% – Reception percentage for passes that targeted him
3 – Fouls drawn, led Arsenal
Looking at the stats above, we are well beyond this is good for a player of his age and this is now just simply these are very good stats for a player full stop. He was the only player on the pitch for Arsenal that looked to be the same level as the players on Manchester City.
This is also making it clear why he is undroppable by Mikel Arteta even with him on pace to blow well past his previous high for minutes played of 2,734 minutes last year. Arsenal has at least 14 matches left this year (but hopefully 7 more in the Eruopa League) and keeping him at his best for these matches will become very important.
Sources: Opta via WhoScored, my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.