Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: By the numbers

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.

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On the surface not the worst result given the opposition, could have been a bigger defeat.

However, we are losing too often full stop and the position we are in is very poor in the league, with no great hopes in the EL given the oppo.

Not optimistic for the season atm, hope I’m wrong. Only real pleasure is that which Sp*rs provides.


This is a game we never were going to win – we only lost 1-0 but City also looked like they would always be able to score if needed. My only real issue is that with the Europa League taking on such importance to us (obvious post Villa loss) why we didn’t choose to rest Saka & Hector. We’re in danger of running some of these players into the ground.


Saka especially was a surprise. Would have been much happier giving one of Martinelli, Nelson or even Willian a run out against City, and saving Saka for Athens.


That’s true, but the worrying thing is that we never looked like we wanted to try to get back into the game in any meaningful way. They scored in the first few minutes – so did Villa I recall. In neither case did we really look like getting back despite having almost the full match time to do so. Of course City are better than Villa but the overall lack of ambition on our part was the same. MA is using a limited pool of players and that’s having a negative effect but I suspect that’s because he just doesn’t… Read more »


I agree in the sense that MA appears to have decided that City could just tear us apart if they wanted & so the best way to play them is to just defend and hope you get lucky and convert the 1 or 2 chances we’re going to get. The reality is that’s how we played in our cup run – it worked during that period but never was going to be a sustainable blueprint to beating City or Liverpool consistently. I realize this will be an unpopular view, but I would have been ok with him basically admitting this… Read more »


Lack of rest for key players (Saka and Bellerin even Auba plus Tierney always a risk), our inability to break down Benfica last time out and then how poorly we adapted tactically as the game went on (Benfica pressed higher and harder, forced us left and we were completely useless over the last 1/4 of the game) has me very worried about Thursday. It seems Arteta though just puts it down to bad luck from a few missed chances and will run out the same team with the same tactics.

I really hope Partey is fit.

A Different George

I keep hearing this, including in Scott’s piece above–that Arteta and Guardiola were “content” with the 1-0 score. I don’t think so. We played very well after the first 20 minutes to prevent City from having good chances–it is not that they were sitting back, but that they were unable to do very much. And that is doubly true for us. I saw almost nothing that could reasonably be interpreted as being “content.” Perhaps not bringing on Ceballos for Elneny earlier would be one, but that’s about it. If they are the best team in Europe (with an incredible defensive… Read more »

A Different George

surpriseing, not unsurprising


Only a goal in it, but the remarks in the article about the overall lack of attacking strength compared to what we should expect doesn’t bode well for the remaining games. We’re still not scoring enough in enough games – a problem we’ve had for most of the season. How we do that with what we’ve got is the question. But what’s the answer? I hope MA has it.


Without a doubt, the first thing I’d do is drop Aubameyang. He is not performing anywhere near the level at which he is required. I’m certain that Lacazette has outperformed him on almost every possible attacking metric this season. Not only that, but Lacazette’s hold-up play is miles ahead of Aubameyang’s, which means that it is much easier to work the ball down the wings when he is playing, which seems to be our preferred game plan.


Laca’s hold up play is much better than Auba, but he’s not really a pure finisher (his scoring stats are slightly worse than Giroud for instance) & as we play more creative players we need a finisher. This is the type of style we really likely need to play against the non-top sides as so many just sit back and invite us to break them down. Hold up play doesn’t really matter as much in those types of games. Laca likely would have been more valuable against City for instance as it would have allowed more of a breather for… Read more »

naked cygan

This is what we do with what we have. Not leave our joint top scorer in the league on the bench for 3 games in a row. Start Laca up front, play Auba in the position that he has scored for us. Play Saka on the right. Give ESR the free role behind. Rest first team player when we can. Play Martinelli ahead of Willian. stop wasting corners and have a plan. Stop crossing the ball in the box when we have one player fighting 4 players. Stop kicking the ball upfront when there is no hope to win it.… Read more »


Gone are the days when Saka could have been our emerging starlet, whose stats were supposed to be a fun fact than for a star Man in the team.
One day is one day.


Going into the season without a fit or registered attacking midfielder, was negligent

Runarsson as our only senior alternative to Leno, was negligent

Allowing Niles + Kolasinac out on loan, without getting in another left back, was negligent

Going into the season with a first team squad of 31, was negligent

Handing out a 3yr mega deal to a 32yr old Willian, was negligent

Our bureaucrats are utterly incompetent

We desperately need a competent DOF with a proven track record in adding value, instead of subtracting it


Shots on Target xG at 0.03 for the whole game. Woeful.


Not to detract from Scott’s work here, but everyone should be sure to read Ambrose’s Tactics Column today. Close analysis of a chess match, which is probably why it frustrated the average supporter so much, and perhaps some further evidence that though we as fans don’t always see it, the tactics, the strategies, the intent, is all there. If you want to find reasons to support what Arteta is trying to do, which I do, it’s refreshing despite the fact that we lost the game. If you don’t, well, of course, carry on!

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