This performance has me torn.
Arsenal did enough to win this match and probably should have won by a comfortable margin (about 35% of the time, a team with this quality of shots would score 3 or more goals). Arsenal also punted the first 20+ minutes of the match with almost no threat. Finally, Arsenal failed to do the basics after finally getting the goal that they deserved.
So instead of being happy with a 2-0, 3-1, or even 1-0 performance that would have put Arsenal with one foot in the semi-final, the tie is still pretty close to a toss-up (FiveThirtyEight has Arsenal with a 61% chance of moving on).
Arsenal 1-1 Slavia Prague: By the graphs
Arsenal 1-1 Slavia Prague: By the numbers
0 – Shots for Arsenal in the first 24 minutes of the match
56% – Arsenal’s possession in the first quarter of the match
40% – Arsenal’s share of the final third possession in the first quarter of the match
3 – Touches for Arsenal within 25 yards of the Slavia Prague goal in the first quarter of the match
This was another really slow start for Arsenal. I find too often that Arsenal doesn’t seem to take advantage of the opening periods of matches, they seem to play very conservatively to start matches. In the Premier League, they average just 1.6 shots in the opening 15 minutes of matches (allowing just 1.4) which is the fewest for any 15 minute chunk of match time.
Slavia Prague did come out pressing in this match with a Passes Allowed Per Defensive Action, PPDA of 13, where lower numbers signify more pressure but Arsenal handled that quite well completing passes at a rate higher than expected.
11 – Shots from the 23rd to 86th minutes for Arsenal
5 – Shots allowed from the 23rd to 86th minutes by Arsenal
3 – Big chances for Arsenal from the 23rd to 86th minutes (not counting the Bukayo Saka chance because it was recorded as offside)
55% – Arsenal’s possession from the 23rd to 86th minutes
66% – Arsenal’s share of the final third possession from the 23rd to 86th minutes
21 – Touches in the box for Arsenal from the 23rd to 86th minutes, with 35 touches within 25 yards of the goal
7 – Touches in the box allowed by Arsenal from the 23rd to 86th minutes
The middle section of this match is where Arsenal played well. Arsenal dominated in the important stats, they were much more effective at getting the ball into dangerous areas, they turned that into shots, and took advantage of errors to get clear-cut chances. It is unfortunate that Arsenal couldn’t take further advantage of this spell (another reoccurring theme) to score multiple goals.
0 – Shots for Arsenal in the final 10 minutes of the match
4 – Shots allowed by Arsenal in the final 10 minutes of the match
39% – Arsenal’s pass completion rate in the final 10 minutes of the match (my expected passing model says that the passes Arsenal attempted should have been completed at a rate closer to 74%)
38% – Arsenal’s possession in the final 10 minutes of the match
17% – Arsenal’s share of the final third possession in the final 10 minutes of the match
After scoring, Arsenal really struggled to play. Part of that was that Slavia Prague put Arsenal under more pressure (they had a PPDA of 7.0 in this period) but it really looked like Arsenal had no idea how to deal with things. Arsenal couldn’t string together passes to move the ball away from their goal (they managed 0 chains where they completed more than 3 passes in a row) nor could they effectively clear the ball.
It is really weird to me how Arsenal can look very competent with their passing and possession for the majority of a match but lose all technical ability as soon as it is time to protect a lead.
Looking at this in totality, Arsenal was good for the majority of the match, they were probably overly conservative to start things and then finished looking ridiculous. That probably should have lead to a win but with the fine margins or a low-scoring sport, it was not good enough.
Sources: Opta via WhoScored, my own database