Arsenal is all but assured that they will not be in Europe next season with this loss and in the end, Arsenal was kind of close to getting to the final but they were far from deserving it.
This probably won’t be too long because it’s not a fun one to dwell on.
Arsenal 0-0 Villarreal: By the graphs
Arsenal 0-0 Villarreal: By the numbers
Shots by Arsenal by quarter (23 minute period) of the match: 0, 4, 3, 7
xG for Arsenal by quarter of the match: 0, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4
Possession for Arsenal by quarter of the match: 53%, 46%, 46%, 71%
Touches within 25 yards of goal for Arsenal by quarter of the match: 6, 11, 6, 16
I look at the numbers above and I am dumbfounded. They do not look like the stats of a team that is desperate to win a match or score a goal. In the first 45 minutes of the match, the game was played at a snail’s pace. Arsenal had just 21 attacking possessions and Villarreal having 20, both teams seemed very content to probe, see if a mistake would be made, and otherwise settle for 0-0.
In the second half, Arsenal came out fast in the first 10 minutes creating what would be probably the best chance of the game (Smith Rowe chipped shot 20% probability of scoring) but after that, they looked dead on their feet. After that period Villarreal was comfortable and actually was able to hold on to 68% of the ball until Arteta made the change to bring on Martinelli.
Arteta said after the match that Arsenal had the chances to win and yeah maybe they did but in the end, Arsenal created just 3 shots that were 10% or better for a probability of scoring and had 0 that were greater than 25%.
Running the chances through a simulation and the most likely outcome is still 0 goals and in a sport where there is a lot of variance failing to create enough to where that won’t bite you is massively important. Over both legs, Arsenal and Villarreal are even on the quality of the non-penalty chances and that let’s chance play a huge role in determining who will win.
For the tie Arsenal’s shot chart shows lots of low and medium quality chances.
Quick hit stats
9 – Progressive passes received by Nicolas Pepe, leading Arsenal. The plan in this match very much looked like Bukayo Saka (5) and Pepe were the outlets for big switches in this match (Arsenal completed 21 of these), with a lot of this wanting them to go do something magical.
8 – Touches in the box for Pepe. He continued to excel in the Europa League.
8 – Progressive carries for Emile Smith Rowe, tied for the most on Arsenal (Saka also had 8). His ability to drive forward with the ball was when Arsenal always seemed the most dangerous.
9 – Final third entries for Kieran Tierney, tied for the most on Arsenal (Pablo Mari also had 9). In this match, he played the left-back very similar to how Granit Xhaka would have done it, rather than how he played before he got injured. He ended the match with the most pass attempts for Arsenal.
3 – Passes into the penalty area completed by Hector Bellerin, leading Arsenal. After the match, I thought Bellerin was bad but after a re-watch in the second half he was much better and he seemed like one of the players where something good come from. He was tied for second with 3 shot-creating actions in this match.
6 – Times Thomas Partey lost possession in this match, 2nd most on Arsenal. Four of the six times he lost possession came in Arsenal’s half of the field. This was a tough match for Partey because he was asked to be essentially the entire midfield by himself but some of the times he was very careless with the ball in dangerous situations. Thankfully for Arsenal, Villarreal did not capitalize on any of those mistakes.
Sources: Opta via whoscored, my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.