I was supposed to watch this match as part of a big fun weekend with fans from all around the world in Las Vegas.
*Insert the meme about my fall plans /// the Delta Variant*
Instead, I watched this one at home. It included less drinking but also included a lot less being around happy Chelsea fans. All around, I probably missed out on spending a lot of fun time with people in the Arsenal community but I did get to avoid the painful end to the weekend. The full Arsenal experience one would say.
That’s enough about how Arsenal ruined/saved my weekend and look into this game.
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea: By the graphs
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea: By the numbers
22 – Shots conceded by Arsenal, same as what Arsenal was able to manage against Brentford.
5 – Big Chances conceded by Arsenal, against Brentford Arsenal created 0.
0.14 – xG per shot conceded by Arsenal, against Brentford Arsenal created 0.05 xG per shot.
One of the things that pure shots total miss is that the quality of those chances matters a lot. Arsenal racked up a bunch of shots last Friday but none of them were especially threatening, Chelsea created the same number of shots but also cut Arsenal open over and over. Scoring goals for Chelsea was almost a certainty (based on the shot quality scoring 3+ goals would typically happen 63% of the time), and keeping the damage to two goals shows well on Bernd Leno.
55.3% – Percentage of Chelsea’s attacking sequences that entered the final third
40.0% – Percentage of Arsenal’s attacking sequences that entered the final third
35 – Deep passes (within 25 yards of goal) completed by Chelsea
13 – Deep passes (within 25 yards of goal) completed by Arsenal
29 – Zone 14 Entry Passes (central zone in front of the attacking penalty box) for Chelsea
9 – Zone 14 Entry Passes (central zone in front of the attacking penalty box) for Arsenal
Taking a step back from creating shots, I think that Arsenal did fairly well at keeping Chelsea from camping in the Arsenal final third (maybe it was naive but Arsenal certainly did not sit deep and soak up pressure) while also coming fairly close to matching them at getting the ball into the final third when they had the ball. What Arsenal did not do well, or maybe what Chelsea’s tactics were able to create were opportunities to get the ball into dangerous spots once it was in the final third. I think that this is also illustrated with the structure of the two teams passing networks for this match.
Arsenal’s passing network is not nearly as nice looking as Chelsea’s but it does also show that Arsenal was not pinned completely back in their own half. This also illustrates that Arsenal did not have a focal point to orient their attack through. It is a little “Where’s Waldo” but Gabriel Martinelli really struggled to create space for teammates to pass to him, with his average touch location very far from the goal, more on that in the next section.
Gabriel Martinelli Struggles as a Striker
0 – Shots
0 – Key passes (1 shot creating action, tackle that led to Aubameyang’s 63′ minute shot)
0 – Passes into the penalty area
1 – Progressive carry
1 – Progressive pass received
29 – Pressures for Martinelli (led all players)
6 – Successful pressures where Arsenal regained possession within 5 seconds of the pressure he applied.
The above stats are pretty ugly for a center forward and I think the next few go away to explaining things.
13 – Touches for Martinelli
4 – Touches in the final third for Martinelli, with 1 in the box
21 – Passes attempted with Martinelli as the target, 5 completed
I would have to go back and watch things again to try to make the proper mix of if this was Martinelli failing to find pockets of space or his teammates failing to get him the service that he needed. Arsenal are in a tough position where the top three strikers on the teams depth chart were unavailble and it is perhaps to hard to judge a player thrown into that situation, no matter how big our hopes are for them.
Pablo Mari illustrates how stats can be misleading for defenders
5 – Tackles (led all players), dribbled past 3 times
2 – Interceptions, plus one pass blocked
4 – Shots blocked
3 – Clearances
1 – Foul committed
9 – Ball recoveries
93% – Pass completion percentage (led Arsenal)
3 – Final third entries (2 passes and 1 carry)
4 – Progressive actions (3 passes and 1 carry)
1 – Key pass
If you only look at the stat sheet, you might come away thinking that Mari had a pretty good match. This really drives home the point that sometimes having a full stat sheet as a defender is a sign that something bad happened, because in this match it really looked like Chelsea targeted him repeatedily as the weak link in Arsenal’s defense giving him the most opportunities to accumulate defensive actions.
Romelu Lukaku’s pass reception map shows that the majority of the time he tried to isolate himself on Mari.
This was a really poor match up for Mari as well, he likes to play up against the striker and was facing a striker that thrived off of that style and was physically a mismatch for him. Arsenal’s defensive structure in front of him didn’t offer a lot of resistance, it was often too easy to make the passes into Lukaku and for the defense to panic.
Arsenal have a midweek cup match that offers a life line of hope to staunch the negativity, before finishing August with another tough match against the Champions. There is also the end of the transfer window looming before we all get to stew with our thoughts during an international break. It could be an ugly period in the Arsenal fandom coming up, so do your best to practice self care.
Sources: Opta, StatsBomb via FBRef