Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea: By the numbers

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 is quite the contrast to what Martinelli’s pass reception map looks like

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


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So what this really tells us is if we had a proper number 9 we’d be a better team? Should never have sold Giroud…


Of the two positions this team was overstocked in: Striker and CB, which would you personally say a £50M addition to the team had more potential to advance our creativity? A (smallish) ball playing CB or a big, strong striker that can hold up possession and bang in goals?

[I suggested Wout Weghorst months ago and he’s already off the mark with 2 goals in 3 games this season and he most likely would have cost quite a bit less].


Weghorst is a real lump who got dropped by the Netherlands after 2 games of the Euros. Ironically, if he came to Arsenal he’d probably do well due to Arteta’s bold ‘get it to Tierney and cross it’ plan. But come on, we have to be setting our sights higher than that.


Umm, you realise he banged in 20 goals (and nine assists) in the BL last season (along with another 7 goals and 2 assist in other comps)? Set our goals higher? Like Lukaku? Halaand? Come on man, let’s be realistic. This is the profile of player at our level, and he’s a bloody good player that would bring things totally different to what we current have.


We don’t have bad strikers, we simply have an imbalance team which can’t create chances. Auba was punching above his weight a season before last season when reality eventually caught up with him. We can bring in Lewandowski n still struggle with goals in this team.


The problem with Auba is he is a luxury item, bit like Ozil. With Elite players around them they can be incredible, but if the quality they play with drops their weaknesses get exposed and they become somewhat liabilities. Auba basically adds nothing to build up play – he just makes fantastic runs and (usually) finishes well. Auba needs a quality hard-working #10 and pretty much another technical winger so there is a connection to him from midfield. We have that now with Odegaard and ESR (and then Saka on the other wing – he simply has to play). But… Read more »


Tried to settle with your narrative but then failed to identify the so called “quality hardworking #10” you were referring to in that stellar goal scoring season Auba had. Maybe we the fans are easily blinded by the current bad form of the player than his true capabilities. For me I think Auba endured a lot last season (physically and mentally) to perform at his full capacity. And sadly that bad patch seems to linger, nevertheles I still consider him as an elite striker and when this team starts to create chances he will find his form again.


I get it, but his elite goal scoring days with arsenal were with a different manager too. Probably multiple factors at play here. He might still have a good season left in him, just not sure we have the right setup for that to happen… Fingers crossed we do because Dam we need some goals


Yep! Our Lego man’s system isn’t favouring our strikers. It’s not just Auba who isn’t scoring, all our strikers seems totally blunt. Martinelly who got our hopes so high in dare I say Emery system now looks totally lost in this current system. The problem is not the strikers but the system. Arteta needs to up his game.

Martin R

Then we would never have signed Aubameyang who is far more clinical as a finisher.


Truth be told I’d still rather have giroud. Always up for a fight and could bring our current attacking midfielders + pepe into the game much better than auba. Someone like andre silva or kasper dolberg would probably be a better fit right now though.

A Different George

I think this helps put into perspective all the demands on Arteta to play Martinelli. He is a very talented, promising, kid. He is miles from the finished product.


Good God they dominated us. The funniest thing about the passing map is if you connect the dots of the arsenal players it almost makes a neat little circle; similar to the shape of a piece of junk food that has been used to describe Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal tactics.

Naked Cygan

Anyone with 0.01% knowledge of football who saw the Chelsea goals should know that Arteta should be sacked. He is not qualified to be a manager. Tierney was exposed on both goals and James was wide open. Should Saka have tracked James and helped out Tierney? Yes! But to have James open twice tells me that Saka was following the sh*t instructions and tactics of someone who has a worse record than Emery and some how he is still the manager? At this level to give a team like Chelsea so much space and time is suicide!! We can spend… Read more »


I keep seeing things about how we’re only 2 games in or how we were missing 4 players so really this game shouldn’t count. The issue really is no can really point to any coherent style of play (other than hopeful crosses) that Arteta seems to want to play. This isn’t 2 games – it’s coming up on 2 years of the same struggles.


The issue is even if Partey was playing (probably alongside Xhaka) and Auba (or Pepe) up top, and Odegaard as #10 and ESR as LW and White in defense we still would have been exposed by the same overload tactic on the left and White would have struggled as much if not more than Mari/Holding in dealing with Lukaku’s strength. There was no adjustment during the game. Mikel could have easily squeezed Xhaka further left and pulled ESR deeper into midfield or made some other substitutional adjustment. He didn’t.


I keep saying the same thing, but I would be ok with last season type results as long as there was a clear style of play & process in place to get back to being competitive. Instead we’re left with totally incoherent tactics and this mantra that we don’t have the players to play whatever style of play that Arteta “wants” to play. At some point you just have to say this is his style of play.


I mean, just look at where Martinelli is being asked to play. He’s coming into DM areas to try and get a touch. Is that genuinely our tactic, or is it Martinelli being so desperate for a touch because our link up play is so shite that is where he ends up? Either way it is an appalling use of a very talented young guy? Again, the press? Where is the concerted high press? Does Mikel think he’s ahead of the game or something by not pressing the oppositions defenders and deeper midfielders? Some of these things defy logic.


I agree daveo but also I don’t think martinelli is going to be a world class “pure” number 9. He excels at running in behind and finding space/chances in the box but not holding the ball up and his dribbling is too head down. If we played a 4-4-2 (outdated formation i know) he would be a fantastic second striker where his primary role is constant movement and getting on the end of things.


This is the issue though, that’s basically the description of all our strikers (auba, martinelli, balogun, pepe) except Laca, and Laca, well he’s pretty decent in hold up play, but not great in the air. Arteta’s system kinda needs a hold up striker, perhaps his work around is basically the 2x #10 strategy (one operating as a technical winger). But again that system basically takes Pepe out (since there is no way we should be dropping Saka). So we either get an upgrade in the hold-up striker position (and play Saka and Pepe on the wings w/ ESR or Marty… Read more »


I gather the aim in MA’s approach is to move the ball between the lines more quickly (hence the profiles of White and Sambi and Odegaard) in order to make Auba’s movement (what really makes him devastating) more dangerous. We need to see more movement up top as we don’t see nearly enough. I think our pressing game will pick up pace when Odegaard gets in there (a great marshal of leading the coordinated press at times last season) and when our regular forward players are fitter. I know it’s a tired and meaningless set of numbers for you guys,… Read more »


I agree this team ABSOLUTELY needs a second technical attacker (there was definitely an uptick in chances later in the season, our form improved, but it should be cautioned we still lost like 6-7 games in the league, and shat the bed in the Europa Semis). That is why I was super keen for Buendia (because he is that AND adds goals). I’m glad Marty O is coming back. He’s good and has room to grow (hopefully he and ESR start adding goals). I’ll need to see the evidence that our press will pick up. I don’t remember it being… Read more »


Agreed – I could be wrong, but I really only remember our pressing game being impressive when Odegaard was orchestrating it. We can’t just rely on him for it, and I’m hoping that it’s the ill and injured legs only that are holding us back at present. I think ESR and Odegaard will add some goals (so disappointed ESR wasn’t able to score on that brilliant run up the middle against Brentford) to their game and I still hold out hope that Partey, when fit, is going to find the target (he was a drunk cowboy at the end of… Read more »


Maybe you’ve heard the expression “you can’t polish a turd”, you might be the exception to that rule. We don’t always agree, but I absolutely admire your optimism. If I get a Konga-Partey© once Thomas is back I will be happy and have hope for the future. If I don’t, not even you will be able to blow away the gathering storm clouds.


Top post 👍🍺


It looked like Saka was marking Jorginho for both goals, couldn’t tell you why though. It did seem like a deliberate instruction, but not sure who was meant to pick up James.


I miss those days when Arsenal could score beautiful goals from 32 passes.
Right now, we can barely string two passes together without losing the ball to opposition team.
Sad watching Arsenal so bereft of ideas going forward and scoring goals.


That doesn’t look good. Arteta will have to draw on all his years of managerial experience to dig us out of this one.


Last season Brighton played so well to start the season and the results did not reflect it at all. This season they look even better. Then I watch Arsenal and think there is no way Arteta is not the problem.

SLC Gooner

You totally left out corners. I think we actually did have more corners than them. For all the good it did us.


We really need to turn corners into more pressure and chances. It’s absurd …

Brady’s bunch

Willian on the move???

Jean Ralphio

Manutd and Chelsea had organised friendlies over the past week. I wonder if we should have maybe organised similar training games

A Voice in the Noise

We’d propably have ended up with even more injuries then..


Basically we need a right back. A proper one.

Every single team has analysed us over the summer to see if we will continue with plan A: play it to Tierney for every single attack.

Then Mari wobbles in form and it’s a recipe for not just Chelsea but every single premier league team.

This is where Mikel will grow if he can overcome his pride in his system working with inferior players at the last minute.

If he cannot overcome this and learn from it then he will forever be a great training coach.

A Voice in the Noise

Felt a bit sad for Mari the way he got dominated by Lukaku all game long. Holding would maybe have been better, but then again, it’s tough to match the big Belgian.
We may want to keep this in mind when we face West Ham. Watching yesterdays game, the way he bullied Soyuncu was maybe even worse than Lukaku vs. Mari!
Oh, how I’d wish for us to have a big, imposing striker to frighten the oppo’s defenders like that…

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