Arsenal scored a goal! The goal took hitting both posts and an inadvertent touch but on the score sheet, it counts the same as any other goalazo.
You can say it was “only” Norwich, which is true but that didn’t turn down the heat on the performances that much when Arsenal was facing Manchester City and Chelsea. It was also nice to see the “handbrake” come off in the second half regardless of the opponent.
Arsenal 1-0 Norwich: By the graphs
Arsenal 1-0 Norwich: By the numbers
30 – Shots for Arsenal (32 according to FBRef, they had a couple extra shots for Nicolas Pepe, 12′ and 66′), the most shots Arsenal have taken under Mikel Arteta
2.7 – Expected goals for Arsenal, (3.0 according to FBRef), the most Arsenal have created in the Premier League since the 4-0 win over West Brom on January 2nd last season.
6 – Shots taken by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, and Nicolas Pepe. The last time Arsenal had a player take 6 or more shots in a match was Aubameyang against Brighton on June 20, 2021, who had 7.
71 – Deep touches for Arsenal (within 25 yards of goal), the most Arsenal have had since playing Cardiff City on January 29, 2019.
On the season now Arsenal have taken 61 shots, which is good for 6th most in the Premier League. Arsenal have created 5 expected goals, which is 8th highest for a non-penalty total and 9th highest for total expected goals.
Things aren’t “fixed” in attack for me but I really hope that the matches against Manchester City and Chelsea will be the exception rather than the rule for how the attack looks this season.
I think that this is also a very positive performance from Aubameyang. He worked his butt off for Arsenal, but also was in positions that you really want to see from him with 24 of his 26 touches in the final third, and 12 of those final third touches in the box. He had a down year by his standards last year and I don’t think that he will ever live up to the contract that he signed but when he plays as a forward he was still a good player.
Takehiro Tomiyasu makes his debut
28 – Passes completed, 73.7 completion rate, 101.6 efficiency rate (100 means completed as many passes as expected, higher means more, lower less)
4 – Progressive Passes completed, tied for second-most on Arsenal.
3 – Final third entries
1 – Cross attempted and completed
1 – Progressive carry
1 – Dribble
3 – Tackles, dribbled past 1 time
2 – Blocked passes
18 – Pressures (4th on Arsenal), with Arsenal regaining possession 3 times from these pressures within 5 seconds
7 – Aerial duels won, 87.5% win rate (7 of 8)
Overall I think that this was a very solid debut by Arsenal’s new right back. He looked to do a lot of what we have come to expect from right-backs under Mikel Arteta, playing a much more reserved role more like a third centerback/ support midfielder.
Overall this matches what I expected from him from the stats.
He looks like a very solid defensive player but one that was not asked to do a lot in the attacking phase of the game. This looks exactly like the profile that Arteta wants from this position, so hopefully that will help Arsenal to build a platform of a very solid defense, where more players can be committed to attack.
Nicolas Pepe puts up big numbers
8 – Shots (I am going to use the FBRef/Statsbomb numbers for this one) leading Arsenal, 2 on target
1.3 – Expected goals
5 – Key Passes, plus a touch that assisted the Aubameyang goal leading Arsenal
1.3 – Expected Goals assisted (0.4 from his key passes, 0.9 from his touch to assist the goal)
15 – Touches in the box, led Arsenal
49 – Touches in the final third, led Arsenal
9 – Progressive passes recieved, led Arsenal
11 – Progressive carries, led Arsenal
4 – Dribbles completed, led Arsenal
26 – Pressures, with 7 leading to Arsenal regaining the ball, 2nd on Arsenal
7 – Tackles (5), plus blocked passes (2), plus interceptions (2), 2nd on Arsenal
When I was watching the match, I was a big frustrated by Pepe but I think part of that is that he is a bit Alexis Sanchez in his style of play. He tries a lot of high risk, high reward things and those sorts of actions are not ones that come off all that much but when they do they are very valuable to the team. He can also be a bit sloppy in buildup but he does inject chaos into things which I think is very important inside of this highly structered attack from Mikel Arteta.
This was a good performance from Pepe and hopefully just one of many for him this seoasn.
Sources: Opta, StatsBomb via FBRef