This match against Brighton was a bit of a letdown, and the feeling that it could be a trap game., coming after a great North London Derby win and an international break.
This felt like a match between two teams who I am uncertain about how good both of them actually are, and I feel roughly the same after watching the match. The result of this match could feel very different in a month.
Brighton 0-0 Arsenal: By the graphs
Brighton 0-0 Arsenal: By the numbers
8 – Shots for Arsenal, the matches against Brentford (22) and Norwich (32) are looking like outliers with Arsenal settling back into a more modest shot total per match.
25 – Final third entries for Arsenal. Arsenal was only able to get into the final third on 26% of their possessions in this match. This is the second-lowest percentage of possessions to reach the final third that Arsenal has had this season.
4.2 – Passes per possession for Arsenal, the second-fewest passes per possession that Arsenal has been able to put together this season.
37 – Final third pressures from Brighton, the third-most Arsenal have faced this season.
72% – Arsenal’s pass completion percentage for passes that started in their own half of the field. Arsenal’s defenders pass completion rates: Gabriel 88.6%, White 74.2%, Tomiyasu 71.9%, Ramsdale 51.4%, Tierney 46.2%.
42 – The number of times Arsenal went long in their own half against Brighton.
One of the things that was very obvious from this match was that Arsenal did not handle the Brighton press well at all. Arsenal struggled to get the ball out of their own half of the field, with Brighton cutting off all access to build through the middle of the field.
The connection between the central defenders and midfielders and Arsenal’s creative players was really cut off in this match. Martin Ødegaard really struggled to get into the game, finishing with just 29 touches and the biggest pass combo between him and the players behind him being just 3 passes received from Tomiyasu.
The passing networks are a good illustration of some of this disconnect, Arsenal’s defenders average position is significantly deeper and with much fewer connections to players up the pitch than Brighton.
Aubameyang struggles to hold up play
36 – Passes aimed at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
15 – Passes that were completed to Aubameyang
41.7% – Pass completion percentage for the targets to Aubameyang
2 – Progressive passes received
8 – Touches in the final third
6 – Passes completed, of 11 attempted, 54.5%
Both Aubameyang and Arsenal struggled in this match. I think that Aubameyang’s hold-up play is a bit underrated (the opposite of Lacazette where I think his is overrated) but in this match, it was clear that the balls aimed at him did not stick. Partly it was that Arsenal was under pressure and was sort of aimlessly hitting passes in his direction, with other half Aubameyang really struggling to control the ball.
This was also the case of Aubameyang not getting the ball in areas of the pitch that suit his skills. Looking at where he got the ball in open play there are just a handful of spots where he was able to receive the pass and then run at a defender or run into space.
With Arsenal’s lack of ability to cope with the press, Aubameyang looked like the wrong type of player for this match.
Thomas Parety’s Shooting
35 – Shots for Thomas Partey in the Premier League
5 – Shots inside the Penalty Box
1 – Big chance
25.7 – Average distance in yards from the center of goal for Thomas Partey’s shots
5 – Shots on target, 14% of his total shots
1.6 – Expected goals, 0.8 post-shot expected goals (based on where in the goal frame his shots end up)
14% – Probability of scoring 0 goals given the expected goals of each of his shots, 43% with the post-shots expected goals values
Against Brighton, Thomas Partey took 3 shots (1 from a free-kick which is fine, Arsenal should probably keep taking those types of shots). The shots were on average 29 yards from goal (32, 24, 30), none of these shots were on target, with all three leading to Brighton taking over possession.
This is a common story for Partey with Arsenal. He has taken quite a few shots with Arsenal (1.7 per match), most from poor shooting locations and far too many resulting in the opposition taking control after the ball goes out of play for a goal kick. When he was with Atletico Madrid his shooting was much better, managing 12 goals and 21% of his shots finding the target.
One of the biggest differences is that just 17% of his shots came from “established final third possession” where his team had made 5 or more passes inside the final third before the pass came, compared with 40% for his time with Arsenal. I think that this is a big factor as it signals that more often than not, his shots have come with several opposing players in the way of his shots.
I’m obviously not his coach, but I think the data is telling us a pretty clear story here, he needs to cut out some of the long shots that he is attempting, especially the ones that come with 8 players behind the ball. Those are the lowest quality shots and the ones that are least likely to turn into goals.