Before this match, I looked up how Arsenal had performed in the 12:30 kickoffs because it always felt like a letdown. The numbers showed that since the 2014-15 season Arsenal had played 16 times at this kickoff time and won just 6 times, averaging just 1.4 points per match.
My intuition on how it felt to wake up at 4:30am my local time was correct, it was almost always a mistake but one that I kept doing. Knowing this before kickoff I was asking myself if I really wanted to subject myself to this match. Getting the first goal before the coffee had fully taken hold, and a second before the sun came up made things all the better. Holding on to keep the clean sheet made everything worthwhile and will make me really consider doing this again when Arsenal faces Newcastle in a couple weeks.
Leicester City 0-2 Arsenal: By the numbers
44% – Arsenal long pass (greater than 30 yards) completion rate in this match, Arsenal were 37 of 84 in their long passes. For players that tried more than 5, only Thomas Partey (7/11) and Ben White (5/7) completed more than half of their attempts.
23 – Final Third Entry passes completed by Arsenal, their second-lowest total this season. 12 from open play.
8 – Completed passes into the penalty box, 4 from open play tied for the second-fewest this season
8 – Deep completions (passes within 25 yards of goal) for Arsenal from open play
9 – Shots for Arsenal, 5 shots on target, 1.9 expected goals of the shots that Arsenal had on target.
In this match, Arsenal were a bit sloppy on the ball and disjointed. The passing networks in this match were not nearly as pretty as they have been over the last couple of matches.
Too often in this match Arsenal seemed to resort to long speculative passes, rather than playing short and building towards the Leicester goal. This was not especially effective in this match with the ball too often coming right back at them. The three main forwards (Lacazette – 67.9%, Aubameyang – 38.3%, and Saka – 64.3%) all had less than 70% of the passes aimed their way completed.
The opening 20 minute period was pretty good for Arsenal but then Leicester got control of the match. In the opening 23 (first quarter) Arsenal dominated, they had 5 shots to 1, 32 final third passes to 16, 9 touches in the box to 1. For the rest of the match it was 15 to shots to 4, 130 final third passes to 54 and 24 touches in the box to 8 all in favor of Leicester. This match was in a way similar to what Arsenal did against Tottenham, just against a team that was better and actually created some threat to get back into things.
The score in this match probably dictated some of this, but it remains a concern that at times Arsenal can lose control for long stretches of matches.
Aaron Ramsdale Saves the Day
8 – Shots on target faced by Aaron Ramsdale
8 – Saves by Aaron Ramsdale
2.4 – Expected goals on target saved, my model had it just under 3, and the StatsBomb model had it at 1.5
57% – Probability of James Maddison’s free-kick of turning into a goal according to my post-shot expected goals model.
This was a day where Ramsdale’s shot-stopping saved Arsenal. This is the best single match in terms of expected goals saved and tied for the most saves that he has made in a match (he also had 8 against Leeds United last season and did it twice in League One.)
Smith Rowe Adds End Product
3 – Goals in the Premier League for Emile Smith Rowe, more than he had all of last season (2)
14 – Shots in the Premier League for Emile Smith Rowe, more than he had all of last season (13)
14 – Passes in the penalty area from open play in the Premier League for Emile Smith Rowe, tied for the same amount he had last season.
1.6 – Key passes per 90, higher than the 1.5 he averaged per 90 last season
3.3 – Progressive passes per 90, higher than the 2.6 he averaged last season
21 – Successful dribbles in the Premier League for Emile Smith Rowe, more than he had all of last season (7). While upping his success rate from 24% to 78%.
7.5 – Progressive Carries per 90, higher than the 4.9 he averaged per 90 last season
Tim Stillman wrote a great column on Smith Rowe this week (sort of stepping on my toes with the stats but still great) and I just wanted to echo some of the similar sentiments that he had. One of the things that Mikel Arteta talked about when Smith Rowe took the number 10 shirt was the expectation of end product that comes with that. I think that Smith Rowe has really taken that to heart with his play to start the year.
Sometimes that means that he has maybe been a little more selfish with the ball than perhaps he might of last season, but it also means that he has been much more progressive with his play. It was a bit of a conundrum with him last season, his influence on the team was pretty obvious watching him but the stats that he produced were a little on the underwhelming side, this year his influence is still as big but he is also producing things that look good on the stats sheet as well.
It is very nice to see the potential that he showed last season turn into end product this year.
Sources: Opta via whoscored, my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.