This match was never going to be easy and getting any points was always felt like it would take some luck. What this match was before kickoff was a way to measure Arsenal against one of the best teams in the world.
I think we got a resounding answer to how Arsenal stacks up, there has been progress during the unbeaten run, but the team still has a long way to go to compete with the elite teams.
Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal: By the graphics
Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal: By the numbers
5 – Shots for Arsenal, the 5th time this season Arsenal have been held under 10 shots in a match.
19 – Shots conceded by Arsenal, the 6th time this season Arsenal have allowed more than 15 shots.
5 – Touches in the box for Arsenal, the fewest they have had this season, and tied for the fewest they have since April 3rd, 2021 where they also managed 5 against Liverpool.
39 – Touches in the box for Liverpool, the third most Arsenal have allowed this season and the 5th time this season Arsenal have allowed their opponent to have 30 or more touches in their box.
77.1% – Arsenal’s pass completion percentage, their 4th lowest this season and the 5th time they have been held under 80% passing
86.6% – Liverpool’s pass completion percentage, the 3rd highest Arsenal have allowed this season, and the 7th time a team has managed a passing percentage against Arsenal greater than 80%.
82.1% – The average passing percentage Arsenal have allowed this season, this ranks as the third easiest team to pass against in the Premier League.
One of the things this match made clear was how little trouble Arsenal caused Liverpool. Liverpool (like Chelsea and Manchester City before them) had one of their best-creating chances day of the season against Arsenal while limiting Arsenal from laying much of a glove on them.
The other thing this match highlighted was that Arsenal are relatively easy to play against. Teams have little trouble completing passes against them with an overall 82.1% pass completion rate against (third easiest), when the passes have an identifiable target the pass finds their intended target 87.8% of the time (easiest). Arsenal’s passes allowed in the opponent’s half per defensive action is the highest (lower pressing) in the Premier League. Arsenal have averaged 124 pressure events (a measure of how often a defender is challenging a player passing, carrying, or receiving the ball) which is 3rd lowest and if adjusted for the amount of possession would rank last. Arsenal also ranks dead last at turning pressure events into turnovers, forcing just 34 pressure-induced turnovers per match.
I thought the opening period (first 25 minutes) of the match was decent from Arsenal where Arsenal managed to limit the threat from Liverpool but the signs of trouble were there mostly because Liverpool were doing the opposite of what Arsenal were doing when it came to pressure. Some stats from that opening period:
3 – Passes completed into the box by Liverpool (that’s pretty good), Arsenal managed 1.
26 – Final third pass attempts by Liverpool, Arsenal managed 8.
5.9 – Passes completed in the defensive half by Arsenal per defensive action by Liverpool, Arsenal’s PPDA was 16.1
95% – Arsenal pass completion ratio compared to the expected pass completion, a number below 100% means they completed fewer passes than expected. Liverpool’s ratio was 103%
1 – Shot within 12 yards of goal for both teams
3 – Possessions that started within 40 yards of Arsenal’s goal for Liverpool, Arsenal managed 0.
Liverpool didn’t put up massive pressure numbers, partially because Arsenal didn’t have the ball long enough but when Arsenal did manage to hold on to the ball, Liverpool were very effective at winning the ball back.
6.7 – The number of passes Arsenal managed in their own half per defensive action by Liverpool.
37.9% – The percentage of pressure events by Liverpool where they won the ball back within 5 seconds.
57.6% – The reception percentage for passes that targeted Arsenal’s attackers (Aubameyang – 37%, Lacazette – 43%, Saka – 69%, Smith Rowe – 66%, and Ødegaard – 81%)
27.8% – The percentage of Arsenal’s possessions where they were able to enter the attacking third of the pitch.
This is tangentially related to another issue that really impressed me with Liverpool. After going up 2-0 against Arsenal they were able to control the match quite easily.
66% – Liverpool’s possession as a share of passes attempted.
64% – The percentage of field tilt (share of final third possession) that is in the favor of Liverpool
109% – Liverpool’s pass completion ratio compared to the expected pass completion, a number below 100% means they completed fewer passes than expected.
14 – The number of their passing sequences that 7 or more passes completed
7 – The number of possessions for Liverpool that started within 40 yards of Arsenal’s goal
2 – Shots allowed by Liverpool, both relatively tame with an expected goals value of 0.11 total.
5 – Shots for Liverpool, turning into 2 goals from 2.4 expected goals.
What Liverpool was able to do in this match is what I wish Arsenal could do to weaker teams when they take the lead. They weren’t nearly as heavy metal with their pressing with their PPDA rising (lower pressing) to 7.4 but it was still higher than Arsenal managed in any period of this match, but still very effective at disrupting Arsenal from developing attacks.
They were also very efficient in attack when the break was on springing quickly up the field but also at using their possession as a form of defense, methodically working the ball up the field when the break wasn’t on.
Overall this match shows that Arsenal still has a way to go to challenge at the top of the table and still probably needs to prove themselves to emerge from the messy muddle of midtable mediocrity.
Sources: Opta via whoscored, statszone, understand and my own database. StatsBomb via fbref.