Arsenal were the only Premier League match on Saturday and made the most of having the spotlight on them with a convincing win. The first-half numbers were impressive and easily one of their best 45 minutes in a long time. I can already hear people discounting this because it was an injury-ravaged Leeds team, and sure we probably won’t learn a lot of this Arsenal team from this match, but given Arsenal’s recent track record against teams at their lowest showing a ruthless side to convincingly win is a good step.
Leeds United 1-4 Arsenal: By the graphics
Leeds United 1-4 Arsenal: By the numbers
3 – Goals for Arsenal in the first half, Arsenal created 2.8 expected goals (xG) in the first half. Overall Arsenal created 3.4 xG for their 4 goals, with Martinelli leading the team with 2 goals, and Alexandre Lacazette leading the team with 1.2 xG.
15 – Shots by Arsenal in the first half. Arsenal ended with 21 total shots. This is their second match in a row with over 20 shots and the 6th time this season that they have had 20 or more. Of the 21 shots, 7 came from Bukayo Saka.
5 – Big chances for Arsenal in the first half. Arsenal ended with 6 total in this match. This is the third time this season that Arsenal have had 6 big chances in a match. Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette both had 2 big chances in this match.
29 – Touches in the box for Arsenal in the first half. Arsenal ended with 38. 11 of those touches came from Saka.
16 – Deep completions (passes that ended within 25 yards of goal) for Arsenal in the first half. Arsenal ended with 23. Martin Odegaard led the team with 7.
57 – Pressures in the attacking third (from Arsenal’s perspective). This is the third most that they have had in a match this season. Lacazette led the team with 24 attacking third pressures and 30 total (both are the most an Arsenal player has done this season).
69 – Pressures the lead to Arsenal regaining possession. This is the most pressure regains Arsenal have had in a match this season. Lacazette led the team with 15 of his pressures leading to Arsenal winning the ball back.
On paper, before the match, this was a match that Arsenal were pretty heavily favored to win. This Leeds team was decimated by injuries and suspensions and playing a very young overall team (Arsenal were still a younger team with Arsenal’s starter having an average age of 24.7 compared to Leeds at 25.7). Unfortunately Arsenal this season have not always taken advantage of teams going through rough patches, but in this match Arsenal absolutely did.
Gabriel Martinelli the emerging star
4 – OP KP, 2nd among Arsenal players
0.21 – xA, 4th among Arsenal players
2 – Shots, 2nd among Arsenal players
0.9 – xG, 2nd among Arsenal players
7 – Progressive Carries, 1st among Arsenal players
9 – Progressive Passes Received, 1st among Arsenal players
8 – Final Third Entry Pass Received, 1st among Arsenal players
11 – Deep Touches, 2nd among Arsenal players
0.78 – xG Buildup, 4th among Arsenal players
3 – Tackles, 2nd among Arsenal players. 7 total tackles attempted.
21 – Pressure events, 3rd among Arsenal players
2 – Interceptions, 1st among Arsenal players
3 – Blocked Passes, 1st among Arsenal players
The last couple of matches have been outstanding from Martinelli. He has taken 6 shots, scored 3 goals (1.4 expected goals), created 6 chances for teammates (7 shot-creating actions, 0.4 expected goals assisted). It feels like we are seeing another one of the clubs young players emerge from a talented prospect into a legit Premier League first eleven player. His ability to make dangerous runs, get shots and create general chaos is a perfect balance to take the attacking pressure off Bukayo Saka on the right side.
If I had to say just one thing about Martinelli it would be this, Be Excited.
Martin Odegaard gets aggressive
68.2% – Pass%, 10th among Arsenal players
8 – Progressive passes, 2nd among Arsenal players
7 – Deep Completions (not Cross), 1st among Arsenal players
5 – OP KP, 1st among Arsenal players
1.70 – xA, 1st among Arsenal players
51.2% – Forward%, 5th among Arsenal players
2 – Shots, tied for 2nd among Arsenal players
0.16 – xG, 5th among Arsenal players
4 – Progressive Carries, tied for 3rd among Arsenal players
4 – Progressive Passes Received, 4th among Arsenal players
6 – Deep Touches, 4th among Arsenal players
2.06 – xG Chain, 1st among Arsenal players
There can be a couple different angles for looking at this match from Odegaard, he was loose with the ball, having 6 total turnovers (2 times dispossessed and 4 passes intercepted) and a lot of incomplete passes. The other angle and the one that I think is a better descriptor of his match was that he was very aggressive in this match trying hard things.
Of his incomplete passes, only one was not aimed forward. If that is going to be the case, I am going to be okay with him not completing 80% of his passes. I think it is also important to put the team he is facing in the context of this, Leeds United holds teams to the second-lowest average pass completion rate in the Premier League, and even with a depleted team, they played the same style.
The passes that he did complete in this match are the ones that Arsenal coveted when they signed him. He created 5 chances for teammates, with 3 of them big chances, 2 coming off of through balls and the other 2 also coming in the box.
Odegaard was the hub for Arsenal’s creativity in this match and it was great to see. He was well connected to Arsenal’s forward with 5 passes to Saka, 4 to Lacazette, and 3 to Martinelli, while also being well connected to the midfield and defense. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.