I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas if they are celebrating, I hope everyone had a wonderful Saturday if they are not. I had a very good Christmas, and it was followed up with a wonderful Boxing Day (where I was incredibly grateful for a reasonable kickoff time, unlike New Year’s Day, where against my better judgment I will probably wake up to watch).
Arsenal are producing some of their best performances in years and it couldn’t make me happier. I will grant all the caveats people want about the quality of opponents people want but when the team is comprehensively beating teams that they are supposed to, that is a step in the right direction and something to be positive about.
Norwich 0-5 Arsenal: By the graphics
Norwich 0-5 Arsenal: By the numbers
5 – Wins in a row for Arsenal.
19 – Goals scored by Arsenal in their last 5 matches. Over this period Arsenal have produced 13.5 expected goals (xG). Over their last 4 league matches, Arsenal have scored 14 goals, averaging 3.5 goals per match.
16 – Shots against Norwich for Arsenal. In their last 4 league matches, Arsenal have taken 72 shots, averaging 18 shots per match.
4 – Shots allowed by Arsenal, the fewest Arsenal have allowed in a League match this season, and the third-fewest that Norwich have created this season.
25 – Touches in the box for Arsenal against Norwich.
7 – Touches in the box allowed by Arsenal against Norwich.
38 – Passing sequences of 5 or more passes by Arsenal against Norwich.
18 – Passing sequences of 5 or more passes allowed by Arsenal.
36 – Progressive passes for Arsenal
12 – Progressive passes for Norwich
750 – Minutes spent winning by Arsenal, the third-most in the Premier League.
Like several matches that Arsenal have had this season, the score really affected things. Arsenal scored early in this match and then went up a second goal late in the first half. Both of the goals were from decent but not clear-cut chances but going ahead meant that Arsenal didn’t need to press to create chances. In the end, Arsenal created plenty while also playing at a level that often looked like it was a step below full effort. I don’t say this as a bad thing, in fact, I think it is the opposite. If Arsenal can swat away teams at the bottom of the table while they are in second or third gear that is even better for them.
Over the last few matches, Arsenal have dominated the teams that they have played. It hasn’t been the hardest run of games but being able to show the ability to beat the teams you are supposed to is an important skill for a team that has aspirations of finishing in the top four. Scraping by is a worry, winning convincingly against mediocre and bad teams is a very positive sign, I will take points but I am much happier when it comes with the performances to match.
Martin Odegaard, the creative hub
33 – Shot creating actions since Martin Odegaard has come back into the team as a starter (since Newcastle).
6 – Shot creating actions against Norwich
55 – Shot creating actions for the season, 11th most in the Premier League
3 – Goal creating actions against Norwich, including 2 assists and 3 key passes
7 – Progressive passes, tied for the most on Arsenal
4 – Passes into the penalty area (excluding crosses), led all players
I was incredibly pleased that Arsenal brought back Odegaard in the summer. I thought that he was good with Arsenal last year, becoming an important part of the team that really improved in the second half of last season. He has shown incredible promise as a creative player at times but now since he has re-emerged as a starter for Arsenal he has become an integral creative force for the team. His partnership on the right-hand side with Bukayo Saka is becoming a scary thing to face for opposing defenses and I love to watch it.
Bukayo Saka’s Ordinary Greatness
3 – Shots against Norwich, tied for the most on Arsenal.
41 – Shots this season, the most for Arsenal.
2 – Goals, against Norwich,led Arsenal.
5 – Goals this season, second-most6 for Arsenal.
6 – Touches in the box against Norwich, tied for the most against Norwich.
92 – Touches in the box this season, the most for Arsenal.
4 – Progressive passes received against Norwich, 4th most for Arsenal.
111 – Progressive passes received this season, the most for Arsenal.
2 – Key passes against Norwich, third-most for Arsenal.
29 – Key passes this season, the second-most for Arsenal.
The subtitle of this section might come off as a negative compliment but it is meant the opposite. Saka has become such an important part of this Arsenal team that we expect these levels of performances from him and that is crazy for a player that is just 20 years old. One of my favorite things now is when opposing defenses only put one player on Saka, because that is a clear signal that I should pay extra attention to what is coming next, in this match that happened a handful of times and that led to 2 goals and a couple of great scoring opportunities created.
Saka is very clearly Arsenal’s attacking sun, the focus of which everything else revolves around. It is amazing that is happening for a player of his age and perhaps even more impressive that we just expect this now as fans. He special player and we are lucky to be able to watch him week in and week out.
Sources: Opta via WhoScored, StatsZone, my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.