It was never in doubt.
Or at least that is how I felt during that match. I know others got a little nervous at the end but really what Leeds did create were pretty marginal chances in full desperation mode. In the end, Arsenal took care of business, capping a very good weekend for their top-four chances.
If Arsenal can take care of business one more time, they will be playing Champions League football again next season.
Arsenal 2-1 Leeds: By the graphics
Arsenal 2-1 Leeds: By the numbers
3.0 – Expected Goals (xG) for Arsenal in this match, the second-highest total in a match this season.
6.1 – xG this season against Leeds, the most they have against any opponent.
11% – The percentage of Arsenal’s xG that has come against Leeds this season.
14 – The average distance in yards for the shots that Arsenal took in this match, this is the second shortest average distance (behind the Manchester City match where Arsenal took just one shot)
55 – Goals scored for Arsenal this season, the two goals scored in this match took Arsenal above the 53 that the team scored last season.
9 – Shots on target, the second-most they have had in a match this season.
21 – Shots on target total against Leeds this season.
Arsenal were able to create chances seemingly at will against Leeds, both in this match and all season. It is a little disappointing that they couldn’t turn this into more of a stat-padding day with a third or fourth goal.
Arsenal Blitz Leeds
All stats below for the opening 23 minutes:
121 – Passes Attempted for Arsenal
143 – Passes Attempted for Leeds
46% – Possession for Arsenal
52% – Percentage of passes that were in Arsenal’s own half
81% – Percentage of passes that were in Leeds’s own half
5 – Shots for Arsenal
0 – Shots for Leeds
9 – Touches in the box for Arsenal
1 – Touch in the box for Leeds
One of the more encouraging things that I saw from this match is that Arsenal started with clear intent to take the match to Leeds. After the sort of sluggish start to the West Ham match, this was a stark contrast, Arsenal closed down Leeds effectively where they had few options to try to progress the ball from their own half. This ultimately led to the first goal but also meant that Arsenal started significantly higher up the pitch. Arsenal averaged starting their possession 60 meters from goal while Leeds averaged starting theirs 74 meters from goal.
Arsenal’s pressing this season has been a little hit or miss depending on the players available and the team faced but in this match, it was very effective.
Eddie Nketiah shows what a different type of striker can do
93.3% – Pass completion
5 – Shots, led all players
2 – On Target
2 – Goals
1.8 – xG
1 – Dribble Completed
3 – Fouled
4 – Progressive Passes Received
10 – Deep Touches
2.0 – xG Buildup
14 – Pressures with 5 successful and one super successful (super successful isn’t a technical term but it should be)
Nketiah is showing what a striker with a different profile can add to the Arsenal attack with his performances over the last few matches. This isn’t to say that Alexandre Lacazette is bad but I do think that what he was doing was becoming a bit stale with plenty of tape on the patterns of play that he wants and a clear pattern was emerging where centrebacks were starting to crowd the spaces he wanted to occupy and neutralize some of his interplays.
Nketiah doesn’t have that same track record and there isn’t a set game plan for what to do when he is in yet. His knack for making runs has opened spaces for the attacking midfielders and his build-up play while maybe not as good as Lacazette’s as been perfectly acceptable. He has also added an additional threat with his ability to win the ball back pressing, starting dangerous quick counters several times since he has come in as the starter.
Even if this run doesn’t lead to him staying with Arsenal long-term, Nketiah has done well for himself and looks set to earn himself more playing time somewhere.
Sources: Opta via whoscored, statszone, my own database. Statsbomb via fbref.