That was an intense reintroduction back to the Premier League after some relatively mild and dominant performances from Arsenal in the preseason. A trip to Selhurst Park is never easy and I came away very impressed with this Crystal Palace team. There will be a lot of teams that make that trip that do not leave with three points and Arsenal should count themselves a bit fortunate.
All that being said, I think that this was a solid (if far from perfect) performance in a hostile environment where Arsenal showed the ability to grind out a win. They will end the day at the top of the table and guarantee that no one will have more points than them starting the next.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal: By the graphs
Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal: By the numbers
All stats below for the first 42 minutes
5 – Shots for Arsenal
0 – Shots for Crystal Palace
1 – Goal for Arsenal, from 0.9 expected goals (xG) and 2 big chances.
0 – Goals for Crystal Palace
20 – Touches in the box for Arsenal
3 – Touches in the box for Crystal Palace
69% – Arsenal’s share of touches in the final third
80% – The percentage of Crystal Palace’s passes that were completed that started in their own half of the field.
One of the things that was really positive about this match was that Arsenal came out the blocks firing. The only quarter of the match was a master class in control and pressure. Arsenal pushed Crystal Palace back and looked dangerous several times. This is what we saw often with this team in the preseason and it was back to start the season.
The second part of the first half wasn’t quite as dominant, with Crystal Palace able to assert themselves but Arsenal still managed to control space without the ball. Crystal Palace had the ball but Arsenal funneled them into the dreaded horseshoe of death, where their own mistakes looked like the likeliest ways that they would be threatened.
Stats from the second half
5 – Shots for Arsenal
7 – Shots for Crystal Palace
1 – Goal for Arsenal, own goal, from 0.3 expected goals and 0 big chances
0 – Goals for Crystal Palace, from 0.8 expected goals and 1 big chance
11 – Touches in the box for Arsenal
23 – Touches in the box for Crystal Palace
27% – Arsenal’s share of final third possession
40% – The percentage of Crystal Palace’s passes that were completed that started in their own half
The second half was not a repeat of the control of space without the ball that we so in the latter half of the first half (and even then things got a little sketchy at the very end and this was a continuation of that).
Crystal Palace finished the first half strong and continued that to start the second. They did quite have the same level of threat that Arsenal did in the opening period but they were certainly close and if they had scored it most certainly would not have been against the run of play.
Arsenal’s passing maps are a very good illustration of this issue. Arsenal are significantly further back with almost every player from the first half to the second half with a similarly large decrease in passes for each player.
Arteta mentioned that “to win here, you have to suffer.” I am sure that is true but I bet that he will hope that his team has longer stretches like the opening 30 minutes and fewer like the middle 30.
Gabriel Jesus makes his official debut
26 – Pass Attempts, 21st among all players. Overall 73% pass completion rate with a 0.97 expected pass completion efficiency ratio (1 means completed as many as expected).
4 – Progressive Passes, 8th among all players
2 – Box Entry Pass, 3rd among all players
5 – Deep Completions (not Cross), 2nd among all players
1 – Shot, tied for 6th among all players
0.15 – xG, 6th among all players
6 – Dribbles Completed, 1st among all players
7 – Dribbled Attempted, 2nd among all players
4 – Progressive Carries, 5th among all players
8 – Progressive Passes Received, 2nd among all players
9 – Final Third Entry Pass Received, 1st among all players
10 – Touches in the box, 1st among all players
0.19 – xG Buildup, 9th among all players
4 – Dispossed, 2nd among all players
4 – Miscontrol, 3rd among all players
1 – Tackles, 11th among all players
33.3% – Tackle %, 14th among all players
2 – Fouls, 2nd among all players
1 – Interceptions, 5th among all players
2 – Aerial Duel Won, 3rd among all players
28.6% – Aerial Win%, 10th among all players
After a preseason that was breathtaking, Jesus wasn’t quite at that level in this match. He still looked very good and added things in this match that Arsenal did not have in the team last season with his moment of chasing down a “lost” ball, recovering it, and turning it into a beautiful cutback that Martin Odegaard refused to shoot from with his right foot.
He showed great ability to drop deep and link (being a major target for Arsenal getting the ball up the field) while also still being a threat in the box (he led the team in touches in the box!). I was impressed with his skill on the ball, he has very tidy touches and showed that with his 6 dribbles but he also can be a bit loose and that shows with the 8 times that he lost the ball.
Not the greatest debut but I think this showed that even if he isn’t on the scoresheet he will still have the ability to influence a match and be important to the team. I am excited to see more of him.
William Saliba makes his Arsenal debut
49 – Pass Attempts, 7th among all players
93.9% – Pass%, 5th among all players
4 – Final 3rd Entry Passes, 8th among all players
3 – Progressive Passes, 12th among all players
1 – Deep Completions (not Cross)
1 – Tackle (he did have a second one that was negated by an earlier foul)
0 – Fouls
0 – Interceptions
1 – Blocked Passes
7 – Ball Recoveries, 4th among all players
1 – Blocked Shots / Saves, 4th among all players
7 – Clearances, 2nd among all players
1 – Aerial Duel Won, 7th among all players
50.0% – Aerial Win%, 1st among all players
I was seeing people say that this was a man-of-the-match type performance and while I thought it was good, especially for a debut in a tough environment that might be a little much. That being said I think that he showed a lot of his strengths; his passing is the real deal and his calmness when under pressure while picking his spots to carry are very good, I think he also showed some of the things that he got better at while on loan, specifically using his size to see out threats without needing to commit to challenges (very VvD).
I am very glad to see Saliba back with Arsenal and it is a great headache to have options among the back line.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own database