A perfect August!
Top of the League!
It would have been hard to write up a better start to the season for Arsenal, maybe with fewer injuries. Still, things are going right for Arsenal. They had a great chance to put up a massive point total with a light schedule and have taken full advantage of it. There are no more easy matches in the Premier League, just ones that are less hard (Bournemouth might be excluded).
Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa: By the graphics
Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa: By the numbers
15 – Shots in the first half by Arsenal, with 1.9 expected goals (xG)
2 – Shots in the first half by Aston Villa, with 0.2 xG
7 – Shots in the second half by Arsenal, 1.2 xG
2* – Shots in the second half by Aston Villa. *I don’t know if the corner for a goal was truly a shot but it does go down as one. These shots had 0.1 xG
This is probably up there with the Bournemouth match for the best overall performance for Arsenal. Arsenal were pretty dominant the whole match in this one, Aston Villa got a little more of the ball after the second goal but still failed to threaten too much (with Arsenal offering significantly more threat on the break).
Overall this is a match with just a bit better finishing that could have seen 3 or 4 goals.
With some very good finishing, this could have been like the 6 goals Manchester City scored with similar shots (they actually had lower xG on their 6 goals, with 2.8 expected from my model).
Martin Odegaard is getting going
49 – Pass Attempts
79.6% – Pass completion percentage with a 102.8% Pass Efficiency meaning he completed more passes than the expected model would have predicted.
4 – Progressive Passes
5 – Box Entry Pass
5 – Deep Completions (not Cross)
3 – Key Passes
0.30 – xA
3 – Shots
0.29 – xG
1 – Dribbles Completed
2 – Times Fouled (Aston Villa loved to foul Arsenal players)
3 – Progressive Carries
5 – Progressive Passes Received
12 – Final Third Entry Pass Received
4 – Touches in the box
7 – Ball Recoveries
4 – High Ball Recoveries (within the attacking 40% of the pitch)
After a couple of “quiet” opening matches, Odegaard has really come alive in the last few matches. Maybe it needed a few games to adjust to playing with the different style of Ben White at fullback (who has done really well there but still plays the role differently) but he is looking like he is back at his best and maybe even better. In this match, I think he found a very good balance of dropping deep to help get the ball into the final third and making himself available for others to find him in those pockets of space.
After taking just 3 shots in the opening two matches, he has taken 3 shots each in the last three matches. After creating just 1 chance for teammates in his opening three matches, he has assisted 5 shots in the last two. After the first three matches he had just 7 “Shot Creating Actions”, in the last two matches he has 13.
The progress is looking good for the captain.
Sambi does well with his chance
54 – Pass Attempts
92.6% – Pass completion percentage
6 – Progressive Passes, 1st among all players
5 – F3rd Entry Passes
6 – Long Passes Completed
100.0% – Long Pass completion percentage
1 – Dribbles Completed
2 – Times Fouled (again Villa were out to kick Arsenal)
2 – Progressive Carries
0 – Turnovers
1 – Dribbles Completed, 1 attempted
In the buildup to this match, there was a lot of debate and conversation about what Arsenal should do with the injury-caused hole at defensive midfielder. People (including myseld to be fair) pondered different shades of exotic options for moving players around. Ultimately Mikel Arteta went with the simple option of just picking the guy next on the depth chart.
Sambi looks like he repaid that trust in this match. He had a good match and generally keep things simple in the Arsenal half (very Elneny and probably exactly what was asked of him) but showed his ability to be progressive when in the attacking half, including a number of very nice switches of play.
I think that this performance warrants him to keep this spot at least until the injury crisis subsides.
Sources: Opta via whoscored, my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef