That match was equally exhilarating and exhausting. At the final whistle I wasn’t sure if I needed a nap or to go for a run.
This felt like one of the sternest tests of the season thus far. Manchester United were not great but a worldie and a goal from an error gave them a flattering tally that Arsenal needed to respond to.
And respond they did.
Arsenal have only been behind for 87 minutes before this match but they responded quite well, not panicking trusting that their performances would get the goal. In the end it got them two more, coming away with three points and five-point gap to second (with a game in hand).
That’s the official halfway point of the season, with Arsenal on 50 points (100 point pace, best ever), 45 goals (90 goal pace, a record for a 38 match season) and (32 goals allowed pace, 6th best). It has been a fun ride and I can’t wait for the second half.
Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United: By the graphics
Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United: By the numbers
24 – Shots for Arsenal, that is tied for the most they have had in a match this season. That is also the most shots Manchester United have conceded in a match this season.
2.5 – Expected goals, this is 5th highest total for Arsenal this season and the 11th time this season Arsenal have created 2.0 or more non-penalty expected goals this season.
7 – Shots for Arsenal that were inside of 12 yards.
18 – Shots for Arsenal that were inside the box
6 – Shots for Manchester United, this is the fewest that they have had in a match this season. This is the 12th time this season that Arsenal have held an opponent to less than 10 shots.
0 – Big chances for Manchester United. This is the second time Manchester United have created 0 big chances.
2% – The average probability of Marcus Rashford’s shots of turning into a goal.
17% – The average probability of Lisandro Martinez’s shot of turning into a goal.
1 – Shot within 12 yards by Manchester United
3 – Shots inside the box by Manchester United
On the simple shot metrics, this was far from a close match. Arsenal absolutely dominated this match on the chances.
62 – Touches in the box for Arsenal, this is the most Arsenal have had in a match this season, the previous high was 55. This is tied for the most a team has had this season, and 15 more than next highest Manchester United have allowed this season.
12 – Touches in the box for Manchester United. 5 in the first half and 7 in the second half. Gabriel Marinellli had 12, Bukayo Saka had 13.
86 – Touches by Arsenal within 25 yards of goal
18 – Touches by Manchester United within 25 yards of goal, Saka had 20.
Controlling space and territory makes this even more clear that Arsenal dominated this match.
More often than not outside of a couple of short spells the ball was in the Manchester United half, and in the second half was outside of their back.
I was a bit surprised when I posted the stats at halftime with the response where people commented that they were surprised how onesided it was statistically, feeling like this was more even. I have seen that Gary Neville has said that Manchester United went punch for punch with Arsenal in this match. In reality, I don’t think that is close to the truth or an accurate description of this match and is only being said that way because of the badge on the other team’s shirt. By almost every measure this was a pretty lopsided performance with Arsenal in control. on another day this ends a pretty comfortable 3-1 (or even 3-0) win. Arsenal got what they deserved.
Eddie Nketiah takes his chances
6 – Shots, 1.4 expected goals, 3 big chances, 2 HUGE goals
19 – Shots since taking over as the starter, that is good for 3.8 per 90
4 – Goals since taking over as the starter, 0.8 per 90
9 – Touches in the box against Manchester United
33 – Touches in the box since taking over as the starter, 6.6 per 90
6 – Progressive passes received against Machester United
42 – Progressive passes received since taking over as the starter, 8.4 per 90
4 – Defensive actions against Manchester United
14 – Defensive actions since taking over as the starter, 2.8 per 90
The worry when Gabriel Jesus went out with an extended injury was palpable, Eddie Nketiah has in retrospect made that seem silly (even if it wasn’t).
He has consistently found space to get off shots, done so where they are very good average quality and scored 6 total goals since taking over as the starter. His ability to come in and get shots is welcome but not overly surprising, what he has done is help keep the Arsenal attack ticking over with better-than-expected buildup and link-up contribution.
One of the last questions was whether he could score when the pressure was on. Well he answered that today with an equalizer and a winner.
Have a day Eddie Nketiah.
Oleksander Zinchenko passing master
68 – Pass Attempts at an 85% completion rate, 1st among all players
5 – Final third entry passes completed, 3rd among all players
7 – Progressive Passes completed, 1st among all players
4 – Passes completed into the box, 1st among all players
474.4 – Progressive Pass Distance in yards, 3rd among all players
1 – Key Pass
1 – Shot
355.6 – Progressive Carry Distance, 2nd among all players
12 – Progressive Carries, 2nd among all players
4 – Touches in the box
1.40 – xG Buildup, 1st among all players
2 – Tackles
100.0% – Tackle %
2 – Interceptions, 3rd among all players
3 – Blocked Passes, 1st among all players
5 – Ball Recoveries
That is really all that is needed to describe Zinchenko in this match. He was everywhere, playing on the touchline, playing in midfield, playing in the attacking half space, popping up on the right. Basically, he was Arsenal’s roaming playmaker looking to link with anyone and everyone.
He also seems to make everyone better. He relieves pressure on Thomas Partey allowing him to collect the ball off the back line and turn and move the ball up the field. He is a great outlet for Aaron Ramsdale who loves that little chip out to him. His link-up play with Granit Xhaka (who is also getting really good at figuring out when to cover him moving around) has been wonderful, getting Xhaka into great positions to destabilize the defense.
Lastly, just look at his passion. He loves winning and has brought that mentality to Arsenal where it seems contagious.
Sources: Opta via whoscored, statszone, fbref, my own database