Saturday, May 25, 2024

Pressing matters: Arsenal up the second half press to outfox Leicester

During Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Leicester City, Jonas Eidevall told Arseblog News he felt there was a slight disparity between the first and second half performances. ‘I did not really like the way we pressed in the first half and we corrected some details and pressed much better in the second half. We suffocated them more and forced them to turn over the ball and the second half we were very dominant.

‘Another thing we changed between the two halves was our counter pressure, we were good on the ball in the first half but we were way too passive in our counter pressure. We backed off and didn’t go towards the ball, we allowed them too much time and space on the ball. We were much more aggressive and much more proactive in the way we counter pressed in the second half.’ The XG score at half time was Arsenal 0.61 Leicester City 0.23. In the second half, the XG score was Arsenal 1.79 Leicester City 0.37. Let’s look at how Arsenal’s pressing changed between the halves.

As Lize Kop builds from the back here, Sophie Howard is in a lot of space and under no real pressure on the ball. Usually Arsenal press in a 442 with the nine on one side and the 10 on the other. Here, Blackstenius and Russo are too close together.

Howard goes back to Kop and Kop comes back to Howard in a wider position and she is still in a lot of space to look up and survey her options.

Howard is able to send a ball forward to Petermann in a dangerous position. Petermann surrenders the ball cheaply in this attack so it doesn’t amount to anything; but it was too easy for Howard to pick a pass.

Leicester come back to Kop here and Blackstenius goes to close down, which drags her over to the left side. Here Russo sucked back into the centre circle.

This brief disorganisation allows Kop to play a ball to Howard, who is again in a lot of space.

Howard is able to find Janice Cayman on the left under no significant pressure. From this sequence, Leicester force two throw ins deep in Arsenal territory and a corner and it starts with a lack of pressure on Leicester in their build-up.

Once again, Leicester build from the back here and Thibaud is able to pick out Sophie Howard under little duress.

Once again, Howard is able to pick out Janice Cayman without stress.

Cayman finds Rantala, who moves in-field and plays a dangerous ball in behind for Petermann. Thankfully for Arsenal, Petermann drifts just offside but Leicester are again able to put Arsenal under pressure due to a lack of closing down in the build-up. Thibauld, Howard, Cayman and Rantala all pick passes under little to no pressure.

Howard is once again able to pick out Janice Cayman on Leicester’s left and Russo arrives quite late to close her down.

From there, Leicester make two passes which allow them to isolate Deanne Rose against McCabe. Rose gets a cross in here which Catley clears. But Arsenal come under pressure because Leicester’s build-up is untroubled.

Leicester force their first big chance of the game and this is where it starts. Sophie Howard once again finds herself with time and space with Arsenal’s 442 press not engaged.

Thibauld receives this pass and she has time and space to look up and deliver a long pass towards Petermann.

Williamson wins the header against Petermann, but it falls to Takarada, who passes to Momiki and Zinsberger has to make a very good stop to deny her from range.

Leicester create another big opening on 38 minutes and it stems from Arsenal’s press once again getting sucked too far over to Leicester’s right side. Petermann is able to drop and fire a pass to Cayman in acres of space.

Cayman finds Rantala and she has space and is able to isolate Emily Fox. From this sequence, Zinsberger is again forced into a fine save from Samantha Tierney after Momiki gets to the by-line to put in a dangerous cross.

In the opening seconds of the half we see a difference. Leicester roll the ball back to Kop from centre and look at how much more aggressive Russo’s positioning is when the ball is rolled out to Howard. Note how much closer Mead is to Janice Cayman at left-back too, who Leicester found too many times in the first half.

The passing lane to Cayman is closed off, so Howard, under pressure from Russo, looks for Momiki instead and you can see how coiled Pelova is to close her down too.

Momiki pulls out an excellent flick around the corner for Cayman but she is immediately under pressure from Mead and loses the ball.

Not only does Mead stop Cayman but she wins the ball back and Arsenal attack. Pelova finds Russo, who gets this dangerous pass to Blackstenius and Arsenal are away. This is much closer to the quality of pressing we are used to seeing from Arsenal.

As Howard collects the ball again here, we can see Russo is tight to her, Mead is tight to Cayman and the passing lanes she used so easily in the first half are now cut off.

Howard goes back to Kop and with everyone far more tightly marked, Kop is forced to go long and Arsenal win the header from this clearance and get back on the attack.

Once again here, Thibauld collects the ball and we can see Blackstenius is ready to engage. Mead is taking care of Howard and Russo is really tightly marking Momiki.

Thibauld opts for a long clearance to Petermann. Leicester had some success with long clearances to Petermann in the first half but here we see her surrounded much more solidly. She wins the flick on but to no real avail, the ball drops to Williamson and Arsenal can attack again.

We see again here as Lize Kop takes a goal kick to Howard, Russo is straight over to press. In the first half, the Leicester centre-halves were under no pressure and able to make passes far higher in their own half. Now Howard is being pushed back right towards the goal line.

Howard does find Cayman but compare to a screenshot from the first half. She is only about 25 yards from her goal line and Caitlin Foord on the right (her and Mead have swapped flanks for the time being) is closing her down strongly.




Cayman finds Takarada, who chops the ball back to Howard. It is a smart move to evade immediate trouble but Howard still has little choice but to clip the ball long and Steph Catley is on hand to pick up the long clearance and Arsenal can build again. Leicester were not able to find routes to attacks in the second half due to Arsenal’s pressing.

Eidevall also referenced the quality of Arsenal’s counterpressure in the second half and here we see how improved pressing and counterpressure leads to the second goal. Kop rolls the ball to Howard and Maanum, on for Blackstenius, immediately engages.

Howard clips a relatively hopeful ball forward to Petermann because all other lanes are blocked. Look at how deep Petermann is now having to drop to get the ball. Catley is very alive to the situation and pressuring Petermann intently.

From there, you can see Catley is able to tee up Russo for the second, as we see from the clip below. Maanum’s pressing and Catley’s counterpressure help Arsenal to secure the crucial second goal.

For the third goal, we see Arsenal once again deploying counterpressure very effectively. Russo takes a heavy touch with her back to goal and Tierney comes away with the ball only to be met by Pelova and Maanum.

Arsenal dig the ball out and get back on the attack.

Howard does really well to recover and take the ball off Pelova and then sends a pass towards Tierney. At the point that she plays it she knows she is getting beyond Maanum and Pelova. But look at Kim Little, she is coiled and running towards the pass.

Little wins it back and Arsenal are on the attack again. From here, the attack develops into the third goal, as we see from the clip below.

On this occasion, it was a small detail that Arsenal changed at half-time but Leicester had some joy on the counter in the opening period. That wasn’t true in the second half and not only did Arsenal’s improved pressing prevent Leicester from being dangerous but it helped Arsenal to be more dangerous themselves.

Related articles


Notify of

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thanks for the excellent breakdown and analysis Tim. Much appreciated

Fun Gunner

Thanks, Tim.


Well done as always Tim…
I learn from your analysis…

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x