Arsenal Player Analysis: Leicester City vs Arsenal

It was a naive display from the Gunners as they slumped to yet another away loss, this time going down to Leicester City 3-1.

Formation

Pre-match, Arsenal appear to retain the 4-3-3 formation that Wenger employed versus Burnley. That said, the players’ average positioning again indicated that they adopted a formation that more closely resembled a 4-1-2-2-1 set up.

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Possession and key observations

With Leicester City’s recent success built on their ability to cede possession, establish a resolute deep defensive block and counterattack through direct transitional play, and Wenger’s unwavering desire for Arsenal to monopolise possession of the football, it was anticipated that Arsenal would dominate possession. And that is precisely how it eventuated, with Arsenal winning the possession battle 60% to Leicester City’s 40%.

That said, and unlike the match versus Burnley, the poor defensive positioning and performance of Arsenal’s chosen central midfielders were exposed by Leicester City, who did an excellent job at recovering possession in midfield and quickly attempting and executing through passes for Vardy and Iheanacho. This was evidence by:

  • Leicester City’s central midfielders, Silva and Choudhury, recovering the ball 9 times in contrast to Xhaka, Ramsey and Iwobi’s collective 6 recoveries; and
  • Leicester City’s midfield attempting 5 through passes to Arsenal’s 3 (all of which were attempted by Mkhitaryan).

Individual performances:

Given Mavropanos’ sending off after just 18 minutes and Welbeck’s subsequent substitution for Mustafi in response, the respective performances of Mavropanos and Welbeck haven’t been considered due to their limited game time.

GK: Cech (7/10)

It was a busy day for Cech, who, while conceding 3 goals, did very well to keep the score respectable, making 7 saves for the match. On the goals conceded, none where Cech’s fault. Cech also did well when called upon to deal with Leicester’s 24 crosses for the match.

RWB: Maitland Niles (7/10)

It was a mixed defensive performance from Maitland Niles, who showed good aggression (3 tackles) but limited defensive anticipation (1 interception). Maitland Niles’ defensive positioning was also way too far advanced, which exposed Arsenal’s right flank to potential counterattacks from Leicester. That said, his opponent, Diabate, largely failed to capitalise on Maitland Niles’ poor defensive positioning and anticipation (1 shot, 1 successful forward dribble, 2, inaccurate, crosses, and 1 attempted through pass).

Offensively, Maitland Niles was impressive with an assist from his 3 crosses for the match and 4 transitional and attacking dribbles.

RCB: Mustafi (8/10)

While Mavropanos started the match, his sending off only 18 minutes in and Wenger’s decision to bring on Mustafi to cover the young Greek’s departure, meant the German played the majority of the match in the right centreback position. In terms of the German’s performance, Mustafi demonstrated solid defensive anticipation (2 interceptions) and aggressiveness (2 tackles). That said, a total lack of support and coverage from Ramsey in the right central midfield position and poor defensive positioning and anticipation from right wingback, Maitland Niles, isolated Mustafi and allowed the quick and efficient Vardy to showcase his talents (a goal from his 3 shots, 2 of which were on target, and 1 forward dribble). Disappointingly, Mustafi also wasn’t able to best his English opponent aerially, with both players registering 3 successful aerial duels a piece. That said, Mustafi simplified defensive approach, which resulted in 9 clearances, was a breath of fresh air as his defensive and attacking colleagues repeatedly over complicated Arsenal’s play.

LCB: Holding (7/10)

It was another solid defensive performance from youngster Holding. Positively, the Englishman was aggressive in his defending (3 tackles) and showed good defensive anticipation (2 interceptions). That said, like Mustafi, Holding was left isolated thanks to a total lack of support and coverage from Iwobi in the left centre midfield position and poor defensive positioning and anticipation from left wingback, Kolasinac. This allowed the clinical and pacy Iheanacho to display his skills (a goal from his 6 shots, 3 of which were on target, and 2 forward dribble). While Holding did win the aerial battle against his Nigerian opponent (2 successful aerial duels to 1), the Englishman could certainly have simplified his defensive approach more often and focused on clearing his lines (2 clearances).

LWB: Kolasinac (5/10)

It was a busy day defensively for Kolasinac, as his opponent Mahrez, seriously tested him down Arsenal’s left flank (a goal from his 3 shots, 2 of which were on target, 3 successful dribbles, 10 attempted crosses, 3 of which were accurate and an attempted through pass). While Kolasinac’s defensive anticipation (1 interception) could have been better, Kolasinac was very aggressive in his defensive approach (5 tackles) as he tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to reduce Mahrez’s influence on the game.

Offensively, Kolasinac was underwhelming, showing limited attacking intent with his dribbling (1 successful forward dribbles) and only 2, inaccurate, crossing attempts for the match.

RCM: Ramsey (5/10)

It was a underwhelming defensive performance from Ramsey, who demonstrated solid defensive anticipatory skills (2 interceptions) but lacked aggressiveness in his defensive approach (1 tackles). Ramsey’s defensive positioning was also poor, as he left too much space between himself and Mavropanos, then Mustafi, and Maitland Niles, which exposed Arsenal’s right wingback and centreback to potential counterattacks from Leicester City down Arsenal’s right flank.

Offensively, Ramsey’s performance was mixed. Positively, Ramsey recorded 83% passing accuracy, and made 4 accurate long-range transitional passes. That said, Ramsey only managed to make 1 successful forward dribble for the match.

CM: Xhaka (6/10)

After an underwhelming defensive performance versus Burnley, it was a similarly indifferent defensive effort from Xhaka versus Leicester City. While he was aggressive enough in his defending (2 tackles), Xhaka again failed to showcase his defensive anticipatory skills (0 interceptions). While not as bad as Ramsey or Iwobi, Xhaka’s defensive positioning was still poor, as he left too much space between himself and Arsenal’s centrebacks Holding and Mustafi.

Offensively, while Xhaka again failed to meaningfully contribute in terms of forward transitional dribbles (1 successful forward dribbles), his passing accuracy was very good (88%) as was his transitional passing (5 accurate long-range passes).

LCM: Iwobi (5/10)

It was an awful defensive performance from Iwobi, who showed very limited defensive anticipation (1 interception) and lacked aggressiveness in his defensive approach (0 tackles). Iwobi’s defensive positioning was also disappointing, as he left too much space between himself and Holding and Kolasinac, which exposed Arsenal’s left wingback and centreback to potential counterattacks.

Conversely, Iwobi’s offensive performance was impressive, with 86% passing accuracy and 3 successful forward dribbles. My only criticisms of the young Nigerian’s attacking performance was his limited transitional passing (2 accurate long-range passes).

CAM: Mkhitaryan (8/10)

It was an excellent performance from Mkhitaryan, who show great goal scoring initiative (3 shots, 2 of which was on target) and a desire to penetrate Burnley’s rearguard via the dribble (3 successful dribbles). His passing creativity was also excellent, with 1 accurate through pass from his 3 attempts.

CF: Aubameyang (8/10)

It was an energetic and trying performance from Aubameyang, who scored a goal from his 6 shots for the match, 3 of which were on target. In addition, the Gabonese striker made numerous well-timed off the ball runs in behind Leicester City’s backline.

Final Thoughts

Overall it was another naive performance from Arsenal, in which they over committed players in advanced positions, despite going down to 10 men early in the match and playing against a team that is notoriously strong at counter attacking.

Offensively, while Maitland Niles, Iwobi, Xhaka and Ramsey impressed with their transitional play and Aubameyang demonstrated his willingness to shoot, Mkhitaryan was Arsenal’s standout attacker. Despite that, the absence of an extra forward player, combined with Leicester City’s resolute defending in numbers, were hurdles Arsenal couldn’t overcome.

Defensively, Cech was very good and Arsenal’s back four did reasonably well but were left exposed by a lack of support and protection from Arsenal’s central midfield. Iwobi’s defensive effort was particularly poor and the defensive positioning of all three of Arsenal’s central midfielder as well as their wingbacks invited Leicester City to counterattack when Arsenal lost possession.

A number of the defensive flaws witnessed from the likes of Ramsey and Iwobi versus Leicester City are not issues that haven’t arisen previously, and the new manager, whoever that maybe, will need to rectify those failings earlier on in his tenure, whether that be through tactical or personnel changes.

Freddie08

The stats referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs Burnley

It was a much-improved attacking display from the Gunners versus Burnley, as they recorded a comfortable 5-0 victory.

Formation

Pre-match, Arsenal appear to switch to the experimental 4-3-3 formation that Wenger has been employing on and off in recent weeks. That said, the players’ average positioning indicated that they adopted a formation that more closely resembled a 4-1-2-2-1 set up.

May 18 Ars v Bur

May 18 Ars v Bur(1)

Possession and key observations

With Burnley’s success this season having been built on their ability to establish a resolute deep defensive block and counterattack through direct transitional play, and Wenger’s unwavering preference for Arsenal to hoard possession of the football, it was no surprise to see Arsenal dominate the possession stakes (64% to Burnley’s 36%).

That said, the difference between Arsenal’s performance versus Burnley and recent matches in which Arsenal have, or been allowed to, dominate possession, is that versus Burnley, Arsenal played to the respective attacking strengths of their chosen central midfield (Xhaka (transitional passing), Wilshere (forward dribbles) and Iwobi (forward dribbles)) and Arsenal’s attacking trio of Mkhitarayn, Lacazette and Aubameyang were highly efficient.

This combined with Burnley’s inability to accurately transition the ball from defence to attack, gave Arsenal the platform to dominate both in terms of possession and the creation of high probability goal scoring opportunities.

 

Individual performances:

GK: Cech (7/10)

It was a quiet day for Cech, as Burnley, who ceded possession and employed a deep defensive block, struggle to effectively transition the ball from defence to attack, which restricted their shooting attempts to just 6 shots for the match, 2 of which were on target. That said, Cech maintained his concentration and was able to comfortably save Burnley’s 2 efforts on target. Cech also did well when called upon to deal with Burnley’s 18 crosses for the match.

RWB: Bellerin (6/10)

It was a mixed defensive performance from Bellerin, who showed some aggression (2 tackles) but failed to demonstrate sufficient defensive anticipation (0 interceptions). As a consequence, his opponent, Gudmundsson, caused Arsenal grief on the Gunners’ right flank (8 crossing attempts, 3 of which were accurate, 1 shot, which was on target, and 2 successful forward dribbles).

Offensively, Bellerin’s crossing accuracy was excellent (2 assists from his 2 attempted crosses for the match). That said, the number of crosses the Spaniard attempted (2) and the number of transitional and attacking dribbles he made (2), relative to Arsenal’s possession, was somewhat underwhelming.

RCB: Chambers (7/10)

It was another good defensive performance from Chambers, who demonstrated strong defensive anticipation (3 interceptions) and solid aggressiveness (2 tackles). As a result, his primary opponent, Hendrick, was limited to just 2 off target shots and 2 forward dribbles. While Chambers wasn’t challenged aerially by his opponent, he did at times over complicate his game when the ball entered Arsenal’s defensive third. Specifically, Chambers got caught when trying to creatively pass the ball out from the back, when he and Arsenal would have been better served had he simply cleared his lines (2 clearances).

LCB: Mavropanos (6/10)

It was another mixed defensive performance from youngster Mavropanos. Positively, the Greek again demonstrated excellent defensive anticipation (3 interceptions) and did well when he simplified his defensive approach and focused on clearing his lines (6 clearances). That said, Mavropanos was again too passive defensively (0 tackles). Luckily his main opponent, Vokes, failed to demonstrate sufficient initiative to take advantage of Mavropanos’ reluctance to tackle (1 shot, which was on target, and 0 successful dribbles). Aerially, while the young Greek certainly didn’t back down from any duels, he ultimately lost his battle against his physically imposing opponent (10 successful aerial duels to 4).

LWB: Kolasinac (6/10)

It was a very quiet day defensively for Kolasinac, as his opponent, Lennon, failed to seriously test the Serb (2 attempted but inaccurate crosses and 1 forward dribble). That said, had Kolasinac demonstrated greater aggressiveness (0 tackles) and showed enhanced defensive anticipation (1 interception), he could have eliminated the minimal threat Lennon caused.

Offensively, Kolasinac’s performance was mixed. On the plus side, he scored a cracking goal and showed plenty of attacking intent with his crossing (4 attempted crosses for the match). That said, Kolasinac’s effort in terms of transitional and attacking dribbles (1 successful forward dribble) was very disappointing.

RCM: Iwobi (6/10)


It was an indifferent defensive performance from Iwobi, who showed solid defensive anticipation (2 interceptions) but lacked aggressiveness in his defensive approach (1 tackle). While Burnley didn’t offer much in terms of an attacking threat, Iwobi’s defensive positioning was disappointing, as he left too much space between himself and Chambers and Bellerin, which exposed Arsenal’s right wingback and centreback to potential counterattacks from Burnley down Arsenal’s right flank.

Offensively, Iwobi was excellent, with a well struck shot from an Aubameyang cut back, 92% passing accuracy, 2 successful forward dribbles, and an accurate through pass. My only criticism of the young Nigerian’s attacking performance was his limited transitional passing (1 accurate long-range pass). That said, given Wenger’s tactical decision not to deploy any attacking midfielders between Arsenal’s central midfield and forward lines, Iwobi’s passing creativity and forward thrusts in the attacking third were essential.

CM: Xhaka (6/10)

It was a similarly indifferent defensive effort from Xhaka, who was aggressive enough in his approach (2 tackles) but failed to showcase his defensive anticipatory skills (0 interceptions). That said, Xhaka’s defensive positioning was very good, as he screened the space in front of Arsenal’s centrebacks Chambers and Mavropanos.

Offensively, while Xhaka again failed to contribute in terms of forward transitional dribbles (0 successful forward dribbles) and creative passing (0 attempted through passes), Xhaka’s passing accuracy was excellent (95%) as was his transitional passing (8 accurate long-range passes).

LCM: Wilshere (5/10)


It was a poor defensive performance from Wilshere, who demonstrated a lack of defensive anticipatory skills (0 interceptions) and lacked aggressiveness in his defensive approach (0 tackles). Like Iwobi, Wilshere’s defensive positioning was also poor, as he left too much space between himself and Mavropanos and Kolasinac, which exposed Arsenal’s left wingback and centreback to potential counterattacks from Burnley down Arsenal’s left flank.

Offensively, Wilshere was excellent, recording 91% passing accuracy, 2 successful forward dribbles, and an assist for Kolasinac’s goal, from his 1 attempted through pass for the match. My only criticism of Wilshere’s attacking performance, like that of Iwobi, was his transitional passing (0 accurate long-range passes) which was sorely lacking. That said, with Wenger not deploying any attacking midfielders between Arsenal’s central midfield and forward lines, Wilshere’s creative passing and dribbling in the final third were vital, as it enabled Arsenal to convert Xhaka’s accurate and direct transitional passes into goal scoring opportunities for the Gunners.

RW: Mkhitaryan (8/10)

It was an excellent performance from Mkhitaryan, who show great goal scoring initiative (3 shots, 1 of which was on target) and a desire to penetrate Burnley’s rearguard via the dribble (3 successful dribbles). His passing creativity was also very good, with 1 accurate through pass from his 2 attempts.

CF: Lacazette (8/10)

It was a clinical performance from Lacazette, who scored a goal from his 2 shots for the match. The French striker also registered an assist for Aubameyang’s opening goal, with a low and hard cross from the right. In addition, the Frenchman made several well-timed off the ball runs in behind Burnley’s backline. All-in-all an impressive performance.

LW: Aubameyang (8/10)

Despite being misused by Wenger and played out of position, it was an excellent performance from Aubameyang, who showed great goal scoring initiative and efficiency (2 goals from his 2 shots for the match), provoked Burnley’s defence via the dribble (2 successful dribbles) and registered a nice assist for Iwobi’s goal with a cut back from the by-line.

Final Thoughts

Overall it was a much-improved attacking performance from Arsenal, in the last home match of Wenger’s tenure.  It was great to see Arsenal actually play to the respective attacking strengths of their chosen central midfielders, and that provided Arsenal’s attacking trio with a great platform to showcase their talents and they duly obliged.

Defensively, while Burnley never really threaten Arsenal’s goal, definite defensive improvements are required from Bellerin (defensive anticipation and aggression), Mavropanos (aggression) and Kolasinac (defensive anticipation) moving forward.  The defensive liabilities Wilshere and Iwobi bring to Arsenal when deployed in central midfield (both in terms of defensive anticipation and aggression) were also evident, and against better quality opposition, would have been more effectively exposed.

Based upon their respective career productivity levels, the Arsenal careers of Bellerin, Wilshere, Iwobi and several other players in Arsenal’s current first team squad, could very much be over at the completion of Arsenal’s last 2 Premier League fixtures.  That will very much depend upon who is replacing Wenger and whether that individual possesses the objective ruthlessness to halt Arsenal’s slide into mediocracy, by jettisoning those players who have demonstrated their inability to consistently contribute on the pitch.

Freddie08

The stats referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Manchester United vs Arsenal

Despite going down 2-1, it was a much-improved defensive display from the Gunners versus Manchester United.

Formation

Arsenal reverted to a more traditional 4-2-3-1 formation pre-match, and the players’ average positioning indicated that they stuck to that formation in game.

April 18 Man U vs Ars

April 18 Man U vs Ars (1)

Possession and key observations

While in Arsenal’s recent matches, the Gunners have, or been allowed, to dominate possession, that wasn’t the case versus Manchester United, who won the possession battle (59% to 41%).

That said, there were excellent defensive performances from Chambers, Kolasinac and Xhaka, and even the typically porous Bellerin.

And while Xhaka was highly effective at directly and efficiently transitioning the ball from defence to attack, the same couldn’t be said of Maitland Niles. Arsenal’s attacking midfielders also failed to take enough risks with their passing, which starved Aubameyang of high probability goal scoring chances.

Individual performances:

GK: Ospina (3/10)
It was a disappointing performance from Ospina, as is weakness at claiming crosses was acutely exposed. From Manchester United’s 3 shots for the match, Ospina was only able to produce the 1 save, and he struggled to deal with Manchester United’s 34 total crosses. Given the sheer volume of crosses from Manchester United, it was evident the Old Trafford outfit were attempting to target the Columbian’s aerial weakness, and while it took a late header from Fellaini, Manchester United ultimately succeeded.

RWB: Bellerin (7/10)
It was a strong defensive performance from Bellerin (3 tackles and 3 interceptions), as he showed improved defensive anticipation and aggressiveness.  Despite Bellerin’s strong defensive performance, the Spaniard was unable to contain his opponent, Young, who posed a significant threat down Manchester United’s left flank (8 crosses, 4 of which were accurate, and an assist).

Offensively, while Bellerin’s crossing accuracy was reasonable (1 accurate cross from 2 attempts), his production level in terms of crosses was poor. The Spaniard’s productivity in terms of transitional and attacking dribbles was also poor (1 successful forward dribble).

RCB: Chambers (9/10)
It was a strong defensive performance from Chambers, who, like Bellerin, demonstrated strong defensive anticipation and aggressiveness (3 tackles and 3 interceptions). As a result, his opponent, Sanchez, struggled to influence the game (1 shot, which was on target, and 0 successful forward dribbles). Notably, the Englishman flourished when he simplified his defensive approach and just cleared the ball as it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (9 clearances). Chambers was also solid aerially, ousting Sanchez 3 successful aerial duels to 0.

LCB: Mavropanos (7/10)
It was a mixed defensive performance from debutant Mavropanos. Positively, the Greek demonstrated excellent defensive anticipation (3 interceptions) and, like Chambers, did well when he simplified his defensive approach and focused on clearing his lines (4 clearances). That said, Mavropanos was a bit too passive defensively (1 tackle). Luckily his main opponent, Lukaku, failed to demonstrate sufficient initiative to take advantage of Mavropanos’ reluctance to tackle (1 shot, which was off target, 0 successful dribbles). Aerially, the young Greek wasn’t really challenged by his Belgium opponent (0 successful aerial duels each).

LWB: Kolasinac (6/10)
It was a busy day defensively for Kolasinac, as his opponent Valencia, tested him down Arsenal’s left flank (7 attempted crosses). While his defensive anticipation (1 interception) could have been better, Kolasinac was very aggressive in his defensive approach (5 tackles). Offensively, Kolasinac was very poor, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) or with his crossing (0 crossing attempts for the match).

RCDM: Maitland Niles (5/10)
It was a mixed defensive performance from Maitland Niles, who was aggressive in his defensive approach (3 tackles) but demonstrated a lack of defensive anticipation (0 interceptions). In terms of his defensive positioning, the youngster was a bit too central which exposed Bellerin in the right wingback role.

Offensively, while Maitland Niles passing accuracy (92%) was excellent, his transitional passing (1 accurate long-range pass) and transitional dribbles (2 successful forward dribbles) were insufficient, which was particularly disappointing given the opportunities Arsenal had to counterattack.

LCDM: Xhaka (9/10)
It was an impressive defensive effort from Xhaka, who was very aggressive in his defensive approach (4 tackles), and showed solid anticipatory skills (2 interceptions).

My only criticism of Xhaka’s defensive performance was that, like Maitland Niles, Xhaka’s defensive positioning was too central at times, which isolated and exposed Kolasinac at left wingback.

Offensively, while Xhaka again failed to contribute in terms of forward transitional dribbles, Xhaka’s passing accuracy was excellent (90%) as was his transitional passing (7 accurate long-range passes).

RCAM: Mkhitaryan (7/10)
It was a solid to impressive performance from Mkhitaryan, both in terms of his goal scoring initiative (1 goal from his 3 shots for the match) and forward dribbles (3 successful dribbles). The only component of his performance which let him down was his passing creativity (0 attempted through passes).

CAM: Iwobi (4/10)
It was a poor performance from Iwobi, who failed to produce a shot or attempt a through pass. The only real positive of Iwobi’s performance was that he recorded 2 successful forward dribbles.

LCAM: Nelson (5/10)
It was an underwhelming performance from Nelson, who, while showing some goal scoring initiative (2 shots), failed to consistently provoke Manchester United’s rear-guard via the dribble (1 successful forward dribble) and was too safe with his passing (0 attempted through passes).

ST: Aubameyang (5/10)
Apart from a cross from Bellerin in the first half, which Aubameyang arguably should have done better with, it was another match for Aubameyang in which Arsenal’s attacking midfielders failed to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for the Gabonese striker. Despite this being a recurring theme for Aubameyang, as it was for Lacazette before him, Wenger continues to employ a tactical set up which fails to play to his mobile forwards’ strengths, depriving them of any regular clear cut goal scoring opportunities. The longer Wenger continues failing to adopt a tactical system that accentuates the Gabonese striker’s strengths and hides his weaknesses, the reduced return of investment Arsenal will receive from their record purchase.

Final Thoughts

While there were disappointing attacking performances from Bellerin, Kolasinac, Maitland Niles, Iwobi and Nelson, there was much to like about the defensive efforts of Arsenal’s wing backs, Chambers and Xhaka. With Manchester United showing a far greater willingness to attack in numbers than expected, counterattacking opportunities, which Aubameyang craves, were there for the Gunners’ taking. While Xhaka did his best to quickly and accurately transition the ball from defence to attack, to enable Arsenal to take advantage of those counterattacking opportunities, Arsenal’s attacking midfielders were too conservative with their passing and attacking play to capitalise themselves or create high probability goal scoring opportunities for Aubameyang.

This has been symptomatic of Arsenal’s attacking play under Wenger over the past decade, and it is hoped a change in manager at season’s end will bring about more effective attacking play from the Gunners.

Freddie08

The stats referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs West Ham

Despite the 4-1 score line, it was a largely poor performance from Arsenal, characterised by particularly disappointing efforts from Bellerin, Koscielny, Elneny and Iwobi.

Formation

While Arsenal setup in a notional 4-3-3 formation pre-match, the players’ average positioning indicated that they adopted more of a 4-2-2-2 formation in game.

April 18 Ars vs WHU (1)April 18 Ars vs WHU.PNG

Possession and key observations

Arsenal were able to dominate possession (68% to 32%) and Xhaka and Ramsey were effective at directly and efficiently transitioning the ball from defence to attack. That said:

  • a lack of attacking midfielders in central positions (due to team selection and formation);
  • a lack of creativity from Arsenal’s wide players (Iwobi and Welbeck) and central midfielders (Elneny, Xhaka and Ramsey); and
  • desperate defending from West Ham, for the majority of the match;

resulted in Arsenal over complicating their build up play and struggling to create high probability goal scoring opportunities for Lacazette.  It wasn’t really until the last 10 minutes of the match, when West Ham’s defending became lazy and space opened up in the attacking third, did the goals begin to flow for the Gunners.

Individual performances:

GK: Ospina (7/10)
It was a solid performance from Ospina.  While he conceded 1 goal from an excellent strike from West Ham’s Arnautovic, Ospina produced 3 saves for the match. The Columbian also did well when called upon to deal with West Ham’s 16 crosses.

RWB: Bellerin (4/10)
It was a very poor defensive performance from Bellerin on his return to the starting 11 (0 tackles and 0 interceptions), as he failed to show the necessary defensive anticipation and aggressiveness.  Consequentially, his opponent, Masuaka, posed a threat down West Ham’s left flank (2 successful forward dribbles and 3, albeit inaccurate, crosses).

Offensively, while Bellerin’s crossing accuracy was good (2 accurate crosses from 2 attempts), his production level in terms of crosses relative to Arsenal’s possession (68%) was underwhelming. The Spaniard’s productivity in terms of transitional and attacking dribbles was also poor (1 successful forward dribble).

Overall it was another disappointing showing from the Spaniard.

LCB: Koscielny (4/10)
It was a poor defensive performance from Koscielny, who, like Bellerin, failed to  demonstrated the necessary defensive anticipation and aggressiveness (1 tackle and 1 interception).  As a result, his opponent, Arnautovic, posed a significant threat for West Ham (1 goal, 4 shots, 2 of which were on target, and 1 successful forward dribble). Notably, the Frenchmen was at his best when he simplified his defensive approach and just cleared the ball as it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (5 clearances).  Koscielny was also solid aerially, ousting Arnautovic 3 successful aerial duels to 1.

RCB: Mustafi (6/10)
It was a mixed defensive performance from Mustafi. Positively, the German demonstrated excellent defensive anticipation (3 interceptions) and, like Koscielny, did well when he simplified his defensive approach and focused on clearing his lines (5 clearances). That said, Mustafi was too passive defensively (0 tackles). Luckily his main opponent, Mario, failed to demonstrate sufficient initiative to take advantage of Mustafi’s reluctance to tackle (1 shot, 1 successful dribble).  Aerially the German wasn’t really challenged by his Portugese opponent (1 successful aerial duel each).

LWB: Monreal (6/10)
It was a quiet day defensively for Monreal (0 tackles and 0 interceptions), as his opponent Fernandes, struggled to make any sort of offensive impact (1 shot, which was off target, 1 successful forward dribble and no attempted crosses).

Offensively, while Monreal showed no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles), which was disappointing given the degree to which Arsenal dominated possession, the Spaniard showed excellent initiative, albeit poor accuracy, with his crossing (8, inaccurate, crossing attempts for the match).

RCM: Elneny (3/10)
It was a poor defensive performance from Elneny, both in terms of his defensive anticipation (1 interception) and aggressiveness (0 tackles). Elneny’s defensive positioning was also disappointing, as he left too much space between himself and Mustafi and Bellerin, which exposed Arsenal’s right wingback and centreback to potential counterattacks from West Ham.

Offensively, while Elneny’s passing accuracy (95%) was excellent, his transitional passing (0 accurate long range passes) and transitional dribbles (0 successful forward dribbles) were insufficient in volume to warrant his selection in central midfield. Elneny also failed to show any real creativity with his passing (0 attempted through passes). This was an issue for Arsenal given Wenger’s tactical decision not to deploy any attacking midfielders between Arsenal’s central midfield and forward lines.

While the Egyptian’s injury was unfortunate, it could be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal on the pitch, as it eliminates one of Arsenal’s least productive central midfielders from the selection equation.

CM: Xhaka (5/10)
It was a mixed defensive effort from Xhaka, who was aggressive enough in his defensive approach (2 tackles), but showed poor anticipatory skills (0 interceptions). Like Elneny, Xhaka’s defensive positioning was also poor, as he left too much space between himself and centrebacks, Mustafi and Koscielny.

Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy was excellent (92%) as was his transitional passing (4 accurate long range passes). That said, like Elneny, Xhaka failed to show any sort of creativity with his passing (0 attempted through passes), which was problematic. Xhaka also failed to contribute in terms of forward transitional dribbles.

LCM: Ramsey (5/10)
It was a mixed defensive effort from Ramsey, who showed good defensive anticipation (2 interceptions) but was not aggressive enough in his approach (0 tackles).  Ramsey’s defensive positioning was nigh on woeful as he left an enormous amount of space between himself and centreback Koscielny and left wingback Monreal.  As a result of Ramsey’s poor positional discipline, Xhaka was forced to skew his defensive positioning to the left of centre to cover the space Ramsey’s should have been screening. This in turn compromised Xhaka’s ability to effectively screen Arsenal’s centrebacks.

Offensively, Ramsey’s passing accuracy was solid (85%) and while his transitional passing was poor (1 accurate long range pass), his contribution in terms of forward transitional dribbles was excellent (4 successful forward dribbles). Despite recording a late assist, Ramsey, like Elneny and Xhaka, failed to show any real creativity with his passing (0 attempted through passes), which was reflective in Arsenal’s disjointed offensive performance for the vast majority of the match.

RW: Iwobi (3/10)
It was a poor performance from Iwobi who only produced 1 shot, which was off target, 1 successful forward dribble and no attempted through passes.

With Iwobi only averaging 4 goals a season (of those seasons where he has started at least 15 Premier League games) and only producing (on a per game basis) 1.4 shots, 1.3 successful forward dribbles and 0.2 through passes, it is evident that the young Nigerian needs to increase his output in those key areas if he harbours desires of securing a starting attacking midfield role in Arsenal’s side, post Wenger.  3/10

ST: Lacazette (8/10)
It was a strong performance from Lacazette who demonstrated versus West Ham his goal scoring efficiency when presented with high probability goal scoring opportunities (2 goals from 3 shots). The fact that Lacazette managed to score 2 goals was all the more impressive given Ramsey, Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi and Welbeck all failed to attempt let alone execute a through pass.

LW: Welbeck (7/10)
It was an industrious performance from Welbeck, who attempted 4 shots, 1 of which was on target and executed 2 successful forward dribbles but no attempted through passes.

While Welbeck’s lack of ball control, poor shooting accuracy and limited passing creativity was once again evident in his performance, the Englishman’s hard work and persistence versus West Ham could not be questioned.

Final Thoughts

But for the final 10 minutes of the match, when West Ham’s effort dropped considerably, it was a poor performance from Arsenal.

The selection of Bellerin, Elneny, Iwobi and Welbeck were all questionable as was the 4-3-3 formation with the positionally ill disciplined Ramsey in central midfield.

Defensively, Koscielny and Bellerin had poor individual performances. That said, Arsenal’s defenders weren’t helped by the poor defensive positioning of Ramsey, Xhaka and Elneny in central midfield, which left Arsenal’s defence unnecessarily exposed.

Offensively, while Monreal did his best to threaten West Ham’s backline from crosses, and Xhaka and Ramsey were effective at efficiently and directly transitioning the ball from defence to attack, the absence of creative midfielders between Arsenal’s central midfield and forward lines, severely restricted the volume of high probability goal scoring opportunities for Iwobi, Lacazette and Welbeck.

With Burnley still only two points behind the Gunners and showing great defensive resolve, it could be a close race to finish 6th.

Freddie08

The stats referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Newcastle vs Arsenal

It was another tactically inept and disjointed performance from the Gunners in which central midfielders Xhaka and Elneny positioned themselves far too far from Arsenal’s centre backs, exposing Arsenal’s central defenders to counterattacks, and Elneny and Willock failed to efficiently and directly transition the ball from defence to attack which limited Arsenal’s effectiveness in the attacking third.

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Both prematch and in game, Arsenal setup in the same 4-3-3 formation they struggled to implement during their recent 2-2 draw versus CSKA Moscow.

While Arsenal were able (or allowed) to dominate possession (72% to 28%), Newcastle’s game plan of defending deep and counterattacking at pace down the flanks, was much more effective than Arsenal’s slow, directionless attacking approach.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a mixed performance from Cech who produced 1 save and conceded 2 goals from Newcastle’s 3 on target shots for the match. Disappointingly, 1 of the goals Cech conceded was at his near post and replays showed he could have tried harder to keep it out. While he wasn’t particularly challenged from Newcastle’s crossing attempts (only 8 attempted crosses for the match), Cech did well when called upon to deal with them. 4/10

RWB: Chambers
Deployed outside of his natural centre back position, Chambers showed poor defensive anticipation at right wingback (1 interception) but was very strong in his tackling (4 tackles). Despite his poor defensive anticipation, Chambers largely limited the attacking threat posed by his opponent, Kenedy (2 shots, 1 of which was on target, 0 successful forward dribbles, 2 inaccurate crosses and 1 inaccurate through pass). Offensively, while Chambers’ productivity in terms of transitional and attacking dribbles was limited (1 successful forward dribble), the young Englishman showed good attacking intent with his crossing, attempting 4 crosses for the match, 1 of which was accurate. Having endured Bellerin’s poor defensive production and inconsistent offensive output (dribbles and crosses) for the last few seasons, it was a pleasure to watch an actual defender in Chambers ply his trade in Arsenal’s right wingback role, even if it wasn’t his preferred position. 6/10

RCB: Mustafi
At fault for failing to cut out a cross which lead to Newcastle’s opening goal, it was a mixed defensive performance from Mustafi (2 tackles, 1 interception, 8 clearances and 10 successful aerial duels) who struggle to contained his Spanish opponent, Perez (3 shots, 1 of which was on target, 1 successful forward dribble). My primary criticism of the German’s performance was his poor defensive anticipation (1 interception) which presented Perez with some good shooting opportunities. That said, Mustafi was very dominate in the air and did well to simplify his defensive approach and just clear the ball when it entered Arsenal’s defensive third. 5/10

LCB: Holding
It was an underwhelming performance from Holding, who was very strong in his tackling (4 tackles) but struggled with his defensive anticipation (1 interception). The young Englishman also lost his aerial battle with his opponent, Gayle (1 successful aerial duel to Gayle’s 4) and he failed to consistently simplify his defensive approach and clear the ball when it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (2 clearances). Despite his struggles, Chambers largely contained his opponent, Gayle, who failed to attempt a shot or dribble for the match. 5/10

LWB: Monreal
It was a mixed defensive performance from Monreal, who was strong in his tackling (3 tackles) but struggled with his defensive anticipation (0 interceptions). As a consequence, Monreal’s opponent, Ritchie, was able to influence the game (1 goal, 3 shots, 2 of which were on target, 1 successful forward dribble, 1 inaccurate cross). Offensively, Monreal, like Chambers, delivered a mixed performance, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) but attempting 5, albeit inaccurate, crosses. 6/10

RCM: Elneny
It was a mixed defensive performance from Elneny, who showed strong defensive anticipation (3 interceptions) but wasn’t aggressive enough in his approach (1 tackle). Elneny’s defensive positioning was also poor as he left too much space between himself and Mustafi and Chambers, which exposed Arsenal’s right wingback and centreback to Newcastle’s counterattacks. Offensively, while Elneny’s passing accuracy (95%) was again excellent, his transitional passing (2 accurate long range pass) and transitional dribbles (1 successful forward dribble) weren’t plentiful enough to justify his selection in central midfield. Elneny also failed to show any real creativity with his passing (0 attempted through passes) which was an issue for Arsenal given Wenger’s tactical decision not to deploy any attacking midfielders between Arsenal’s central midfield and forward lines. 4/10

CM: Xhaka
It was a similarly mixed defensive effort from Xhaka, who was very aggressive in his defensive approach (4 tackles), but showed poor anticipation (0 interception) and, like Elneny, was poor in his defensive positioning, leaving too much space between himself and centrebacks, Mustafi and Holding. Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy was excellent (91%) as was his transitional passing (5 accurate long range passes). Xhaka also showed some creativity with his passing (1 accurate through pass), which was necessary given Wenger’s decision not to deploy any attacking midfielders. Xhaka’s only real blemish offensively was his failure, again, to contribute in terms of forward transitional dribbles. 6/10

LCM: Willock
A shock starter and an admirable, albeit somewhat underwhelming, defensive effort from the youngster, who was nice and aggressive (4 tackles) and did well to screen the space in front of Holding and Monreal. Like Xhaka though, Willock, showed poor defensive anticipation (1 interception). Offensively, WIllock’s passing accuracy was underwhelming for a central midfielder (80%) and his contribution in terms of transitional passing (1 accurate long range pass), transitional dribbles (0 forward dribbles) and creative passing (0 attempted through passes) was very poor. 4/10

RW: Iwobi
It was a solid performance from Iwobi (3 shot, 1 of which was on target and 3 successful forward dribbles). He wasn’t helped by Arsenal’s slow build up play, congesting the attacking third. 7/10

ST: Lacazette
A solid but somewhat underwhelming performance from Lacazette, who did well to finish from Aubameyang’s left wing cross and had a total of 3 shots for the match, but only 1 of which was on target. He struggled aerially with only 2 successful aerial duels for the match. Like Iwobi, Lacazette wasn’t help by Arsenal’s slow transitional play, which allowed Newcastle to establish a deep defensive block and deny the Frenchman the space to make runs in behind Newcastle’s backline. 6/10

LW: Aubameyang
Frustratingly played out of position on the left wing, it was a solid performance from Aubameyang (1 assist, 3 shot, 0 of which were on target and 2 successful forward dribbles). That said, the Gabonese striker looked at his best when he occupied a more central striking role alongside Lacazette. Wenger’s refusal to deploy the two up front in a striking pair and play to their off the ball strengths and clinical finishing skills baffles me. 7/10

Overall it was tactically inept performance by Arsenal. The Gunners’ defence while aggressive in their approach failed to demonstrate the necessary anticipation skills. That said, Arsenal’s defenders weren’t helped by the poor defensive positioning of Xhaka and Elneny in central midfield, which left Arsenal central and right side of defence particularly exposed. Offensively, while Arsenal’s wingbacks did their best to threaten Newcastle’s backline from crosses, Elneny and Willock failed to efficiently and directly transition the ball from defence to attack which severely restricted the goal scoring opportunities available to Iwobi, Lacazette and Aubameyang. Wenger’s failure to deploy any central attacking midfielders and leave the creative responsibility to Elneny, Xhaka and Willock, none of which have to date regularly contributed in terms of forward dribbles or through passes, seemed a gross oversight. With Burnley only two points behind the Gunners and Arsenal having not impressed on the pitch for a number of months, it will be interesting to see if the pressure brings out the pragmatist in Wenger for the match versus West Ham.

Freddie08

The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs Southampton

A lucky victory for the Gunners, in what was another disjointed and poor performance.

Surprisingly, Arsenal both setup in a 4-2-3-1 formation prematch and stuck to that formation in game.

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Despite Arsenal dominating possession (68% to Southampton’s 32%), the Gunners’ chosen attacking midfielders failed to regularly create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for the mobile and efficient Aubameyang and were fortunate that Welbeck’s repeated attempts on goal came off.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a strong performance from Cech who produced 6 saves for the match and and did well when called upon to deal with the Saints’ 23 crosses. In terms of the goals Arsenal conceded, there was nothing Cech could have done to prevent either, with lazy defending from Kolasinac and Mustafi to blame for Southampton’s opener and a combination of poor defending from Wilshere and Chambers and some excellent approach play from the impressive Cedric responsible for Austin’s goal. 8/10

RWB: Bellerin
While his defensive anticipation was solid (2 interceptions), it was another match in which Bellerin struggled to effectively shut down his opponent, Bertrand, due to a lack of aggressiveness in defence (0 tackles). As a consequence Bertrand was able to attempt a number of crosses (4 crosses, none of which were accurate). Offensively, Bellerin was again poor, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) and just attempting the 2, inaccurate, crosses. Despite Bellerin’s ongoing run of poor form and being evidently ill suited to the right fullback position, Wenger continues to deploy the Spaniard in that role. 4/10

RCB: Mustafi
After a run of excellent performances from Mustafi, it was a match to forget for the German (0 tackles, 0 interceptions). At fault for failing to cut out cross which lead to the Saints’ opening goal, Mustafi was ousted by his main opponent on the day in Tadic (1 shot, which was on target, 2 successful forward dribbles and an accurate through pass). On the positive, the German was reasonably strong aerially (3 successful aerial duels) and he attempted to simplify his defensive approach and just clear the ball when it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (7 clearances). 5/10

LCB: Chambers
After an impressive performance versus Stoke on his last start, it was a dissapoointing effort from Chambers versus Southampton (1 tackle and 1 interception). At fault for failing to cut out Cedric’s low cross which lead to the Saints’ second goal, Chambers was well beaten by Shane Long, his opponent on the day (a goal from his 3 shots, 2 of which were on target). Chambers also lost the aerial battle with Long (2 successful aerial duels to Long’s 7 successful aerial duels). While Chambers did make some effort to simplify his defensive approach and just clear the ball when it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (4 clearances for the match), he could have done that with greater frequency to alleviate the pressure on Arsenal’s defence. 4/10

LWB: Kolasinac
A very poor defensive performance from Kolasinac (0 tackles and 0 interceptions) as his chief opponent in the match, Cedric, assisted both of Southampton’s goal with crosses from flank which the Serb was defending and threaten with 2 further crosses. Offensively, Kolasinac delivered a mixed performance, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) but attempting 3, albeit inaccurate, crosses. 5/10

RCM: Elneny
While Arsenal dominated possession, it was a much improved defensive performance from Elneny (2 tackles and 3 interceptions), who did his best to screen the space in front of Bellerin and Mustafi. Offensively, while Elneny’s passing accuracy (96%) was again excellent, his transitional passing (2 accurate long range pass) and transitional dribbles (1 successful forward dribble) were not enough to justify his selection in that deep central midfield role. 6/10

LCM: Xhaka
It was a mixed defensive effort from Xhaka, who was strong in his tackling (3 tackles) and disciplined in this defensive positioning but poor in terms of his defensive awareness (0 interceptions). Offensively, while Xhaka’s passing accuracy was very good (85%), his transitional passing (3 accurate long range passes) was substantially down on his typical level of production in that regard (6 long range passes) and he only made a solitary forward dribble. Overall, it an underwhelming performance from the Swiss. Hoping it is just a blip and not regression. 5/10

RCAM: Nelson
A shock starter and objectively it was a poor performance from the youngster, who failed to attempt a shot on goal, execute a forward dribble or attempt a through pass. His 91% passing accuracy spoke volumes of a nervous young player making sure he executed simple passes throughout. That said, if Nelson wants to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s play when occupying one of the attacking midfield positions, he will need to substantially increase his volume of dribbles, shots and attempted through passes. With so many of Arsenal’s attacking midfielders failing to produce in those key metrics, the opportunity is there for the youngster but Arsenal can’t afford to carry yet another unproductive player. 3/10

CAM: Iwobi
Despite grabbing two assists, it was an underwhelming performance from Iwobi (1 shot, 1 successful forward dribbles, 0 attempted through passes and 83% passing accuracy). Like Nelson, he will need to substantially increase his volume of dribbles, shots and attempted through passes, if he holds aspirations of meaningfully contributing in one of Arsenal’s attacking midfield roles. 5/10

LCAM: Welbeck
A mixed performance from Welbeck, who offered no real threat via the dribble (0 successful forward dribbles) nor attempted any through passes but showed excellent goal scoring intent (2 goals from 4 shots) and passed the ball with a good level of accuracy (82%). 6/10

ST: Aubameyang
Apart from his well taken goal from Welbeck’s flick, it was yet another match for Aubameyang in which Arsenal’s attacking midfielders failed to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for the Gabonese striker. Despite limited clear cut goal scoring opportunities since joining the Gunners , Aubameyang is certainly making the most of them with 6 goals in 7 games. 7/10

Overall it was poor performance by Arsenal. The Gunners’ defence wasn’t proactive enough and Mustafi wasn’t able to bail out his underperforming defensive colleagues on this occasions. In central midfield, while Xhaka and Elneny were solid enough defensively, a lack of quick and direct transitional passing and dribbling from both players enabled Southampton to get numbers in defence and stifled the opportunities for Arsenal’s attacking midfielders to execute through passes for Aubameyang. Arsenal’s attacking midfielders also failed to provoke Southampton’s defence with limited forward dribbling attempts. That said, the shooting efficiency of Aubameyang combined with Webeck’s sheer persistence in terms of shooting attempts was enough to get the Gunners the three points in the end.

Freddie08

The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs CSKA Moscow

It was a great outcome but a mixed performance from the Gunners, who were greatly helped by some strong individual performances by Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil and some clinical finishing by Ramsey and Lacazette.

While Arsenal setup in a notional 4-2-3-1 formation prematch, they appeared to adopt more of a 4-2-1-3 formation in game.

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Despite Arsenal winning the possession battle (57% to CSKA Moscow’s 43%), the Gunners had to largely rely on the transitional passing of Xhaka, the creativity of Ozil and the clinical finishing of Lacazette and Ramsey to breakdown their Russian opponents.

Defensively, while Arsenal’s goal wasn’t overly threaten in the match, with CSKA only managing to get 4 of their 11 shots on target, CSKA did showed their effectiveness at transitioning the ball via the dribble, recording 14 dribbles in total. That combined with the poor defensive efforts of Bellerin, Koscielny and Monreal threatened to expose Arsenal at time, with Mustafi coming to the Gunners’ aid on a number of occasions.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a strong performance from Cech who produced 3 saves for the match and did well when called upon to deal with CSKA’s 17 crosses. In terms of the goal Arsenal conceded, there was nothing Cech could have done to prevent what was a beautifully struck free kick from Golovin. 7/10

RWB: Bellerin
It was another match in which Bellerin struggled defensively (2 tackles and 1 interception) as his opponent Schennikov repeatedly beat the Spaniard via the dribble (3 successful forward dribbles) and was allowed to attempt a number of crosses (5 crosses, 2 of which were accurate). Offensively, Bellerin was also very poor, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) and attempting just the 1 cross for the match (though he made it count with an assist for Ramsey’s opening goal). 4/10

RCB: Mustafi
It was another excellent defensive performance from Mustafi (4 tackle, 3 interceptions, 8 clearances and 1 successful aerial duel). While he wasn’t particularly challenged aerial by his opponent Musa and the player, on loan from Leicester, was able to attempt 2 shots, 1 of which was on target, and execute 5 successful forward dribbles, Mustafi’s accomplished defensive performance ensured the threat posed by the Nigerian was largely dealt with. 9/10

LCB: Koscielny
While he wasn’t overly challenged by his main opponent on the day, Wernbloom (2 shots, 1 of which was on target and 1 successful forward dribble), it was an underwhelming performance from Koscielny (0 tackles, 2 interceptions).  The Frenchman’s lack of aggression in his defensive approach allowed his opponent attacking opportunities that he otherwise wouldn’t have had.  Disappointingly, Koscielny also lost the aerial battle with Wernbloom (3 successful aerial duels to Wernbloom’s 6 successful duels). That said, the Frenchman did a great job of simply clearing his lines throughout the match, which is reflected in his 8 clearances.  After Chambers’ impressive performance versus Stoke, the pressure is on Koscielny to improve his defensive production to justify his ongoing selection. 5/10

LWB: Monreal
It was a quiet day defensively for Monreal (2 tackles and 0 interceptions) as his main opponent Kuchaev offered a  minimal dribbling threat (2 successful forward dribbles) and failed to attempt a cross during the match. My only criticism of Monreal’s defensive performance was that he could have been more intelligent in his defensive positioning to completely nullify the limited attacking threat posed by his opponent. Offensively, Monreal, like Bellerin was very poor, only attempting 1 forward dribble and failing to attempt a cross. 4/10

RCM: Ramsey
It was a mixed defensive performance from Ramsey, who struggling to contribute in term of tackling (1 tackle) but demonstrated improved defensive awareness (3 interceptions).  That said, Ramsey’s defensive positioning was poor as he failed miserably to screen the space in front of Bellerin and Mustafi (which put significant pressure on Mustafi in particular). In terms of Ramsey’s offensive performance, despite and passing the ball with very good accuracy (85%) and scoring two goals, as a consequence of abandoning his assigned central midfield position to occupy a more attacking midfield role, it was an underwhelming central midfield performance by the Welshman as he struggled to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s transitional play (2 accurate long range passes and just 1 successful forward dribble).  Ramsey once again demonstrated that he is far more suited to being deployed as an attacking midfielder as opposed to a deeper central midfield role.  While Arsenal weren’t burnt by his incorrect deployment versus CSKA Moscow, it has proved to be a different story versus higher quality opposition. 5/10

LCM: Xhaka
It was an underwhelming defensive effort from Xhaka, who demonstrated solid defensive awareness (2 interceptions), but was not aggressive enough in his approach (1 tackle). Xhaka’s defensive performance versus CSKA Moscow was a distinctly poorer showing in comparison to recent weeks and I’m hoping it was just a blip.  Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy was excellent (87%) as was his transitional passing (7 accurate long range passes) which was the catalyst for a number of Arsenal’s attacks. The only criticism of Xhaka’s offensive effort was his failure to offer anything in terms of transitional dribbles (0 successful forward dribbles). 7/10

RCAM: Ozil
It was an excellent attacking performance from Ozil who notched 2 assists, executed 3 successful through passes from his 4 attempts, had 2 shot for the match, 1 of which was on target and recorded 3 successful forward dribbles. While Ozil passed the ball with less accuracy than normal (80%), that was a consequence of the German taking more risks with his passing, which was very much welcomed.  For the amount of wages Ozil is being paid, he needed to increase his volume of dribbles, shots and attempted through passes and he did precisely that versus CSKA Moscow. 9/10

CAM: Wilshere
It was a poor performance from Wilshere (0 shots, 1 successful forward dribbles, 0 attempted through passes and 73% passing accuracy). After his recent poor performance versus Stoke, I noted that Wilshere’s time at Arsenal should be coming to an end due to his lack of offensive production (attempted through passes, goals and assists) when deployed in an attacking midfield role and his lack of defensive production (tackles and interceptions) when deployed in a deeper central midfield role. His abject performance versus CSKA Moscow did nothing to change that assessment. 2/10

LCAM: Mkhitaryan
It was a mixed but underwhelming performance from Mkhitaryan (4 shots, 1 of which was on target and 95% passing accuracy but 0 successful forward dribbles and no attempted through passes). Mkhitaryan’s historical performances indicate that he is capable of much better than what he produced versus CSKA Moscow, particular in terms of forward dribbles and attempted through passes. The challenge for the Armenian is to replicate those historical performances on a consistent basis for Arsenal. 5/10

ST: Lacazette
A clinical performance from Lacazette with 2 goals from his 2 shots for the match, one of which was a sumptuous volley. While Ozil did his best to feed the French striker, the same couldn’t be said of Mkhitaryan or Wilshere. Until Arsenal’s attacking midfielders begin to regularly create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for Lacazette, Arsenal won’t see the Frenchman’s true value. That aside, it was an impressive performance from Lacazette. 8/10

Overall, it was great outcome for Arsenal and puts the team in a commanding position going into the second leg in Russia.

That said, Arsenal will need to improve their defensive effort as they cannot keep relying of Mustafi to come to their rescue. Similarly, in attack, while Ozil’s performance set the benchmark which he needs to strive to replicate on a regular basis, he cannot do it alone and his fellow attacking midfielders need to substantially increase their offensive production.

Freddie08

The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.