Arsenal Player Analysis: Cardiff vs Arsenal

It was an unconvincing performance from the Gunners as they overcoming Cardiff 3-2.

Formation

Pre-match, Arsenal appeared to once again adopt the 4-2-3-1 formation that Emery employed versus Man City and Chelsea. That said, the players’ average positioning indicated that they adopted more of a 2-2-5-1 formation throughout the match, with Bellerin and Monreal occupying very advanced positions on the right and left flanks respectively.

Possession and key observations

As was anticipated, Cardiff were happy to cede possession, employ a highly energetic and aggressive defensive approach, and counter attack. This was reflected in Arsenal dominating possession (72% to 28%), but losing the ball recovery battle (11 tackles and 11 interceptions to Cardiff’s 12 tackles and 15 interceptions).

There was also a minimal difference between the two sides in terms of total shots (17 to 14 to Arsenal), and arguably Cardiff’s approach enabled them to create clearer goal scoring opportunities than Arsenal’s, which is an ongoing concern for the Gunners.

But for some poor finishing by Cardiff, and three clinical strikes Mustafi, Aubameyang and Lacazette, this is a match Arsenal could have easily lost.

Individual performances:

GK: Cech (6/10)

It was a difficult day for Cech, who conceded 2 goals from Cardiff’s 3 shots on target for the match. On the goal conceded, there was nothing more Cech could have done. That said, Cech did well when called upon to deal with Cardiff’s 19 crosses for the game.

RWB: Bellerin (3/10)

It was a terrible defensive performance from Bellerin, who failed to demonstrate the necessary defensive anticipatory skills (0 interceptions) and was unacceptably passive in his defending (0 tackles). Bellerin’s defensive positioning was also too far advanced (again), which exposed Arsenal’s right flank to counterattacks from Cardiff. Bellerin’s primary opponent, Bennett, took full advantage of this with an impressive 7 crossing attempts, 2 of which were accurate.

Offensively, Bellerin’s performance was mixed. Positively, the Spaniard attempted 3 crosses for the match. Unfortunately, none of those attempts were accurate and he failed to contribute to Arsenal’s transitional play via the dribble.

RCB: Mustafi (5/10)

It was an underwhelming defensive effort from Mustafi. Despite demonstrating good defensive anticipation (2 interceptions), the German was not aggressive enough in his defensive approach (1 tackle). While Mustafi was regularly isolated during the match, due to the poor defensive positioning of right wingback, Bellerin, individually Mustafi struggled to contain his primary opponent, Hoilett, who managed 3 shots for the match. Positively though, Mustafi was able to best the Canadian aerially, registering 5 successful aerial duels to Hoilett’s 0. The German was also solid with respect to clearances (5 for the match).

LCB: Sokratis (3/10)

It was a poor defensive performance from Sokratis. While the Greek international was strong aerially (4 successful aerial duels to his opponent, Reid’s, 1), he showed poor defensive anticipatory skills (1 interception) and was, for the second match running, not aggressive enough in his defensive approach (0 tackles). This allowed Reid to pose problems for Arsenal (2 shots, 1 of which was on target).  And while Sokratis’ effort to clear his lines was reasonable (3 clearances), he could certainly have simplified his defensive approach more often.

LWB: Monreal (5/10)

It was a relatively quiet day defensively for Monreal (1 tackle and 1 interception) as his opponent, Camarasa, struggled to make an impact (1 shot, 1 successful dribble and 1 crossing attempt), despite scoring a scrappy goal for Cardiff. That said, Monreal’s defensive positioning, like Bellerin’s, was too far advanced, which exposed Arsenal’s left flank to counterattacks from Cardiff.

Offensively, it was a mixed performance from the Spaniard, with only 1 successful forward dribble, but 3 crossing attempts for the match, albeit none were accurate.

RCDM: Guendouzi (4/10)

It was an underwhelming performance from the young and inexperienced Frenchman and a continuation of his poor performance versus West Ham. Defensively, the youngster was very poor, as he failed to demonstrate the necessary aggression in his defending (0 tackles) and showed limited defensive anticipation (1 interception). The only real positive of the Frenchman’s defensive effort was his positioning, in that he was reasonably disciplined and wasn’t drawn out of position and into advanced areas of the pitch too often.

Offensively, Guendouzi was solid, albeit slightly underwhelming, as he recorded 93% passing accuracy, and contributed 5 accurate, long range transitional passes, but failed to produce a successful forward transitional dribble.

LCDM: Xhaka (6/10)

It was a slightly underwhelming defensive performance from Xhaka, who was not aggressive enough in his defending (1 tackle), but showed reasonable defensive anticipatory skills (2 interceptions). In terms of his defensive positioning, while Xhaka was disciplined to a degree, in that he wasn’t drawn into advanced areas of the pitch, he was arguably too left of centre in his positioning, which left Arsenal unnecessarily exposed centrally.

Offensively, Xhaka was reasonably productive, as he recorded 86% passing accuracy and produced 6 accurate long-range transitional passes. The only real blemish on Xhaka’s offensive performance was once again his failure to contribute in terms a successful forward dribbles for the match (1 successful forward dribble).

RCAM: Ozil (3/10)

It was another poor attacking performance from Ozil, who showed no goal scoring intent (0 shots for the match), failed to attempt or produce a through ball and only managed 1 successful forward dribble and 1 key pass during the game.

CAM: Ramsey (7/10)

It was another solid performance by Ramsey, who showed some goal scoring initiative (2 shots, both of which were on target), a desire to penetrate Cardiff’s rearguard via the dribble (2 successful dribbles) and some nice creativity with his passing (4 key passes). The only real negative was Ramsey’s failure to attempt a through pass.

LCAM: Aubameyang (4/10)

His well taken goal aside, it was a poor performance by the Gabonese striker, who showed no desire to penetrate Cardiff’s rearguard via the dribble (0 successful dribbles) or through passes (0 attempted through passes). Aubameyng also showed no creativity with his passing (0 key passes). It was painfully obvious that Emery is limiting  Aubameyang’s effectiveness by deploying the Gabonese striker out of position on the wing. Emery’s refusal to adopt a formation that would allow Aubameyang and Lacazette to act as a striking duo, and in turn play to their goal scoring strengths, is highly reminiscent of the stubbornness seen from Wenger in the second half of his tenure.

CF: Lacazette (7/10)

While Aubameyang struggled being played out of position at LCAM, Lacazette flourished in his preferred striking role. The Frenchman, who had 5 shots for the match, 3 of which were on target, scored a cracking goal from an acute angle to seal victory for the Gunners. The diminutive Frenchman even managed to match it with his much taller and more physically opposing defender, in Bamba (3 successful aerial duels each).

Final Thoughts

Like the match versus West Ham, Arsenal’s performance versus Cardiff  was reminiscent of the side’s performances under Wenger during the second half of his tenure. While Arsenal dominated possession, they failed to regularly create high probability goal scoring opportunities. The Gunners also overcommitted players in attack, which exposed Arsenal’s centrebacks to dangerous counterattacks.

While Emery has shown in his opening 4 Premier League matches, a willingness to substitute high profile personnel (e.g. Ozil, Xhaka, etc), his refusal to adopt a formation and tactical approach, that accentuates the strengths of Arsenal’s elite attackers (Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil), and his unwavering commitment to the 4-2-3-1 system, even if it means playing a number of players out of position, is a concerning trend.

I fear that until:

  • Emery becomes more willing to adapt his approach to accentuate the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses of the elite players currently at his disposal; or
  • Arsenal are willing to overhaul the squad to recruit players with a more complimentary skill set to what Emery desires in his cherished 4-2-3-1 system;

Arsenal will continue to deliver unconvincing performances.

Freddie08

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

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs West Ham

It was an unconvincing performance from the Gunners as they recorded their first victory of the season, beating West Ham 3-1.

Formation

Pre-match, Arsenal appear to retain the 4-2-3-1 formation that Emery employed versus Man City and Chelsea, but the players’ average positioning indicated that they adopted more of a 4-1-1-3-1 formation throughout the match, with Guendouzi occupying a more advanced central midfield position ahead of Xhaka but behind Ramsey, who occupied the central attacking midfield role.

Possession and key observations

As predicted pre match, West Ham were happy to cede possession,  play with a deep defensive block and counter attack. This was reflected in Arsenal’s domination of possession (62% to 38%).

Despite that, there was minimal difference between the two sides in terms of total shots (17 to 14 to Arsenal), and arguably West Ham’s approach enabled them to create clearer goal scoring opportunities than Arsenal’s, which is a concern for the Gunners moving forward.

But for some poor finishing by West Ham, a fortunate deflection for Arsenal’s second goal, and some loose defending from West Ham in second half injury time, which enabled Welbeck to score, Arsenal could have easily lost the match.

Individual performances:

GK: Cech (7/10)

It was a busy day for Cech, who, while conceding a goal to Arnautovic, did very well to keep West Ham at bay, making 4 saves for the match. On the goal conceded, there was nothing more Cech could have done. Cech also did well when called upon to deal with West Ham’s 15 crosses for the game.

RWB: Bellerin (6/10)

It was a poor defensive performance from Bellerin, who showed limited defensive anticipation (1 interception) and was not aggressive enough with his defending (1 tackle). Bellerin’s defensive positioning was also way too far advanced, which exposed Arsenal’s right flank to counterattacks from West Ham. Bellerin’s primary opponent, Masuaku, took full advantage of this with 3 crossing attempts and 4 successful forward dribbles.

Conversely, it was a highly productive offensive performance from Bellerin, with 2 assists from his 5 crossing attempts for the match. The only real negative with Bellerin’s offensive effort was his failure to contribute to Arsenal’s transitional play, with no attacking dribbles.

RCB: Mustafi (4/10)

It was a poor defensive effort from Mustafi who was neither aggressive in his defensive approach (1 tackle), nor did he demonstrate good defensive anticipation (0 interceptions). While the German was regularly isolated during the match, due to poor defensive positioning from right wingback, Bellerin, individually Mustafi was unable to contain his primary opponent,  Antonio, who managed  2 shots, 1 of which was on target, and 2 forward dribbles. Disappointingly, Mustafi wasn’t even able to best the Englishman aerially, with both players registering 3 successful aerial duels a piece. The one positive of Mustafi’s defensive performance was his tendency to simply clear the ball from Arsenal’s defensive third (a whopping 14 clearances). This repeatedly relieved pressure on Arsenal’s back four.

LCB: Sokratis (5/10)

It was another mixed defensive performance from Sokratis. Positively, the Greek international showed solid defensive anticipatory skills (2 interceptions). However, he was no where near aggressive enough in his defensive approach (0 tackles). This allowed Arnautovic to showcase his talents (a goal from his 5 shots, 2 of which were on target). Disappointedly Sokratis, like Mustafi, also failed to win the aerial battle against his opponent (0 successful aerial duels to Arnautovic’s 1). And while Sokratis’ effort to clear his lines was reasonable (3 clearances), he could certainly have simplified his defensive approach more often.

LWB: Monreal (5/10)

It was a similarly mixed performance by Monreal. While the Spainard showed excellent aggression in his defending (3 tackles), he failed to demonstrate the necessary defensive anticipatory skills (0 interceptions). As a consequence, his opponent, Fredricks, had a productive performance down Arsenal’s left flank (3 successful dribbles, and 2 accurate crosses from his 2 attempts).

His composed strike for Arsenal’s  opening goal aside, Monreal was underwhelming offensively (0 attempted forward dribbles, and only 1 crossing attempt for the match, which was off target).

RCDM: Xhaka (7/10)

It was a much improved defensive performance from Xhaka, who was aggressive in his defending (3 tackles). That said, Xhaka once again showed limited defensive anticipatory skills (0 interceptions). In terms of his defensive positioning, while Xhaka was disciplined, in that he wasn’t drawn out of position and into advanced areas of the pitch, he was arguably too central in his positioning, which left Arsenal’s right flank unnecessarily exposed.

Offensively, Xhaka’s performance was also much improved, as he recorded 88% passing accuracy and produced 7 accurate long-range transitional passes. The only real belimish on Xhaka’s offensive performance was his failure to contribute in terms a successful forward dribbles for the match (1 successful forward dribble).

LCDM: Guendouzi (6/10)

It was a solid, albeit slightly underwhelming, performance from the young and inexperienced Frenchman. Defensively the youngster was aggressive in his defending (2 tackles) but showed limited defensive anticipation (1 interception). The Frenchman’s defensive positioning was also poor in that he lacked discipline and was drawn out of position and into advanced areas of the pitch too often.

Offensively, Guendouzi was equally solid, albeit slightly underwhelming, as he recorded 90% passing accuracy, contributed 4 accurate, long range transitional passes, but failed to produce a successful forward transitional dribble.

RCAM: Mkhitaryan (5/10)

It was an underwhelming attacking performance from Mkhitaryan, who showed good goal scoring intent, with 3 shots for the match, 1 of which was on target, but he failed to produce a successful forward dribble, key pass or through ball.

CAM: Ramsey (6/10)

It was solid performance by Ramsey, who showed some goal scoring initiative (2 shots, 1 of which was on target), a real desire to penetrate West Ham’s rearguard via the dribble (3 successful dribbles) and some creativity with  his passing (2 key passes). The only real negative was Ramsey’s failure to attempt a through pass.

LCAM: Iwobi (4/10)

It was an poor performance by the young Nigerian, who, while producing an assist from his solitary key pass for the match, showed limited desire to penetrate West Ham’s rearguard via the dribble (1 successful dribble) or through passes (0 attempted through passes). Iwobi also showed no goal scoring intent (0 shots).

CF: Aubameyang (5/10)

It was another energetic and trying performance from Aubameyang, who had 3 shots for the match, 1 of which was on target. Aerially though, the Gabonese striker lost the battle with this opposing defender Balbuena (2 successful aerial duels to 0).

Final Thoughts

Overall, it was a performance by Arsenal which was reminiscent the side’s performances under Wenger during the second half of his tenure. While Arsenal dominated possession, they failed to regularly create high probability goal scoring opportunities. The Gunners also overcommitted players in attack, which exposed Arsenal’s centrebacks to dangerous counterattacks.

Arsenal are likely to encounter many more sides this season which are happy to employ the counter attacking tactics which West Ham (almost successfully) implemented.

If Arsenal’s performance versus the Hammers is anything to go by, Emery has a lot of work to do tactically and with the players.

Freddie08

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

Arsenal vs West Ham: Is 4-3-1-2 the template for success?

After watching Arsenal play against two high pressing attacking teams in Chelsea and Man City, it will be interesting to see how Arsenal go against West Ham, who may be more inclined to set up in a low defensive block and counter attack.

If that is the case, Arsenal will need to force West Ham out of their low defensive block to give Arsenal’s pacey forwards, Aubameyang and Lacazette, space behind West Ham’s defensive line to make off the ball runs into, and give Ozil the passing lane to execute through passes.

To do that I think Arsenal will need to stretch the game vertifically by their central midfielders and attacking midfielder transitioning the ball quickly upfield and with the risk of turning the ball over in the central and attacking thirds.

To counteract the greater risk of Arsenal losing possession in those areas of the pitch, due to misplaced passes, I think Arsenal will also need to reinforce their deeplying central midfield with an extra body, and ensure all three deeplying central midfielders have a proven track record of being productive at long range passing, tackling and intercepting.

Based on the above, the starting line up I would like to see Arsenal deploy versus West Ham is:

GK: Cech
RB: Osei-Tutu
RCB: Sokratis
LCB: Mavropanos
LB: Monreal
RCDM: Mustafi
CDM: Torreria
LCDM: Guendouzi
CAM: Ozil
RS: Lacazette
LS: Aubameyang

Freddie08

Arsenal player analysis: Chelsea vs Arsenal

It was a naive defensive display from the Gunners as they slumped to another loss, going down to Chelsea 3-2.

Formation

Pre-match, Arsenal appear to retain the 4-2-3-1 formation that Emery employed versus Man City, and the players average positioning indicated that they largely stuck to that formation throughout the match versus Chelsea.

Possession and key observations

With Chelsea’s new boss Sarri employing similar tactics to Arsenal’s Emery (i.e. playing the ball out of from the back in an effort to entice the opposition to come forward, before transitioning the ball through the lines quickly to attack, and pressing the opposition high up the field with intensity and numbers when defending), it came down to which teams’ set of players could implement those tactics more effectively. The answer was unequivocally Chelsea, who had 10% more possession than the Gunners, almost double Arsenal’s shots and shots on target, out tackled the Gunners, and completed more successful dribbles.

Despite an excellent defensive performance by youngster Guendouzi and a 20 minute period in the first half where the Gunners scored two goals and missed two guilt edge chance, on the back of great use of the inside channels and cut backs from the byline, Chelsea were too polished for Arsenal, particularly in central midfield and attack.

Individual performances:

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 were Cech’s fault. Cech also did well when called upon to deal with Chelsea’s 15 crosses for the match.

RWB: Bellerin (5/10)

It was a mixed defensive performance from Bellerin, who showed good defensive anticipation (2 interceptions) but was not aggressive enough with his defending (1 tackle). Bellerin’s defensive positioning was also way too far advanced, which exposed Arsenal’s right flank to counterattacks from Chelsea, and ultimately lead to Chelsea’s opener. Bellerin’s poor defensive positioning allowed his primary opponent, Alonso, to dominate down Arsenal’s right flank (1 goal from his 3 shots for the match and an assist from his 3 crosses for the match).

Offensively, it was a similarly mixed performance from Bellerin, with 1 accurate cross from his 3 attempts for the match, but no transitional or attacking dribbles.

RCB: Mustafi (6/10)

While Mustafi was aggressive in his defensive approach (2 tackles), he demonstrated poor defensive anticipation (1 interception). Despite Mustafi being regularly isolated during the match, due to a lack of protection from Xhaka, in the right central midfield position, and poor defensive positioning from right wingback, Bellerin, the German still managed to restrict his primary opponent, Willian, to no attempts on goal and 2 forward dribbles. Disappointingly though, Mustafi wasn’t able to best his Brazilian opponent aerially, with both players registering 1 successful aerial duel a piece. That said, Mustafi simplified defensive approach, which resulted in 7 clearances, was a breath of fresh air as a number of his defensive and attacking colleagues repeatedly over complicated Arsenal’s play.

LCB: Sokratis (5/10)

It was another mixed defensive performance from Sokratis. Positively, the Greek international was aggressive in his defending (2 tackles). However, his defensive anticipation was very poor (0 interceptions). This allowed  Morata to showcase his talents (a goal from his 3 shots, 2 of which were on target, and 1 forward dribble). Disappointedly Sokratis, like Mustafi, also failed to win the aerial battle against his opponent (1 successful aerial duel each). And while Sokratis efforts to clear his lines was reasonable (4 clearances), he could certainly have simplified his defensive approach more often.

LWB: Monreal (3/10)

It was a very poor start to the season for Monreal defensively. The Spainard wasn’t aggressive enough defensively (0 tackles) nor did he demonstrate the necessary defensive anticipation (1 interception). As a consequence,  his opponent Pedro, influenced the game down Arsenal’s left flank (a goal from his 6 shots, 2 of which were on target, 3 successful dribbles, and 3 attempted crosses, 1 of which was accurate).

Offensively, Monreal was underwhelming, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 attempted forward dribbles) and only 2 crossing attempts for the match, 1 of which was on target.

RCDM: Xhaka (3/10)

It was a poor defensive performance from Xhaka, who was neither aggressive enough (1 tackle) nor did he demonstrate the necessary defensive awareness (0 interceptions). The only real positive regarding Xhaka’s defensive performance was his positioning, in that he was disciplined and wasn’t drawn out of position and into advanced areas of the pitch.

Offensively, Xhaka’s performance was mixed. Positively, Xhaka recorded 83% passing accuracy but he only managed to produce 2 accurate long-range transitional passes and failed to make a successful forward dribble for the match. It was also noticeable how much Xhaka wasn’t able to cope when pressed by Chelsea’s midfield. This resulted in the Swiss turning the ball over on a number of occasions through errant passes.

LCDM: Guendouzi (9/10)

It was a hugely impressive performance for the young and inexperienced Frenchman. Defensively the youngster was very aggressive (4 tackles) and showed excellent defensive anticipation (5 interceptions). The Frenchman’s defensive positioning was also very good in that he was disciplined and wasn’t drawn out of position and into advanced areas of the pitch.

Offensively, Guendouzi was equally impressive, as he recorded 94% passing accuracy, contributed  5 accurate, long range transitional passes, and produced 2 successful   forward transitional dribbles. Easily Arsenal’s man of the match.

RCAM: Mkhitaryan (8/10)

It was an excellent attacking performance from Mkhitaryan, who recorded a goal, from his 3 shots for the match, and an assist , from his 5 key passes. The Armenian also manage to produce 2 successful attacking dribbles. The only criticism of Mkhitaryan’s effort versus Chelsea was inability to produce a successful throughball. That aside, it was an excellent showing from the Armenian

CAM: Ozil (3/10)

Unlike Mkhitaryan’s effort, it was a dour performance by Ozil, who showed limited goal scoring initiative (2 shots, both of which were off target) and no real desire to penetrate Chelsea’s rearguard via the dribble (0 successful dribbles) or through his passing (0 key passes and 0 attempted through passes).

LCAM: Iwobi (6/10)

It was a mixed performance by the young Nigerian, who managed a goal (from his two shots for the match) and an assist (from his 2 key passes) but show limited desire to penetrate Chelsea’s rearguard via the dribble (1 successful dribble) or through passes (0 attempted through passes).

CF: Aubameyang (6/10)

His guilt edge miss aside, it was an energetic and trying performance from Aubameyang, who had 4 shots for the match, 2 of which were on target. Aerially though, the Gabonese striker lost the battle with this opposing defender Rudiger (2 successful aerial duels to 1).

Final Thoughts

Overall it was another defensively naive performance from Arsenal, which followed a similar pattern to Arsenal’s round 1 performance versus Man City. While Arsenal looked a far more dangerous attacking outlet (than last season) thanks to Guendouzi’s quick and repeated transitions and the likes of Mkhitaryan and, to a lesser extent, Iwobi demonstrating a greater willingness to take risks, Arsenal’s central midfield was again overrun by their opponents, with Xhaka particularly ineffective, and Arsenal’s fullbacks were again frequently caught out of position.

With the evident tactical flaws in Emery’s defensive approach unlikely to be addressed or resolved anytime soon, the onus is on Arsenal to outscore opponents, with the knowledge they are likely to regularly concede goals. Given those teams that have historically been successful in the Premier League have based their success of establishing an effective low defensive block and scoring via counterattacking opportunities, Emery and Arsenal’s prospects this season seem bleak.

Freddie08

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

Cech or Leno, who should start in goal for Arsenal this season?

It’s Cech for me. While Leno might be more used to passing the ball out from the back, the German is an inferior shop stopper to Cech, is prone to making more errors and crucially, is less dominate at claiming crosses.

That last facet of goalkeeping is particularly significant in the Premier League, and it is a key reason why Ospina, who struggles in that department despite being a superior shot stopper to Cech, has been unable to usurp the former Chelsea stalwart.

Personally, I think Arsenal made a costly (£19 million) mistake in recruiting Leno, given they already have two impressive younger goalkeepers on their books in Martinez and Macey.

That said, it doesn’t appear the club has done, nor is it intending to do, their contracted goalkeepers any favours, but recruiting a coach in Emery who is notorious for employing a high defensive line and recruiting and/or retaining relatively slow and immobile central defenders in Sokratis, Mustafi, Holding, and an aging Koscielny.

As previous Premier League seasons have shown, a goalkeeper’s effectiveness is very much linked to the effectiveness of the defensive scheme and defensive personnel that protect them. For Arsenal’s current cohort, it appear that the lack of protection they experienced under Wenger will continue under Emery.

Freddie08

With Kolasinac injured and Monreal underdone, who fills Arsenal’s left fullback position?

The most natural replacement would be Cohen Bramall, who is an actual left fullback, who spent last year on loan with Birmingham City. Outside of that, it’s playing players out of position. I would much rather see Arsenal play a specialist left fullback in the left fullback position as opposed to continue on Wenger’s round peg in square hole approach to squad management.

Either way, with the historically poor defensive production of Arsenal’s central midfield (Torriera aside) and right fullback options, I think it’s unrealistic to expect so many of the same players (e.g. Bellerin, Lichtsteiner, Xhaka, Ramsey, Elneny) to all of a sudden demonstrate defensive capabilities that they have not done so throughout their professional careers (even with Emery’s influence).

For that reason alone I’m not expecting Arsenal to get anything from their clashes versus Man City or Chelsea, irrespective of who plays at fullback.

Freddie08

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.

may-18-lec-v-ars.png

may-18-lec-v-ars-1.png

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.