Arsenal Player Analysis: WBA vs Arsenal

Another poor performance from the Gunners, who on the balance of play, deserved no more than a point. 

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech

But for his wayward attempted punch in the first half, which almost resulted in a goal for Robson-Kanu, Cech was solid both in terms of his shot stopping and in claiming crosses.

RWB: Bellerin

A quiet defensive performance from Bellerin as his opponent Gibbs rarely dribbled at him and failed to attempt any crosses.  Offensively Bellerin was very poor with no forward dribbles and just the one inaccurate crossing attempt. Despite his ongoing lack of production offensively and being less competent defensively than Debuchy and Maitland-Niles, Bellerin continues to be selected ahead of those two players.

RCB: Chambers

Like Bellerin, Chambers wasn’t particularly challenged defensively by WBA. That said, he was guilty of putting his hands in an unnatural position which resulted in the late penalty for the Baggies. Apart from that incident, he was okay aerially (2 successfully duels) and he adopted a no nonsense approach with a total of 8 clearances for the match.

CB: Mustafi

A solid performance from the German against the impressive Rodriguez, with 2 tackles and 2 interceptions. While Rodriguez arguably got the better of the German with 4 shots on goal, 2 of which were on target (excluding the penalty), Mustafi did manage 5 clearances and 2 successful aerial duels for the match.

LCB: Koscielny

An equally solid performance from Koscielny against Hal Robson-Kanu, with 2 tackles and 3 interceptions. While Robson-Kanu was able to get the better of the Frenchman with a number of dribbles and had 3 off target attempts on goal, Koscielny was very strong aerially with 4 successful aerial duels and adopted a safety first approach with 5 clearances.

LWB: Maitland-Niles

While Kolasinac started the match, Maitland-Niles ended up playing the majority of the game at left wingback after the Serb was forced off through injury in the first half. Defensively, Maitland-Niles was solid in the tackle but struggled badly with his defensive positioning (which wasn’t surprising given Wenger is playing him out of position and on his non preferred flank due to poor squad planning. Maitland-Niles opponent, Matt Phillips, was able to beat him via the dribble on a number of occasions which resulted in some dangerous crosses. Offensively, he largely failed to show his dribbling skills, with only one dribble for the match, and he only attempted two inaccurate crosses. Overall, it was a poor display from Maitland-Niles.

 RCM: Wilshere

A solid tackling display from Wilshere but his defensive positioning let him down as he failed to put Brunt under sufficient pressure to curb his influence. Offensively, his transitional play via the dribble (3) was excellent but his transitional passing (only 1 accurate long pass) needs to be greater in number, faster and more direct to give Arsenal’s attackers the opportunity to create clear cut goal scoring chances before the opponent’s defence establishes itself. His 87% passing accuracy was excellent as always. 

LCM: Xhaka

Another poor defensive showing from Xhaka with no tackles and just the one interception. While his opponent Livermore didn’t produce as much as Brunt offensively, it wasn’t due to pressure from Xhaka. Offensively, his transitional passing was exceptional with a plethora of accurate long range passes and his passing accuracy of 86% was also very good. As per usual he didn’t offer anything in terms of forward dribbles.

RCAM: Iwobi

A mixed performance from Iwobi. He showed good initiative with 3 attempts on goal, 2 of which were on target. That said, he failed to attempt any forward dribbles or through passes for the match.

LCAM: Sanchez

An excellent performance by Sanchez with a goal, 6 shots, 4 forward dribbles and two attempted through passes, one of which was successful. My only criticism of his performance was his shooting accuracy, 0/6 attempts in open play.

CF: Lacazette

Another difficult match for Lacazette given the likes of Bellerin, Iwobi and Maitland Niles struggled to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for him and Arsenal failed to move the ball forward quick enough to provide him with the space to showcase his finishing skills. Still he managed 3 shots with one on target. He again got dominated aerially.

Tactically the team is a mess at the moment. Wenger’s attacking blueprint of playing 7 attacking players and monopolising possession of the ball in the opponent’s half in an effort to capitalise on disorganisation in the opponent’s defensive setup is not and has not enabled the team to regularly create clear cut goal scoring opportunities. Similarly, Wenger’s defensive strategy, which encompasses the team’s 3 central defenders effectively being required to assume the defensive responsibility for the entire team, repeatedly fails.

Despite these repeated shortcomings, I don’t see Wenger resorting to any fundamental tactical changing as he hasn’t for the last 10 years.

One can always hope.

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