Another disjointed performance from the Gunners whose central midfielders again positioned themselves far too far from
Arsenal’s centre backs,
exposing Arsenal’s central defenders to counterattacks.
While Arsenal setup in a notional 4-2-3-1 formation prematch, they appeared to adopt more of a 3-3-4 formation in game.
While Arsenal were able (or allowed) to dominate possession (68% to 32%), Brighton game plan of defending deep and counterattacking at pace down the flanks, was much more effective than Arsenal’s directionless attacking approach.
In terms of individual performances:
Arguably at fault for Brighton’s first goal as he attempted but fail to claim a corner kick leaving an open goal for Duffy to stroke home. That said, the effectiveness of Arsenal’s zonal marking left much to be desired. While Cech could have also done better with Brighton’s second goal, it was a very well placed header from Murray that essentially wrong footed the goal keeper. Apart from those two instances, it was a solid performance from Cech, who made 4 saves to limit the damage. He also did well when called upon to deal with Brighton’s 12 further crosses.
It was a perplexing decision by Wenger to play the centre back at right back and expose him to the relentless dribbling and pace of Brighton’s left winger, Izquierdo. Consequently, the Colombian destroyed Chambers and ended the match with 4 shots, all of which were off target, 3 successful forward dribbles and 2 crosses, 1 of which was accurate. Conversely, Chambers only managed 1 tackle and 1 interception for the match. Offensively, Chambers was equally underwhelming with just 1 successful forward dribble and 2 inaccurate crosses. All that said, it’s hard to blame Chambers for underperforming in a position which he is clear ill suited to play in.
Overall it was a solid defensive performance from Mustafi (1 tackle, 3 interceptions, 6 clearances and 7 successful aerial duels). While he was too passive in his tackling and his opponent on the day, Murray got the better of him for Brighton’s 2nd goal, Mustafi’s positioning, aerial strength and willingness to clear his lines rather than over complicate his game were all excellent.
A disappointing defensive performance from Koscielny (1 tackle, 1 interceptions, 2 clearances and 2 successful aerial duels) as he struggled to shut down his opponent’s GroB (2 shots on target, and an assist for Brighton’s 2nd goal, following an error by Koscielny). While the ageing Frenchman remains Arsenal 2nd best central defender after Mustafi, a lack of protection from Arsenal’s central midfield is seriously exposing him.
It was an underwhelming defensive performance by Kolasinac (2 tackles and 1 interception), who visibly appeared low in confidence when called upon to defend. While his opponent, Knockart, was solid without impressing (2 shots, 1 of which was on target, 1 successful forward dribble and 2 inaccurate crosses), Kolasinac could have been more aggressive defensively and been more intelligent in his defensive positioning to eliminate the Frenchman’s threat. That said, offensively, Kolasinac was very good, with 2 successful forward dribbles and 3 out of 4 accurate crosses. It was an improved offensive display from Arsenal’s premier left fullback. Long may it continue.
It was a woeful defensive effort from Wilshere with 0 tackles and 1 interception) as he failed miserably to offer protection to Chambers and Mustafi and was soundly beaten by his opponent Popper. Offensively though Jack was very strong with an excellent 88% passing accuracy and 6 forward dribbles.
It was an impressive tackling display from Xhaka (3 tackles) as he worked hard to try and protect Arsenal’s centre backs. He did so without the assistant of Wilshere who abandoned his central midfield defensive duties. While Xhaka was nice and aggressive in his defensive approach, his defensive positional play was again poor (1 interception) as he positioned himself far too far from Arsenal’s centre backs. Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy (88%) and transitional passing (7 accurate long range passes) was excellent and he recorded a nice assist for Aubameyang’s goal.
It was a much improved offensive performance from the Armenian, with 3 shots, 2 of which were on target, 2 successful forward dribbles and a more respectable 80% passing accuracy. That said, he struggled again with his passing creativity (no attempted through passes).
It was similarly an improved performance from Ozil who recorded 2 forward dribbles and had 3 shots, one of which was on target and forced an excellent save from Matt Ryan in the Brighton goal. He also passed the ball with 84% accuracy and executed a successful through pass. All in all a better showing from the German.
While Ozil and Mykhitaryan demonstrated improved output, that wasn’t the case for Iwobi. While the young Nigerian had 2 shots for the match, 1 of which was on target, and had an impressive 87% passing accuracy, he lacked penetration and creativity with the ball, whether that be via the dribble (0 dribbles for the match) or in the form of through passes (0 attempted through passes).
His well taken goal aside, it was another match for Aubameyang in which Arsenal 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 totally deprives him 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 more I fear for the state of Aubameyang’s confidence.
Overall it was another poor performance by Arsenal. Defensively, Arsenal’s centre backs were again isolated by the central midfield, exposing them to counterattacks by Brighton. While Xhaka again showed some defensive improvements, his central midfield partner, whether it be Wilshere or Ramsey, don’t have the defensive focus or desire to fulfil the requirements of that role. Offensively, while Arsenal’s central midfield did a good job at quickly transitioning the ball from defence to attack via a combination of long range passes and dribbles, Arsenal attacking midfielders slowed the tempo of Arsenal’s attacks and over complicated the build up play which enable Brighton to establish a deep defensive block and deny Aubameyang the space he needs. With an inform Milan side to come next, things could get worse.