A great outcome for the Gunners but on closer inspection there were disappointing individual performances by the majority of Arsenal’s starting 11, including Chambers, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Ozil and Wilshere. Fortunately for Arsenal, Milan’s wayward shooting and a strong attacking performance from Mykhitaryan, ensured that Arsenal would take a commanding lead going into the second leg at the Emirates.
While Arsenal setup in a notional 4-2-3-1 formation prematch, they appeared to adopt more of a 3-3-2-2 formation in game.
Unlike Arsenal’s prior match versus Brighton, in which the Gunners were able (or allowed) to dominate possession (68% to 32%), the match versus AC Milan was a much more open affair with Milan edging possession (51% to Arsenal’s 49%).
In terms of individual performances:
With Milan’s woeful shooting accuracy (only 1 shot out of 16 attempts was on target) it was a relatively quiet day for Ospina. That said, he did well when called upon to deal with Milan’s whopping 31 crosses for the match.
It was a mixed defensive performance by Chambers (1 tackle, 2 interceptions, 4 clearances and 8 successful aerial duels) as he struggled to curb the creative influence of his opponent, Chalhanoglu (1 accurate through pass from 2 attempts and 1 accurate cross from 3 attempts). It was another perplexing decision by Wenger to play the centre back at right back and while Chambers was too timid in his tackling approach his defensive positioning was solid, he tried to keep his game simple, which was reflected in a good number of clearances and he was very strong when dealing with crosses from the opposite flank. Offensively, Chambers was again underwhelming with just 1 successful forward dribble and 1 accurate cross from 1 attempt. That said, it’s hard to blame Chambers for underperforming in a position which he is clearly ill suited to play in but which Wenger continues to select him in.
Overall it was an underwhelming defensive performance from Mustafi (0 tackle, 2 interceptions, 6 clearances and 2 successful aerial duels). While his defensive positioning was okay and he like, Chambers and Koscielny, tried to keep his game simple by clearing the ball at every opportunity, the German was too passive in his defensive approach which allow his opponent Bonaventura to attempt a whopping 7 shots. Fortunately for Mustafi, Bonaventura only managed to get 1 of his shots on target. Mustafi was also bested by his opponent in the air. While it wasn’t the best performance from the German, a lack of protection from Arsenal’s central midfield certain made things that much more difficult.
While it was a disappointing tackling performance from Koscielny (0 tackles), his defensive positioning (4 interceptions) was excellent and he kept his game nice and simple with 8 clearances for the match. Koscielny was also strong aerially with 4 successful aerial duels as his young opponent, Cutrone (1 off target shot and 1 successful forward dribble) really struggled. It was a welcome return to form for the Frenchman, who also wasn’t helped by a lack of protection from Arsenal’s central midfield.
It was a poor defensive performance by Kolasinac (0 tackles and 1 interception), who was well beaten by his opponent, Susa (3 shots, 0 of which were on target, 3 successful forward dribble and a host of inaccurate crosses), Kolasinac needed to be mor aggressive defensively and more intelligent in his defensive positioning to eliminate the threat posed by Susa. That said, offensively, Kolasinac was good in terms of his transitional play with 3 successful forward dribbles. Unfortunately his end product was lacking in both volume and accuracy, with just the 1 inaccurate cross for the match. I suspect that Serb is still suffering from low confidence following his marginalisation by Wenger throughout midseason.
His calmly taken goal aside, it was a disappointing performance from Ramsey. Defensively he only managed 1 tackle and 1 interception as he failed miserably to offer protection to Chambers and Mustafi. Offensively, while his passing accuracy was very good (86%), he failed to transition the ball from defence to attack whether it be via a dribble or accurate long pass.
It was a reasonably solid performance by Xhaka. While he wasn’t aggressive enough in his tackling (0 tackles for the match), he showed reasonable defensive awareness (2 interceptions). That said, his defensive positioning was still too far from Koscienly and Kolasinac to offer them meaningful protection. Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy (95%) and transitional passing (4 accurate long range passes) was excellent.
While he managed to notch 2 assists and recorded a successful through pass from his 2 attempts, it was an underwhelming performance from Ozil. The German failed to offer any threat via the dribble (0 successful forward dribbles) and failed to show anything in terms of goal scoring intent. While his passing accuracy (85%) was very good, more offensive output (in particular dribbles and shots) is expected of the German, who again failed to meet the expected key performance indicators for an attacking midfielder.
It was a poor performance by Wilshere who, despite recording 2 successful forward dribbles, struggled with his passing accuracy (78%), offered minimal threat on goal (1 off target shot) and showed limited creativity with his passing (1 inaccurate attempted through pass). Wilshere’s inability to consistently meet the key performance indicators of either Arsenal’s central midfielder or attacking midfielder, is increasingly building a case as to why Arsenal shouldn’t offer him a new contract for next season.
It was a strong offensive performance from the Armenian, with a goal from his 3 shots, another of which hit the cross bar, 5 successful forward dribbles and 83% passing accuracy. My only criticism of Mykhitaryan’s performance was his passing creativity (no attempted through passes). Apart from that it was a strong showing from the Armenian and he was clearly Arsenal’s man of the match.
It was a solid performance from Welbeck. While his goal drought continued, he showed some attacking intent with 2 shots, 1 of which was on target and he wasn’t helped by a lack of creativity from Ozil and Wilshere in particular. Aerially he was very good with 3 successful aerial duels. While his historical performances indicate he shouldn’t be considered for Arsenal’s first 11 in a striking capacity (or even as a back up), his performance in this match was much improved on recent outings.
Overall it was another poor performance by Arsenal, masked by a couple of goals and some impressive attacking play by Mykhitaryan. Defensively, Arsenal’s centre backs were again left unprotected by Arsenal’s central midfield, and in particular Ramsey. This exposed Arsenal’s defenders to Milan’s attacker and but for some wayward shooting by the Italians, the outcome of this match could have been very different. Offensively, there were poor performances again from Ramsey, Ozil and Wilshere, which made it difficult for Welbeck up front. That said, a win is a win and hopefully Arsenal’s players can take confidence from the outcome of this match into the game versus Watford and produce a much improved and more complete performance that what they dished out in Italy.