Objectively, it was a disjointed and poor performance from the Gunners, punctuated by some excellent individual performances by Mustafi and Chambers and 2 well struck penalties by Aubameyang and Lacazette.
While Arsenal setup in a notional 4-2-3-1 formation prematch, they appeared to adopt more of a 4-2-2-2 formation in game.
Despite Arsenal dominating possession (70% to Stoke’s 30%), the Gunners failed to regularly create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for the mobile and efficient Aubameyang and were largely directionless in their attacking approach.
That was largely due to Arsenal’s central midfielders, Elneny and Ramsey, again failing to transition the ball forward with speed to enable Arsenal’s attacking midfielders to create for the pacy Aubameyang.
This enable Stoke to:
- set a deep defensive block and limited the available space within which Aubameyang could run into; and
- launch counter attacks, led by the dangerous Shaqiri, when Arsenal’s ponderous attacking approach inevitably broken down.
Defensively, Arsenal’s centre backs, Chambers and Musatfi, were excellent despite being isolated by Arsenal’s central midfielders, Ramsey and Elneny, who again demonstrated that they do not have the defensive focus or desire to fulfil the defensive requirements of that role.
In terms of individual performances:
While it was not an overly busy day for Ospina, thanks to Stoke’s wayward finishing and inaccurate crossing, it was nevertheless a solid performance from the Colombian, who produced 2 saves for the match and did well when called upon to deal with Stoke’s 17 crosses for the match. 7/10
It was a quiet day for Bellerin defensively (1 tackle and 0 interceptions) as his opponent Sobhi failed to provide any offensive production for Stoke (0 shots, 0 forward dribbles and just the 1, inaccurate, crossing attempt). Offensively though Bellerin was again very poor, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) nor a willingness to cross the ball (0 attempted crosses). 4/10
It was an excellent defensive performance from Mustafi (4 tackle, 3 interceptions, 3 clearances and 3 successful aerial duels). While Mustafi wasn’t particularly challenged aerial by his opponent Shaqiri, and the Swiss was able to attempt 3 shots, 1 of which was on target, and execute 2 successful forward dribbles, but for the German’s accomplish defensive showing, Arsenal would likely have conceded one if not more goals. 9/10
It was a similarly excellent performance from Chambers (2 tackles, 4 interceptions, 3 clearances and 4 successful aerial duels). While his main opponent on the day, Diouf, was generally poor (1 shot, which was off target and 0 successful forward dribbles), Diouf’s limited offensive production was largely due to Chambers’ aggressive and intelligent defensive play. My only criticism of the young Englishman’s performance was that he lost the aerial battle with Diouf (3 successful aerial duels to Diouf’s 9 successful duels). That said, Chambers’ effort and application in the match could not be questioned and the youngster made the most of his limited first team opportunity in his prefer and best suited position. 8/10
It was a very quiet day defensively for Monreal (1 tackle and 2 interceptions) as his main opponent Bauer offered nothing in terms of a dribbling threat (0 forward dribbles), had 1 shot, which was off target, and recorded 2 attempted, but inaccurate, crosses. My only criticism of Monreal’s defensive performance was that he could have been more aggressive in his approach to completely nullify the limited attacking threat posed by his opponent. Offensively, Monreal, like Bellerin was very poor, attempting no forward dribbles and just 1, inaccurate, cross. 5/10
Despite Arsenal dominating possession, it was another dreadful defensive performance from Elneny (0 tackles and 1 interception), who failed miserably to screen the space in front of Bellerin and Mustafi. Offensively, while Elneny’s passing accuracy (88%) was excellent, his transitional passing (1 accurate range pass) and transitional dribbles (1 successful forward dribble) were very poor. 4/10
It was a mixed defensive effort from Ramsey, who was solid in his tackling (2 tackles), but woeful in his defensive positioning (0 interceptions). Overall, Ramsey failed to offer sufficient defensive protection to Chambers and Monreal. Offensively, while Ramsey’s passing accuracy was very good (83%) and his transitional passing was solid (2 accurate long range passes), Ramsey failed to offer anything in terms of forward dribbles (0 successful forward dribbles). An increased volume of quick transitional plays, either via the dribble or long range passing, is required from the Welshman if he wishes to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s offensive play. 5/10
It was an underwhelming performance from Ozil who only executed 1 successful through pass from his 1 attempt and had 1 shot for the match. Positively though Ozil recorded 2 successful forward dribbles and passed the ball with 85% accuracy. For the amount of wages Ozil is being paid, an increased volume of dribbles, shots and attempted through passes is both expected and required from the German when occupying one of Arsenal’s attacking midfield positions. 5/10
Like Ozil it was a similarly underwhelming performance from Wilshere (1 shot, 3 successful forward dribbles, 0 attempted through passes and 88% passing accuracy). Objectively, 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. Unfortunately Wilshere did nothing versus Stoke to change that assessment of his on field performances. 5/10
It a dreadful performance from Welbeck (1 shot, which was off target, 0 successful forward dribbles, 80% passing accuracy and no attempted through passes). Much like Wilshere, Welbeck lack of offensive production, whether it be in a striking role (goals and shots per game) or in an attacking midfield role (dribbles, assists and through passes), should result in Arsenal selling the player at season’s end. 3/10
Apart from his penalty and a well taken goal from a loose ball in the box, 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 plays 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 more I fear for the state of Aubameyang’s confidence. 7/10
Overall it was another poor performance by Arsenal, masked by two penalties from 50/50 challenges by Stoke players and a well hit strike from Aubameyang.
While the result will likely mask Arsenal’s poor performance in he view of many pundits, make no mistake, Arsenal’s individual and collective performance levels need to drastically improve.
The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.