Despite the 4-1 score line, it was a largely poor performance from Arsenal, characterised by particularly disappointing efforts from Bellerin, Koscielny, Elneny and Iwobi.
While Arsenal setup in a notional 4-3-3 formation pre-match, the players’ average positioning indicated that they adopted more of a 4-2-2-2 formation in game.
Possession and key observations
Arsenal were able to dominate possession (68% to 32%) and Xhaka and Ramsey were effective at directly and efficiently transitioning the ball from defence to attack. That said:
- a lack of attacking midfielders in central positions (due to team selection and formation);
- a lack of creativity from Arsenal’s wide players (Iwobi and Welbeck) and central midfielders (Elneny, Xhaka and Ramsey); and
- desperate defending from West Ham, for the majority of the match;
resulted in Arsenal over complicating their build up play and struggling to create high probability goal scoring opportunities for Lacazette. It wasn’t really until the last 10 minutes of the match, when West Ham’s defending became lazy and space opened up in the attacking third, did the goals begin to flow for the Gunners.
GK: Ospina (7/10)
It was a solid performance from Ospina. While he conceded 1 goal from an excellent strike from West Ham’s Arnautovic, Ospina produced 3 saves for the match. The Columbian also did well when called upon to deal with West Ham’s 16 crosses.
RWB: Bellerin (4/10)
It was a very poor defensive performance from Bellerin on his return to the starting 11 (0 tackles and 0 interceptions), as he failed to show the necessary defensive anticipation and aggressiveness. Consequentially, his opponent, Masuaka, posed a threat down West Ham’s left flank (2 successful forward dribbles and 3, albeit inaccurate, crosses).
Offensively, while Bellerin’s crossing accuracy was good (2 accurate crosses from 2 attempts), his production level in terms of crosses relative to Arsenal’s possession (68%) was underwhelming. The Spaniard’s productivity in terms of transitional and attacking dribbles was also poor (1 successful forward dribble).
Overall it was another disappointing showing from the Spaniard.
LCB: Koscielny (4/10)
It was a poor defensive performance from Koscielny, who, like Bellerin, failed to demonstrated the necessary defensive anticipation and aggressiveness (1 tackle and 1 interception). As a result, his opponent, Arnautovic, posed a significant threat for West Ham (1 goal, 4 shots, 2 of which were on target, and 1 successful forward dribble). Notably, the Frenchmen was at his best when he simplified his defensive approach and just cleared the ball as it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (5 clearances). Koscielny was also solid aerially, ousting Arnautovic 3 successful aerial duels to 1.
RCB: Mustafi (6/10)
It was a mixed defensive performance from Mustafi. Positively, the German demonstrated excellent defensive anticipation (3 interceptions) and, like Koscielny, did well when he simplified his defensive approach and focused on clearing his lines (5 clearances). That said, Mustafi was too passive defensively (0 tackles). Luckily his main opponent, Mario, failed to demonstrate sufficient initiative to take advantage of Mustafi’s reluctance to tackle (1 shot, 1 successful dribble). Aerially the German wasn’t really challenged by his Portugese opponent (1 successful aerial duel each).
LWB: Monreal (6/10)
It was a quiet day defensively for Monreal (0 tackles and 0 interceptions), as his opponent Fernandes, struggled to make any sort of offensive impact (1 shot, which was off target, 1 successful forward dribble and no attempted crosses).
Offensively, while Monreal showed no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles), which was disappointing given the degree to which Arsenal dominated possession, the Spaniard showed excellent initiative, albeit poor accuracy, with his crossing (8, inaccurate, crossing attempts for the match).
RCM: Elneny (3/10)
It was a poor defensive performance from Elneny, both in terms of his defensive anticipation (1 interception) and aggressiveness (0 tackles). Elneny’s defensive positioning was also disappointing, as he left too much space between himself and Mustafi and Bellerin, which exposed Arsenal’s right wingback and centreback to potential counterattacks from West Ham.
Offensively, while Elneny’s passing accuracy (95%) was excellent, his transitional passing (0 accurate long range passes) and transitional dribbles (0 successful forward dribbles) were insufficient in volume to warrant his selection in central midfield. Elneny also failed to show any real creativity with his passing (0 attempted through passes). This was an issue for Arsenal given Wenger’s tactical decision not to deploy any attacking midfielders between Arsenal’s central midfield and forward lines.
While the Egyptian’s injury was unfortunate, it could be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal on the pitch, as it eliminates one of Arsenal’s least productive central midfielders from the selection equation.
CM: Xhaka (5/10)
It was a mixed defensive effort from Xhaka, who was aggressive enough in his defensive approach (2 tackles), but showed poor anticipatory skills (0 interceptions). Like Elneny, Xhaka’s defensive positioning was also poor, as he left too much space between himself and centrebacks, Mustafi and Koscielny.
Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy was excellent (92%) as was his transitional passing (4 accurate long range passes). That said, like Elneny, Xhaka failed to show any sort of creativity with his passing (0 attempted through passes), which was problematic. Xhaka also failed to contribute in terms of forward transitional dribbles.
LCM: Ramsey (5/10)
It was a mixed defensive effort from Ramsey, who showed good defensive anticipation (2 interceptions) but was not aggressive enough in his approach (0 tackles). Ramsey’s defensive positioning was nigh on woeful as he left an enormous amount of space between himself and centreback Koscielny and left wingback Monreal. As a result of Ramsey’s poor positional discipline, Xhaka was forced to skew his defensive positioning to the left of centre to cover the space Ramsey’s should have been screening. This in turn compromised Xhaka’s ability to effectively screen Arsenal’s centrebacks.
Offensively, Ramsey’s passing accuracy was solid (85%) and while his transitional passing was poor (1 accurate long range pass), his contribution in terms of forward transitional dribbles was excellent (4 successful forward dribbles). Despite recording a late assist, Ramsey, like Elneny and Xhaka, failed to show any real creativity with his passing (0 attempted through passes), which was reflective in Arsenal’s disjointed offensive performance for the vast majority of the match.
RW: Iwobi (3/10)
It was a poor performance from Iwobi who only produced 1 shot, which was off target, 1 successful forward dribble and no attempted through passes.
With Iwobi only averaging 4 goals a season (of those seasons where he has started at least 15 Premier League games) and only producing (on a per game basis) 1.4 shots, 1.3 successful forward dribbles and 0.2 through passes, it is evident that the young Nigerian needs to increase his output in those key areas if he harbours desires of securing a starting attacking midfield role in Arsenal’s side, post Wenger. 3/10
ST: Lacazette (8/10)
It was a strong performance from Lacazette who demonstrated versus West Ham his goal scoring efficiency when presented with high probability goal scoring opportunities (2 goals from 3 shots). The fact that Lacazette managed to score 2 goals was all the more impressive given Ramsey, Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi and Welbeck all failed to attempt let alone execute a through pass.
LW: Welbeck (7/10)
It was an industrious performance from Welbeck, who attempted 4 shots, 1 of which was on target and executed 2 successful forward dribbles but no attempted through passes.
While Welbeck’s lack of ball control, poor shooting accuracy and limited passing creativity was once again evident in his performance, the Englishman’s hard work and persistence versus West Ham could not be questioned.
But for the final 10 minutes of the match, when West Ham’s effort dropped considerably, it was a poor performance from Arsenal.
The selection of Bellerin, Elneny, Iwobi and Welbeck were all questionable as was the 4-3-3 formation with the positionally ill disciplined Ramsey in central midfield.
Defensively, Koscielny and Bellerin had poor individual performances. That said, Arsenal’s defenders weren’t helped by the poor defensive positioning of Ramsey, Xhaka and Elneny in central midfield, which left Arsenal’s defence unnecessarily exposed.
Offensively, while Monreal did his best to threaten West Ham’s backline from crosses, and Xhaka and Ramsey were effective at efficiently and directly transitioning the ball from defence to attack, the absence of creative midfielders between Arsenal’s central midfield and forward lines, severely restricted the volume of high probability goal scoring opportunities for Iwobi, Lacazette and Welbeck.
With Burnley still only two points behind the Gunners and showing great defensive resolve, it could be a close race to finish 6th.
The stats referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.