Arsenal Player Analysis: Europa League Round of 16
Posted on March 16, 2021
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Following each season of the Premier League, each Arsenal player’s career-to-date performances are analysed and ranked against their internal competition.
In assessing the on-field production and the comparative ranking of each player which comprise Arsenal’s senior squad, each player is allocated into nine positional categories (with some players allocated to multiple positional categories due to their perceived versatility).
Those positional categories consist of:
- Right Wingback
- Central Defenders
- Left Wingback
- Central Defensive Midfielder
- Central Midfielders
- Centre Forward
Once categorised, each player’s output in defined key performance indicators (KPIs) for their respective positional category has then been considered, using data sourced from Whoscored.com.
To provide a realistic picture of each individual player’s on-field production, only data from those seasons, throughout the player’s professional career, where the player has started at least 15 league games in at least two seasons (consecutive or non-consecutive) was considered. Where a player has not met that criteria, their productivity data was not assessed.
Different weightings were then assigned to the KPI data considered for each positional group based on the assumption that Arsenal adopt a 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation and the cornerstones of Arsenal’s tactical approach is as follows:
- In attack, Arsenal can generally dynamically, rather through patient build up involving the central defensive midfielder, though the central defensive midfielder’s role in spreading the play or helping the centre backs bring the ball out should not be understated. In Aubameyang (Pepe/Martinelli) and Lacazette (Nketiah), Arsenal have complimentary forwards who thrive on direct balls. Lacazette (Nketiah) can be used to hold up the ball or drop off, with Aubameyang (Pepe/Martinelli) possessing the attacking positional awareness and explosiveness to run in behind or between the opposition’s defence. Arsenal can play very vertically, especially if the centre backs can bring the ball out and play in the centre forward or striker directly. Otherwise, Arsenal can use width to create overloads or one vs one situations for a wingback to attack the opposition’s full back, get to by-line and cut the ball back for the centre forward and/or striker and onrushing central midfielder(s).
- Arsenal’s 3-5-2 in attack, can turn into a 5-3-2 in defence. Generally, Arsenal can look to press man for man higher up the pitch, and often try to shepherd the opposition into wider areas by allowing the opposition’s fullbacks some space, leaving them as the easiest option for a pass. This allows Arsenal to stuff up the middle of the pitch, making them hard to play through. It also means that when Arsenal do engage the opposition out wide, there is space in behind the opposition’s fullbacks in which they can attack.
- The goalkeeper’s primary aims are to stop shots and claim crosses.
- The wingbacks’ primary aims are to tackle their opponent to recover the ball (2+ per match), and contribute to the team’s offensive play by producing multiple dribbles and key passes (2+) per match.
- The central defenders’ primary aims are to shield the goalkeeper by positioning themselves to intercept passes into the box (2+ per game), win as aerial duels (3+ per game), and execute multiple long passes (3+) per game.
- The central defensive midfielder’s primary aims are to shield the central defenders by tackling their opponent and intercepting passes to recover the ball (2+ each) per match, and contribute to the team’s offensive play by producing multiple long passes (3+) per match.
- The central midfielders primary aims are to tackle their opponent to recover the ball (2+) per match, and contribute to the team’s offensive play in the final third through multiple dribbles (2+) and key passes (2+) per match.
- The centre forward’s primary aims are to hold up the ball, link with the central midfielders and wingbacks, create opportunities for the striker (multiple (2+) key passes per match) as well as attempt multiple shots per game (3+) and significantly contribute to the team’s goal scoring (15+ goals per season).
- The striker’s primary aims are to make run in behind and in between the opposition’s defensive line, attempt multiple shots per game (3+) and significantly contribute to the team’s goal scoring (15+ goals per season).
The findings of the aforementioned analysis, provide an invaluable insight as to:
- how each player ranks against their internal competition within their positional category; and
- which 11 players make up Arsenal’s most productive team.
Internal player rankings
The player rankings by position are as follows:
Central Defensive Midfielder
Formation and line-up
- the above analytical comparison,
- Arsenal’s aforementioned tactical basis and minimum required KPIs,
- Smith Rowe recovering from injury, and
- this being one of Arsenal’s harder fixture of the three between 6 March and 15 March,
the 11 players which it is suggested should comprise Arsenal’s starting 11, for their Round of 16 Europa League clash versus Olympiacos would appear to be as follows: