Arsenal Player Analysis: Europa League Semi Final

Following each season of the Premier League, each Arsenal player’s career-to-date performances are analysed and ranked against their internal competition.

Methodology

In assessing the on-field production and the comparative ranking of each player which comprise Arsenal’s senior squad, each player is allocated into six positional categories (with some players allocated to multiple positional categories due to their statistical versatility).

Those positional categories consist of:

  • Goalkeeper
  • Right Wingback
  • Central Defenders
  • Left Wingback
  • Central Midfielders
  • Strikers

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) in Europe’s top 5 leagues 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 5-3-2/3-5-2formation and the cornerstones of Arsenal’s tactical approach is as follows:

  • Mitigate the key weakness of Arsenal’s most productive goalkeeper (i.e. Leno and defending crosses) by defending in a low block 5-3-2 formation, with the Wingbacks dropping back to form a back five and the three Central Midfielders taking up positions in front of the Right Central Defender, Central Defender, and Left Central Defender.
  • Mitigate the key weakness of Arsenal most productive goal scorers (Aubameyang and Lacazette and attacking in a crowded opposition penalty box), by counter attacking in a 3-5-2 formation, with the three Central Midfielders and Wingbacks dribbling the ball upfield and trying to release the Strikers in behind the opposition defensive line or to get to the by-line in the opposition’s penalty box and cut the ball back to the Strikers.
  • 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 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 Strikers’ primary aims are to make runs 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:

Goalkeeper

Right Wingback

Central Defenders

Left Wingback

Central Midfielders

Strikers

Formation and line-up

Based on:

  • the above analytical comparison,
  • Arsenal’s aforementioned tactical basis and minimum required KPIs,
  • Ceballos suspended, and Luiz, Tierney and Lacazette recovering from injury, and
  • this being the hardest of Arsenal’s three fixture between 2 May and 9 May,

the 11 players which it is suggested should comprise Arsenal’s starting 11, for their Europa League semi final clash vs Villarreal would appear to be as follows:

Freddie08

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