Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs West Ham

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.

Formation

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.

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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.

Individual performances:

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Freddie08

The stats referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Newcastle vs Arsenal

It was another tactically inept and disjointed performance from the Gunners in which central midfielders Xhaka and Elneny positioned themselves far too far from Arsenal’s centre backs, exposing Arsenal’s central defenders to counterattacks, and Elneny and Willock failed to efficiently and directly transition the ball from defence to attack which limited Arsenal’s effectiveness in the attacking third.

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Both prematch and in game, Arsenal setup in the same 4-3-3 formation they struggled to implement during their recent 2-2 draw versus CSKA Moscow.

While Arsenal were able (or allowed) to dominate possession (72% to 28%), Newcastle’s game plan of defending deep and counterattacking at pace down the flanks, was much more effective than Arsenal’s slow, directionless attacking approach.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a mixed performance from Cech who produced 1 save and conceded 2 goals from Newcastle’s 3 on target shots for the match. Disappointingly, 1 of the goals Cech conceded was at his near post and replays showed he could have tried harder to keep it out. While he wasn’t particularly challenged from Newcastle’s crossing attempts (only 8 attempted crosses for the match), Cech did well when called upon to deal with them. 4/10

RWB: Chambers
Deployed outside of his natural centre back position, Chambers showed poor defensive anticipation at right wingback (1 interception) but was very strong in his tackling (4 tackles). Despite his poor defensive anticipation, Chambers largely limited the attacking threat posed by his opponent, Kenedy (2 shots, 1 of which was on target, 0 successful forward dribbles, 2 inaccurate crosses and 1 inaccurate through pass). Offensively, while Chambers’ productivity in terms of transitional and attacking dribbles was limited (1 successful forward dribble), the young Englishman showed good attacking intent with his crossing, attempting 4 crosses for the match, 1 of which was accurate. Having endured Bellerin’s poor defensive production and inconsistent offensive output (dribbles and crosses) for the last few seasons, it was a pleasure to watch an actual defender in Chambers ply his trade in Arsenal’s right wingback role, even if it wasn’t his preferred position. 6/10

RCB: Mustafi
At fault for failing to cut out a cross which lead to Newcastle’s opening goal, it was a mixed defensive performance from Mustafi (2 tackles, 1 interception, 8 clearances and 10 successful aerial duels) who struggle to contained his Spanish opponent, Perez (3 shots, 1 of which was on target, 1 successful forward dribble). My primary criticism of the German’s performance was his poor defensive anticipation (1 interception) which presented Perez with some good shooting opportunities. That said, Mustafi was very dominate in the air and did well to simplify his defensive approach and just clear the ball when it entered Arsenal’s defensive third. 5/10

LCB: Holding
It was an underwhelming performance from Holding, who was very strong in his tackling (4 tackles) but struggled with his defensive anticipation (1 interception). The young Englishman also lost his aerial battle with his opponent, Gayle (1 successful aerial duel to Gayle’s 4) and he failed to consistently simplify his defensive approach and clear the ball when it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (2 clearances). Despite his struggles, Chambers largely contained his opponent, Gayle, who failed to attempt a shot or dribble for the match. 5/10

LWB: Monreal
It was a mixed defensive performance from Monreal, who was strong in his tackling (3 tackles) but struggled with his defensive anticipation (0 interceptions). As a consequence, Monreal’s opponent, Ritchie, was able to influence the game (1 goal, 3 shots, 2 of which were on target, 1 successful forward dribble, 1 inaccurate cross). Offensively, Monreal, like Chambers, delivered a mixed performance, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) but attempting 5, albeit inaccurate, crosses. 6/10

RCM: Elneny
It was a mixed defensive performance from Elneny, who showed strong defensive anticipation (3 interceptions) but wasn’t aggressive enough in his approach (1 tackle). Elneny’s defensive positioning was also poor as he left too much space between himself and Mustafi and Chambers, which exposed Arsenal’s right wingback and centreback to Newcastle’s counterattacks. Offensively, while Elneny’s passing accuracy (95%) was again excellent, his transitional passing (2 accurate long range pass) and transitional dribbles (1 successful forward dribble) weren’t plentiful enough to justify his selection in central midfield. Elneny also failed to show any real creativity with his passing (0 attempted through passes) which was an issue for Arsenal given Wenger’s tactical decision not to deploy any attacking midfielders between Arsenal’s central midfield and forward lines. 4/10

CM: Xhaka
It was a similarly mixed defensive effort from Xhaka, who was very aggressive in his defensive approach (4 tackles), but showed poor anticipation (0 interception) and, like Elneny, was poor in his defensive positioning, leaving too much space between himself and centrebacks, Mustafi and Holding. Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy was excellent (91%) as was his transitional passing (5 accurate long range passes). Xhaka also showed some creativity with his passing (1 accurate through pass), which was necessary given Wenger’s decision not to deploy any attacking midfielders. Xhaka’s only real blemish offensively was his failure, again, to contribute in terms of forward transitional dribbles. 6/10

LCM: Willock
A shock starter and an admirable, albeit somewhat underwhelming, defensive effort from the youngster, who was nice and aggressive (4 tackles) and did well to screen the space in front of Holding and Monreal. Like Xhaka though, Willock, showed poor defensive anticipation (1 interception). Offensively, WIllock’s passing accuracy was underwhelming for a central midfielder (80%) and his contribution in terms of transitional passing (1 accurate long range pass), transitional dribbles (0 forward dribbles) and creative passing (0 attempted through passes) was very poor. 4/10

RW: Iwobi
It was a solid performance from Iwobi (3 shot, 1 of which was on target and 3 successful forward dribbles). He wasn’t helped by Arsenal’s slow build up play, congesting the attacking third. 7/10

ST: Lacazette
A solid but somewhat underwhelming performance from Lacazette, who did well to finish from Aubameyang’s left wing cross and had a total of 3 shots for the match, but only 1 of which was on target. He struggled aerially with only 2 successful aerial duels for the match. Like Iwobi, Lacazette wasn’t help by Arsenal’s slow transitional play, which allowed Newcastle to establish a deep defensive block and deny the Frenchman the space to make runs in behind Newcastle’s backline. 6/10

LW: Aubameyang
Frustratingly played out of position on the left wing, it was a solid performance from Aubameyang (1 assist, 3 shot, 0 of which were on target and 2 successful forward dribbles). That said, the Gabonese striker looked at his best when he occupied a more central striking role alongside Lacazette. Wenger’s refusal to deploy the two up front in a striking pair and play to their off the ball strengths and clinical finishing skills baffles me. 7/10

Overall it was tactically inept performance by Arsenal. The Gunners’ defence while aggressive in their approach failed to demonstrate the necessary anticipation skills. That said, Arsenal’s defenders weren’t helped by the poor defensive positioning of Xhaka and Elneny in central midfield, which left Arsenal central and right side of defence particularly exposed. Offensively, while Arsenal’s wingbacks did their best to threaten Newcastle’s backline from crosses, Elneny and Willock failed to efficiently and directly transition the ball from defence to attack which severely restricted the goal scoring opportunities available to Iwobi, Lacazette and Aubameyang. Wenger’s failure to deploy any central attacking midfielders and leave the creative responsibility to Elneny, Xhaka and Willock, none of which have to date regularly contributed in terms of forward dribbles or through passes, seemed a gross oversight. With Burnley only two points behind the Gunners and Arsenal having not impressed on the pitch for a number of months, it will be interesting to see if the pressure brings out the pragmatist in Wenger for the match versus West Ham.

Freddie08

The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs Southampton

A lucky victory for the Gunners, in what was another disjointed and poor performance.

Surprisingly, Arsenal both setup in a 4-2-3-1 formation prematch and stuck to that formation in game.

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Despite Arsenal dominating possession (68% to Southampton’s 32%), the Gunners’ chosen attacking midfielders failed to regularly create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for the mobile and efficient Aubameyang and were fortunate that Welbeck’s repeated attempts on goal came off.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a strong performance from Cech who produced 6 saves for the match and and did well when called upon to deal with the Saints’ 23 crosses. In terms of the goals Arsenal conceded, there was nothing Cech could have done to prevent either, with lazy defending from Kolasinac and Mustafi to blame for Southampton’s opener and a combination of poor defending from Wilshere and Chambers and some excellent approach play from the impressive Cedric responsible for Austin’s goal. 8/10

RWB: Bellerin
While his defensive anticipation was solid (2 interceptions), it was another match in which Bellerin struggled to effectively shut down his opponent, Bertrand, due to a lack of aggressiveness in defence (0 tackles). As a consequence Bertrand was able to attempt a number of crosses (4 crosses, none of which were accurate). Offensively, Bellerin was again poor, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) and just attempting the 2, inaccurate, crosses. Despite Bellerin’s ongoing run of poor form and being evidently ill suited to the right fullback position, Wenger continues to deploy the Spaniard in that role. 4/10

RCB: Mustafi
After a run of excellent performances from Mustafi, it was a match to forget for the German (0 tackles, 0 interceptions). At fault for failing to cut out cross which lead to the Saints’ opening goal, Mustafi was ousted by his main opponent on the day in Tadic (1 shot, which was on target, 2 successful forward dribbles and an accurate through pass). On the positive, the German was reasonably strong aerially (3 successful aerial duels) and he attempted to simplify his defensive approach and just clear the ball when it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (7 clearances). 5/10

LCB: Chambers
After an impressive performance versus Stoke on his last start, it was a dissapoointing effort from Chambers versus Southampton (1 tackle and 1 interception). At fault for failing to cut out Cedric’s low cross which lead to the Saints’ second goal, Chambers was well beaten by Shane Long, his opponent on the day (a goal from his 3 shots, 2 of which were on target). Chambers also lost the aerial battle with Long (2 successful aerial duels to Long’s 7 successful aerial duels). While Chambers did make some effort to simplify his defensive approach and just clear the ball when it entered Arsenal’s defensive third (4 clearances for the match), he could have done that with greater frequency to alleviate the pressure on Arsenal’s defence. 4/10

LWB: Kolasinac
A very poor defensive performance from Kolasinac (0 tackles and 0 interceptions) as his chief opponent in the match, Cedric, assisted both of Southampton’s goal with crosses from flank which the Serb was defending and threaten with 2 further crosses. Offensively, Kolasinac delivered a mixed performance, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) but attempting 3, albeit inaccurate, crosses. 5/10

RCM: Elneny
While Arsenal dominated possession, it was a much improved defensive performance from Elneny (2 tackles and 3 interceptions), who did his best to screen the space in front of Bellerin and Mustafi. Offensively, while Elneny’s passing accuracy (96%) was again excellent, his transitional passing (2 accurate long range pass) and transitional dribbles (1 successful forward dribble) were not enough to justify his selection in that deep central midfield role. 6/10

LCM: Xhaka
It was a mixed defensive effort from Xhaka, who was strong in his tackling (3 tackles) and disciplined in this defensive positioning but poor in terms of his defensive awareness (0 interceptions). Offensively, while Xhaka’s passing accuracy was very good (85%), his transitional passing (3 accurate long range passes) was substantially down on his typical level of production in that regard (6 long range passes) and he only made a solitary forward dribble. Overall, it an underwhelming performance from the Swiss. Hoping it is just a blip and not regression. 5/10

RCAM: Nelson
A shock starter and objectively it was a poor performance from the youngster, who failed to attempt a shot on goal, execute a forward dribble or attempt a through pass. His 91% passing accuracy spoke volumes of a nervous young player making sure he executed simple passes throughout. That said, if Nelson wants to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s play when occupying one of the attacking midfield positions, he will need to substantially increase his volume of dribbles, shots and attempted through passes. With so many of Arsenal’s attacking midfielders failing to produce in those key metrics, the opportunity is there for the youngster but Arsenal can’t afford to carry yet another unproductive player. 3/10

CAM: Iwobi
Despite grabbing two assists, it was an underwhelming performance from Iwobi (1 shot, 1 successful forward dribbles, 0 attempted through passes and 83% passing accuracy). Like Nelson, he will need to substantially increase his volume of dribbles, shots and attempted through passes, if he holds aspirations of meaningfully contributing in one of Arsenal’s attacking midfield roles. 5/10

LCAM: Welbeck
A mixed performance from Welbeck, who offered no real threat via the dribble (0 successful forward dribbles) nor attempted any through passes but showed excellent goal scoring intent (2 goals from 4 shots) and passed the ball with a good level of accuracy (82%). 6/10

ST: Aubameyang
Apart from his well taken goal from Welbeck’s flick, it was yet another match for Aubameyang in which Arsenal’s attacking midfielders failed to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for the Gabonese striker. Despite limited clear cut goal scoring opportunities since joining the Gunners , Aubameyang is certainly making the most of them with 6 goals in 7 games. 7/10

Overall it was poor performance by Arsenal. The Gunners’ defence wasn’t proactive enough and Mustafi wasn’t able to bail out his underperforming defensive colleagues on this occasions. In central midfield, while Xhaka and Elneny were solid enough defensively, a lack of quick and direct transitional passing and dribbling from both players enabled Southampton to get numbers in defence and stifled the opportunities for Arsenal’s attacking midfielders to execute through passes for Aubameyang. Arsenal’s attacking midfielders also failed to provoke Southampton’s defence with limited forward dribbling attempts. That said, the shooting efficiency of Aubameyang combined with Webeck’s sheer persistence in terms of shooting attempts was enough to get the Gunners the three points in the end.

Freddie08

The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs CSKA Moscow

It was a great outcome but a mixed performance from the Gunners, who were greatly helped by some strong individual performances by Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil and some clinical finishing by Ramsey and Lacazette.

While Arsenal setup in a notional 4-2-3-1 formation prematch, they appeared to adopt more of a 4-2-1-3 formation in game.

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Despite Arsenal winning the possession battle (57% to CSKA Moscow’s 43%), the Gunners had to largely rely on the transitional passing of Xhaka, the creativity of Ozil and the clinical finishing of Lacazette and Ramsey to breakdown their Russian opponents.

Defensively, while Arsenal’s goal wasn’t overly threaten in the match, with CSKA only managing to get 4 of their 11 shots on target, CSKA did showed their effectiveness at transitioning the ball via the dribble, recording 14 dribbles in total. That combined with the poor defensive efforts of Bellerin, Koscielny and Monreal threatened to expose Arsenal at time, with Mustafi coming to the Gunners’ aid on a number of occasions.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a strong performance from Cech who produced 3 saves for the match and did well when called upon to deal with CSKA’s 17 crosses. In terms of the goal Arsenal conceded, there was nothing Cech could have done to prevent what was a beautifully struck free kick from Golovin. 7/10

RWB: Bellerin
It was another match in which Bellerin struggled defensively (2 tackles and 1 interception) as his opponent Schennikov repeatedly beat the Spaniard via the dribble (3 successful forward dribbles) and was allowed to attempt a number of crosses (5 crosses, 2 of which were accurate). Offensively, Bellerin was also very poor, showing no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) and attempting just the 1 cross for the match (though he made it count with an assist for Ramsey’s opening goal). 4/10

RCB: Mustafi
It was another excellent defensive performance from Mustafi (4 tackle, 3 interceptions, 8 clearances and 1 successful aerial duel). While he wasn’t particularly challenged aerial by his opponent Musa and the player, on loan from Leicester, was able to attempt 2 shots, 1 of which was on target, and execute 5 successful forward dribbles, Mustafi’s accomplished defensive performance ensured the threat posed by the Nigerian was largely dealt with. 9/10

LCB: Koscielny
While he wasn’t overly challenged by his main opponent on the day, Wernbloom (2 shots, 1 of which was on target and 1 successful forward dribble), it was an underwhelming performance from Koscielny (0 tackles, 2 interceptions).  The Frenchman’s lack of aggression in his defensive approach allowed his opponent attacking opportunities that he otherwise wouldn’t have had.  Disappointingly, Koscielny also lost the aerial battle with Wernbloom (3 successful aerial duels to Wernbloom’s 6 successful duels). That said, the Frenchman did a great job of simply clearing his lines throughout the match, which is reflected in his 8 clearances.  After Chambers’ impressive performance versus Stoke, the pressure is on Koscielny to improve his defensive production to justify his ongoing selection. 5/10

LWB: Monreal
It was a quiet day defensively for Monreal (2 tackles and 0 interceptions) as his main opponent Kuchaev offered a  minimal dribbling threat (2 successful forward dribbles) and failed to attempt a cross during the match. My only criticism of Monreal’s defensive performance was that he could have been more intelligent in his defensive positioning to completely nullify the limited attacking threat posed by his opponent. Offensively, Monreal, like Bellerin was very poor, only attempting 1 forward dribble and failing to attempt a cross. 4/10

RCM: Ramsey
It was a mixed defensive performance from Ramsey, who struggling to contribute in term of tackling (1 tackle) but demonstrated improved defensive awareness (3 interceptions).  That said, Ramsey’s defensive positioning was poor as he failed miserably to screen the space in front of Bellerin and Mustafi (which put significant pressure on Mustafi in particular). In terms of Ramsey’s offensive performance, despite and passing the ball with very good accuracy (85%) and scoring two goals, as a consequence of abandoning his assigned central midfield position to occupy a more attacking midfield role, it was an underwhelming central midfield performance by the Welshman as he struggled to meaningfully contribute to Arsenal’s transitional play (2 accurate long range passes and just 1 successful forward dribble).  Ramsey once again demonstrated that he is far more suited to being deployed as an attacking midfielder as opposed to a deeper central midfield role.  While Arsenal weren’t burnt by his incorrect deployment versus CSKA Moscow, it has proved to be a different story versus higher quality opposition. 5/10

LCM: Xhaka
It was an underwhelming defensive effort from Xhaka, who demonstrated solid defensive awareness (2 interceptions), but was not aggressive enough in his approach (1 tackle). Xhaka’s defensive performance versus CSKA Moscow was a distinctly poorer showing in comparison to recent weeks and I’m hoping it was just a blip.  Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy was excellent (87%) as was his transitional passing (7 accurate long range passes) which was the catalyst for a number of Arsenal’s attacks. The only criticism of Xhaka’s offensive effort was his failure to offer anything in terms of transitional dribbles (0 successful forward dribbles). 7/10

RCAM: Ozil
It was an excellent attacking performance from Ozil who notched 2 assists, executed 3 successful through passes from his 4 attempts, had 2 shot for the match, 1 of which was on target and recorded 3 successful forward dribbles. While Ozil passed the ball with less accuracy than normal (80%), that was a consequence of the German taking more risks with his passing, which was very much welcomed.  For the amount of wages Ozil is being paid, he needed to increase his volume of dribbles, shots and attempted through passes and he did precisely that versus CSKA Moscow. 9/10

CAM: Wilshere
It was a poor performance from Wilshere (0 shots, 1 successful forward dribbles, 0 attempted through passes and 73% passing accuracy). After his recent poor performance versus Stoke, I noted that 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. His abject performance versus CSKA Moscow did nothing to change that assessment. 2/10

LCAM: Mkhitaryan
It was a mixed but underwhelming performance from Mkhitaryan (4 shots, 1 of which was on target and 95% passing accuracy but 0 successful forward dribbles and no attempted through passes). Mkhitaryan’s historical performances indicate that he is capable of much better than what he produced versus CSKA Moscow, particular in terms of forward dribbles and attempted through passes. The challenge for the Armenian is to replicate those historical performances on a consistent basis for Arsenal. 5/10

ST: Lacazette
A clinical performance from Lacazette with 2 goals from his 2 shots for the match, one of which was a sumptuous volley. While Ozil did his best to feed the French striker, the same couldn’t be said of Mkhitaryan or Wilshere. Until Arsenal’s attacking midfielders begin to regularly create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for Lacazette, Arsenal won’t see the Frenchman’s true value. That aside, it was an impressive performance from Lacazette. 8/10

Overall, it was great outcome for Arsenal and puts the team in a commanding position going into the second leg in Russia.

That said, Arsenal will need to improve their defensive effort as they cannot keep relying of Mustafi to come to their rescue. Similarly, in attack, while Ozil’s performance set the benchmark which he needs to strive to replicate on a regular basis, he cannot do it alone and his fellow attacking midfielders need to substantially increase their offensive production.

Freddie08

The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs Stoke

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.

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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:

GK: Ospina
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

RWB: Bellerin
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

RCB: Mustafi
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

LCB: Chambers
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

LWB: Monreal
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

RCM: Elneny
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

LCM: Ramsey
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

RCAM: Ozil
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

CAM: Wilshere
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

LCAM: Welbeck
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

ST: Aubameyang
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.

Freddie08

The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.whoscored.com.

5-3-2 is NOT the short term solution for Arsenal

Recently I read an article from a fellow Gooner which proclaimed that switching to a 5-3-2 formation comprised of one of the following starting elevens, was the immediate change Arsenal needed to improve their poor on field performances.

5-3-21.png

5-3-22.png

While I implore the author for their optimistic approach, there are some clear oversights in their proposition, particularly regarding the actual and perceived productivity levels of the players the author identified as central midfield options.

For a 5-3-2 formation, with mobile but slight of frame strikers, to effectively work, it requires the 3 central midfielders to be both productive defenders and highly effective at quickly transitioning the ball from defence to attack (whether via the dribble or a long range pass). This is critical as mobile, quick forwards need space in behind the opposition’s defence to effectively utilise their off the ball movement and a failure to quickly transition the ball from defence to attack allows opponents to set a deep defensive block, limiting the available space within which the forwards can run into.

Unfortunately Arsenal’s squad does not currently have enough central midfield options with that skills set in order to effectively execute a 5-3-2.

Firstly, while a midfield trio of Mkhitaryan, Xhaka and Ozil is undoubtedly talented on the ball:

  • Neither Ozil nor Mkhitaryan are productive enough defensively to meaningfully protect Arsenal’s defence.
  • If Ozil and Mkhitaryan were deployed further up the field to provide the link between Arsenal’s central midfielders and strikers, that would isolate Xhaka and allow opponents to press him (which he does not cope well with) and force dangerous turnovers in Arsenal’s defensive third.
  • If Ozil and Mkhitaryan were to rotate, with one of them occupying a more advanced attacking midfield role while the other dropped deeper alongside Xhaka to ensure the Swiss is not isolated, Arsenal would have insuffienct attacking midfielders to effectively link their central midfield and strikers.

Secondly, Ramsey, Wilshere and Elneny are simply not productive enough defensively (tackles and interceptions) to play in central midfield and are not productive enough in an offensive sense (goals, assists and through passes) to play in an attacking midfield position. They might look busy (Elneny), appear to provide a goal scoring threat (Ramsey) or seem creative (Wilshere) but if you closely analyse their individual contributions, they simply don’t produce on the field.

For that reason alone, I’d be happy to see Arsenal move on from Wilshere at season’s end and sell Ramsey. I was also really disappointed the club recently re signed Elneny despite his lack of on field production. The Egyptian’s re signing demonstrated to two concerning issues:

  1. Despite a new chief scout and head of football operations, Arsenal still lack the objectivity and ruthlessness to make recruitment and retention decisions which will actually improve the squad and the team’s on field performances.
  2. As a favourite of Wenger’s, Elneny’s re signing indicates that Wenger is staying on for another season as manager which means there will be more team selections based on his personal relationship with players as opposed to players’ on field
  3. production.

On top of the above suitability issues with Arsenal’s central midfield options, neither Bellerin nor Maitland-Niles (though he hasn’t had many opportunities) have proven themselves sufficiently productive defensively to protect Arsenal’s right flank.  In a 5-3-2 systems with two of Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Wilshere or Elneny in central midfield (either side of Xhaka), that would place that much more pressure on Xhaka and Arsenal’s 3 man central defence to cover up the right fullback’s defensive shortcomings.

All of the above indicates that switching to a 5-3-2 formation comprised of one or a combination of the abovementioned players, is NOT the immediate change Arsenal needed to improve their poor on field performances.

If Arsenal truely wished to adopt a 5-3-2 system of play, with mobile but slight of frame strikers, Arsenal’s central midfielders would need to be completely overhauled (possibly with the exception of Xhaka). Given that the transfer window is currently closed and Wenger is notorious for being resistant to changing personnel and tactics, I expect to see more disjointed and underwhelming performances from the Gunners between now and seasons’ end.

Freddie08

2017/2018 Arsenal Squad Profile

As Arsenal’s season winds to an underwhelming but not unexpected finish, and in preparation for the off season, it’s a good opportunity to define the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each position within a number of potentially suitable formation for the Gunners (i.e. 4-2-2-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-1-2, 4-3-2-1 and 5-2-2-1) and, using data from http://www.whoscored.com, develop a clearer understanding of the tendencies of each player in Arsenal’s first team squad (over their professional career).  The findings provide an invaluable insight as to:

  • how each player ranks against their internal competition; and
  • which 11 players make up Arsenal’s most effective team in each of the abovementioned formations.

Note: The player rankings, starting line ups and formations outlined in this article are based on the assumption that Arsenal’s tactical basis is to stretch the game vertically by creating generous spacing between their defensive and attacking blocks so as to allow for quick forward transitions and space in behind the opposition’s defence. Specifically the ‘defensive block’ is comprised of Arsenal’s goalkeeper, right and left full backs, centre backs and central midfielders. While Arsenal’s attacking block is comprised of Arsenal’s attacking midfielders and strikers.

Internal player rankings

In terms of how each player within Arsenal’s first team squad ranks against their internal competition, seven positional categories were considered (goalkeeper, right fullback, centre back, left fullback, centre midfield, attacking midfield and centre forward). Different weightings were also assigned to the KPI data considered for each positional group. These weightings were based on alignment with aforementioned assumption regarding Arsenal’s tactical basis.

It is also noted that the goals and assists per season data detailed in the below player rankings reflects  the average number of goals or assists for the respective player in each season where the player has started at least 15 league games.

Goalkeeper:

Goalkeeper Rankings

Right Fullback:

Right fullback Rankings

Centre Back:

Centreback Rankings

Left Fullback:

Left fullback Rankings

Central Midfield:

Central Midfield Rankings

Attacking Midfield:

Attacking Midfield Rankings

Centre Forward 

Centre forward Rankings

Formations and lineups

Based on the above analytical comparison, and assuming that Arsenal’s tactical basis is to stretch the game vertically by creating generous spacing between their defensive block (goalkeeper, right and left full backs, centre backs and central midfielders) and attacking block (attacking midfielders and strikers) so as to allow for quick forward transitions and space in behind the opposition’s defence, Arsenal’s most complimentary starting 11 in each of the below listed formations would appear to be as follows:

4-2-2-2

4-2-2-2-e1521595327559.png

4-2-3-1

4-2-3-1

4-3-1-2

4-3-1-2

4-3-2-1

4-3-2-1

5-2-2-1

5-2-2-1

While the defensive focus of a 5-2-2-1 formation and a 4-3-2-1 formation make such systems attractive, both systems would deprive Arsenal of Lacazette’s goal scoring threat, which is deficiency Ozil and Mkhitaryan are not likely to be able to make up for in the form of additional goals.

A more traditional 4-2-3-1 also has its appealing qualities in that it would allow Arsenal’s three most productive attacking midfielders (Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Cazorla) to be on the field and within Arsenal’s attacking block at the same time.  That said, this system would again deprive Arsenal of Lacazette’s goal scoring threat and all three attacking midfielders have demonstrated a tendency in the past to over complicate Arsenal’s attacking play and slow down the speed of Arsenal’s attacks when the ball enters the opposition’s defensive third. Such an approach fails to play to Aubameyang’s off the ball strengths.

Regarding a 4-3-1-2 formation, while the defensive security afforded by that system is appealing and it would allow both Lacazette and Aubameyang to be on the field and within Arsenal’s attacking block at the same time, the lack of multiple attacking midfielders may prevent Arsenal from being able to regularly create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for that striking pair.

With the likes of Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil and Mkhitaryan in Arsenal’s squad a more attacking 4-2-2-2 would appear to be the most balanced of the evident options available to Arsenal. However, for this system to work, Arsenal’s defensive block (i.e. goalkeeper, right and left fullbacks, centre backs and central midfielders) would need to consistently remain disciplined and focused on their defensively positioning and defensive responsibilities.

One thing which is for certain is that Arsenal, in regularly selecting Ramsey, Elneny and/or Wilshere in central midfield, have not got their  central midfield balance correct this season. Repeated poor team selection in that area of the field, combined with a lack of defensive discipline amongst Arsenal’s defensive block and slow, overly complicated attacking play amongst Arsenal’s attacking midfielders, has rendered Arsenal ineffective both offensively and defensively. While formation and personnel changes would appear to help correct some of those deficiencies, the effectiveness of those changes are likely to be impaired without a complimentary stylistic change from the manager.

Freddie08