Arsenal Player Analysis: Tottenham vs Arsenal

Wow! That was a bad performance by the Gunners who could have and would have lost the match by 5 or 6 goals, if not for some poor finishing by Spurs and some excellent saves by Cech.

The match was a great example of a manger (i.e. Pochettino) who has a clear and pragmatic vision of:

  • how his team are going to regularly create clear goal scoring opportunities;
  • how his team are going to recover possession from the opposition; and
  • how to accentuate the strengths of each player in the team and mitigate their individual weaknesses.

It was also a great example of a manger (i.e. Wenger) who no longer has a clear and pragmatic vision and is to egotistical to admit it and gracefully exit.

Formation wise Arsenal appeared to adopt a 2-4-4 setup despite being setup in a notional 4-3-2-1 prematch.

Feb 18 Tot vs Ars

Feb 18 Tot vs Ars(1)

While Arsenal managed to have an equal share of possession, the Gunners simply failed to do anything meaningful with the ball nor play to Aubameyang’s strengths and were easily kept at arms length by Spurs. Defensively, the absence of any sort of defensive strategy (pressing, deep block, etc.) was there for all to see again as Mustafi and Koscielny were left horribly exposed by Arsenal’s porous midfield (though Xhaka was relatively solid defensively).

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
Was the difference between Arsenal losing this match 1 nil and 5 or 6 nil. Sensational shot stoping and was strong aerially. It is somewhat sad to see such a great goalkeeper spend the twilight years of his career at a club whose manager has such little appreciation for defence.

RWB: Bellerin
A strong tackling performance from Bellerin (3 tackles). That said, Bellerin’s positional play was again poor (0 interceptions) and he failed to cut out his opponent Son’s crosses. Offensively, Bellerin showed no attacking intent with his dribbling (0 successful forward dribbles) and while he showed really willing with his crossing (4 attempted crosses), accuracy was again an issue (only 1 accurate cross). It was an improved performance by Bellerin, though Maitland Niles appears to remain a more productive option in terms of defensive interventions, forward dribbles and accurate crosses.

 

RCB: Mustafi
An excellent positional performance from Mustafi (5 interceptions) but he was no where near aggressive enough with his defending (1 interception) and surprisingly struggled aerially (2 successful aerial duels). That said, his main opponent Ali really struggled to make any impact on the game (1 shot on goal, no attempted through passes and 1 successful forward dribble). In addition to his fine positional play, Mustafi kept his game nice and simple, reflected in a total of 5 clearances. While there were some flaws in his performance on the day, the German remains Arsenal’s most productive central defender by quite a distance.

LCB: Koscielny
An underwhelming defensive performance from Koscielny (1 tackle and 1 interception), as the Frenchman largely failed to curb the influence of his main opponent Eriksen (2 shots on target). That said, Koscielny was solid aerially (4 successful aerial duel) and he tried, in the main, to kept his game nice and simple, with 4 clearances. Despite a sub par performance versus Spurs, Koscielny clearly remains Arsenal’s 2nd best central defender.

LWB: Monreal
A solid tackling performance from Monreal (2 tackles) but his defensive positioning could have been better (1 interception). His opponent Trippier was easily the victory in their duel, with 3 successful forward dribbles and 3 crosses for the match (1 of which was accurate). Offensively, Monreal offered nothing in terms of penetration via the dribble (0 successful forward dribbles), however, he was solid in his crossing with both of his crossing attempts finding an Arsenal attacker. While it was another solid performance by Monreal, Kolasinac is an equally solid defensive option and offers greater offensive production than the Spaniard. The Serbs ongoing absence is another baffling decision by Wenger.

RCDM: Elneny
An awful defensive display from Elneny (0 tackles and 0 interceptions) as his opponent Dembele (4 successful forward dribbles and 1 off target shot) bypassed the Egyptian with ease. Offensively, while his passing accuracy (85%) was very good, he offered nothing in terms of transitional passing (0 accurate long passes) and dribbling (0 forward dribbles). He also failed to offer anything in terms of creative passing (0 through passes). A complete and total lack of production match on match from Elneny. He needs to be dropped asap even if it means giving the likes of Maitland Niles, Da Silva or Shef an opportunity in central midfield.

LCDM: Xhaka
A solid defensive display from Xhaka (2 tackle and 2 interceptions) but he needed to position himself deeper to block the passing lanes to Kane and work harder to screen Arsenal’s centre backs. He unfortunately wasn’t helped by horrible defensive performances by his central midfield partners Elneny and Wilshere. Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy (94%) was excellent, as was his transitional passing from defence to attack (6 accurate long passes out of 6 attempts). The Swiss failed though to offer anything in terms of transitional dribbling (0 forward dribbles) or creative passing (0 through passes). Overall I think he did enough in terms of his key performance indicators to warrant his selection for the match versus Ostersunds. If only Elneny and Wilshere had equalled Xhaka’s output in those key metrics, the match may have turned out distinctly different.

RCAM: Ozil
Another underwhelming performance from Ozil. While his passing accuracy was very good (84%) and he showed good attacking initiative (3 successful forward dribbles), the German failed to attempt a through passes and only had 1 shot for the match (which was off target). He really doesn’t seem suited to playing in a wide attacking midfield role. A victim of Wenger’s tactical mismanagement, Ozil desperately needs to be returned to his natural central attacking midfield position and supported with mobile strikers (plural) ahead of him.

CAM: Wilshere
A disappointing performance from Wilshere who, while deployed in a central defensive midfield role alongside Elneny and Xhaka, seemed to abandon his post to occupy a central attacking midfield role instead. Defensively, he failed to contribute with just 1 tackle and no interceptions. Offensively, Wilshere’s transitional play via the dribble was excellent (4 successful dribbles), he showed some goal scoring intent (2 shots, 1 of which was on target), he tried (but failed) to create with his passing (2 unsuccessful through passes) and his passing accuracy was okay at 81%. Good offensive effort but bad defensive performance. For me, Wilshere is not producing enough defensively or in terms of assists to justify his selection in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield..

LCAM: Mkhitaryan
A very disappointing performance by Mkhitaryan who had no shots, no successful forward dribbles, no through passes and just 79% passing accuracy. That said, he has proven that he has all the tools to produce goals and assists in either of the wide attacking midfield roles. He just needs the tactical setup to compliment his skills and style of play.

ST: Aubameyang
Welcome to the life of a mobile striker in modern Wengerball. After successfully employing a tactical set up which totally deprived Lacazette of any regular clear cut goal scoring opportunities (and in the process destroying the Frenchman’s confidence), Wenger has made a good start to replicating that effort for Aubameyang. 0 shots, 0 dribbles and 1 successful aerial duel says it all. Like Mkhitaryan and Lacazette, Aubameyang has proven that he can produce end product. He too just needs a tactical system that accentuates his strengths and hides his weaknesses.

Overall it was a disappointing performance by the Gunners and loss to Spurs always hurts that little bit more. That said, what annoyed me the most was Wenger effectively blaming Lacazette, in his post march press conference, for Arsenal failing to get any points from this match. Both chances that fell to the Frenchman in the final few minutes were by no mean clear cut goal scoring opportunities and Wenger has totally destroyed Lacazette’s confidence by failing to implement a more vertical or counterattacking system that plays to his goal scoring strengths. The same thing will happen to Aubameyang, who is a very similar striker.

Add to that that blind Freddie could see that Arsenal don’t have central midfielders with the necessary defensive and transitional skills (despite there being a whole host of players with that skills combination that Wenger could target – Demme, Gonalons, Illarramendi, Fabinho, Krychowiak, etc) and the whole situation reeks of an Arsenal legend, in Wenger, desperately clutching to power. I pray the end of his reign is near.

Freddie08

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

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs Everton

A great outcome for Arsenal who appeared to adopt an oddly shaped 2-6-2 formation despite being setup in a notional 4-2-3-1 prematch.

Feb 18 Ars vs Eve

Feb 18 Ars vs Eve(1)

While Arsenal only marginally dominated possession (58% possession to Everton’s 42%), the Gunners were able to capitalise on Everton’s naive decision to commit players in attack and allow the game to become vertically stretched as opposed to adopting Swansea’s counter attacking template from Arsenal’s midweek loss.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
While he was forced off with an injury half way through the second half, up until that point, Cech was solid without being seriously challenged as Everton’s shooting was inaccurate (2 out of 11 shots were on target). He also did well when called upon to deal with Everton’s 22 crosses for the match.

RWB: Bellerin
A solid tackling performance from Bellerin (2 tackles). That said, Bellerin’s positional play was again poor (0 interceptions) and he failed to cut out his opponent Martina’s cross for Everton’s goal. Offensively, Bellerin showed very little attacking intent with his dribbling (1 successful forward dribble). While he showed more attacking intent with his crossing (2 attempts), accuracy was again an issue (0 accurate crosses from his 2 attempts for the match).

RCB: Mustafi
An excellent tackling display by Mustafi (5 tackles) but his defensive positioning wasn’t the best (1 interception). His main opponent Bolasie really struggled to make any impact on the game (0 shots on goal, no attempted through passes and 2 successful forward dribbles). In addition to his aggressive tackling, Mustafi kept his game nice and simple, reflected in a total of 8 clearances, and he was exceptional aerially (8 successful aerial duels).

LCB: Koscielny
A quiet day defensively for Koscielny (0 tackles and 2 interceptions) as his opponent Niasse struggled to make any impact on the game (2 off target shots and 1 successful forward dribble). That said, Koscielny could have been more aggressive in his tackling to snuff out the limited impact Niasse did manage to make. Koscielny also got beaten aerially against his opponent (3 successful aerial duel to his opponent’s 4 successful aerial duels). Nevertheless, like Mustafi, Koscielny kept his game nice and simple, with 9 clearances and he managed to pick himself up a goal for good measure.

LB: Monreal
A solid tackling performance from Monreal (2 tackles) but like Mustafi, his defensive positioning could have been better (1 interception). His opponent Kenny offer nothing in terms of a dribbling threat against Monreal (0 forward dribbles for the match). That said, Kenny did manage to attempt 3 crosses and while all 3 were inaccurate Monreal needed to be better at preventing Kenny’s crosses from getting into the box. Offensively, Monreal rich vein of form came to an abrupt ended as he failed to execute a successful forward dribble and just attempted the 1 (inaccurate) cross for the match.

RCDM: Ramsey
A mixed defensive display from Ramsey (1 tackle and 3 interceptions) as he positioned himself well but lacked aggression in his defensive approach. Offensively, he was clinical with his finishing, with 3 goals from his three shots on goal. Outside of his hat trick, Ramsey’s passing accuracy (91%) was excellent. That said, his transitional passing and dribbling was very poor (0 accurate long passes out of 1 attempt and 0 forward dribbles).

LCDM: Xhaka
An excellent defensive display from Xhaka (4 tackle and 2 interceptions) as he expertly screened Arsenal’s centre backs. Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy (94%) was excellent, as was his transitional passing from defence to attack (4 accurate long passes out of 6 attempts).

RCAM: Mkhitaryan
A mixed night for Mkhitaryan with an underwhelming 1 successful forward dribble, 2 shot (1 of which was on target) and only 78% passing accuracy but a delightful through pass and a hat trick of assists. Like Ramsey, Mkhitaryan’s overall performance wasn’t great but his assist output was fantastic.

LCAM : Iwobi
A solid albeit slightly underwhelming performance from Iwobi, who positively recorded an assist, had 87% passing accuracy, 1 accurate through pass and 3 successful forward dribbles but had no attempts on goal. Despite his solid recent performances, I feel Iwobi will soon lose his spot in the starting 11 to Lacazette.

CF: Ozil
Like Iwobi, it was a solid albeit slightly underwhelming performance from Ozil who again took up more of a second striker role than a central attacking midfielder. While his passing accuracy was excellent (90%) and Ozil recorded 2 successful forward dribbles and a through pass, Ozil only had 1 shot for the match (which was off target).

ST: Aubameyang
A great start to his Arsenal career, with a goal on debut from his 3 shots, 2 of which were on target. Very interested to see how Aubameyang goes against a side that likes to park the bus.

A great outcome from Arsenal and there is a lot of this Arsenal squad that reminds me of the Borussia Dortmund side that dominated under Tuchel. That said, I’m reluctant to get too excited as but for his goal and a counter attack in the first half where he was released in on goal and had his shot saved by Pickford, Arsenal failed to create any further clear cut goal scoring chances for Aubameyang. That was down to Wenger’s trademark slow and largely purposeless passing approach (which is unlikely to change). In light of that and with most teams being unlikely to play so openly versus Arsenal as Everton did and I fear, like Lacazette experienced, clear cut goal scoring opportunities for Aubameyang will become increasingly few and far between as he and Arsenal face more teams happy to position themselves in a deep defensive block and play on the counter attack.

Freddie08

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

Arsenal Player Analysis: Swansea vs Arsenal

A bad performance and outcome for Arsenal who appeared to adopt a 2-4-4 formation despite being setup in a notional 4-3-3 prematch.

Jan 18 Swansea vs Arsenal

Jan 18 Swansea vs Arsenal(1)

While Arsenal dominated possession in the match (74% to Swansea’s 26%) it was yet another match where Arsenal’s passing was purposeless and the Gunners lacked of any form of defensive strategy to actively recover possession of the ball when it was ceded (trademarks of Wenger’s tactical approach or lack there of over the past decade).

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a howler from Cech for Swansea’s second goal but apart from that he was solid as usual both in terms of his shot stopping and aerial dominance.

RWB: Bellerin
A very quiet day defensively for Bellerin (0 tackles and 0 interceptions) as his opponent Olsson failed to really contribute offensively (2 attempted and inaccurate crosses for the match and no forward dribbles). Offensively, Bellerin showed good intent with his crossing (4 attempts for the match) but his accuracy again let him down (0 accurate crosses) and he failed to trouble Swansea’s defence via the dribble (0 forward dribbles for the match). With Arsenal selling Debuchy, Wenger has successfully managed to rid Bellerin of any internal competition at right fullback, despite the Spaniard’s repeated poor performances in the position.

RCB: Koscielny
A challenging day defensively for Koscielny who turned in a poor defensive performance (1 tackle and 1 interception) against his opponent Clucas (2 goals and 2 out of 3 shots on target). That said, Koscielny was frequently left stranded in defence as Wenger’s refusal to implement any sort of coordinated defensive strategy, burnt Laurent once again. He was strong aerially with 4 successful aerial duels.

LCB: Mustafi
A sensational tackling display from Mustafi (5 tackles) who did well to largely contain the impressive Ayew (1 goal, 1 out of 3 shots on target, 3 successful forward dribbles). Despite his excellent tackling effort, his defensive positioning was poor (0 interceptions) That said, the German, like Koscielny, was frequently exposed by a lack of defensive screening by Arsenal’s midfield. Mustafi was very strong aerially with 7 successful aerial duels.

LWB: Monreal
A strong tackling display from Monreal (3 tackles), though his defensive positioning was at times questionable (1 interception). He largely contained his opponent Dyer, who struggled (1 shot on target from his 1 attempt on goal, 1 dribble and 1 accurate cross from his 2 attempts). Offensively, he scored another goal with a well timed run and was very impressive with his crossing (2 accurate crosses from his 6 attempts). My only criticism of Monreal was his lack of penetration via the dribble (0 successful forward dribbles).

CDM: Elneny
A relatively quiet day defensively for Elneny (0 tackle and 1 interceptions) as his opponent Ki struggled to exert any influence on the game (1 off target shot from 1 attempt, 0 successful through passes and 0 successful forward dribbles). That said, Elneny again failed to place his opponent under any pressure when they did take possession of the ball and he failed to appropriately protect Arsenal’s central defenders. Offensively, Elneny’s passing accuracy was perfect, but his range of passing (1 accurate long passes out of 1 attempt and no attempted through passes) was very poor.

RCM: Xhaka
Another underwhelming defensive performance from Xhaka, who had a couple of nice interceptions (2) but his defensive intensity and tackling effort was poor (0 tackles) and he failed to put Swansea’s midfield under any pressure when they did have the ball. Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy (94%) was exceptional as was his long range passing (5 accurate long range passes out of 5 attempts) but he again failed to offer anything in terms of forward dribbles or creative passing (no attempted through passes). He also showed minimal goal scoring intent with only the 1 off target effort for the match.

LCM: Ramsey
A poor all round defensive effort from Ramsey on his return to the side (0 tackles and 1 interceptions). While Arsenal dominated possession, Ramsey failed to put enough pressure on his opponent Fer who, with 1 shot on target, 2 successful forward dribbles, 2 out of 5 accurate long passes and 1 attempted through pass, did exert some influence on the game. Offensively, while Ramsey’s passing accuracy (88%) was excellent, he only produced 1 off target shot from 1 attempt for the match, had no forward dribbles and failed to attempt any through passes. A poor display from the Welshman.

RFW: Lacazette
Playing in more of a inside forward role on the right rather than a centre forward role, Lacazette really struggled (0 attempts on goal
and no dribbles) as the likes of Bellerin, Xhaka and Ramsey, in particular, failed to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for the Frenchman. The way in which Wenger is grossly misusing Lacazette is depriving Arsenal of a player who has exceptional (and proven) finishing qualities.

CF: Ozil
A mixed performance from Ozil who again took up more of a centre forward role than that of a central attacking midfielder. To that end, while his passing accuracy was excellent (94%) and he tried hard to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for others (2 accurate through passes from 3 attempts), resulting in an assist for Monreal’s goal, Ozil only had 1 shot on goal for the match and only 1 successful forward dribble.

FWL : Iwobi
A solid performance from Iwobi who recorded 1 shot on target from his 2 attempts and had 2 successful forward dribbles.

I’m praying that Arsenal’s recent recruitment of Mislintat, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang are all signs that Thomas Tuchel is going to replace Wenger at season’s end.

For me, that can’t come soon enough as what is fundamentally behind Arsenal’s depressing slid into mid table mediocrity is Wenger’s lack of a clear and pragmatic vision of:

  • how the team are going to regularly create clear goal scoring opportunities;
  • how the team are going to recover possession from the opposition; and
  • how to accentuate the strengths of each player in the team and mitigate their individual weaknesses.

Without that vision, the quality of Arsenal’s on field performances will continue to be poor, irrespective of what players the club recruits.

Freddie08

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

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs Chelsea

A great outcome for Arsenal who appeared to adopt an oddly shaped 1-3-6 formation despite being setup in a notional 4-3-3 prematch.

jan-18-arsenal-vs-chelsea.png

Jan 18 Arsenal vs Chelsea(1)

While Arsenal barely shaded possession in the match (52% possession to Chelsea’s 48%) and produced a disjointed and underwhelming offensive performance, the tackling display from Arsenal’s back four was fantastic and central to enabling the team to eek out a victory against Chelsea.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Ospina
It was a relatively quiet day for Ospina who was protected well by Arsenal’s back four and was helped by Chelsea’s wayward finishing.

RB: Bellerin
A strong tackling performance from Bellerin (3). That said, Bellerin’s positional play was again poor (0 interceptions) as he struggled to cut out his opponent Alonso’s 6 attempted crosses for the match. Offensively, Bellerin showed very little attacking intent with his dribbling (1 successful forward dribble) and he failed to offer much in terms of crosses (2 attempts for the match).

RCB: Koscielny
A sensational defensive performance from Koscielny (4 tackles and 3 interceptions) as he was seriously challenged by his opponent Hazard (1 goal and 5 dribbles). That said, Koscielny could have cleared the ball more frequently than he did (4 clearances). He wasn’t really challenged aerially.

LCB: Mustafi
A relatively quiet day defensively for Mustafi (2 tackles and 1 interception) as his main opponent Barkley struggled to make any impact on the game (0 shots on goal, no attempted through passes, and 2 forward dribbles). While Mustafi could have shown more aggression in his defensive play, he kept his game nice and simple, reflected in a total of 11 clearances, and he was solid aerially (3 successful aerial duels).

LB: Monreal
An excellent defensive performance from Monreal (3 tackles and 4 interceptions) as he engaged in a good battle with his opponent Moses (2 shots (both off target), 3 crosses (1 of which was accurate) and 1 successful forward dribble). Like Koscielny, the Spaniard could have cleared the ball more frequently than he did (3 clearances). That said, he was solid aerially (3 successful aerial duels).

CDM: Elneny
A relatively quiet day defensively for Elneny (1 tackle and 2 interceptions) as his opponent Pedro struggled to exert his influence on the game (1 shot on target from 1 attempt, 1 successful through pass from 1 attempt (which resulted in a goal) and no successful forward dribbles). That said, given the defensive production of Arsenal’s back four it was evident that Elneny struggled to screen them appropriately. Offensively, Elneny’s passing accuracy (91%) was excellent, as was his transitional passing from defence to attack (6 accurate long passes out of 7 attempts).

LM : Iwobi
A very strong defensive performance from Iwobi, who made a total of 5 tackles and 2 interceptions for the match. Offensively, though Iwobi struggled in term of his passing accuracy (76%), passing creativity (no attempted through passes) and dribbling (only 2 successful forward dribbles). He also showed minimal goal scoring intent with just the 1 shot for the match.

CM: Wilshere
A strong tackling effort from Wilshere (3 tackles) but his defensive positioning was poor (0 interceptions) as he failed to put enough pressure on Kante who, with 2 successful forward dribbles and 3 out of 5 accurate long passes, did exert some influence on the game. Offensively, Jack had a mixed performance with an excellent 93% passing accuracy and 6 forward dribbles but no attempted through passes and he showed limited goal scoring intent (1 shot on target from 1 attempt).

RCM: Xhaka
Another poor defensive performance from Xhaka, who had a couple of nice tackles (2) but his positional play was poor (no interceptions) as he struggled to curb Bakayoko’s influence on the game (5 forward dribbles and 4 accurate long range passes out of 4 attempts). Offensively, Xhaka’s transitional passing was a little down on his usual high standard (2 accurate long range passes out of 3 attempts) and he failed to offer anything in terms of forward dribbles or creative passing (no attempted through passes). That said, Xhaka’s passing accuracy (86%) was very good and he showed great goal scoring intent with a goal from his 5 attempts.

CF: Ozil
A poor performance from Ozil who again took up more of a second striker role than a central attacking midfielder. While his passing accuracy was excellent (95%), Ozil only had 1 successful forward dribble for the match, 1 shot on goal (which was off target) and he failed to attempt a through pass.

CF: Lacazette
Yet another difficult game for Lacazette who was deprived of any service from the likes of Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Ozil, Iwobi and Monreal. He ended the match with just the one off target shot.

A great outcome for Arsenal but a very lucky victory and another poor offensive performance which failed to regularly create goal scoring opportunities for Lacazette. But for the tackling display by Arsenal’s back four and some wayward shooting by Chelsea, I don’t think Arsenal would have got the victory in this one. While Arsenal’s performance reinforces my view that the club desperately need to replace Wenger with a more tactically astute manager if they want to improve their on field production, another trip to Wembley for a cup final is undoubtedly something to look forward to.

Freddie08

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

Arsenal Player Analysis: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace

A much needed victory for the Gunners, who appeared to be adopted an oddly shaped 4-1-3-2 / 4-1-3-1-1 despite being setup in a notional 4-1-4-1 prematch.

jan-18-arsenal-vs-cp.png

Jan 18 Arsenal vs CP (1)

While Arsenal dominated the match (65% possession to Crystal Palace’s 35%) and predominately attacked through central areas, it was a combination of Arsenal’s effectiveness at set pieces, the efficiency of Monreal in attack and some dreadful defending from Crystal Palace which enabled Arsenal to establish a commanding lead in this one.

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a solid performance from Cech who, while unable to keep out Milivojevic’s shot from a Crystal Palace corner, was able to repel goal bound attempts from Kelly, Zaha, Benteke and Sako as well as claim a number of crosses.

RB: Bellerin
A strong tackling performance from Bellerin (3) as his opponent van Aanholt showed little initiative to take on the Spaniard via the dribble. That said, Bellerin’s positional play was again poor (1 interception) as he struggled to cut out van Aanholt’s 5 attempted crosses for the match. Offensively, while Bellerin showed great intent with his dribbling (3 successful dribbles), he failed to offer anything meaningful in terms of crosses (0 attempts for the match).

RCB: Koscielny
A pretty quiet day defensively for Koscielny (1 tackle and 3 interceptions) as his opponent Sako offered limited attacking threat (1/2 shots on target and 1 successful forward dribble). While Koscielny’s defensive positioning was excellent, as usually, he could have shown more aggression with this tackling which would have nullified what limited threat Sako did offer. That said, Koscielny kept his game nice and simple, reflected in a total of 9 clearances, and he was again very strong aerially (5 successful aerial duels).

LCB: Mustafi
A similarly quiet day defensively for Mustafi (2 tackles and 1 interception) as his opponent Benteke, like Sako, offered limited attacking threat (1 shot on target from 1 attempt and no successful forward dribbles). While Mustafi showed more aggression in his tackling than Koscielny, his defensive positioning was questionable at times. That said, Mustafi, like Koscielny, kept his game nice and simple, reflected in a total of 7 clearances, and he was excellent aerially (9 successful aerial duels).

LB: Monreal
A quiet day defensively for Nacho (1 tackle and 1 interception) as his opponent Fosu-Mensah failed to challenge the Spaniard via the dribble (no forward dribbles). That said, Monreal’s positional play was a little underwhelming as he failed to deal with Fosu-Mensah’s 2 attempted crosses for the match.
Offensively, Monreal’s production was mixed, with no forward dribbles but 2 accurate crosses from 3 attempts, both of which resulted in goals. He also scores with a thumping header at the back post.

CDM: Elneny
A relatively quiet day defensively for Elneny as his opponent, Zaha, struggled to influence the match (1 shot on target from 1 attempt, 2 forward dribbles and no through passes). That said, Elneny’s defensive production (1 tackle and 1 interception) was relatively poor, despite Zaha’s somewhat underwhelming offensive performance. Offensively, while Elneny’s passing accuracy (96%) was excellent, his transitional play was poor with only 2 accurate long passes for the match and just the one forward dribble.

LCM: Iwobi
An indifferent defensive performance from Iwobi, who had a couple of nice tackles (2) and made an interception but was rarely threaten by his opponent McArthur (0 shots, 0 dribbles and 1 long range pass). That said, Iwobi failed to put any pressure on his opponent which certainly afforded McArthur the opportunity to influence the match much more than he did. Offensively, Iwobi show good accuracy with his passing (83%) and great goal scoring intent with a goal from his 4 shots on target out of 4 attempts. Apart from that though, Iwobi underwhelmed offensively with no attempted through passes and just the one forward dribble.

CM: Xhaka
A similarly, indifferent performance defensively from Xhaka, who had a couple of nice tackles (2) but was rarely threaten by his opponent Cabaye (0 shots, 0 dribbles and 1/long range pass out of 5 attempts). That said, like Iwobi, Xhaka failed to put any pressure on Cabaye who could have been more influential had he shown greater initiative. Offensively, Xhaka’s transitional passing was way down on his usual high standard (1 accurate long range pass out of 3 attempts) and he failed to offer anything in terms of forward dribbles. That said, Xhaka’s passing accuracy (83%) was very good and he at least showed some attempt at being creative with his passing with one attempted albeit inaccurate through pass for the match.

RCM: Wilshere
A bad defensive effort from Wilshere (0 tackles and 0 interceptions), who like Xhaka and Iwobi, failed to put any sort of pressure on his opponent Milivojevic who, with 5 out of 8 accurate long passes, did exert some influence on the game. Offensively though, Jack was very good with 82% passing accuracy, 3 forward dribbles and 1 accurate through pass out of 2 attempts. The only blight on his game offensively was his lack of goal scoring intent, with no attempted shots for the match.

CAM: Ozil
A mixed performance from Ozil who appeared to isolate between a central attacking midfield and second striker role. His assist for Lacazette’s goal was majestic, his passing accuracy (86%) and creativity (1 accurate through pass out of 2 attempts) was very good and his forward dribbling (2) was solid. That said, he again showed very little goal scoring intent (no shots on target and just the one attempt).

CF: Lacazette
A strong performance from Lacazette who finally had some goal scoring opportunities thanks to some more creative passing from the likes of Ozil and Wilshere. He ended the match with a goal from his 5 shots, 3 of which were on target.

A much needed victory for Arsenal and some more adventurous passing from the likes of Ozil and Wilshere was very much welcomed. That said, there was still incomplete or underwhelming performances from the majority of team, which sadly is likely to be masked by the result.

Freddie08

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

A tribute to Francis Coquelin

With Arsenal’s midfield bereft of players with defensive skills and more important defensive output, I was somewhat surprised that Arsenal and Wenger sanctioned the sale of their one midfield option who actually possessed proven skills in that area, Francis Coquelin.

IMG_1770

Coquelin could best be described as a front footed aggressive tackling midfielder who was also very effective at pressing opponents to force interceptions.

On the ball, he was a very accurate passer, averaging 85% passing accuracy during his time at the Gunners. The only criticism that could be level at Coquelin was his lack of transitional output (1.5 accurate long passes per game and 0.8 forward dribbles per game). That said, Wenger’s slow possession hoarding attacking approach and desire to have his side compress the game into the opponent’s final third, effectively denied Coquelin the opportunity to display any transitional skills.

Coquelin was undoubtedly a victim of playing in a system of play that failed to accentuate his strengths (pressing, tackling, interceptions) and exposed his weaknesses (creative passing). Funnily enough though Coquelin’s strengths actually make him well suited to playing in a side whose manager, like Wenger, likes to compress the game into the opponent’s final third. Unfortunately though Wenger doesn’t value or require his midfield (or even Arsenal’s wing backs) to actually contribute defensively Rather, Wenger places the side’s entire defensive onus on Arsenal’s centre backs, whether it be two or three. As a consequence Coquelin was frequently overlooked and undervalued, despite being Arsenal’s most productive midfielder defensively.

His departure from Arsenal is definitely in Coquelin’s best interest and I expect him to thrive at Valencia under Marcelino, who sets up his side to aggressively press opponents. I wish him all the best in the future.

Freddie08

A tribute to Theo Walcott

While not my favourite player, Walcott was undoubtedly a victim of playing in a system of play that failed to accentuate his strengths (speed, off the ball runs, clinical finishing) and exposed his weaknesses (poor touch and limited passing skills). Walcott’s skill set is suited to playing in a side that likes to either stretch the game vertically and utilise quick forward transitions or play on the counterattack. Unfortunately for Walcott, Wenger’s slow possession hoarding attacking approach and desire to have his side compress the game into the opponent’s final third, failed to allow Walcott to showcase his skills. The fact that Walcott scored over 100 goals for the club in spite of this was a remarkable effort from the Englishman.

He leaves the club averaging (where has started at least 15 games) 9.2 goals per season, from 4.4 shots per game.

I wish him all the best at Everton and hope that Big Sam’s tailors his tactical approach to suit Walcott’s skill set much better than Wenger ever did.

Cheers

Freddie08