Another Arsenal win in the bag, another sigh of relief at the final whistle. It wasn’t the most convincing win, nor was it the most unconvincing either.
There were moments of Arsenal possession and domination whilst creating some chances; there was some purpose in the Gunners’ play till the first goal. Burnley’s equalizer was, of course, a set back and the first half fizzled out with the Gunners showing none of that purpose that we saw in the first 20 minutes or so.
However, the second half was a better performance interspersed with moments of threat from the lower league side. Hence, the sigh of relief after the final whistle!
Mr. Wenger saw it similarly:
We needed to work. At the start it looked like it would be easy because we had a lot of the ball and good opportunities around the box. When it came back to 1-1, it became a different game. I think we were a bit shocked and they gained belief.
In the second half, I don’t think they created a lot. They had one or two opportunities on the counter-attack but we managed to win the game and we looked quite in control at the end. We needed to keep our focus, our urgency until the last minute.
Both goals were great to watch and were very different; le boss sums it up perfectly:
I would say they are two completely different goals. One came from a build up in the final third, where we were patient and moved the ball well, with great finishing from Chambers. He’s quite a good finisher in training. The second one was in transition, coming out quickly from the back and finishing well, with a lot of pace. They were two completely different goals.
It really was a good finish from Chambers but the build-up was intricate if not quick; each player involved showing good composure on the ball, including youngster Iwobi.
The second goal was a classic counter attack and it was such a relief not to see any misplaced or misjudged pass by anyone involved – you know those counter attacks that break down some times because you wonder why on earth a certain pass was made when another option seemed much better? Yeah, well, it didn’t happen here!
The give-and-return between Iwobi and Giroud was predictable but the question after that was whether Iwobi would opt for the easier and seemingly more logical option of playing the Ox who was charging down the right, or, look to switch the play? Luckily he chose the Ox who squared the ball for Alexis to smash in.
The commentator said it wasn’t the best cross as it went behind Giroud, the Frenchman was steaming forward with defenders alongside him so Giroud may have been the wrong pick. Was it poorly executed, or on purpose? Either way, it worked, and the Ox finally has an assist!
Theo really should have wrapped it up near the end when he was put through one-on-one versus the ‘keeper – seemed like another case of too much time on the ball as he uncharacteristically tried to ‘round the ‘keeper rather than attempt a shot.
Defensively there were some scares especially from our central defenders but mostly the defensive unit was sound.
Having said that, let’s have a look at the stats to perhaps give us another perspective of how the game went and how some individuals performed.
The Stats and Implications
- 67.5% of possession
- 23 total shots out of which 7 were on target, 9 were blocked, and 7 were off target
- 612 total passes, more than 90% of them being short; more than 25% of Burnley’s passes were long just to give you an idea of their approach
- 11 corners
- 24 crosses but only 12.5% can be deemed as successful
- 85.1% total passing accuracy, 80.1% passing accuracy in the opposition half
- 12 interceptions compared to Burnley’s 30 – not surprising given the statistics above
- Duels and aerial duels won were pretty much 50-50
- 13 tackles out of which we won 69.2% of, whilst Burnley committed 27 tackles winning 81.5% of them
- 24 clearances for Arsenal compared to 27 of Burnley; given the latter’s 15 crosses and general approach play, it’s not surprising that we have a high number
Now, those are overall stats; a look at some individual contributions may also be telling of any themes that emerged in our play.
The first stat I’ll quote, because it’s been doing the rounds on social media this morning, that debutant Elneny had 100 touches on the ball – more than any other player on the day! This, in a way, may not be surprising as well because the Egyptian was all over the place; it was quite an energetic performance. He also, not surprisingly, made the most total passes with 84 with 95.2% pass accuracy. Impressive statistic…almost! Maybe it’s his nature, maybe because it was his first game; but, a majority of his passes seemed to be the safer backwards or maybe sideward passes. However, the Egyptian definitely showed some neat touches and a willingness to get forward whilst he also had a couple of attempts at goal from outside the box.
The downside for Elneny, again, not surprisingly as he’s new to the league, was his battle with the physical side of the English game. He’s a tall lad and there were several instances where he tried to get stuck-in or physical with an opponent but was pretty much brushed off or eased off with, well, ease! Wenger noted the same:
His mobility, his work rate was exceptional and for the rest, he needs to adjust to the power of the game in the Premier League. This was a good welcome today and certainly he has learnt a lot today. It will take him some time to adjust to the power side of our game here, but the intelligence, the mobility and the technical level are good.
The former Basel man only won 27.3% of his duels. Coquelin won 63.6% of his duels, whilst only making a total of 37 passes – seem familiar? Elneny wasn’t necessarily given a creator role though.
The Ox, Gibbs, and Alexis – The Different Uses of Width
The other notable statistic is that we hit 24 crosses – 10 of those came from the Ox of which 30% were deemed successful. Again, people may talk about final product from the Ox, and I will always say there’s only Giroud in the middle of two-three men to pick out each time.
However, the other interesting stat is that the top most passing combination was between Gibbs and Elneny followed by Gibbs and Alexis; unfortunately, Arsenal.com doesn’t do crossing statistics for defenders but this is where variety comes into our play – Gibbs to create space for Alexis whilst the other wing is used, well, as a traditional wing. It makes sense considering the lack of a Cazorla in the middle.
Line of Appreciation for Iwobi
Alex Iwobi though, playing in Mesut’s position, had a good performance. Confident on the ball and accurate with his passes – 90.5% accuracy. He didn’t play Mesut’s role of creator though but made sure he did his part in every build-up.
Arsenal as a team, when the likes of Ozil or Cazorla are missing, rely on more players getting involved in a build-up and Iwobi seemed very comfortable with that sort of play.
Ramsey, in my opinion, is another player who thrives on others clicking with him rather than looking to create; but that’s another discussion/debate for another time.
Onwards and Upwards
Anyway, I’ll wrap this up now by saying it was a key victory as it ensures we’re still in a position to defend the FA Cup and a victory always maintains morale if not boosts it for the players.
Onward and upwards, COYG!