Sometimes a football match comes down to just a few small differences. For example, in this match against Everton, both teams created 2 big chances in this game and Everton scored both of theirs while both of Arsenal’s were saved.
Further, the differences in the top players were small but important: Arsenal’s most creative player was once again Alexis Sanchez. He created three chances for his teammates, including a huge miss by Özil, and ended up with zero assists on the day. Meanwhile Baines and Barkley also created three chances for their teammates and each garnered an assist.
If Özil finishes that shot or if Iwobi scores at the end of the game, the outcome here is obviously very different.
It was a poor quality match from the start. Arsenal dominated the first 25 minutes, so much that Everton didn’t even take a shot until literally the 30th minute of the match. But Arsenal weren’t really laying on the pressure and only took two shots for themselves between minutes 1-40!
Arsenal were so poor and so disjointed that they had 12, 5 minute periods where they didn’t take a single shot. Totalling 60 minutes without shots. Two stretches of 15+ minutes elapsed without a single attempt, one in the first half, after Alexis scored, and one in the second half between the 60th minute and 80th. Arsenal had the ball, they had possession, they were pressing forward, but the final ball was just inches off time and again.
Arsenal only had one shot between the 60th minute and the 90th minute. Right when we most needed to chase the game. That’s either pathetic by Arsenal or a huge credit to Everton’s defense.
The result is shot charts that look like this:
Three large flat spots on Arsenal’s chart meant that overall, Arsenal didn’t create enough and barely earned a single expected goal. Meanwhile, Everton bounced back after the Alexis goal and stayed on top of Arsenal the rest of the match, in terms of shot dominance.
In possession, Arsenal weren’t significantly better. They had a LOT of the ball but didn’t do much more with it than Everton. If we take out possession passes and only look at the attacking types, such as final third passes, key passes, and through balls, Everton matched Arsenal blow for blow in this match.
What’s especially damning is that period of possession right after the second half: comparing the two charts we see Arsenal having a lot of the ball in dangerous areas and trying to pry open the Everton defense, but not creating any shots. Sterile possession at its worst.
Coquelin gets a lot of grief for this. He’s not the most creative midfielder in the team, that’s not even a question. But he had the same number of Key passes as Granit Xhaka (0) and just one fewer than Mesut Özil (1). The real problem is that Özil had a poor game by his own standards. His only key pass was from the center circle in the 44th minute, to Alexis, for a shot from 22 yards.
All three of Alexis’ key passes were inside the 18 yard box. In case you’re curious.
Sources: Whoscored.com, 442 Stats Zone app