Before we talk about the match, let’s all breathe in…. and breathe out about Jack Wilshere:
I’ve seen some Arsenal supporters having a go at Wilshere after a rather ignoble substitute’s performance against Stoke, erm, Blackburn, uhhh, Southampton (whatever pack of kickers that “Sparky” is in charge of these days).
Jack came on in the 64th minute and got just 16 touches, 10 were passes of which he completed 7. He didn’t have a cross or a through ball. He didn’t complete a dribble. He failed in his only tackle. He made just one interception. And he lost possession four times. That’s not at all at the high level that we expect from a midfielder of Wilshere’s reputation.
He also got into a fracas with Jack Stephens and will probably be remembered for his failed pass on the fast break which led to said fracas.
Fracas in a teacup.
Weirdly he won’t be remembered for this pass:
That was a bicycle-kick cross to a wide open Danny Welbeck. We talk about “expected goals” based on shots. Well, that is a forward’s dream pass. That’s the kind of pass that results in a goal 90% of the time. That was Wilshere rescuing a bad pass from Iwobi and turning it into a goal.
So, while I agree that Wilshere got dumb and pulled Stephens’ shirt after missing what should have been an easy pass, it’s a little weird to say stuff like “his career’s done” and “he is auditioning for Huddersfield.” This is a player who just last month had two outstanding matches for Arsenal against AC Milan and Stoke. Yes, he followed that with a mediocre match and this one but it’s not like whatever talent he has has dried up and gone away forever.
Say what you want, but it’s weird to me!
6 – Goals Aubameyang has scored in his first seven matches to become the fastest ever Arsenal player to 6 goals (Premier League). He’s also scored in each of his last four Arsenal matches and he’s scored those six goals on just 17 shots, a 35% finisher. If we take his one penalty goal out of the calculations he is a 33% finisher (5/15). This is a continuation of his form from Dortmund this season where he was a career high 18% finisher (10/54 from non-penalty shots). I expect him to revert to the mean soon. Or not! Let;s hope he scores 100% of his shots for the rest of the season.
5 – Big Chances missed this season by Welbeck. It’s normal for a forward to miss a lot of big chances and as evidence I submit the following list (from sofascore.com):
Benteke – 20 – 2 goals
Salah – 19 – 29 goals
Kane – 16 – 24 goals
Morata – 15 – 11 goals
Aguero – 13 – 21 goals
Lacazette – 12 – 10 goals
Mane – 11 – 9 goals
Lukaku – 11 – 15 goals
Jesus – 11 – 9 goals
Richarliason – 11 – 5 goals
Those are the top 10 in order. Aubameyang has also missed 4 and so has Ozil. They all do. The good thing is getting into the position to score those chances or creating the chance to score that goal as well. Yes, Welbeck is like a baby deer on ice skates sometimes and especially so when he hasn’t played for a while but he’s a hell of a decent 3rd option striker, especially when you see that Morata is Chelsea’s first choice and has missed three times as many.
1.51 – Expected goals for Arsenal, 2.41 expected goals for Southampton. Based on shots created (alone) Arsenal probably should consider themselves lucky to have won this match. But what’s been worrying this season for Arsenal is that they have been outplayed way too many times this season in the Premier League. Working backwards the list of teams that have outplayed Arsenal are (number on the right is the negative xGD and the letter indicates the result):
Southampton: -0.9 (W)
Brighton: -0.22 (L)
Man City: -0.81 (L)
Tottenham: -2.88 (L)
Swansea: -1.14 (L)
Chelsea: -2.04 (D)
West Brom: -0.63 (D)
Liverpool: -1.21 (D)
Southampton: -0.83 (D)
Man City: -1.15 (L)
Watford: -0.2 (L)
Liverpool: -2.61 (L)
That’s 12 times that Arsenal have been outplayed using expected goals as the metric and just 1 win. Man U have been outplayed 14 times, they have won 9 of those, drawn 4, and lost just once. Now, obviously that’s not normal (I haven’t figured out the odds of Man U’s season but it has to be astronomical) but Arsenal either need to figure out a way to dominate or how to stop losing. I think figuring out a way to dominate is the right answer but since I’m “not a former coach/world cup winner” what do I know, right?
Elneny harshly punished
I’ve watched (in person or on TV) almost every Arsenal match and countless other football matches since I picked up football back in the 90s and I have never seen a player get a red card for pushing another player. I could understand (maybe) if Elneny was one of these players who ran around fouling or who had a history of committing egregious fouls but he isn’t.
Elneny commits 0.5 fouls per90 for Arsenal – the only player who has committed fewer fouls p90 for Arsenal this season is Aubameyang with 0.1. Elneny also has just 41 yellow cards in 251 career appearances for all clubs that he’s ever played for from the time he became a professional and this is his first ever red card. So while it’s funny to say this I’m going to say it anyway; Elneny is not that kind of player.
$%!@*n Arsenal and their errors! Mustafi committed another error for a goal (his 2nd) and Arsenal continue to lead the League in both defensive errors (30) and defensive errors for goals (14).
Sort that out.
Sources: Whoscored.com, Sofascore.com, Squawka.com, Opta, my database