Monday, 18 March 2013

Swansea 0 - Arsenal 2 Stats and Chalkboards

It'd be foolish to think that we should be going out and taking teams like Arsenal apart but this game felt like a missed opportunity, Arsenal are a team under pressure and this was a must-win game for them, so it was a bit of a surprise to see Laudrup picking a midfield three of Britton, De Guzman and Ki with Michu playing as the lone striker.

This is the 'keep it tight and see what happens' option as opposed to the more adventurous options of either having Routledge or Moore starting rather than Ki.

Swansea had plenty of the ball (57% possession) but as the heat maps below show, the majority of this was in their own half:
Heat Maps of Passing by Swansea (left) and Arsenal (right)
Looking at the passing of the midfield three, De Guzman far more passes than the others but a lot of this activity was sideways passing inside the Swansea half
In the 66 minutes he played, Ki only misplaced one pass but only 14% of his passes went forward.

At times it felt that the players must be being paid by the pass as there was lots of quick one touch football which didn't really go anywhere, it's fine to have the ability to pass under pressure but it felt sometimes like passing the buck as there was relatively limited movement with the ball.

Pablo is a player who tends to divide opinion, he is a player of undoubted class and is someone who is willing to play a risky pass when others favour the safe ball.  The problem comes in games like this one where it doesn't really click and he ends up looking wasteful.

Comparing the forward passing of Pablo and Dyer in the chalkboard below, it can be seen how Pablo loses the ball far more but is also the one looking for the tricky pass:
Ben Davies was an ever willing support runner for Pablo, but there were numerous occasions where it didn't quite click.

Having Michu as the lone striker rather than the attacking midfielder means that he receives the ball about half as often, he was often gesticulating to the rest of the team to push up but with Arsenal's high pressing he was often an isolated figure:
Passes received by Michu v. Arsenal (left) and WBA (right) where he played as attacking midfielder with Moore up front
It'll be interesting to see what changes are made both in terms of personnel and approach in their next game vs. Spurs in a couple of weeks time, it's another game against a 'big' team (who will now after losing two league games in a row will be under similar sort of pressure to Arsenal), so will Laudrup approach this one more aggressively.

The potential return of Chico v. Spurs could also help as he's more comfortable going forward than Monk which will in turn push everyone else further forward.
Passes made by Williams/Monk, tidy but rarely expansive.
Most of the above is focused on the negatives from the game, there's always the difficult balance between fully appreciating how far we've come and wanting to keep progressing.  For Arsenal, Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain were impressive but the drive of Diaby was the thing that stood out most, it was only Diaby's 10th league start but you can see why Arsenal fans get frustrated with his regular 3-4 week absences.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats and Chalkboards: Created using Statszone / EPL Index / Squawka