Discover more from Cannon Stats
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City: The Debrief
Arsenal end their losing streak against the Champions
It is a day later as I write this and it still feels surreal to say that Arsenal have beaten Manchester City.
The utter and complete domination that Manchester City had on Arsenal, especially once Pep Guardiola became manager was complete. These matches never felt all that close and if the scoreline was close it felt like it was only through mercy or that something inevitable was coming to tear out any hope.
This match felt different. Arsenal were their usual banged-up self but by contrast, so were Manchester City for once. It felt like a fair fight and the odds were not stacked against Arsenal. It took some good fortune to come away with all three points but with all the things that had gone against Arsenal in the past in this fixture, it felt past due and earned.
A great day to be a Gooner.
Cannon Stats is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City: The Graphics
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City: The Debrief
12 - Shots for Arsenal, the lowest total this season. Arsenal did manage 9 from open play which is only 3rd lowest.
2 - Shots on target, the lowest total this season
0.4 - Expected goals, the lowest total this season
38 - Deep touches (within 25 yards of goal), the lowest total this season
Going against Manchester City you can never expect too much attack. Guardiola’s teams are known for their copious goal-scoring but they also pair that with a strangling defense. It took a while but Arsenal did grow into this game and I think had a better day than the high-level numbers suggested.
No team this season has had more touches in the box, more touches within 25 yards of goal, more shots, more shots from open play, more possession, or more field tilt against them
Control is the name of the game
1.5 - Progressive yards toward goal per second while in possession for Arsenal, the slowest attack this season
2.1 - Progressive yards toward goal per second while in possession for teams playing Manchester City this season
39% - Percentage of Arsenal’s passes that went forward in this match
49% - The percentage of passes that Manchester City faced that went forward before Arsenal.
91 - The number of final third touches that Arsenal managed in the final third more than Manchester City. It was 193 to 102. Overall it was even between the middle third and the final third touches, City had more of the middle possession with Arsenal more in the final third.
66% - Arsenal’s field tilt in this match, the highest against City this season.
It is incredibly uncommon for a team to do this to Manchester City. Last season only 3 teams had more field tilt against City: Arsenal, Brighton, and Brentford with two of those coming after the League was won and they were heavily rotated preparing to win the treble. All of these were 55% or lower. The last time a team managed a field tilt above 60% was in May 2021 against Graham Potter’s Brighton.
Controlling the game and denying access to dangerous locations was in my view the number one priority of this match. The lineup looked set with this mind adding a controlling midfielder in Jorginho in favor of Kai Havertz and not swapping Oleksandr Zinchenko for the more defensively sound Takehiro Tomiyasu.
With the absence of Rodri (who I think should seriously be the ballon d’or winner) it was set up nicely for Arsenal to have a legitimate chance to do this.
City tried multiple rotations to try and create numeric advantage in midfield but it never quite worked to be able for them to find the pass or carry consistently to break through.
There were a couple of moments where it nearly happened because City are still excellent but Arsenal coped, with Rico Lewis slipping through before being fouled by Martinelli and Matheus Nunes doing similar before Declan Rice made a sublime tackle.
The out-of-possession shape was excellent. Arsenal picked their spots to press (9.2 PPDA still suggesting some pretty high pressure) but didn’t over-commit (like they did against Manchester United). Arsenal held them to just 38 total final third entries, 10 touches in zone 14, and 9 total entries into the box. Just a masterful performance at denying entry into dangerous locations.
This led to City’s worst attacking performance this season. City took just 4 shots, they took just 2 from open play, and none after the 58th minute. They managed just 1 pretty tame shot in the second half from a blocked Julián Álvarez effort on the edge of the box. They managed 2 big chances from a corner situation and then were shut down.
In possession, Arsenal were very deliberate. At times it felt perhaps timid but I think it was by design looking to prefer picking their moments to move forward rather than looking to have the game open up (with Arsenal missing Saka and Martinelli and City having a full-strength attack I think that made sense). Arsenal focused on building slowly and with lots of passes, in this match, Arsenal had 27 sequences of 7 or more completed passes. I don’t have the data handy but that seems close to unprecedented against Manchester City.
Arsenal also struggled to create clear shooting chances but did have significantly more dangerous possession. In the end, it was from one of those situations that Arsenal were able to create that Arsenal stopped City from creating which ended up being the pivotal moment.
100,000 Thousand Passes
45 - Passes attempted by Arsenal after going ahead
23 - Passes attempted by City after going behind
80% - Arsenal’s pass completion
52% - City’s pass completion
8.7 - Average distance in yards for Arsenal’s passes
2 - Sequences with 7 or more passes after going ahead by Arsenal. They had moves of 12 and 16 passes that just killed the momentum and the threat for City.
Control was Arsenal’s plan in this game but what we saw at the end of the game was I think something that will leave Arteta with the biggest smile. Manchester City, the best team in the world and reigning treble winners could not create any pressure to get a sniff at an equalizer.
I don’t think there was ever a moment of worry in the last minutes of this match. Arsenal held City to just 7 touches in the final third, with ZERO coming within 25 yards of Arsenal’s goal. They created no threat. They also could not take the ball off of Arsenal who put together an exquisite example of keep away.
This was a mature, calm and excellent way to see the game out.
Declan Rice shows why he was so coveted
40 - Pass Attempts
90.0% - Pass completion %
102.7% - Pass Efficiency (ratio of actual completed passes compared to expected completion)
2 - Final 3rd Entry Passes
1 - Progressive Pass
2 - Key Passes
2 - Progressive Carries
3 - Tackles
75% - Tackle %
0 - Fouls
3 - Interceptions
1 - Blocked Pass
1 - Goal Line last man blocked shot
4 - Ball Recoveries
In this match, Rice was given more of the box-to-box role in what looked more like a double pivot than the usual single pivot. He looked like a perfect fit for what was needed. He had a couple of moments that were top-notch of winning the ball back, but also recovering it and progressing.
He also showed excellent ability to crash the box, there were a couple moments where Gabriel Jesus got himself open in the box and the cutback was there for Rice and he just didn’t see it.
If you had doubts about Rice, it feels like they should be calmed after what he has shown so far with Arsenal. A great performance from him.
Saliba Pockets Haaland
70 - Pass Attempts
97.1% - Pass completion %
112.5% - Pass Efficiency
3 - Final 3rd Entry Passes
1 - Progressive Pass
361 - Progressive Pass Distance
1 - Progressive Carry
189 - Progressive Carry Distance
2 - Tackles
0 - Dribbled Past
0 - Fouls
1 - Blocked Pass
5 - Ball Recoveries
2 - Clearances
1 - Aerial Duels Won
100% - Aerial Win%
0 - Shots allowed to Erling Halaand
1 - Time left Halaand crumpled to the ground after he attempted to shoulder barge him.
I am going to keep this short and simple. He’s the best center back in the World right now and I am glad to watch him week after week for Arsenal.
Raya recovers from a shaky start
48 - Passes
70.8% - Pass%
65.5% - xPass%
108.2% - Pass Efficiency
6 - Final 3rd Entry Passes, led Arsenal
736 - Progressive Yards Passing, led Arsenal
11 - Long Passes Completed, led Arsenal
45.8% - Long Pass %
1 - Punch
1 - High Claim
7 - Recoveries
The first 20-25 minutes were a little nervy from Raya. He misplayed some passes that we expect him to do better on, with one really dangerous ball into the middle and one where he was closed down with the block into the side netting. After that, he didn’t let that phase him and he grew into the game.
Watching back he is typically right on the edge of his box or higher ready to patrol balls over the top. This combined with the high line Arsenal played worked well in tandem to limit City going over the top to test Arsenal. His passing late was excellent, during Arsenal’s late spell of possession he completed 3 perfectly pinged balls out to the left and right for Arsenal to keep the ball away from City.
I know people love Aaron Ramsdale but it looks like Raya is the number 1 now and he is helping to bring Artetaball without compromise to fruition.