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Arsenal 2-2 Fulham: The Debrief
A game that didn't go to plan but wasn't as bad as the reaction to it
There is no getting around the feeling of disappointment and shock from that result. Arsenal came into the match big favorites to win, 78% by my model and came away with a draw.
The way the game was drawn makes it feel even worse. It started with a major error and then some poor defending/goal keeping at the end to throw away two points.
The silver lining is that this was probably the best Arsenal have looked in attack but that is small comfort at this time. Let’s get into it.
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Arsenal 2-2 Fulham: The Graphics
Arsenal 2-2 Fulham: The Debrief
18 - Shots taken by Arsenal
11 - Shots on target
7 - Shots inside of the six-yard box by Arsenal
6 - Shots with an xG greater than 20% to score
3.9 - xG in this match for Arsenal, 3.2 xG excluding the penalty shot
2.7 - Post Shot xG for Arsenal in this match. Not the greatest finishing day for Arsenal even with 11 shots on target.
0.18 - Arsenal’s xG per shot (excluding the penalty)
Just because it was a disappointing result doesn’t mean it was a disappointing performance. This was easily Arsenal’s best-attacking showing of the young season and will go down as the best-attacking outing of any team this weekend. Compared to last season there were just one match that had more xG excluding penalties, than what Arsenal did in this match and that was Aston Villa away.
In comparison to what Arsenal have done, this is head and shoulders better than anything else this season, it was only missing the three points to make us all feel better about the match. In the end Arsenal were too sloppy in this match; Bukayo Saka had a dreadful pass that led to the first goal, Thomas Partey was too casual on the ball and got turned over too often for comfort, Kai Havertz played a bizarre wall pass, Oleksandr Zinchenko played a pass up the line that was head-scratching that proceeded the corner that equalized the game.
In the end, it was a match where Arsenal showed some real extremes of both good and bad play. This is a worrying trend where these sorts of things happen too often, especially at home and hopefully, it can be sorted out.
Fabio Vieira has his best match in Red and White
21 - Pass Attempts 76.2% completion percentage with 106.2% Pass Efficiency (100 is completed as many as expected, higher is better)
2 - Progressive Passes
1 - Assist
1 - Key Pass
0.33 - xA
1 - Shot
0.04 - xG
1 - Dribble Completed
5 - Progressive Carries
5 - Touches in the box
2 - Times Dispossessed or miscontrolled the ball
2 - Ball Recoveries
1 - Clearance (led to Eddie Nketiah drawing the second yellow)
This was a match that we were all hoping for and was simply electric from Vieira. When he was the sub coming on, I wrote in my notes “this is not going to be popular” because his stock among the fans had fallen so far with how he played at the end of last season. In the end and with all credit to him, Mikel Arteta was bold with his subs and I think they made a very important impact in this match.
Here, he looked like a completely new player. He showed aggression and thrust that I don’t recall from last season. His first move was almost always looking to be progressive with the ball here and it was absolutely what the match needed and he should have delivered the match-winning assist with his beauty of a cross.
He will have settle for this just being an impressive performance.
The Kai Havertz Battle Continues
20 - Pass Completed 87.0% completion percentage with 104.6 Pass Efficency
4 - Progressive Passes
2 - Open Play Key Passes
0.29 - xA
1 - Shot
0.47 - xG (I think this overstates the actual chance, it was under a lot of pressure)
3 - Progressive Carries
3 - Progressive Passes Received
4 - Touches in the box
1 - Tackles
1 - Blocked Passes
5 - Ball Recoveries
1 - Aerial Duel Won
0.3 - Goal Probability Added
I was shocked to hear and see the response to Havertz match. My impression was significantly different than the general consensus. I thought he was pretty good on first watch, after watching again I think I might have undersold it with him (and the team) bordering on good, especially in the first half.
I think the opinion on him in this match is very heavily colored by his last real action which was the wall pass to Declan Rice but really this wasn’t a bad match. He made several good runs, I liked the interchange between him and Martinelli/Trossard with all three playing very fluid positions and changing roles, his defense which I was worried about coming into the season was again solid. He gets on the end of a good chance, has an assist called off for a fractional offside. I obviously want more from him but this was far from a disaster that some are saying.
On to the next one.