Arsenal vs West Ham: Delayed Reaction
Finally getting around to confronting this match
I didn’t have the energy to really dig into this match right after the final whistle.
I had already had enough of the feeling of meltdown and lashing out from the site formally known as Twitter and the Arsenal Vision Discord to spend time putting down my thoughts in a fashion that I felt would be worth sending out.
I ended up taking my family to go see the film Wonka, it was a delightful way to distract myself for two hours. I really enjoyed that they made it a musical, it really played up the whimsey of the character and I thought the cast, especially Timothée Chalamet did a very good job. It was perfect for the full family, but I think my kids (10 and 12) loved it the most. So if you are looking for something to do during a winter break to keep young ones entertained this is a good one.
Alright, let’s get into I guess now.
Headline: Sometimes there are days like this
In this match Arsenal created a bit over 2.5 expected goals, they did that from 30 shots (the most they have had this season), while also getting into the box for 77 touches (the most they have had this season, actually it is the most anyone has had in the Premier League this season).
It is frustrating to have this level of creation and chances and have it end up being for not.
There have been 25 matches between 2.4 and 2.7 non-penalty xG this season in the Premier League, they have seen an average of 2.7 goals scored, with a high of 6 and a low of 0 (twice, once for Arsenal here and the other for Manchester United against Tottenham).
It feels like an outlier but with the way these things happen, it is not crazy uncommon to have this happen and have it not turn into a big goal tally even if that is uncommon.
For Arsenal, for the chances that they had in this match scoring 5 or more was the more likely outcome from simulating the match, than scoring 0. Arsenal had chances with an expected value over 10%, they had 4 chances with an expected value over 20%, and they put 8 of their shots on target here.
It sucks but sometimes there are days where you score 6 goals from this level of xG (like Arsenal did against Lens) and somedays where you score 0.
It might feel weird but I actually come out of this feeling better about Arsenal than I did at the start of the season. Arsenal were scrapping results early but the attack looked stripped of ideas and it took good fortune to see the ball go in the net, or to be bailed out with a penalty kick to be able to score.
Here Arsenal seemed to be able to cut open West Ham whenever they wanted. I have seen people say that this was a good defensive performance for them and they had their game plan work perfectly and being completely frank, that is bullshit focusing only on the result/clean sheet.
West Ham were battered and were incredibly fortunate to come away with a clean sheet and a win. David Moyes might have hoped to play a defensive game and nick a goal like this but I am sure he was not happy to see how often Arsenal were able to generate the volume of good looks that they did and even then it took some last-ditch efforts for it not to be even worse.
I didn’t always love that it felt like Arsenal dwelled on the ball and played too slow but I can’t deny that it yielded plenty of times getting the ball into dangerous locations.
Arsenal were able to get into the final third with ease, with West Ham essentially ceding that area to Arsenal and looking to make it hard to pass, except they did a very bad job at actually stopping Arsenal from progressing the ball into the box.
Arsenal got the ball into the box 47 times, and into areas within 25 yards of goals 73 times. Those are eye-popping numbers and one that does not suggest that a team defended well and kept Arsenal in the dreaded horseshoe of death of lots of final third possession but nothing of real threat.
It was just a day when the shooting boots weren’t on. There have been a bit too many of those this season with Arsenal scoring 17 open play goals from 26 expected goals. I think this is a bit of a fluke, especially considering that this team with pretty close to the same makeup of players produced an overperformance last year.
I want to dig deeper but I really feel like given the frustration during the match this would really benefit from watching again in the morning before doing the debrief.
Stock Rising: Martin Odegaard
This is the obvious one today.