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Sevilla 1-2 Arsenal: The Debrief
Arsenal take care of business in Spain
With the loss last matchweek in France, Arsenal needed points in Spain. They came out and did exactly that in this match, adding in some positive green shoots as well.
Let’s look at the stats from the Champions League match.
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Sevilla 1-2 Arsenal: The Graphics
Sevilla 1-2 Arsenal: The Debrief
14 - Shots for Arsenal (all from open play)
12% - Arsenal’s average shot quality
3 - Big chances for Arsenal in this match
3 - Shots from within 12 yards
10.7 - Arsenal’s passes allowed per defensive action half in the first half
18 - Defensive actions by Arsenal in Sevilla’s half in the first half
67% - The percentage of Sevilla’s passes that were in their own half, in the first half
This match brought back some memories of last season. Arsenal had some very good chances and dangerous moments, on top of that Arsenal seemed intent on really pushing back Sevilla in the first half.
On a different night Arsenal might have taken that threat and dominance and turned it into 2-3 goals instead of just the one that they came away with.
It is potentially a positive sign for Arsenal, as things did not look nearly as bogged down and slow like they did on the weekend against Chelsea.
2 - Of the 7 close types coming together that went Arsenal’s way in this match by my count. These European matches are typically called more tightly but this one went against the case where Arsenal did not get the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t write down all of the ones for Sevilla but from my memory and notes it looked like they did get more of those calls than Arsenal. Some benefit of a loud and rowdy crowd.
The challenge on Bukayo Saka is probably the most egregious of these examples, this was also one that would have made the game much more comfortable and potentially have essentially ended things for this match. In the end, it didn’t really hurt Arsenal but it was something that I noticed in the match and went against the standard thought about how the Champions League is officiated.
If this had been a draw this might have ended up a bigger talking point but thankfully it became a moot point.
Gabriel Martinelli makes the most of his Champions League Debut
2 - Shots, 1 goal
1.27 - xG
4 - Key Passes (led Arsenal)
0.32 - xA
6 - Shot creating actions
40 - Pass Attempts on 82.5 Pass% and 103.0% Pass Efficiency (completed more than expected)
4 - Progressive Passes (led Arsenal)
4 - Box Entry Pass (led Arsenal)
5 - Deep Completions (not Cross)
3 - Dribbles Completed of 6 attempted. Including rounding the keeper to create a certain goal
1 - Time Fouled
12 - Progressive Carries (led Arsenal)
5 - Progressive Passes Received (led Arsenal)
10 - Final Third Entry Pass Received (led Arsenal)
7 - Deep Touches
1 - Tackle
5 - Interceptions + Blocked Passes (led Arsenal)
9 - Ball Recoveries (led Arsenal)
It is a little weird given that this is the 3rd match for Arsenal in the Champions League this season, but it was the debut for Martinelli.
He did not disappoint with his performance today, coming away looking like a superstar on the biggest stage.
Since he’s come back from his injury, I have found myself writing down, Martinelli is Arsenal’s best chance at creating threatening moments. It was the case again today. He combined excellently with Gabriel Jesus (hopefully his injury is minimal) and carried Arsenal in this match.
His speed, directness, and nose for goal is something that is unique in the squad right now and when he is unavailable something the team really misses. It is nice to have him back and firing.
Declan Rice, eye test vs stat test
49 - Pass Attempts on 75.5% Pass% with 93.7% Pass Efficiency (completed fewer than expected)
15 - Times lost possession, tied for the most on Arsenal
4 - Final 3rd Entry Passes
2 - Progressive Passes (this is a big difference from FBRef which uses a much more relaxed measure using just vertical distance, rather than from the center of the goal)
1 - Deep Completions (not Cross)
3 - Key Passes
3 - Dribbles Completed, of 4 attempted
3 - Progressive Carries
2 - Tackles 40 Tackle %, being dribbled past 3 times
1 - Foul committed
1 - Interception
8 - Ball Recoveries
1 - Blocked Shots
3 - Aerial Duels Won, 100% Aerial Win%
This is an interesting situation where the eye test and the stat test diverge.
I watched the match and came away thinking “WOW, this guy was tremendous and was all over the pitch.” That is still true from the data, he was making plays all over the pitch but the overall impact from those actions comes away looking a bit less rosy.
He had just 5 progressive actions (2 passes, 3 carries) in my data, and 14 in the data from FBRef (they have a slightly different definition and it appears to have made a major difference where some things just off the threshold went from 0 to 1). This is perhaps a better day for looking at the statistic of “Fields Gained” where you look at the total progressive distance from passing and carrying and he moves up to second on Arsenal with 5.1 fields gained.
The other thing that jumped out was that he lost the ball a bit more than I would like to have seen for a midfielder. Losing the ball is not always an issue, especially when he is playing forward but in this match. Here he lost possession 15 times, with 6 of them coming in his own half (tied for third among Arsenal’s outfield players).
Overall I still came away very impressed with Rice, his coverage of the field is as good as advertised, his ability to carry the ball up the field is phenomenal, and he has a positive attacking feel. His adaption to Arsenal has been as close to seamless as you could expect and with a little cleanup his game could go to the next level.