For the first 10 minutes to open the match Arsenal looked like they were sleep walking. Chelsea repeatedly cut through the Arsenal midfield putting one ball into the back of the net but was correctly called offside before a through ball found Eden Hazard who opened the scoring.
After being punched in the mouth Arsenal did respond and grew into the game and eventually were able to stay even with Chelsea before a Nacho Monreal goal (own goal) Wengerballed™ in to even things up.
In the second half Arsenal converted one of their two big chances and then held on in the last 10 minutes to book a trip to Wembly.
All in all a very pleasant match.
The running xG plot does a good job illustrating the flow of this game. The first 10 minutes are all Chelsea up to the goal, Arsenal finally realize the match started and finally created some chances. In the second half Arsenal created the two best chances and scored one while hold off Chelsea.
The shot map shows that Arsenal took their shots in better locations in general than Chelsea. Outside the Hazard goal Arsenal’s defense did a good job holding Chelsea to speculative long range shots and headers in the box.
Arsenal probably got a little lucky to win 2-1 in this match but of the two teams they were the favorites based on the chances created.
Over both legs Chelsea had the better of the chances but for once it seems that luck was on Arsenal’s side.
Passing, xG Chain and Total Offense Added
Unsurprisingly Arsenal were led by Mesut Özil on passing and Granit Xhaka on xG chain (his goal was by far the best chance of the game).
Looking at total offensive value added, Özil leads the way again but Jack Wilshere takes a big leap forward on the chart powered by a huge dribble/carry value added score. He was six of seven dribbling and did a great job driving forward with the ball after receiving the ball.
Mesut Özil Shines
Arsenal sold one of their big stars (you may have heard something about that) but Özil is still with the team and in this game he really shined.
He bossed this match with Chelsea having no answer outside of repeatedly cutting him down with cynical fouls. In this match he created 4 shots for teammates while taking one for himself for a total xG contribution of 0.63.
Of the two players out of contract this summer Özil was always the more likely to sign an extension, matches like this make me really hope that he sticks around.
Xhaka’s weird box to box role
While this match had a lot of positives, the one thing that was a little puzzling was the role that Xhaka was asked to play in this match. Next to Mohamed Elneny, Xhaka was given the more advanced of the two roles.
What makes this move head scratching is that it really seems to have the other midfielder do the thing that the other excels at. Xhaka is known for his deep passing, while Elneny is known for recycling the ball but constant movement and amazing stamina.
Looking at the average touch map it is really obvious the positioning (also where it the right attacking midfielder?).
In the end it worked out, Elneny excelled with his passing from deep, including 6 of 7 from deep and 92% passing in the defensive and middle thirds while Xhaka was pushed all the way up to be in the right place at the right time to score the winning goal.
It worked out this game but I am not sure this pairing is a long term solution.
On to Wembly.