Not because Manchester City aren’t fun to watch like a Jose Mourinho team or that I really dislike them like a Chelsea or Tottenham or they ruin the game with a deep block like so many lower table teams. Instead I have grown to dread watching them play against Arsenal because watching them play exciting attacking football reminds me of what Arsenal used to be like.
This match was a perfect example of that, Arsenal didn’t play that bad but City are just at another level and exploited all of the little mistakes that Arsenal made while Arsenal couldn’t do that to them.
This is encapsulated in the great team goal that Manchester City scored for their third against Arsenal.
Arsenal’s pressing is often ridiculed but in this sequence it looks pretty good.
This is what Arsenal have right before they are broken apart for the goal. A two on one situation pressing Kyle Walker to the sideline with really only the option of going back to Vincent Kompany open, and even then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is moving to be able to close him down quickly with few options of his own.
Instead Walker is able to complete a crazy flick to David Silva. Who then makes a great pass while under pressure and falling down to Sergio Agüero who is blanketed by Laurent Koscielny. Agüero then has an amazing first touch to spin past and Arsenal are in big trouble.
When Arsenal were at their best, they would do this to other teams. The defenders could do everything right but Arsenal’s superior technical ability and creativity would still find a way through them.
Running xG and xG plot
After going into half time with a 3-0 lead, Manchester City really seemed to take their foot off the gas. Arsenal got their penalty and could have possibly made the match more interesting but it was saved and the match kind of petered out with both teams seeming to just want to get off the pitch and get warm.
Total Offense Value Added
The top offensive players list is dominated by Manchester City players.
Leroy Sané had a great match and terrorized Arsenal’s defense. He completed 6 dribbles, finished the amazing team goal for the 3rd, used his speed to beat Shkodran Mustafi to get a pre-assist for the second goal and dribbled through Arsenal’s defense to set up the first. He looks to be the perfect wide forward for the modern game.
Mesut Özil has a stinker
Özil is consistently rated highly by my passing model. It does a really good job of capturing his ability to find pockets of space in dangerous spots and then advance the ball for his teammates. Against Manchester City, Özil struggled to be able to do this.
His overall pass completion rate of 76.7% was his lowest of the season. He created two chances but both ended up as low percentage shots from outside the box. He didn’t complete any dribbles while he was dribbled past twice. Just about everything he tried didn’t come off.
Arsenal’s League season comes to an end
Arsenal didn’t have a ton to play for in the League before this match. I had pegged the odds of Arsenal making the top four at just 1.8% before the matches and the results all went against Arsenal.
All that is really left over the next ten matches is figuring out if Arsenal will finish in 5th or 6th and if they will produce the lowest point return of Arsène Wenger’s career as Arsenal Manager.
If it wasn’t already clear before, the only way Arsenal have of making this season something other than a disaster comes with winning the Europa League. It’s time to really switch the focus to resting players to be ready to play there.