Arsenal took a big step on the way to reaching the semi-final of the Europa League on Thursday with a 4 to 1 win against CSKA Moscow.
Arsenal jumped on CSKA early and then continued to add on in for the rest of the first half. CSKA’s only goal came from a very well taken free kick but they did put pressure on the Gunners; especially former Leicester man Ahmed Musa who completed all five of his dribbles terrorizing the Arsenal back line.
Arsenal did finally put the match comfortably out of with the third and fourth goals and missed a few good opportunities for a fifth goal.
In the end this was a very convincing win that put’s Arsenal in the drivers seat for the second leg.
Total Offense Value Added (aka the Özil appreciation stat)
Mesut Özil really excelled in this match leading Arsenal in total offense.
Team level total Offense added:
Arsenal dominate with excellent shooting locations
Arsenal have long had a reputation for trying to walk the ball into the net. That phrase has been used as a club to beat the team with for over passing at times but in reality it describes how Arsene Wenger stresses giving up okay shots to take really high quality chances.
This match really shows how well Arsenal did in creating those chances.
In this match Arsenal took just one shot from outside of the box (Henrikh Mkhitaryan 2nd half saved shot that was nearly turned in for a goal) and 14 shots from inside the danger zone*.
Aaron Ramsey by himself had seven shots (led all players) and with six of them coming from the danger zone. Even more impressive is that his average shot distance was 12.9 meters to the center of the goal exemplifying his amazing ability to get into great shooting positions.
Arsenal put four in the net, but should they have scored more?
With four first half goals it looked like this match could become an even bigger blow out in the second half but Arsenal couldn’t add to their tally.
As I was reading twitter and the after match reports I saw several comments on Arsenal should have scored more than the four goals.
This bit from the Telegraph is a perfect example:
For Arsenal Mkhitaryan shot wide, when he had to score, Ramsey half-volleyed over, when he had to score and the midfielder went closest of all as he met a short pass from substitute Alex Iwobi only for his first-time, curling shot to rebound back off the post.
The best chance was Mkhitaryan’s in the 47th minute. This was from a fast break assisted by Mesut Özil with a through ball that had an xG value of 0.43. The Ramsey half volley and the shot that was just off the post were both worth 0.1 xG.
On a total game level, there was an 12% chance of 5+ goals scored based on the chances Arsenal created and looking at the chances after Arsenal had scored four there was a 52% chance of getting a fifth or more.
In the end the scoreline pretty accurately reflected the chances that both teams created on the night.
*The danger zone is the 6 yard box plus the center of the 18 yard box, this is where the vast majority of goals are shot from and the place that you want to shoot from if possible.