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xGunners: How Arsenal’s defensive stats have changes under Unai Emery

An early look at how Arsenal’s defensive tactics have changed under Unai Emery

Arsenal v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Watching Arsenal after three matches is a very different experience under Unai Emery compared to Arsene Wenger. There have been some sweeping changes in the way that Arsenal build up attacks, the way that they press and also what types of defensive actions are favored.

One of the things that really has stood up to me while watching the matches has been that Arsenal have been much more aggressive in attempting to use tackles to win the ball back over intercepting passes.

Arsenal v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Last season 18% of Arsenal’s defensive actions (interceptions, tackles, fouls, clearances, blocked passes) were interceptions. This season (small sample size caveat should be noted) interceptions have made up just 14% of Arsenal’s defensive actions.

The absolute change hasn’t been nearly has high, losing just on average 1 interception a match, with 11.1 per match last season to 10.2 per this season. This could be partially due to the fact that two of the teams that Arsenal have faced have passed the ball at high volumes and that gives more chances for interceptions.

Looking at the percentage of passes that were intercepted it has fallen from 4% of passes faced being intercepted to 2% this season.

What has been more striking is the increase in the number of tackles that Arsenal have attempted under Unai Emery. In 2017-18 Arsenal attempted 25 tackles per match, so far under Emery this season that has increased to 30 tackles a match attempted.

As a percentage of defensive actions that number has increased from 33% to just over 40%!

It is still early days under the new management but the differences in the style of play are already making themselves seen. This will be an interesting thing to watch as the season moves on.