Tactical Points from Arsenal’s draw at Selhurst Park
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
· It was the first time since January 2019 that Arsenal named an unchanged line-up for consecutive league games.
· The game plan was clear from the very first minute. Most attacks were focussed down Palace’s right side, with Aubameyang and Kolasinac doubling up on Martin Kelly.
· Aubameyang’s movement was causing a lot of problems and Kolasinac benefitted hugely from the available spaces created by the Gabonese international moving inside. In the first half, Palace gave a lot of space to Luiz and he replied in kind with accurate long balls down the left channel.
· Aubameyang’s goal was a high quality 18 pass move but the real catalyst for the goal was Luiz’s penetrating pass to Ozil.
· For the next hour or so, Arsenal couldn’t muster up any shots on target and the game got rather scrappy.
· Palace were extremely poor in the first half - Ayew’s persistent fouling and Zaha’s frustrations were symptomatic of that.
· A common theme in our away games over the last couple of years has been the consistent drop-off in intensity after scoring a goal and not putting their foot on the gas.
· The game plan implemented by Arteta was as good as it gets and completely stifled Palace, but the domination never bore fruit in terms of chances and this should be an area Arteta looks to address.
· The only way Palace could get back into the game was by being physical and direct, winning 50-50s and getting into the faces of Arsenal’s players to upset them. This happened to an extent in the second half.
· Torreira was a massive loss at half-time as he had been integral to our pressing system in the first half. Guendouzi never settled into the game and he kept dropping deeper rather than trying to break the press.
· Ayew’s equalising goal was a mixture of sloppiness and a cruel deflection. Getting caught cold from a free kick taken short and not dealing with the cross was very poor. The ball was in the net via a cruel deflection but it should never have come to that.
· Palace didn’t create any chances from open play (reflected by their low xG) and only when we went down to ten men did they threaten from set-pieces. Their set-piece delivery was poor, but Arsenal continually allowed them more opportunities to pump the ball into the box with sloppy fouls.
· Martinelli was very energetic once he came on and was effective on the counter-attack. He was the creator for the Pepe shot which cannoned off the post, with the goalkeeper’s fingertips proving crucial. However, what is a worry in this sequence is Lacazette’s indecisiveness. He was one-on-one with Tomkins/Cahill and for a top striker, that’s a simple turn and finish in the bottom corner. That kind of finish is Lacazette’s bread and butter but instead, he lays it off to Pepe to shoot from a narrow angle.
· Pepe blew hot and cold during the game. There was one moment in the first half when he dropped Cahill with a great piece of skill but his touch let him down at a crucial moment and the chance to shoot went away. At times, he tends to get caught up with scrapping out and holding off his man rather than stretching the defence with smart runs which is his strength.