Tactical Points from Arsenal's fortunate draw with Leeds
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
A valuable point after a head-smashing moment, thanks to some luck, the keeper and the crossbar with a remote likelihood of a sucker punch at the death:
• A much-needed refresh in attack coupled with Saka in need of a rest meant that the choices up top were expected, with Aubameyang up top being the key shift.
• It was expected to be an open, end-to-end to game because of the way Leeds play, so the duo of Partey and Elneny missing out made the task all that harder. Their midfielders are in constant motion when they have the ball, as they are always looking to run in behind either out-to-in or in-to-out.
• Xhaka and Ceballos’s discipline was going to be tested throughout and while they seemed to cope well initially, it started to get out of hand towards the end of the first half. Man-marking their respective runners meant they were always getting dragged out of their zones, leaving behind spaces in the centre of the park. This meant Aubameyang had to drop deeper, preventing Arsenal from countering quickly.
• The other area of concern was the wingers tracking their respective full-backs. While Willian seemed to be doing his duties diligently on the left, it was on the other flank with Pepe not doing his duties at all. The bulk of Leeds attacks were coming down the left in the first half, with Alioski getting a lot of time and space to work with.
• Willock seemed to be comfortable in the ball-carrying role and linked up with Willian and Pepe well at times but the passing always seemed to break down around the edge of the area.
• Despite having the numerical advantage, Leeds never really seemed to threaten against a compact, low block and Arsenal seemed to grow into the game after Saka came on. The lack of spaces to operate with certainly minimised the threat of Leeds but not dealing with the balls into the box caused unnecessary pressure for the Gunners.
• While the Saka miss was a good chance, the lack of threat from the numerous set-pieces that Arsenal had towards the end of the game would be the area they felt they could get more out of.
• While it certainly seemed like a very lucky point, conceding an xG of just 2-2.1 from 25 shots (just 4 on target!!) suggests it wasn’t that lucky. A lot of shots were from the edge of the box with a lot of bodies in the way, so the number of big chances wasn’t too many.