Analysis -Arsenal’s new additions should bring more speed into our attacking play

Arsenal Need to be Faster in Possession. by AI


Two of the teams who had some of the slowest, most patient buildup in the league last season were Brighton and Arsenal according to StatsBomb data. Both teams suffered issues with finishing. Why?

The primary explainer is that by the time you get into the opposition’s final-third, you are operating against a settled defense with lots of bodies in the way. Brighton, for instance, when they took their shots, had the most number of defenders in the way in all of the league.

Of course, this opposition defenders per shot stat is not necessarily bad. It can imply utter domination from a team. However, it can also imply struggling to create high-quality chances with little defenders in the way. The problem with that narrative is that Arsenal and Brighton both managed to create some of the highest xG per shot in the league. Arsenal, especially, created extremely high quality chances, just not many of them. It now looks like a pickle. Is the slow build-up responsible for both the quality of shots and the lack of volume in creating these same shots?

Let me put it this way: both Arsenal and Brighton are operating with managers who prefer possessive positional football but work in one circumstance or the other with relatively limited players for that kind of football. Critics may be quick to point out that Arsenal should be doing better than Brighton at possession play and not be their equal, given the disparity in resources between both teams. However, Graham Potter has been the coach of Brighton for 3 years and closer to his vision than Mikel Arteta is, a gap which is more accentuated by the 2 seasons Arsenal spent losing all their creative midfielders for free, cheap or to age and injuries under Unai Emery. To illustrate the point, Arsenal just bought a ballplaying defender for 50M from said Brighton.

Moving the ball on the ground from the back to the opposition 3rd quicker will be a necessity for Arteta’s Arsenal this season. It means that you can spend more time camping in the opposition territory instead of trying to get there and also less time for them to settle.

Arteta’s compact, possession scheme is good enough to challenge for the league on paper. However, it must be improved by the addition of better individuals who are suited to this pattern of play. Better individuals also translate into the ability to take more risks.

Arsenal, have, at times last season, employed an extremely dominant 3-1-6 in possession. But they have only used it when looking for a goal and are forced to take the risk, like in the 3-3 draw against West Ham. With better players, they can play like that more often. This explains the haste with which Arsenal paid 50 million pounds for Ben White.

Ben White is a player that allows Arsenal to move the ball quicker than before. He also allows Arsenal to take more risks with territorial domination. He was a target for this reason.

Arsenal also need more effectiveness, quality and volume when they get to the opposition final third. Hopefully Martin Odeegard will bring volume and quality, and those two additions should bring an improvement on the speed and effectiveness of our possession play.

Fingers crossed!

Agboola Israel


  1. AI did you just dig a new contract with JA? 😂 😂 😂. Big up

    Either MA is right about his transfer or not we will see in no time . Am giving him till end of November.
    Now he has been back by the biard let’s get behind him and hope he convince us

    1. Taking risk as been the one thing Arteta seems not to allow is player to do, hardly can u see an Arsenal player trying to run at an oppositional team who are back-peddling into forming defense. Instead of taking the risk to run at them, we end up padding the ball around till it gets to Leno by then teams have settled into their defensive shapes.
      Just hope with odegaard Arteta will allow our skillful players the freedom to improvised during games cause that’s where the magic and entertainment of football lies.

  2. It seems that football is moving further and further away from the instinctive, passionate football many of us grew up with and more into a mere statistical formula game than I ever believed possible. This is not just in relation to the game itself but also to the players chosen. Football is now more Moneyball than even the film “Moneyball” was!
    I am not sure that future generations will ever get the same emotional thrill that we get from the game, as individualism and flair is replaced by drilled repetitive sequences and robotic players, and post-match conversation is limited to discussing the relevant percentages of possession, time the ball spent in the opponent’s area etc.
    If this is what is required to be successful now, maybe it’s time I switched to baseball.

    1. guy
      we all have our time on this earth.
      I know it’s not cricket as we know it Jim, but I have enjoyed the 100 tournament…..and come September, if the football is dire, I can enjoy the autumnal evenings in the company of the glitterball

        1. I’m ambivalent about test cricket unless it’s against you lot ozziegunner😊
          However I like the shorter versions as in 50-50 and 20-20
          After 18 months of near misery, to see everyone enjoying it – and the women are also very good value – is a joy
          A good evening out for those who go

  3. Theoritically, we’ll win the ball possession and make more through balls with Odegaard/ White

    However, we can’t rely on through balls alone. Someone must be able to do hold-up play and press effectively in the front line

    Hopefully Balogun can do that

    1. Judging from Brentford, it will be a good while before Balogun has the nous to achieve that at this level, GAI

  4. Analysis paralysis. I choose to go with the simple eye test. We just need to sign more players like ESR; players with the ability and confidence go 1 v 1 against opponents, create more space for others, pull defenders out of position and create more shooting chances. That’s it. (This explains why AV was banging on our door to sign him).

    1. RF, in this buyers market – Houssem Aouar, and one of Bruno Guimaraes or Yve Bissouma and Arsenal has a competitive midfield.
      Question for Mikel Arteta: Given that Lucas Torreira wanted to return to Arsenal and fight for his place, yet you told him he wasn’t part of his plans? Given he was on loan, how did you make this assessment?
      Why do you consider Elneny a better back up DM than Torreira?

      1. I thought LT was still on contract – for the next 12 months, at least. Maybe Arteta will be paying him personally from his own pocket!

        1. RF, Arteta hopes a club comes in for Torreira. Roma is apparently interested, but we know how their interest in Xhaka turned out!
          Torreira played well in his first season under Emery, bug Arteta hasn’t used him and wasted a good footballer, such that his confidence must be “shot”.

          1. Let’s cut managers some slack, what happened to him before now, why was he forcing a move away, he played only 6months and started crying about how he hate to stay here, am sorry I don’t want that kind of personal around the team, he was signed for a huge fee and with his high wages he really scam us big.

            Under UE he started well and turn to a joke, then he is trying to come back now that he couldn’t find himself a proper club, that’s a joke.
            Since he is not settle here let him go back to wherever he thinks he will be settled

  5. The problem with Arsenal is Arteta’s tactics. Very slow build up and no counter attacks. Before they sluggishly progress play into opposition final 3rd, the entire opposition team have tracked back to block Arsenal attackers, and no striker can effectively maneuver through the entire team defending in their box. The only way to unlock defenses is to run at them before they track back. That’s how top six teams are playing now, Arteta don’t seem to have a clue on how to unlock defenses and the team struggles to create chances.

  6. Why is there so much undeserved optimism abound in the last 72 hours…am I missing something? based on my estimation, this is the exact same squad as last season, minus the 50M Luiz replacement, who will supposedly remedy our sloth-like transitional game, even though our previous RCB was known to be one of the best long ball passing defenders in this League for some time, but couldn’t accomplish this task…so knowing all that, what, besides the usual euphoria that generally accompanies the start of a new season or the recently rehashed cherry-picked banter about our post-Christmas record, has created such a mystifying buzz

    our present lineup, still includes an ill-suited Keeper, from a tactical standpoint, with a similarly ill-equipped and overpriced backup and a backline with some injury and defensive zone coverage concerns, based on our opening day performance and absences…in our defensive midfield, that still depressingly includes Xhaka, who will enable Arteta to deploy the same overwhelmingly negative tactics, we have the oft-injured Partey, a young Belgian with a potentially bright future, who’s unlikely to feature once Partey returns, and the always affable yet underwhelming Elneny…so any optimism is purely speculative and certainly not based on any logical analysis

    in the offensive zone, we still have no dominant presence in the middle of the field, as the signing of Ode likely means ESR will be shoehorned out wide, which in turn means more selection and positional issues involving Pepe, Saka, Auba, Marts, Balo, Willian and anyone else who remains on the roster

    most likely, Saka will be positioned out wide right, with little to no overlapping help, Ode more centrally, so he will be constantly outnumbered and ESR out wide left, which is certainly not his best position or our best option out there…as such, Auba, Laca or Balo will be left largely isolated up top, with little to no direct service, facing double-teams and the prospect of trying to convert low percentage crosses

    if history tells us anything, Pepe and Marts could struggle to find significant starting minutes again, unless several major outgoing moves are made before the window closes…if that’s the case and Auba and/or Laca are removed from the equation, I’m finding it difficult to envision how we would meet, let alone exceed, our piss-poor goal return from last season, especially considering our continued futility when it comes to scoring from distance or set pieces…keeping in mind, that if you take away Auba and Laca’s offensive production, we scored a grand total of 32 goals in 38 League games

    sorry, I just can’t see how this team will manufacture results unless we lean even farther into the uninspiring and offensively-neutered tactics of last season, god forbid

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