A Game For Arsenal’s Season by AI
When all is said and done, Mikel Arteta will probably be looking back at so many marginal games that Arsenal have managed to lose this season and shake his head on what could have been, none more so than this one.
In many ways, this game sums up Arsenal’s season under Mikel Arteta.
—Arsenal create chances and are not finishing well. Against Burnley, Aubameyang, Pepe and Saka all had golden chances to put the game out of sight but somehow contrived to put it all off target. Arsenal currently underperform their expected goals. Even during the bad run in November-December, one of our malaises was not just the lack of creativity but also the poor finishing. Now that things are better, we still find a a way to be wasteful and not kill games off when we should. Not finishing your chances simply means that you are risking everything.
—The officiating is not just bad, it has been consistently horrible and has cost us at least 10 points this season. An earlier analysis on this website lists the many wrong refereeing decisions that have ended up costly against us. Eric Pieters’ handball was clearly a penalty and yet it was not given, potentially costing us two points. These crazy decisions add up over the course of a season.
—Individual errors are a major part of where we are on the league table. Granit Xhaka has returned back to gifting away goals to the opposition. Too often this season, we have literally beaten ourselves. Ceballos’ howler against Benfica was just one week ago. The only way out of this cycle is to get more quality players into the club. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but quality reduces the frequency.
—Individual attackers are not grabbing the golden moments. Despite the Xhaka error and terrible officiating, we were still good enough for a win. All it took was Nicolas Pepe finishing his lunch but somehow, he managed to miss from 5 yards in the 80th minute.
—Saka is a baller. This was one of his poorer performances, yet the 19-year-old managed to get on the end of two major scoring opportunities and switched from the wings to a midfield role on the left. This switch was seamless and allowed us to seize control of an increasingly chaotic game. All day, too, the young lad hustled off the ball and was getting very physical without much trouble. Displaying his wonderful versatility in different phases of a game, Saka is definitely our present and future.
The Burnley game captures much of how our season has gone with incredible accuracy. Mikel Arteta is doing all he can: his team dominates the opposition and carves out chances regularly. Against top opponents, his side is difficult to play through and roll around. The structure of a good team is there but what is lacking are the players who do not make a big error every other week. Unreliable players will cost any manager points over a season. Trust the process, or at least, the tactics. We will soon rid ourselves of all the deadwood and be in a nicer shape next season.
Onwards then to Olympiakos.