Arsenal fielded a team of youngsters (balanced with oldsters) and skipped to a lovely 3-0 win. The match was played with almost no regular first team players, qualification was already (basically) secured, and the home side was playing 185 miles from home in a country that is still gripped by war. Normally, this wouldn't be an interesting Behind the Numbers but I noticed a few stats that deserved some highlighting.
24 - Attempted dribbles by Arsenal against Vorskla, 15 successful.
Arsenal are ranked 16th in the Premier League in attempted dribbles with 12.6 and 12th in the League in dribbles won with 6.8. Even in the Europa League, Emery's men are instructed to pass more than dribble and averaged just 13.5 attempts per game with 9 successful dribbles. So, last night Arsenal nearly doubled their Premier League averages for dribbles and won 40% more dribbles than their previous four encounters.
Some of this is the "exuberance of youth". Nketiah went 5/6 dribbling and Willock was 4/7. But every player who attempted a dribbled won at least one, meaning that everyone was breaking Vorskla attempted tackles with some good footwork.
14 - Tackles attempted by Arsenal 13 successful
Another oddity by Arsenal in this Europa League campaign is that Emery's team aren't huge "tacklers". In Europa League play, the Gunners are 2nd to last in tackles per game with 15.5. This contrasts with their Premier League performances where they are ranked 7th most prolific tacklers with 25.8.
There are two reasons for this difference: Arsenal's opponents in the Europa League don't dribble as much and Arsenal are playing less aggressive defense in the Europa League than in the Premier League.
It’s pretty clear that Arsenal are required to play less defense against our opponents in the Europa League and based on goals allowed (1.2 per game in the Premier League and 0.4 per game in the Europa League) I think the fact that they are simply inferior opponents is equally clear.
Back to tackles for a second, another odd thing popped up: Carl Jenkinson had 3 tackles against Vorskla yesterday and, unusually, all three were inside his own 18 yard box. He was the only (Arsenal) player to attempt a tackle inside the 18 and thankfully he won all three. Hopefully he maintains this perfect rate of tackles in the 18 yard box or, even better, we stop tackling in the 18 yard box all together.
80 - Passes by Mo Elneny (of 88)
Elneny led all players with 80/88 passes, led all players with 3 key passes, had an assist for Willock’s goal, led all players with 12 ball recoveries, and completed 1 of 2 dribbles. But what he didn’t do is much defensive work. All totaled he had 1 blocked pass, 1 blocked shot, 1 interception and 1 clearance. He also had 2/2 defensive aerial duels and committed 2 defensive fouls. In short, the only thing he didn’t do, was tackle. He had a very Elneny match.
Sources: Whoscored.com, the Stats Zone App