Arsenal vs West Ham post-match tactical breakdown

The Right Wing Problem

All the action in this game came down one side of the pitch: our right/their left.

1) Saka Struggles

The first was Arsenal’s LWB, Bukayo Saka, adopting a central position when his team had the ball.

Saka roams inside and works the ball into the box in the opening minutes of the game.
Keep an eye on the space that Saka (number 7, white boots) is able to find throughout the match.

2) The Definition of Insanity

The second part of Arsenal’s left wing assault was a succession of runs in behind our defensive line by their left-sided attackers.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
You could see this goal coming a mile away
We’re in a right pickle here

Mirror, mirror on the wall

The system we played here was a continuation of the one we tried last week but with the in possession/out of possession shapes flipped.

Antonio’s filling in for Bowen in the defensive shape on the left. Rice/Fornals/Souček midfield triangle on the right.
Fornals and Bowen could sit narrower out of possession knowing the flanks were somewhat covered by Fredericks and Masuaku
Few clips showing the back 4 with the ball and the pressing shape without it.

Not quite a bullseye for Bowen

After a pretty anonymous display against Newcastle last week, I thought Bowen had a better game here but it was still a bit of a mixed bag.

Couple examples of the pressing shape resulting in turnovers at the end here

xG failings

Various xG counts had us coming out on top in this match: Understat had this as 1.33 vs 2.06 in our favour; Infogol’s got it as 1.33 vs 2.31; whereas Caley Graphics has it down as 1.4 vs 2.0. Fbref’s numbers of 1.4 vs 1.9 are in a similar ball park.

Understat have this as 0.54 xG, while Infogol have this as 0.56
Understat: 0.48; Infogol:0.46 (The shot after Leno drops it, not the header)
Arsenal’s best players regularly got into deep areas of our box, especially down the left


The defensive shape created some transition moments for us, but it didn’t help us get to grips with Bukayo Saka and it didn’t dampen Arsenal’s attacking endeavours down our right hand side. Arteta’s team didn’t play well here but they were never anything less than completely in control of this game.



I write long, boring, and increasingly deranged articles about football tactics and West Ham @CastIronTactics on Twitter

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Cast Iron Tactics

I write long, boring, and increasingly deranged articles about football tactics and West Ham @CastIronTactics on Twitter