The statistics showed both teams targeted the flanks and Timo Werner continued to look dangerous, but it wasn't enough as we succumbed to a 4-2 defeat to Arsenal.
In a lively first half, we were twice punished for conceding possession to go behind, but on both occasions we levelled quickly, first when Werner drove in from the left and his shot was deflected beyond goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, then when Cesar Azpilicueta brilliantly turned in Mason Mount’s low cross.
However, in the second half we conceded another disappointing goal and this time Arsenal closed ranks and sat back, as we were unable to find a way past them for another equaliser before a late penalty ended our chances of salvaging a point.
The number of attempts on goal were fairly even, Arsenal having slightly more with 14 to our 11, including their penalty, although both teams found it hard to create clear chances. It is telling that despite 25 efforts between the two sides, the six goals were the only ones on target.
When it came to possession we took clear control, completing 729 passes to Arsenal’s 346 and having 68 per cent of the ball. 32 per cent of the play took place in the Gunners’ final third too, compared to 23 per cent in our own.
However, we were punished for our mistakes in this London derby, as shown by only one Arsenal player registering an assist between their four goals - Eddie Nketiah’s goals came from a wayward Andreas Christensen pass and a mix-up involving Malang Sarr, N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva, before Bukayo Saka was given his chance from the penalty spot.
In one way of looking at it, both teams were registered as making one error which resulted in a goal-scoring opportunity. Arsenal took that chance, but we did not.
Werner scores again
One consolation from the painful defeat to Arsenal was the continuing good form of Werner, the scorer of our first equaliser. The German looked confident once again and caused the visitors problems with his powerful running and direct play up front.
Only Marcos Alonso and Arsenal’s Nketiah managed more than his three shots, while his four successful dribbles was the joint-highest on the pitch, with Nketiah and ahead of Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s three.
Werner also provided a key pass, although the creators on each side were clear, with Mount and Martin Odegaard each managing an assist and three key passes.
That makes it four goals in his last four appearances for Timo, having also found the net twice at Southampton and again at Real Madrid. Three of those strikes came in the Premier League as he scored in back-to-back league games for the first time since October 2020. On that occasion he also made it four goals in as many games, scoring against Southampton, Burnley and Sheffield United.
Both teams look wide
We attempted to expose Arsenal down the flanks, with just 23 per cent of our attacks taking place down the middle of the pitch, while the Gunners tried to make the most of Saka’s pace and trickery, with 42 per cent of their own attacks coming down their right wing.
Those attempts to get Saka running at our defence resulted in Sarr (nine) and Alonso (five) on our left side making more tackles than anyone else. Sarr definitely seemed to be at the heart of things, as his six aerial duels won and four fouls committed were also the most of anyone.
His 142 touches were also the most by some margin, with Alonso next with 92 and Granit Xhaka’s 58 the highest for Arsenal.
For the Blues part in taking the game to the wings, the trend to look wide was even more evident towards the end of the game, when Reece James switched with Azpilicueta to get further forward and try to use his crossing ability to deliver balls into the box.
The result was that we put no less than 20 crosses into the area, compared to Arsenal’s eight, but we couldn’t make them count. Six of those crosses came from James, despite playing in the back three for much of the game, with only Mount (eight) producing more over the 90 minutes.
In a further sign of the threat our wing-backs posed, Alonso’s five shots was the joint-highest of any player, along with Arsenal striker Nketiah, in addition to Azpilicueta on the other side getting the second of our goals.