Comparing Arteta’s Arsenal to Emery’s Arsenal – and the rest of Europe

Quick Reads

Arsenal fans have had to have been patient to see Mikel Arteta turn their form around, but recent results are certainly encouraging – they’re 2020’s only unbeaten side in English football.

It might take some time for Arteta to hit the same heights as his old tutor Pep Guardiola, but they look to be moving in the right direction, fighting on three fronts and rekindling their chances of a top-four finish with their first back-to-back league wins since the first two weeks of the season.

Here’s a deeper dive into the Spaniard’s tenure as Gunners boss so far.

The story so far

In terms of pure results, it’s been slow progress under Arteta. His first game in the dugout was an underwhelming 1-1 draw away to relegation battlers Bournemouth and that was followed by a 2-1 defeat at home to London rivals Chelsea three days later.

He drew five and won just one of his first seven Premier League games, their impressive 2-0 victory over Manchester United on New Year’s Day.

Incredibly, Arsenal made it past Valentine’s Day with just six wins from 25 games in the league.

But there are gradual signs of progress, and the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea – a game in which they dominated and were on top of before a late turnaround with two goals in the last 10 minutes from Frank Lampard’s Blues – remains his only defeat as a senior manager.

Back-to-back home victories over Newcastle (4-0) and Everton (3-2) and favourable fixtures to come hint at a return to winning ways.

The underlying data

Under Arteta, the Gunners average 1.55 points per game so fall, a slight rise from 1.27 points per game under Unai Emery and Freddie Ljungberg.

Diving deeper, before the Spaniard took over the Gunners faced an average of 16 shots per game in the Premier League. That’s since fallen down to 12.5 per game. And while before they conceded 1.5 goals per game, under Arteta it’s at exactly one goal per game, a 33% decline.

They’ve also kept five clean sheets from his 12 games in charge in all competitions, compared to just one in the 15 games before he was appointed.

In six of Arteta’s nine Premier League games in charge, Arsenal have had the better goalscoring chances (per Understat’s xG data), while they’ve shown an impressive ability to get something from the games in most of the games in which they’ve been dominated.

For example, playing with 10 men away to Chelsea, they had just 0.57 xG to Chelsea’s 3.27, but a combination of clinical finishing from Gabriel Martinelli and Hector Bellerin, and some good goalkeeping from Bernd Leno, saw them come away from Stamford Bridge with a 2-2 draw.

Against Bielsa’s Leeds United in the third round of the FA Cup, they were absolutely dominated in the first half, registering just 37% possession at home to a Championship side, outshot 15 to three (five to one on target), but they dug deep and came out much-improved in the second half, progressing with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Reiss Nelson.

How their competitors in England compare

Since the turn of the calendar year, Arsenal are the only side of all 91 in professional English football to remain unbeaten in all competitions.

Liverpool were humbled with a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash, while Man City have lost to Manchester United and Tottenham.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have progressed in the FA Cup past Leeds and Bournemouth and look like doing the same in the Europa League, taking a 1-0 advantage from their first-leg last-16 clash with Olympiakos back to The Emirates.

In terms of the table since he’s taken over, Arsenal sit sixth. Only Liverpool, Manchester City, Everton, Manchester United and Southampton have taken more points than Arteta’s Gunners.

How the biggest European clubs compare

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich have remained unbeaten since returning from their winter break, while Hellas Verona are also yet to lose in 2020, making them the only three teams yet to post an L this year in the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A or Eredivisie.

Barcelona have had their own change of manager, sacking Ernesto Valverde after they lost in the Super Cup to Atletico Madrid, but his successor Quique Setien is already facing criticism for losing in the Copa del Rey to Athletic Bilbao and Valencia in the league.

Simeone’s Atleti put in a characteristically dogged performance to beat Liverpool, but 2020 has seen them lose in the league and Super Cup (on penalties) to old rivals Real, as well as a league defeat to minnows Eibar and Copa defeat to lower-league side Cultural Leonesa. Real, meanwhile, fell off La Liga’s top spot with a shock 1-0 defeat at Levante.

PSG are dominating domestically as usual, but they were bruised by Borussia Dortmund with a 2-1 defeat in the Champions League. And even an Erling Braut Haaland-powered Dortmund have lost 4-3 to Bayer Leverkusen and 3-2 to Werder Bremen.

In Italy, Juventus have lost to Napoli and Hellas Verona since the winter break, while Antonio Conte’s title challengers Inter lost 2-1 to Lazio last week.

With none of the club’s at the top table firing on all cylinders this season, might Arteta have Arsenal competing with them again in the near future?


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