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Analyzing Arsenal: Watching the Gunners’s Win Over Leicester Again


Alright, about to rewatch the first half of the #LEIARS game again.

The match is available for members at the Arsenal website

Before I get to it, just a couple of key points of interest, based on the Slavia game and Leicester’s season so far.


Leicester have utilised a midblock trap for some games now. It’s a trap Sarri used at Chelsea as well, where you use the touchline as an extra man, looking to overturn play around these areas.

Leicester have a PPDA of 16.4 this season, which could be interpreted as them allowing the opposition to move the ball in defensive areas. Vardy, Tielemans and whoever is the third midfielder usually block balls into the middle of the pitch, the wide men move narrow, allowing balls unto fullbacks, then trap them in.

Leicester is currently hit with a lot of injuries to key players, with Maddison, Justin, Praet and Fofana all being out because of injuries and Barnes sitting out the Slavia game. This means the pool of players Rodgers can field is limited, meaning a risk of lower levels of focus and movement. Rodgers wants a lot of collective movement, but that entails everyone is ready to move.

  • Areas of weakness
  • Backline drops too deep
  • Doesn’t track runners from the back post
  • Overloading wide areas, susceptible to horizontal change of play


Leicester is fielding their strongest lineup possible. Key areas of interest is moving to a 451/442 from the usual 4123/4231, and the lack of fresh and quality fullbacks. Luke Thomas is a clear area of weakness, having the power to go forward, but lacking defensive awareness.

Arsenal is fielding a rotated 11, playing a lot of rested players and players coming back from injuries. Laca, Willian, Pépé, Mari, Luiz, Cedric and Elneny all being rested should mean much more ability to keep going for 90 minutes. The key weakness, though, is the lack of players able to carry from the second to the final third.

First Half

Arsenal starts the game with some off backline positioning. Luiz and Mari are sitting too high, giving the Leicester forward player less distance to run when cover shadowing.

6 min: Tielemans

Xhaka and Willian were a bit careless on the left flank. As soon as Willian passes back to Xhaka, Tielemans moves in front of Willian, pinching Xhaka in. Pereira tracks Tierney’s run as well. The options Xhaka has are limited and he takes the wrong decision and controls the ball without opening up his body. It’s a taste of what Leicester wanted to do. Trap play wide and turn it around. Tielemans is too fast for Xhaka, and re-watching the defensive positioning, I don’t think neither Mari nor Elneny would be happy. I’m tempted to let Mari off, as he’s covering for a Vardy run, while Elneny drops a bit off to cover for a back pass – the area he defends, though, is empty until Cedric runs into it. All in all just horrendous decisions all around. From Willian’s back pass to Elneny’s cover positioning.

7 min:

Just a minute after the goal, a blueprint of the Leicester press happens in the opposite area. This time, though, you get to see what Arteta wanted to do: As Cedric passes it backwards, they’ve drawn in 5 players into that small area. Luiz beats the press with a long ball which Laca latches on to in the absent wide area, and all of the sudden Arsenal is running 5v6 against a Leicester line that’s dropping. If only Pepe or Willian took a better positioning inside the box, ESR could have gotten an assist for that great blindsided run.

12 min:

Just how great was Pépé in this match. Not only is he pestering Leicester’s left side, but he manages to beat 3 players with a pass to ESR, only to move into a position where he can receive it and dribble into the 18-yard box. Leicester have committed 3-4 players to stop one man. That creates space in midfield and out on the opposite flank.

25 min:

One thing that became apparent when Leicester played Slavia is, they have a habit of dropping low instead of taking up prime spots. As Tierney takes another speedy run down the left, the Leicester byline is already dropping too low, so that, when the ball is cut into the penalty spot, Pépé’s late run from wide isn’t picked up. Still 1-0, but it’s certain Rodgers has areas to work at.

NB – also, Leicester is showing signs of tiredness. Opting to sit in their own half. Vardy chasing lost balls as the lone striker is not a good look.

31 min:

Evans goes down to minimal touch

*Tierney will remember this*

*Luiz will remember this*

*Pepe will remember this*

*Xhaka will remember this*

39 min: Luiz

This goal shows the three talking points about Leicester in action. Committing too many players forward, they scramble to get back and overrun, the backline drops so deep they can’t avoid the pass to Pépé and Thomas has to foul, Luiz moves from the back post into a completely vacated spot as Leicester drop deep.

NB – also, 8 Leicester players to block Arsenal 6, Castagne has no idea where Luiz is

40 min: Smith Rowe 🔴🔛 Ødegaard

ESR down again. Just as the Benfica game. Might be a groin injury – one of those injuries that usually hit young players. Hurts like a motherfucker. He needs to have his game time reduced.

45 min: Lacazette ⚽ (pen)

Ndidi is tired, that’s a stupid tired reaction.

Half-time thoughts

Arteta managed to utilise the same weaknesses that Slavia used in the Europa League competition. A backline that tends to drop deep, an overload trap that leaves areas behind exposed and runners from far post areas.

Leicester has to do something to react, but Rodgers doesn’t have that many options left, as half of his key 11 players are injured. Leicester has 4 goal threats in the current squad; Vardy, Barnes, Tielemans and Maddison. He has fielded 3 of them and the fourth (and perhaps most important piece) is injured. As Rodgers is looking for a goal, he needs to make sure these players are in their prime goal-scoring positions. But because Arsenal is man-marking Tielemans and Vardy, there are not many options left.

If I was Leicester manager, I’d actually try to narrow the 3 attackers by subbing off Luke Thomas for another Central Defender, moving to a 343. This would drive Arsenal back and flat and give room for Barnes and Iheanacho to run at defence.

Second Half

Luke Thomas subbed for Albrighton, who moves into a wide position, dropping Pereira into the LB position. No doubt a great player to have in the back hand, but not a player that has been that effective in creating for Leicester.

Second half is available on the Arsenal website

46 min

Arsenal starts the half by dropping deeper than in the first half. Giving the Leicester defence much time to be ineffective with the possession. Without Maddison, they lack that link-up player that can utilise having the ball.

47 min Barnes 🔴🔛 Ünder

This doesn’t look good. Goes for a steal, stops instantly in his own tracks. Stretched off. This means one less goalscorer on the pitch for Leicester. Barnes has been very good for Leicester this season, and with the injury list Rodgers is looking at, this looks like it’s not going to be a fun end to the season.

51 min: Pepe

I just want to take the moment and praise the ball retention of Lacazette. He really is one of my favourite Arsenal players. He has transformed himself to Arteta’s needs, working hard and has had a lot of defenders stomping his toes. From there, the intend of Xhaka to take the ball forward and get it wide early, Pepe’s instinct to drive horizontally, Ødegaards quick reaction to see space no one else saw and Willians desire to keep his run into the area and take the right option to push it back across the box. Everything was…

*chefs kiss*

60 min

I’d be an idiot if I didn’t point out, that was, on every level, a pretty bad pass from Ødegaard. That’s a pass that leads to the opposition scoring.

64 min

When Mari was brought in, we talked about how he used his positioning to make up for the fact he wasn’t the fastest. Look at how he positions himself here. Expecting the running duel, he’s already turned and started his run. Usually, these big defenders aren’t slow, more than they are slow in acceleration. Sokratis is a prime example, hitting some high sprint numbers on 60 meters.

68 min

Evans injured. Another key player off with an injury for Leicester. They might be 3rd in the table, but they still have 12 matches left of this campaign.

71 min

Willian has been brilliant in this game. He plays like he has a point to prove, and I love it. Much more intent. That dummy exemplifies his work.

From here on out, Arsenal is doing something we’ve rarely seen for some years now: They cruised through to win the game. The mistakes that were made were in counter-attacks, in the final third, against 2v2s. An opportunity to build confidence and decrease tension. Wonderful.


Winning this comfortably, against the team currently set in third place, was nice. When we hit that 70 min mark, the game looked done and Leicester didn’t have an answer to stop us going forward.

We now look at a match against Burnley, a low scoring side, content with drawing fouls and playing for a draw if things get hairy. After that, a trip to Greece for a vital match against the team that threw us out of the Europa League last season.

To end, a quiz. Four players remembered Johnny Evans dropping by minimal contact in his own box in the 31st minute, write in the comments which minute mark the four players pay tribute to this.

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