Arsenal – match report vs Fulham 12/09/20

As the Premier League returned to our screens, Arsenal came out 3-0 winners over newly promoted Fulham. We previewed Fulham on this weeks podcast and identified that their defence was going to be an issue and that we struggled to see them staying up, which this game reenforced. Arteta’s Arsenal set up in a 3-4-3 with Maitland-Niles and Bellerin as the wing backs and Xhaka and Elneny running the midfield. It was an interesting tactical system with fluidity and the wing backs able to move into narrow positions.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Gabriel Magalhães

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 19/09/1997
  • Current Club: Arsenal
  • Career: Avaí, Lille, Troyes (L), Dinamo Zagreb (L), Arsenal
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

A perfect debut for the young Brazilian defender, getting a goal and clean sheet with his first taste of Premier League football and an all round strong performance. Gabriel had by far the most touches of any player on the pitch (121). He was comfortable on the ball, taking clean and progressive touches. He showed smooth passing, accessing Xhaka and Elneny in midfield well with simple passes. He spread play nicely and played some longer passes into wide areas but didn’t play that directly overall and as the central centre back in the back three he was largely cycling play.

Defensively, the 6’3″ defender put in a dominant display, he was physical and a strong tackler. Fulham isn’t the best test for adapting to the physicality of the Premier League but the signs were there that he could adapt very well. He showed a good leap and did very well in ground duels. He didn’t overcommit in 1v1s, used his body well and was composed, being physical without being overly aggressive or manic. I would have like to of seen him have to deal with Mitrovic more though.

He covered behind the line to pick up some loose balls well and was strong in the air. His marking in the box was a bit inconsistent, when on the retreat towards his own goal his awareness wasn’t great and was too side on, facing the cross. When the line was deeper and static he was a lot better with his positioning and body position, being physical with his man.

Rating – A2

Kieran Tierney

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 05/06/1997
  • Current Club: Arsenal
  • Career: Celtic, Arsenal
  • Position: Left Back
  • Secondary Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Tierney played as the left centre back in the back three but at times the shape allowed Tierney to be positioned like a full back in buildup and to be able to push up into midfield more while Maitland-Niles took up some narrower positions.

The Scot didn’t receive the ball well a few times, miscontrolling the ball and some of his touches could have been cleaner while he also could have opened up his body more. He carried forward forward into space a few times but failed to link with Maitland-Niles effectively down the left who struggled at times. His passing was solid and progressed the ball into Lacazette well a few times.

Tierney worked hard and showed decent pace on his recovery runs, covering a lot of ground as well as tactical versatility. He made some good tackles but didn’t have to defend 1v1 too much. He pressed out of the line well at times with good anticipation to make a few good interceptions. Overall, a solid game but nothing standout but also didn’t have much defending to do.

Rating – B2

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Player profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 29/08/1997
  • Current Club: Arsenal
  • Career: Arsenal, Ipswich (L)
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Right Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Maitland-Niles was positioned at left wing back today which was an unusual role for him. He was uncomfortable in buildup quite often, he was under pressure from behind and being right footed on the left restricted his options. He tried a few first time inside passes but these weren’t great and he struggled to link with Aubameyang and lost the ball too much. When he was able to face up, he played a few nice forward passes, including a nice throughball into the box for Lacazette but he couldn’t get there.

In the final third, he took up narrower positions, often giving support runs through the half spaces while Aubameyang was out wide. When Arsenal were attacking the box, along with Bellerin, he’d be in a very narrow position outside the box, as seen below. In buildup, he’d move inside at times when Tierney pushed up as well. I thought he looked awkward in his positioning at times and was quite passive and unsure of himself, but he was in a very unfamiliar role.

Out of possession he made a few good defensive stops but overall I thought he looked lackadaisical at times and lacked energy or aggression, particularly with his recovery runs and positioning. When actually called upon he mostly did well but didn’t show the best mentality out of possession.

Rating – B2

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