Arsenal concluded the 2022-23 season with a second-place finish in the Premier League behind champions Manchester City. It was one of their best domestic campaigns in recent years, having won 26, drew 6, and lost 6 games to accumulate 84 points.
The North London side were at the top of the Premier League table for 248 days last season, but crucial draws against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton and humiliating defeats against Man City and Brighton cost them the title. Arsenal scored a total of 88 goals (second best after Man City) and conceded 43 (tied third). It was one of their best domestic campaigns in recent years, having won 26, drew 6, and lost 6 games to accumulate 84 points. Enough to win the title in an average year.
Mikel Arteta’s men were knocked out of the FA Cup in the 4th round by Manchester City, and by Brighton & Hove Albion in the third round of the EFL Cup. Portuguese outfit Sporting CP knocked the Gunners out on penalties in the Europa League.
Here are some of the key statistics from Arsenal’s season:
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta employed 26 different players in the course of the 2022-23 season. Of these, 17 players registered over 1000 minutes.
When all the players were at his disposal, the Spanish manager favoured a 4-3-3 formation.
However, the team was allowed a lot of fluidity and flexibility. In attack, Oleksandr Zinchenko would invert into the midfield alongside Thomas Partey. Ben White could tuck in with the central defenders to form a compact defensive line at the back.
Arteta’s system this season was well-developed with all players clearly aware of their roles. As a result, the team was not dependent on one or two players to do all the scoring. The system allowed different players to chip in with goals throughout the season.
Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, and Martin Odegaard scored 15 goals apiece. Strikers Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus had 9 to their names, as did Granit Xhaka from the midfield. 4 players – Reiss Nelson, Thomas Partey, William Saliba, and Gabriel Magalhaes had 3 goals each.
The presence of both starting centre-backs amongst the top scorers is interesting. This serves as an indicator of just how good the Gunners were in set-pieces. In fact, Arsenal managed to register 149 shots from corners and set-pieces (via understat).
Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli were also among the North London side’s best finishers. However, the concern for Mikel Arteta will be that both the strikers are the worst in the team. This is one aspect the Gunners will have to improve for next season.
Once again, the entire frontline came into the fore to create chances for one another. Saka, Martinelli, Leandro Trossard, and Jesus created a combined total of 35 assists. Xhaka, Odegaard, and Fabio Vieira also got into the act from the midfield.
As a system, Arsenal have improved a lot in creating chances this season. Players like Odegaard and Martinelli have taken greater responsibility in the final third as well. The induction of Leandro Trossard has added a new dimension altogether to the front line.
However, the North London side are also willing to try and create via crosses or set-pieces if necessary. They attempted 674 crosses this season.
Arsenal had a healthy mix of talented players with a superb skillset, and a manager willing to allow them to express it on the field. As a result, the Gunners were able to create chances and progress play through effective dribbling.
Dribbling serves as a very useful mechanism to break down a compact block. It forces the opposition defenders to think and take decisions in very little time, leading to errors or dangerous chances. The best possession-based managers; Pep Guardiola, Roberto De Zerbi, Jurgen Klopp, etc., allow their players to dribble as an attacking tool.
Mikel Arteta likes to employ a possession-heavy system. Arsenal averaged 59.3% possession throughout the 2022-23 season, the fourth-best in the Premier League. As a result, the Gunners make a lot of passes to control the game in the middle of the park.
Unsurprisingly, a bulk of the passing came from the backline and the midfield. Zinchenko in particular, inverting in from the left, was heavily involved on the ball.
Zinchenko, Partey, and Jorginho were also instrumental in progressing the ball into the opposition third. Trossard, Odegaard and Xhaka were involved in progressing the ball from deep. However, in the final third, they would often be the players on the receiving end of such passes.
Although statistics are not a great way to judge defensive actions, we observe that Partey and Jorginho were once again instrumental in halting opposition attacks and protecting the backline. Jakub Kiwior is one to look out for as well next season.
Striker Gabriel Jesus has also been immense in his pressing off the ball. The Brazilian is relentless in harassing the opposition to force an error. As a whole, Arsenal focus on winning the ball back higher up the field. This pushes the opponents to take decisions in a hurry, leading to poor passes and dangerous turnovers.
Aaron Ramsdale was Mikel Arteta’s first choice in between the sticks throughout the season. The Englishman played 41 games, conceding 46 times and maintaining 15 clean sheets. Matt Turner featured in 7 games, keeping 4 clean sheets.
In the Spaniard’s system, the goalkeepers are also crucial for the build-up. They have to be constantly willing to receive the ball to relieve their teammates from pressure. Furthermore, the goalie needs to be strong and commanding in his penalty area to facilitate the high line of defence used by Arteta.
Ramsdale, in particular, has perfectly adapted to that role. The Englishman is vocal from the back, and always willing to receive the ball and get involved in the passing.
1. Unsung Hero
Granit Xhaka featured in 47 games for the Gunners. The Swiss midfielder donned a more advanced midfield role this season, to accommodate Zinchenko on the left. Xhaka took to the new role like a fish to water, scoring 9 and creating 7. The 30-year-old was also heavily involved in possession, and tireless in defence. Xhaka’s performances elevated Arsenal to another level throughout the season.
Understand the agreement between Granit Xhaka and Bayer Leverkusen is still valid, sealed and confirmed at this stage. He accepted one month ago 🚨🔴⚫️ #BayerLeverkusen
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 8, 2023
Fabrizio Romano has reported that the Swiss captain could be leaving this summer, drawing the curtains to a roller-coaster 7-year stint. And the Gunners will undoubtedly have a difficult task in replacing the Swissman; the player, and the person.
2. New Heroes Lead The Dawn Of A New Era
Arsenal have the tied youngest squad in the league, with an average of 24.7 years. Captain Odegaard, and regular starters Saliba, Saka, Martinelli, White, Ramsdale and Gabriel are all under 25. Fabio Vieira, Emile Smith Rowe, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Nketiah, Nelson, etc. are also young and have loads of room for growth. With just a couple of signings, the Gunners would have assembled a world-class team for the next 6-7 years.
3. Injuries Derail Season; But Cannot Be Solely Blamed
Takehiro Tomiyasu missed the last few months of the season due to knee surgery. William Saliba also picked up an injury in May, leaving Arteta short of defensive options. Earlier, Gabriel Jesus had also picked up a major injury during the mid-season 2022 World Cup.
However, Arsenal cannot blame their collapse on injuries alone. Mikel Arteta had a good squad to pick from for most parts of the season. Players like Fabio Vieira, Jakub Kiwior, Eddie Nketiah, Keiran Tierney and Reiss Nelson deserved to play more than just a few sparse minutes and substitutes. As a result, they were often underconfident or lacking rhythm when called upon.
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Mikel Arteta will have to make better use of the 25 players at his disposal next season, if the North London side are to compete for the Premier League, Champions League and various cup competitions.
What are your key takeaways for Arsenal from the 2022-23 season? Who was the best player in the team? Which player surprised you the most? Which player underperformed your expectations? Let us know in the comments.
All stats via: fbref
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