Arsenal is now the weirdest team in the history of soccer. Three of the five best teams in the world right now are in the Premier League. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are like if there was a third team in LaLiga just as good as Real Madrid and Barcelona in the mid-to-early 2010s. Manchester City has a plus-21 goal differential, Chelsea a plus-27 and Liverpool a plus-31. Figuratively, they’re in their own league; no one else in England even has a goal differential in double digits. In all six matches against the Big Three this year, everyone else is going to be a massive underdog. Maybe you luck into a win or grind out a draw here or there, but the expectation ahead of each match is zero points.
Sure, Arsenal have been systematically obliterated by Chelsea, Liverpool and City to varying degrees, zero goals scored and 11 conceded, but what if that’s actually a feature and not a bug of Arteta’s tactics?
Along with Manchester City, per Stats Perform, the Gunners are joint-lowest in pass velocity the number of passes per seconds of possession with Manchester City. A slow and deliberate midfielder himself, Arteta has seemingly crafted a team in his own image. It’s been a disaster against the best teams; you beat them by countering quickly into space. But given that Arsenal have more money and (theoretically) more talent than most of the other teams in the league, dominating the ball and methodically working it into scoring positions works against everyone else.