Although the Premier League took a week off last weekend, with the FA Cup taking centre stage, there were still plenty of interesting stories developing in the midst of what could be a very busy January transfer window.
Two developments have captured our attention this week. First, Tottenham Hotspur’s swift acquisition of Timo Werner from Chelsea, a move that promises to inject new life into Ange Postecoglou’s attack.
Second, had a big opportunity to prove me wrong in the Cup, when they had the chance to take on an undermanned Liverpool clearly more focused on other competitions and still came up short.
This week’s Premier League matchday will be split over two weekends half the clubs playing this week, and the other half playing the week after.
Let’s delve into these unfolding narratives and examine their implications for the teams involved.
Tottenham Hotspur’s acquisition of Timo Werner on loan from Chelsea marks a significant shift in the club’s transfer strategy. The deal’s speed, concluded early in the January window, deviates from Spurs’ typical last-minute signings, indicating a strategic change under manager Ange Postecoglou’s direction. With Tottenham’s technical director, Johan Lange, and Postecoglou, both admirers of Werner, playing pivotal roles in the transfer, it’s clear that Werner’s tactical versatility and strong character were key attractions.
Werner’s record at Chelsea, scoring 23 goals in 89 games, while mixed, still demonstrates his potential. His pace, versatility, and Premier League experience make him a multifaceted addition to Spurs’ lineup, particularly in positions where the team lacks depth. Werner’s arrival at Tottenham is not just a matter of adding another forward; it’s about bringing in a player known for his dynamism and ability to play across the front line.
However, there are challenges and scepticism surrounding this move. Werner’s time at Chelsea was a rollercoaster, with moments of brilliance often overshadowed by periods of underperformance. His return to RB Leipzig also didn’t entirely reignite his form. Spurs are betting on Postecoglou’s system to help Werner rediscover his best, leveraging his motivation to secure a spot in Germany’s squad for Euro 2024.
Tottenham sees Werner’s signing as a low-risk, high-reward strategy, especially with the optional buy clause at the loan’s end. For Leipzig, parting ways with Werner made sense; it alleviated wage burdens and addressed his reduced role in the team. Leipzig’s technical director, Mario Gomez, viewed the move as beneficial for all parties.
Statistically, Werner’s recent performance provides a mixed bag. His non-penalty goals and expected goals (xG) are decent but not exceptional. His contributions to passing and ball movement, however, stand out. Werner’s high percentile in passes attempted and progressive passes indicates his involvement in build-up play and ability to advance the ball. His role in shot-creating actions and receiving progressive passes further cements his offensive creativity.
Yet, there’s room for improvement, particularly in goal-scoring and aerial duels. Werner’s defensive contributions, while modest, align with what’s expected from a forward.
Timo Werner’s move to Tottenham under Ange Postecoglou could be the catalyst for both the player and the club. His versatility and involvement in playmaking, despite needing to boost his goal-scoring consistency, make him a potentially valuable asset for Spurs in their Premier League campaign.
Arsenal’s recent form under Mikel Arteta, particularly the disappointing 2-0 FA Cup loss to an undermanned Liverpool, has left many questioning the team’s ability to compete for top honours. The Gunners’ performance in this period has been marked by a goal-scoring drought, with only one win in seven matches and a paltry one goal from 63 shots since Christmas. This barren run underscores a deeper issue than just a streak of bad luck; it’s a fundamental problem involving talent, technique, and composure.
Arsenal’s recent offensive woes, particularly highlighted in their 2-0 FA Cup loss to Liverpool, can be further understood through a deeper dive into their 2023-2024 Premier League season statistics. The numbers reveal not just a goal-scoring drought, but also issues with shot and goal creation, hinting at deeper tactical and dependency issues.
Key Players in Shot and Goal Creation
Bukayo Saka, the team’s leading forward, stands out with 106 Shot-Creating Actions (SCA), averaging 5.75 per 90 minutes. His contribution is primarily through live-ball passes and dead-ball situations. Similarly, his Goal-Creating Actions (GCA) tally at 12 (0.65 per 90), again leading the team, signifies his pivotal role in creating scoring opportunities.
Martin Ødegaard, playing midfield, closely follows Saka with 102 SCAs (6.10 per 90). While his contribution to goal creation is significant at 8 GCAs (0.48 per 90), it leans more towards build-up play rather than direct goal contributions.
Areas of Concern
The concerning aspect for Arsenal is the apparent over-reliance on Saka and Ødegaard for generating scoring chances. The substantial drop in SCA and GCA numbers beyond these two players suggests a lack of diverse contributors within the team.
In the forward line, Gabriel Martinelli shows a decent contribution with 59 SCAs and 7 GCAs, but this isn’t at the level expected for a lead forward in a top Premier League team. Gabriel Jesus, with 33 SCAs and 5 GCAs over 10.4 90s, while reasonable, isn’t enough to significantly elevate Arsenal’s attacking threat.
In midfield and defence, players like Declan Rice contribute to the build-up play, as indicated by his 40 SCAs, but lack a direct impact on goal-scoring. The minimal contribution from defenders like William Saliba and Ben White in creating goals is expected, but it also points to a potential area where more offensive-minded defenders could add value.
Interpretation of Struggles Beyond Player Availability
Arsenal’s over-reliance on Saka and Ødegaard potentially makes their attack predictable and easier to defend against. The insufficient forward impact and lack of creative depth in midfield and defence suggest tactical rigidity, where the same players are continuously tasked with creating opportunities. This could lead to a lack of variety in attack and make it easier for opponents to neutralize Arsenal’s offensive threats.
The absence of Gabriel Jesus due to injury complicates matters. Although his return is eagerly anticipated, relying solely on his comeback might not be enough to resolve Arsenal’s scoring woes.
To address these issues, Arsenal might need to make tactical adjustments, encouraging more creative play from a broader range of players. Additionally, strengthening the squad with players who can add creativity and goal threat could be crucial. This holistic approach could be key to transforming Arsenal’s potential into consistent goal-scoring performances.
Burnley vs Luton Town
Friday, Jan 12, 2024
Burnley faces a critical match against Luton Town as they struggle at the bottom of the table. Despite their recent form suggesting a tough battle, this match could be a turning point for Burnley to revive their season. Luton, although higher in the standings, isn’t immune to challenges and will be without Tom Lockyer. Burnley needs to capitalize on their home advantage to secure much-needed points.
Chelsea vs Fulham
Saturday, Jan 13, 2024
Chelsea’s inconsistent season sees them pitted against Fulham, a side that recently triumphed over Arsenal. Despite Chelsea’s higher standing and squad value, Fulham’s recent win injects confidence into their camp. Chelsea, plagued with injuries, will need to dig deep to fend off Fulham’s spirited challenge. The match promises to be a gripping London derby with potential surprises.
Newcastle vs Manchester City
Saturday, Jan 13, 2024
Newcastle, amidst a poor run of form, faces a daunting task against a formidable Manchester City. The significant difference in squad value and City’s recent form, including being crowned World Club champions, positions them as clear favourites. Newcastle’s extensive injury list adds to their woes, making City’s task seemingly more straightforward. However, in football, the underdog often has a day, and Newcastle will hope this is theirs.
Everton vs Aston Villa
Sunday, Jan 14, 2024
Everton, following a series of losses, meets Aston Villa, who are surprisingly in the title chase. Everton’s recent form contrasts sharply with Villa’s robust performances. Despite Everton’s home advantage, Villa’s dynamic attack, led by players like Douglas Luiz and Ollie Watkins, makes them the probable victors in this intriguing fixture.
Manchester United vs Tottenham
Sunday, Jan 14, 2024
Manchester United’s fluctuating form will be tested against a Tottenham side finding its feet despite injury challenges. United’s recent home performance against Nottingham Forest raises concerns, while Tottenham, boosted by new signing Timo Werner, shows signs of resurgence. With both teams suffering from injuries, this match could hinge on tactical acumen and individual brilliance.