Dani Ceballos made his first start for Arsenal in today’s 2 - 1 win over Burnley. Real Madrid’s loanee played in a midfield trio alongside Matteo Guendhouzi and Joe Willock — with Ceballos being the most advanced of the three, while being interchangeable with either central midfielder behind him.
The trio worked well together, in what was a nice balance of defensive coverage, creativity, passing, and dribbling past players in tight space to ignite attacks.
Ceballos, who took all of Arsenal’s set-pieces, had the most touches of anyone on the field despite being taken off in the 83rd minute. He set up Lacazette’s opening goal from a corner kick:
Arsenal strike first! Alexander Lacazette makes it happen in front of goal— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 17, 2019
Watch the match now on NBCSN, or stream here: short.url/aBcXyZ pic.twitter.com/VMnZzApnyE
There was a certain energy that Ceballos brought to Arsenal today, which trickled to the other players and fuelled the fans. Unsurprisingly, he was calm in tight spaces — composed and unnerved when pressed and comfortable dribbling his way out or dropping his shoulder to tuck under a defender’s challenge. He was relentless with his hounding and pressing.
Often forget about Ceballos’s game: He’s consitently been one of the best presser in any team he’s played in at the professional level, and his understanding of defensive mechanics in the opponent’s third was part of the reason he was a staple under Julen Lopetegui.
It was Ceballos’s ball retention that set up Aubameyang’s goal in the second half, which turned out to be the game winner:
Ceballos finished the match with 93 touches (a game high), three shots, four key passes (a team high), four completed dribbles (a game high), and completed 90% of his 70 passes.