Sead Kolasinac: Arsenal’s Unsung Offensive Hero

Sead Kolasinac
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Sead Kolasinac of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Huddersfield Town at Emirates Stadium on December 8, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

There are a few players who have had a major impact on Arsenal‘s season so far. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang currently sits on 12 league goals, Lucas Torreira is dominating the midfield and a young Frenchman named Matteo Guendouzi has gone from an unknown to a regular squad player almost overnight.

However, one player who perhaps doesn’t get the plaudits he deserves is Sead Kolasinac. He is quietly becoming a major force in Arsenal’s attack.

Sead Kolasinac: More Than Meets The Eye

Under the Radar

The full-back has always been under the radar in north London. He arrived from Schalke on a free transfer, yielding little fanfare at the time of signing. Since then, Kolasinac really hasn’t established himself as a regular.

Probably the biggest reason for this is the superb form of teammate Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard has had a sort of mid-career renaissance at Arsenal and has earned an almost automatic place in the starting eleven.

The other major factor is the inconvenient fact that, much like Marcos Alonso, Sead Kolasinac is better at attacking than defending. To become really effective in a back four, fullbacks have to balance offence and defence, something the Bosnian doesn’t seem able to do.

So, when Arsenal revert to a back four, he almost never plays.

Wingback or Bust

When Kolasinac does play, like he did against Burnley, the team seems to tick like a Swiss watch. Against Sean Dyche’s men, the wingback made two key passes, joint-most on the day and even bagged an assist.

The display equalled his performance against Bournemouth last month, where Sead Kolasinac also made two key passes and created a goal. However, his finest match came against Arsenal’s bitterest rivals.

In that 4-2 derby win, Kolasinac contributed with five key passes. This was the most out of both sets of players with his closest rival, Granit Xhaka, on three.

This ability to create in the final third really can’t be overstated, especially when a certain Mesut Ozil has been underperforming. Even if the German were playing to his usual standards, there is the width problem that Kolasinac helps with.

Since the Gunners really don’t have any true wide forwards, Unai Emery has had to rely on fullbacks for width. Kolasinac’s work ethic and penchant for making overlapping runs really comes in handy.

Unsung Hero

Sead Kolasinac’s statistics are even more impressive when compared to a certain teammate. In just 607 minutes of Premier League football, the fullback has created four big chances and two assists.

So, that’s an average of one big chance created per 151.75 minutes of football and an assist every 303.5 minutes.

To compare, Mesut Ozil has played 935 minutes in the league, creating two big chances and one assist. That’s an average of one big chance every 467.5 minutes and an assist every 935 minutes.

While this difference can be attributed somewhat to opponents paying more attention to Ozil as well as the system employed by Unai Emery, such a gulf is still surprising.

Another comparison, with Marcos Alonso, yields similar results. The Chelsea man has played 1,518 minutes of league football this season, yielding two big chances created and three assists.

That’s an average of one big chance created every 759 minutes and an assist every 506 minutes.

Going Forward

While the likes of Ozil, Aubameyang and Torreira get most of the limelight at the Emirates, and rightly so, Sead Kolasinac’s contributions to Arsenal this season can’t be ignored.

His offensive contributions are not just comparable, but better than either Ozil or Alonso.

He may not be able to play in every formation or every situation, but he does add creativity and width in the final third. This means that Kolasinac must be one of the first names on the team sheet when playing with a back three.

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