Unaccustomed as I am to writing long wordy stuff on things Arsenal, I thought I would dip my toe in the water that is known as ‘blogsphere’.
So the purpose of this blog is a slightly different take on rating individual performance from the Wednesday night game against West Brom in the Capital One Cup. Or as us ‘oldies’ know it as, the League Cup.
So to explain the rating system – SHOCK HORROR – Yes, there is a numerical rating for each player, but with a weighting allowance for other factors. Unfortunately, I am the sole arbiter of points given, so it opens up at least one avenue for disagreement?
Ratings from a scale of 0-10 is the basic starting point. The target of all players should be to achieve a 75% score of their individual band. So, for example, take Per Mertersacker: he is a top class player, in form, fit from recent games, so his target is 7.5 points just to play up to the level he is already at. If he has brought something extra to his game, then he will get plus points over that. 7.5 points is what we, as fans, and presumably the manager too, expects.
That is the key: Our Expectation of an upcoming performance, which usually exceeds what the reality may be?
How I reduce the expectation level will become clear – I should warn this is a work in progress, so feel free to suggest improvements, or criticise as you see fit. I will do my best to ignore, opps reply to such irritations err suggestions in the fullness of time. …. Now where did I find that smiley with two fingers by his nose, it may come in handy
So, shall we begin?
FABIANKSKI ;-Final score. 8.1
Expectation level reduced slightly for lack of recent match practice: 6.8
Performance during the game he made important saves, particularly the one late on, as he gets a bonus for keeping concentration for 120 minutes. No fault on the goal scored. He did not get much joy out of the penalty shoot out, although guessing the right way on their last one may have brought about the error?
MERTERSACKER: Final score :- 8.5
Expectation level high: 7.5
Performance: He made many clearances throughout the match, and only one error that but that was cleared. An absolute rock!
VERMAELIN: Final score :- 7.6
Expectancy level reduced, back after injury, and only two sub appearances prior. 7.0
Performance: His good clearances over the 90 minutes, were matched by two free kicks he gave away. The second one resulted in the ball hitting the crossbar from the free kick. However, he picks up points for effort in extra time, and for giving Reid a mouthful for his late tackle on Miyaichi in that period.
MONREAL: Final score: :- 8.1
Expectation level slightly reduce for lack of match play, and when he has played he was doubling up with Gibbs: 7.3
Performance: He had a solid game. Got a booking (for the team -cliche), and generally supported young Miyaichi down the left. Was still going at the end of 120 minutes, and his crowning glory was to put away the winning penalty. Despite their goal coming back in from their right flank, it was Monreal who went out attempt a block, so no blame on him.
JENKINSON: Final score :- 7.9
Expectation level reduced, partly from not playing much, and that he is not yet a top class player: 7.0
Performance: Strong presence throughout. Supported the attack at every opportunity. Super crosses put in that were a whisker away from connecting a head for certain goal. Weaknesses came when beaten down the line, and allowing cross into our box. Strangely, he was also ‘in the vicinity’ when they scored. What drew him over there I am not sure, but he did not move when the ball came in to an unmarked player less than 2 yards away? He was facing goal, and there was somebody on the line looking out, but if push came to shove, I would say Jenks was nearer. His redeeming feature was the 80 yard dash to get back in position when an attack he was involved in broke down, this in the dying minutes off extra-time. Fit, that is!
ARTETA: Final score :- 7.3
Expectation level reduced due to return from injury. No game time coming into this either: 6.8
Performance: Solid performance from Arteta, and built purely on his experience. He let his fellow DM do the advanced running, but still covered a lot of ground. The game was quite cagey in the first half, and this allowed him to play within himself, between bouts of action. The second half saw him probe a little further forwards to help the attacker/advanced midfielders. It was during this period where he got booked, for a foul on Sessegnon -(Nobody seemed to like him, Monreal decked him as well. (Mind, it serves the little tow-rag right for doing a sly one on Gnabry, flattening him by the centre circle, out of the officials view.). Overall, his quiet, simple stuff outweighed faults in passes and general rustiness. His game ended at the start of extra time, taking no chances, if the damage is not already done, on his calf muscle?
HAYDEN: Final score :- 6.4
Expectation, as with of all the debutants here, has to be brought down to a serious lower level than the above, but Hayden was at least in a position where he is comfortable playing. However, Premiership rivals add to that task, plus he has had little time playing: 6.0
Performance: Even with low expectation, he was not good in the first half. Add to that a bad tackle, for which he loses out twice; One for the nature of the tackle, two-footed, off the ground lunge which could so easily been a leg breaker, as he careered into Mulumbu’s standing leg. In fact the only thing that saved him was that he did not go in studs first. It was shin/instep to ankle, and so presumably taken as not malicious, and he lost the other point here because even so it could have been a red one? This in only the 32nd minute, 10 yards inside their half! You can expect some mistakes from these players stepping up, but that was just stupid. On the plus side, whatever was said at half time had an effect, because he came out and played a solid game, putting himself in great positions, almost Flamini-esque at times. He also tried some long passes which were close to being perfect. Overall, I can only give him a marginal improvement over expectation, whereas with just the second half score, he would be sailing into the Arteta score area. Shame?
MIYAICHI: Final score :- 7.0
Expectation:: Lowered for lack of recent activity, only late substitutions with the first team: 6.3
Performance: A bit Jekyll and Hide. Some outstanding pace to get past experienced defenders, but the final ball seem to elude him too many times. Definitely a work in progress, and one that will get better with more exposure. He worked very hard up and down the wing, getting back to help the defense. This in a normal 90 minutes would be some achievement, but to try and keep going for a 120 minutes says a lot for his commitment and desire? I just hope he is not called upon for the next couple of games though, as he will need full recovery time to get over this effort.
GNABRY: Final score :- 7.1
Expectation: Quite high for an 18 year old, but realistically set lower for the task he had: 6.6
Performance: So much expected on the back of the hour he played on Sunday. The circumstances here were vastly different. No Ozil to provide pinpoint passes. No back up from quality midfielders. Out there trying to create things, but for every good thing there was a sloppy pass, a dead end run, a bundle of the ball. So did he shine? No. Did he put maximum effort into it, most definitely Yes! It was a big test to build on his previous game, and to go another hour beyond what he would normally do, before being taken off, took its toll. Mentally tired as well as physically, so by the time the penalties came around, his bolt was shot. When he took the penalty it was of someone who looked like he just wanted to get it done with, quickly. He will learn from that? So despite it not being his best game, he still comes out on the right side for sheer effort.
EISFELD: Final score :- 7.2
Expectation: Lowered by lack of activity in the first team squad, his debut in the starting line up, and to an extent, the role he needed to play: 6.0
Performance: First half, abysmal, headless chicken, lost … these are just a few words that come to mind. However, I come back to the last point I made above, ‘the role he needed to play’. If you ask Lucas Podolski to play ‘creative midfielder’, he would probably do okay, but not at the Cazorla level. Tomas Eisfeld is the future Podolski, imo. Now I can understand Arsene Wenger want to teach him to use the football intelligence he has to create for other, because he knows how and where the perfect ball should be played. I am not sure this was though, the ideal time for practical learning? Now whatever got said to him at half time, must have been along the lines of ‘get further forward’? Having had a near miss, and generally got more involved in play, it was till a bit tame. On the point of being substituted in fact, seconds before he scored a magnificent goal. It came from a perfect assist, but the finish was top drawer. The commentator said ‘That is what he is in the team for’. I beg to differ. That is what he can do for the team, but the job he was given was something else. It brought his a stay of execution, before being subbed for Akpom.
BENDTNER: Final score :- 8.0
Expectation: Lowered more than the usual because of other factors. He has not played for a long time, coming off an injury lay-off (amongst other things?), returning to the club he slagged off when he first got loaned out, and the need for it to go right? All piled big pressure on how he played. 6.0:
Performance: I have to say it looked very similar to early Giroud (as in ‘an early Picasso’ – I hardly touch the blue stuff now), and for very good reason. This forward line had been thrown together to make what they could out of it, or never darken the manager’s door again. So it was never going to be perfect, with knockdown balls invariably not finding their target, and very little to build on in a scoring sense, NB23 battled away throughout. lack of full fitness told when clear through on goal that could have saved the penalty drama. But again, when called upon to be the ultimate professional, he slotted away the first penalty with consummate ease. Form is variable, class is permanent, isn’t that what they say? There is little doubt in my mind that Bendtner, for all his flaws and weaknesses, can build on this performance and be a valuable player in the near future. What is not in doubt, is that his assist was ‘peach perfect’, and he comes out of this with a major plus. He gets bonus points on three counts: His assist; His work in defense; His shootout penalty.
AKPOM: Final score :- 7.5
Expectation: Starting or coming on late are never easy to compare. I am taking the view that it can be harder get the feel of the game, so harder to put in high performance, at the end of a match. As it was a draw at both the start and when the subs came on, you cannot say they were facing a different task?. All three players in this bracket I am giving a similar low point of expectation. All three are making their first team debuts. and little or no time playing at this level: 5.8
Performance: So much to like about this brief showing. He had 11 minutes (including stoppage time), and the extra time, followed by a successful penalty. There is nothing showy or flashy about Akpom. He does what he does with style of and old pro. He gets up from a foul tackle, glances at the perpetrator, and moves on. No histrionics with the ref, pointing out the number of fouls. Just not him. He has quick close control, an eye for a pass, one that should have been an exquisite assist, when being the middle of a trio who got the ball from defense, to having Bendtner one on one with the ‘keeper in a blink of the eye. His efforts in taking the ball forwards probably did more to see out the extra time successfully, as when he came on West Brom were very much in the ascendancy. He was not successful with everything he tried, but the good was very good. Bonus points for the ‘assist’, the attitude he showed, the certainty in which he took his penalty, a decisive one, as it drew us level, and his chest thumping joy at being able to do it, and in style. He got the fans believing at that point, which put further pressure on the next one up.. Star player in the making.
OLSSON: Final score ;- 6.9
Eexpectation: Very low because he has not played at this level. He has never faced premiership opposition. It is a knockout Cup game away from home.: 5.6
Performance: Well he replaced Hayden in midfield, where he would normally ply his trade. But it has to be said it took him nearly all of the 8 or 9 minutes of normal time to get into the game. During the extra time period he took on the DM role very effectively. This was at a time when Arteta was starting to slow up, and WBA thought they could wrap it up. But Olsson was part of that magnificent mixture in defense that defied all odds. Whilst not being outstanding, he still contributed, and it is something he can build on if he gets further opportunities.
BELLERIN: Final score :- 7.8
Expectation: (From me, sky high, ha ha) Realistically, the same as the above, and for the same reasons: 5.6
Performance: He had the shortest time to impress. Replacing both man and position, the key defender in the amazing unbeaten since March run, one Miguel Arteta!
No, that has to be an error. Bellerin is a converted winger, now RB, and your asking him to play his debut match against Premiership opposition as a left sided defensive midfielder? Really?
What chance did Bellerin have to impress? Well Hector was the hero in my book. The first leg of that assist was a gem. He picked up a loose ball just outside our box, sprinted clear, pass to Akpom, who took it in his stride, and with a same movement pass that made the final leg which put Bendtner in the clear. But this was at the end of nearly 2 hours playing time for someone who had not had a competitive match in several months, so fitness told. It did not stop it being a great move though. As the game wore on Bellerin had a couple of shots at goal, and cleared one of the line at our end too. Some debut, but wait until they play him in his best position? No! Silly, RW.
PER MERTERSACKER – 8.5; Fabianski – 8.1; Monreal – 8.1 Bendtner – 8.0
Best Over Expectation
HECTOR BELLERIN – 7.8; Runner up; CHUBA AKPOM – 7.5
Well, I think that has covered the main aspects of the game from an individual players view. The whole team performed above my expectation. Not because it was a good match to watch, but because to get through a game like that you need character. Each and every one supplied a bit in their own way.
They fully earned that win. Congratulations.
Written by: Gerry.