Youth players are maintaining momentum
Emi Martinez – 6,5
He made a single misjudgement in the form of an air-punch after a corner but was not punished as Bellerin bailed him out. Otherwise he saved everything he was expected to. And with the ball at his feet he was calmness personified. While the Standard Liege pressing was below standard, he always picked the right choice to pass the pall. He hasn’t conceded a single goal this season so far.
Hector Bellerin – 6,5
Captain on his first start, he was solid in defence and provided attacking threat as well. It was a joy seeing his pace returned. And he had a great opportunity to crown his performance with a nice goal. The moderate rating is due to his unnecessarily booking. I honestly think that he is a way too nice guy to be an effective team captain (PEA as well), and maybe he was overcompensating it in the hustle following the fault on Martinelli.
Shkodran Mustafi – 7,5
Another competent performance from the German. He not only neutralized every attempt coming his way (6 clearances out of the 11 from Arsenal outfield players), but he managed to support the attacks as well, including a beautiful long pass in the build-up to the first goal. Arsenal hasn’t conceded a single goal this season so far, when Mustafi was playing in defence. What would have been the odds for that?
Rob Holding – 7,0
He was so good and so calm, that I don’t remember hearing his name more than a handful of occasions. While this is a critique for midfielders and attackers, quite a praise for defenders. It was not his fault that he couldn’t demonstrate his argument (alright, my claim) that he is the best defender for Arsenal. Maybe against a tougher opponent…
Kieran Tierney – 9,0 (MotM)
I have to keep reminding myself that it happened against a weak Belgian side, but I don’t remember if I have ever seen a better (debut) full back performance. He tackled like Koscielny, intercepted like Mertesacker and scattered key passes as they were cookies. He should have had five assists, but Willock, Ceballos and Martinelli – while they had a great game – couldn’t apply the final touch at times. And the best thing that Tierney made his crosses look so easy, that reminds me of Bergkamp’s hattrick against Leicester and assist-hattrick against Everton.
Lucas Torreira – 7,0
He resumed his box-to-box role from the game against Nottingham. He ran a lot and blocked a few shots. While his contribution didn’t look too crucial or tangible, he provided the midfield pressing almost on his own. Thanks to Torreira our 3-man midfield looked superior to Standard Liege’s 5-man midfield, and that has to be something. Didn’t seem tired after 90 minutes, even though he was the only player kept from the starting XI against Manchester United.
Dani Ceballos – 8,0
He was sharp from the beginning. He provided more in attack than in defence, but he played against a surprisingly poor opponent. He played a deeper (#8, not in Ozil’s #10) role, but similarly had his eye and skills for the occasional killer pass. He well deserved to play 90 minutes and to score his first Arsenal goal. I’m looking forward to seeing him playing along with Xhaka and Torreira in the PL.
Joe Willock – 7,0
His stats don’t give him justice, as he is not a natural blocker/clearer, nor will he become the next assist king (0 key passes), but he has great positioning skills, both defensively and offensively. Joe has the instinct to pop up at the right place and time, especially in and around the box. He missed a few sitters as well as a great chance to pre-assist Bellerin, but he was athletic, dynamic, determined and took his goal very well.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6,0
He didn’t have a bad game either, but the only loser of the night (besides Kolasinac), as he couldn’t support his claim that his future lies at right wing. He didn’t impact the game, and his partnership with Bellerin (his RB competitor) was discoloured by the amazing Tierney-Nelson tandem on the left flank. He is a great and versatile squad player though, but not (yet) first team material.
Reiss Nelson – 7,5
He had a lot to prove, as – especially in the absence of Lacazette – he should make his claim to start alongside Pepe and Auba. And while he had some weak appearances in September, he delivered his message with aplomb. The 4 shots, 3 key passes, 2 successful dribbles were his answers to the Saka-threat. He bullied Vojvoda all night long, that I almost felt sorry for the bloke. Nelson finally found the golden mean between his signature fast runs/dribbles and creating chances.
Gabriel Martinelly – 9
It’s good to be a Gooner when we have a 5th choice midfielder like Willock and a stand-in striker like Martinelli. His 4 goals (and an assist) in 180 minutes is nothing short of stunning. And he is not the clinical poacher type as Nketiah. His 2 headers would make even Giroud proud. He was both a confident finisher and an intelligent creator. The only reason he didn’t end up as my MotM, because he could have scored a couple more easily.
Nicolas Pepe – 6,0
Just like AMN, Nicolas wasn’t objectively bad either, but not yet on the same level as the expectations. I feel his constant dilemma is: should he try to show how good his really is, or should he be cooperative and let others shine. Still he tries to dribble and shoot too often to my taste, but his skills are undeniable. Maybe if he started ahead of Ainsley, he would have made a bigger impact…
Matteo Guendouzi – 6,0
I don’t fully understand his inclusion, as transition was not a key issue against this hopeless Belgian midfield. In his 20 minutes he didn’t have any attacking contribution, thus received the lowest WhoScored rating of the team.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – N/A
He had too little time on the pitch to record a proper rating. But it’s nevertheless an important gesture from Emery, that Martinelli could test himself in his natural left winger role. for a quarter of an hour.
Unai Emery – 8
Let’s put the Ozil decision aside, as the Europa League group stage games are indeed for the youngsters. He fielded a potent XI on the pitch, gave Bellerin and Tierney 90-90 minutes, gave a chance to Mustafi to prove himself.
I don’t agree with Torreira’s role and inclusion, but it worked like magic. Again, let’s not get carried away and demand the youngsters to start against Manchester City, but they are not far behind the first team – at least not as far as the EL opponents are behind the average Premier League teams.