Chambers Rocks, Luiz’s Best Performance, Marti Impresses, Unai Poor: Arsenal Player Reviews

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Bernd Leno – 6,5

After the last couple of seasons it must sound ridiculous, but our defence is so solid that our goalkeepers have limited opportunities to shine. Leno managed to deal with those 2 shots that came on target, and forced Wilson out wide when he was through on goal. He couldn’t have done much more. He kept his 2nd clean sheet, and his passing/distribution has improved a bit.

Calum chambers – 8,0 (MotM)

I’m starting to worry that TA will stop posting my ratings after I nominate a full back as Man of the Match 3rd time in a row. But Chambers was great again defensively (4 tackles, 4 clearances) as well as offensively (key pass, dribble, 3 shots). He made 2 last second interventions, that should count as assists. He is the prime example that if you have the proper footballing intelligence, then a couple of loan spells even for a weaker team can unlock the experience to become the real deal.

Sokratis – 6,5

Had some uncertain moments early on in the game, but Chambers helped him out. He was lucky that his mistakes didn’t cost Arsenal, but Sok grew into the match as it went on. His passing is not his strong suit (but we knew that), and his sometimes slow decisions make him our most vulnerable defender when it comes to pressing by the opponent. Still, he is far from being a liability, but I’m looking forward to seeing a Luiz-Holding CB partnership.

David Luiz – 7,5

The Brazilian finally delivered the performance Emery and the fans were expecting. His composure and passing skills are critical for a team that prefers to play out from the back. Luiz scored with a fine header that should contribute to his (and Pepe’s) confidence in the upcoming weeks/months. He was assured as our main centre back, and he looked impressive as well.

Sead Kolasinac – 6,5

He suffers from the Arsenal-syndrome, as – defying all odds – he was solid defensively, but couldn’t contribute to the attacks as much as expected. Tierney’s crosses set the bar high, and even though we all know that Sead can deliver, this time he was more eager to attack than efficient: his positioning was excellent, but his final balls let him down. Nevertheless, he remained composed in difficult situations, and stepped up as and when it was required.

Granit Xhaka – 6,5

Emery’s tactical adjustment reinvented Xhaka, and forces incompetent pundits to reinvent themselves, as he made team-high 5 clearances and his 2 tackles are the (joint) highest for all 6+2 midfielders on the pitch. However, I’m not particularly satisfied with this change, as Granit was most of the game far too deep to utilize his creativity and passing accuracy, but he often orchestrated the counter-attacks after receiving the ball from Leno. No yellow card for Xhaka, and he wasn’t a liability against Bournemouth either.

Dani Ceballos – 6,0

This game was created for the Spaniard: playing in front of 60.000 supporters against a weak opponent, having all of Özil licenses (to shoot, pass, dribble) without the pressure to defend. Yet he couldn’t produce the goods in a consistent basis. He couldn’t really link the midfield and the attack, and generally struggled to make an impact. He wasn’t bad either, maybe I’m just unfair to hold him responsible for such a boring game. But who else should I have? Nutmegs are cool indeed, but Ozil would have created more chances.

Matteo Guendouzi – 6,5

Matteo was at his busy self, full of energy, full of enthusiasm, a lot of running, some defensive and offensive contributions, but at the end of the day he didn’t do anything productive besides a vital clearance in the 89th minute. He is not a big guy, but still he goes to ground during challenges too easily for my taste. When it came to passing Guendouzi often played safe than trying to split the defence or supporting our wingers running behind the defenders.

Bukayo Saka – 6,5

He had a decent game. He pressed the defenders relentlessly, and always wanted to do something active with the ball. The 18-year-old didn’t manage much, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. Saka’s energy shone trough his inexperience, and he prevented many counterattacks by blocking and tackling. It was a nice performance from a teenager, but if/when Pepe delivers the same, he gets heavily criticized.

Nicolas Pepe – 6,5

His assist (and David Luiz’s) header made the difference in the game, but I don’t know how much credit is due to his vision and how much can be attributed to luck. He was the dribble king alright, but only 1 key pass is not enough from him. Arsenal looked the better side in the first half, primary thanks to Pepe. As he decided (or was instructed) to be more reactive in the second half the team similarly lost its edge. His dribble in the box could have been awarded with a penalty, but it wasn’t that clear fault either.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6,0

Quiet performance from the Gabonese hitman. He wasn’t flooded with through balls, so he had to create the chances himself. Auba was sharp, but isolated without much service. He worked hard and made defence-confusing runs, but he clearly missed his partnership with Lacazette. Maybe there was too much pressure around him, yet apparently the rest of the team is not particularly strong in scoring and creating chances. Nobody should be disappointed that his shot came out from the post, as VAR would have ruled it out for offside anyway.


Gabriel Martinelli – 7,0

The only positive performance beside the maturity of the back 4. The young Brazilian was tied to team-high 4 tackles in his 33 minutes (with Chambers, but he got 97), and his lob to Aubameyang was an admirable attempt showing his genuine joy of playing football. His half hour on the pitch was not Arsenal’s finest as we lost control (and desire to play) already. Yet he tried to make things happen with lively runs. His excess energy could make the difference in a situation when the team actually wants to score.

Joe Willock, Lucas Torreira – N/A

He had too little time on the pitch to record a proper rating.

Unai Emery – 3

While the key statistics show balanced possession (52% vs 48%) with similar off-target (5 vs 6) and on-target shots (1 vs 2) Arsenal never looked like this game can be lost. Yet the player quality and the home turf materialized only in confidence, but never in performance. I don’t remember when I waited the final whistle so badly, and not because I was afraid that Bournemouth could equalize, but rather because it was painful to watch this mid-table Championship level football delivered by my favourite team. The 1 shot on goal stat is a disgrace, and I might even say that our goal was a bit lucky, as it wasn’t the case that our superior attack convincingly overpowered their inferior defence. If you see the ratings above, no one was playing poor, but I expect a lot more from a team than this miserable statement.

Regarding the season so far: collecting 15 points from 8 games is not particularly good, but it’s seems alright because the PL is so balanced that now it is enough for the 3rd place. But taking our draw and our performance into consideration it is a different picture. Yes: we played against 3 out of the Top 5 teams (and grabbed pitiable 2 points), but we played against bottom-table opponents like AVL, Newcastle and Watford. Until we play against Leicester, West Ham or Crystal Palace it will be hard to assess our true capabilities. But the most worrying aspect – that was demonstrated against Bournemouth and drives the low score of the manager’s rating – is that despite 4 wins (3 draws) and 1 loss we have a pathetic +2 goal difference. While Manchester City, who has only 1 point more has a +18 GD; and Leicester City who has 1 point less (with 4 wins and 2 losses) also have +7. This is not a football that is fun to watch, and not very effective either.

By Pbarany.

42 thoughts on “Chambers Rocks, Luiz’s Best Performance, Marti Impresses, Unai Poor: Arsenal Player Reviews

  • Thanks Pb for very thorough player reviews and all agreed. I think Chambers is grabbing the bull by its horns and he made some very good and vital decisions and interceptions in and around the box. He won us at least a point on Sunday.

    I also like your insight re Xhaka’s positioning as per Emery’s instructions. I will have to watch the whole game now to see what this means.

    Glad to read that Martinelli had a good impact when he came on and that Luiz had the sort of game we all know he is capable of. A clean sheet goes a long way these days and I can see why you have given them all good reviews.

    You know my view re starting Guendo and LoseBalls by now, but it was still good to read your reviews of them.

    Top stuff. ⭐

  • A bit of interlul fun: a double points (20 max) prediction round. Home win, Away win or Draw. Predictions need to be in before the Netherlands v NI game. Cheers.

    Netherlands v Northern Ireland
    Croatia v Hungary
    Slovakia v Wales
    Czech Republic v England
    Bosnia-Herzegovina v Finland
    Denmark v Switzerland
    France v Turkey
    Sweden v Spain
    Uruguay v Peru
    Brazil v Nigeria

  • That is a fine player summation PB. (Maybe you were a tad generous with Emery’s rating) (lol)

    I really like our squad – young, older, and unused but the end results dismay me.

    In my 7 plus decades of supporting Arsenal I’ve seen some absolutely dreadful teams and many awful managers but current manager is not among the worst I’ve seen and neither are our team.

    I was born a few years after Herbert Chapman passed away but my Arsenal loving family rated him very highly and he was always spoken of as the “Gold Standard” of managers. I feel the same way about Arsene Wenger (and so did my family) and once you have been experienced the Gold Standard it’s difficult not to judge new managers to that standard.

    Arsene’s teams purred and had big claws, Emery’s teams sputter and have no nails.

    I miss the Gold Standard.

  • Terrific post PB. Thank you.

    I agree that Chambers was MotM but I have concerns about his future development i.e. where does the man play?

    Should he take Douzi’s place or Xhaka’s or Torriera in midfield where he played for Fulham?

    Or at CB? In which case, assuming Holding is a starter, then Luiz will have to be dropped. I think this highly unlikely but a future CB pairing of Holding/Chambers could be excellent. We have an embarrassment of riches at CB with Mavro due back, Holding and Chambers ready to play, Luiz and Sokratis looking better and Saliba arriving next season. So does Chambers get a CB place? Maybe

    Or what about FB? He appears comfortable at RB but is surely behind both AMN and wonderful Bellerin.

    Chambers is too good to play in just the EL and Cup games. He knows it and I expect he will agitate for a move unless he gets regular first team action.

  • Thanks, Erik.
    I don’t think Chambers would be picked behind AMN, but being second-choice RB would still mean he becomes the utility sub and/or restricted to EL and cup games.
    But your idea on a Torreira-Chambers-Xhaka midfield would excite me big time. Though it is a bit defense-focused, let’s put Ozil (or Ceballos) in the mix, and try it in 4-4-2 with Auba and Lacazette. In the unlikely case if we trail at half time, substitute any of the 3 (!) DMs with Pepe, and we are back in the good old 4-2-1-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation.

  • Thanks again Pb!
    I felt just after the match too– that Calum had been the best player for us.


    TA is going to enjoy this excerpt– from my subscription-only Arsenal source, The Athletic– written by David Ornstein:

    Exclusive: Bergkamp, Larsson and Kuyt’s bid to buy Wycombe.

    “The Athletic can exclusively reveal that a group made up of Dennis Bergkamp, Henrik Larsson, Dirk Kuyt, another high-profile former Dutch international, plus Ronald Koeman as an advisor, had made a bid for the club with a view to “catapulting Wycombe into stardom”.

    As players, they collectively accumulated 48 major domestic honours, including 21 league titles — across the Premier League, Scottish Premiership, La Liga and Eredivisie. Koeman also won the European Cup with Barcelona and the European Championship with the Netherlands.

    If anybody is precluded from taking part — Larsson has been linked with the Southend United job, for example — the project will proceed regardless and the door left ajar for them to return.
    They retain a long-held ambition of becoming, to their knowledge, the first set of leading former players to purchase a Football League club and personally work there on a day-to-day basis. They committed funds and can access further private equity if necessary.”

    There’s talk that either Netflix or Amazon may document the journey– expected to take 5yrs to consummate.
    A long-form piece of typical Ornstein quality.

    The Athletic is a great source of quality sports journalism. Just $50 USD per year.
    (You can choose as many teams/clubs as you’d like to receive emailed content– as well as access all of it via the website. I choose to promote them– as their stable of top-writers continues to grow.)


  • Chambers has the qualities to be the squad 12th man – one who can play in various positions and replace the injured, suspended and out-of-form players during the season. He will get plenty of first team footie that way.

  • Regarding the Holding-Chambers CB partnership I can imagine an Arsenal in 1-2 years when Luiz, Sokratis, Mkhi, Ozil and Aubameyang will be too old for competitive top level PL games we can field a team of

    Instead of subs, let me show you an even younger but almost similarly potent XI:

    And we would still have quality subs, like
    Okoknkwo, Ballard, Medley, Osei-Tutu, John-Jules and other Academy players already trained with the first team a few times like Burton, Olayinka, Coyle, Greenwood, Azeez and others

    The oldest outfield player in this 11+11 set-up is only 24 now, so this team would have 7-8 years to play together without significant changes, and can rely on the experience and support of the “old guys” like Lacazette, Mustafi and Xhaka.
    I think they would seriously kick some ass, and even the substitutes look confident.

    The only position I think we would need strengthening is the attacking midfielder. But if we could sign Kai Havertz or Donny van de Beek we would be set for a long time. I wouldn’t waste big money on Navas, Upamecano, Zaha and co.

  • TA, mostly in and around London. I will be touching down on Friday. It will be mostly in and around London, with a day trip to Paris.

  • Excellent post, pb. More or less, I’d agree with your ratings with a small change regarding Sokratis who deserves 6.0 at best (just for being part of the defence that kept a clean sheet). There was a moment when Sokratis tried to pull the opponents’ striker at the edge of the box. It would have been a penalty, even more stupid than the Luiz v Salah one, but Sokratis got off the hook thanks to the fact his opposite number was quicker. In any team that wants to make big results, Sokratis would be limited to the place of 4th central defender. There is no chemistry between him and Luiz and we have suffered a lot because of it. It’s similar to that partnership of Koscielny and Vermaelen that underlined their weaknesses instead of giving us quick and solid defensive partnership.

    Also, I’m seriously frustrated with the way opponents get to the ball around our D-area. It happened against Bournemouth as well (fortunately, my offspring doesn’t give me time to make shiny analysis with yellow markers) as, after a short clearance by our defenders, there was not a single midfielder to protect that area.

    I was thinking about TA’s suggestion that our board gives Emery a green light to deal with Mesut’s wages instead of them by discriminating him as a player and as a human being. That would make sense even if I think that most of the crap is solely Emery made.

    Come to think of it, there were two situations I suspect all the chaos between Emery and Mesut started. First one, our away draw at Palace, when Mesut threw his gloves in anger for being substituted. Second one, Europa League Final, when Mesut was visibly pissed for being substituted by Willock. The latter thing was that straw that broke camel’s back. Mesut would have never started in the final had Ramsey been available but Emery had to use him in the biggest game of the season.


    Netherlands v Northern Ireland – home win
    Croatia v Hungary – home win
    Slovakia v Wales – a draw
    Czech Republic v England – away win
    Bosnia-Herzegovina v Finland – away win (Džeko is not playing)
    Denmark v Switzerland – a draw
    France v Turkey – home win
    Sweden v Spain – away win
    Uruguay v Peru – home win
    Brazil v Nigeria – home win

  • Pb …. again well considered. Think Auba deserves a 7. Worked his socks off trying to close down, virtually alone, the back line playing out of the back. Or was it naive? The way he carried on with it I felt it was to instruction.

    We hardly commited more men forward to press because we were wary of leaving gaps behind (Emery must have recognized that Bournmouth is good playing out of the back). We were set up for the mid press but on alert to join Auba whenever his lone press was able to cause any interference in their playing out.

    I’d also up Ceballos to 6.5 otherwise that makes him the worst player amongst the starters.

  • Netherlands v Northern Ireland …. H
    Croatia v Hungary ……….. H
    Slovakia v Wales ……….. H
    Czech Republic v England …….. D
    Bosnia-Herzegovina v Finland ……. H
    Denmark v Switzerland ……… D
    France v Turkey ……… H
    Sweden v Spain …….. A
    Uruguay v Peru …….. H
    Brazil v Nigeria ……… H

  • Admir, your arguments are compelling to reduce Sokratis’ rating to 6.0 – even though he had a balanced game with 2 tackles, 3 interceptions (team highest), 3 clearances and 1 block (team’s only, hence highest). And I also agree that he should be our 4th choice of CB, with the comment that some opponents/attackers suit him better than others.

    PE, you convinced me that neither Ceballos nor Auba should be considered as the worst, as the former managed to create 3 key passes (highest on the pitch, but still less than expected), and the latter indeed worked hard, thus cannot be hold responsible for the lack of service. But I can only upgrade him to 6.5 along with my deepest sympathies. 🙂

  • Netherlands v Northern Ireland …. Home
    Croatia v Hungary ……….. Home (no offense taken)
    Slovakia v Wales ……….. Draw
    Czech Republic v England …….. Away
    Bosnia-Herzegovina v Finland ……. Home (they have a hulk)
    Denmark v Switzerland ……… Away
    France v Turkey ……… Home
    Sweden v Spain …….. Draw
    Uruguay v Peru …….. Draw
    Brazil v Nigeria ……… Home

  • Now it turns up! WordPress has always been poor but there is little alternative.

    Interesting question on the BBC website – There have been 8 players who have scored for both Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League. Can you name them?

  • @Erik

    Petit, Cole, Gallas, Fabregas, David Luiz, Giroud – 6

    If we count own goals, Chambers scored one.

    I will probably hit my head against the wall when I hear the remaining two names. 😀

  • Hi Fellas… Happy Wednesday…

    I’ve now read the player ratings–and the comments about them–but I have little to add, having only (half) watched the first 30 mins of the match. I’m sorry, I just have very little enthusiasm (at this time) for (this) Arsenal. Nonetheless, it seems the blog rolls on–with several new (this season) regulars and I’m guessing that the viewing stats (for the previous post at least) were strong, what with all the new comments… Well done, TA… You even got the Cockie Monster to chime in. He’s somehow less intelligible (than ever) but the very fact that he made it through the censors I found impressive…

    (Although I’m not there yet–as I ALMOST got up to do the live-blog AND I did watch my half an hour… I’m still going with my favorite quote from that post: “I have stopped watcjing arsebal until this clown is gown”…)

    I’m even less interested in the Int’l qualifiers (and friendlies) but I love a competition and I very much want to try and win it (which means showing up with my picks). The image of TA checking every charity shop in Edinburgh for my (away) Arsenal kit, pleases me…

    So, here goes…

    Netherlands v Northern Ireland = Home win
    Croatia v Hungary = Home win
    Slovakia v Wales = Draw
    Czech Republic v England = Away win
    Bosnia-Herzegovina v Finland = Home Win
    Denmark v Switzerland = Draw
    France v Turkey = Home Win
    Sweden v Spain = Away Win
    Uruguay v Peru = Home Win
    Brazil v Nigeria = Home Win

  • So, now, going undercover as I can, I’ve checked the stats… That last post got over 7000 views and 5500 visitors, not to mention all the comments… Well done, TA… You’ve got your fingers on the pulse of at least a few Gooners out there…

    International breaks (which I still cannot fathom…) are a tougher moment, but, overall, not bad, esp. considering that the blog got shut down last winter… Do you still require some sort of Brexit resolution in order to get back to more lucrative work?…

    Inquiring minds, and all that…

    But, please…don’t let me distract from the Arsenal discussion… Here’s a headline I really enjoyed…

  • Pb, interesting future line-ups. It’s hard to judge what they would play like but there is reason for excitement. But then I used to be very excited about young players in the past, like Diaby, Rambo, Wilshere, Vela etc and look how that ended up….

  • Sounds good, 84. A day trip to Paris…. I recommend you stay there at least a night and see it properly. Let me know if you are coming to Edinburgh and we can meet up for a coffee or a wee dram 😀

  • Admir, I am very hopeful that Holding has that quality that both Adams and Campbell had: organisational skills, calm and ability to boss the air; and if that is the case, it will not be hard to put a Keown type next to him from the likes of Luiz, Chambers and even Mustafi….

  • Erik – I have the same problem and I discovered that if you go onto another site and then return to BK – my some miracle the “lost” comment appears.

  • 17HT, cannot help but feel sorry for Mustafi. I hope that he has a decent season with us.. in the cup games and then indeed makes a good move for him.

  • Netherlands v Northern Ireland: home
    Croatia v Hungary: home
    Slovakia v Wales: draw
    Czech Republic v England: draw
    Bosnia-Herzegovina v Finland: home
    Denmark v Switzerland: draw
    France v Turkey: home
    Sweden v Spain: home
    Uruguay v Peru: away
    Brazil v Nigeria: draw

  • Netherlands v Northern Ireland = Home
    Croatia v Hungary = Home
    Slovakia v Wales = Draw
    Czech Republic v England = Away
    Bosnia-Herzegovina v Finland = Home
    Denmark v Switzerland = Away
    France v Turkey = Home
    Sweden v Spain = Draw
    Uruguay v Peru = Draw
    Brazil v Nigeria = Home

    I have a new formula for predictions. 🤦‍♂️🎯


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