Arsenal v Leeds Player Ratings: A Sub is MOTM!

Arsenal 1 – 0 Leeds United: We got away with this one, but the second half was full of promise of Arteta’s management style, and that alone is reason to celebrate.

Leeds started very well and we were just not able to deal with their energy and determination to win every ball. The combination of high confidence, a big away crowd behind them and nothing to lose attitude, really made Leeds play and we struggled during the first half. Arsenal were rusty and unorganised, did not play compact and with high intensity; it was as if Emery had instructed the team rather than Arteta.

Leeds created good opportunities in the first half but Martinez and Super Sok were not budging and we somehow kept a clean sheet during that very one-sided first half.

Arteta was not happy and apparently had a good shout at the players at half time. I reckon he also gave them a Paddington Stare in the process…

See the source image

During the second half Arteta turned the game round by ‘simply’ instructing the players to push up higher, play with more compactness and intensity and not allow Leeds to breath and pass the ball round with ease. And this time the players obliged!

We were still making mistakes – especially Holding was rusty and Xhaka and Guendouzi were also less clinical in their passing – but we corrected those mistakes as a team in an instant and Leeds seldom came anywhere near our box.

In the end we needed just one goal to win it and it was an ugly and lucky one to boot, but Nelson will not care about this one iota! 

Player Ratings:

Martinez: 7 – was calm and collected, made all saves expected of him.

Kolasinac: 6.5 – struggled in the first half and better in second half. If we don’t play compact, Kola’s defending is below par. But tried hard to support attack.

Luiz: 6.5 – tried hard to get his team going in the first half but, as per Kola, struggled with all that space in front and around him.

Super Sok: 7.5 – took the fight to Leeds and bullied back. Some vital interceptions as well – not a pure RB but did well relatively.

Holding: 5 – rusty when linking up with fellow players and poor passing out of the ball but decent in the air. Really important for him to play a whole game again.

Xhaka and Guendouzi: 6 – this pairing does not work, but it got better when we pushed up in the second half. Torreira was badly missed, though…. obviously. Passing was below par and so was protection of the back four.

Ozil: 6.5 – not his best game but was also much better in second half when the team was set up to his strengths, with quicker football and more close passing options for him.

Nelson: 7 – not as effective on the left flank and struggled with the physicality of the Leeds defenders, but helped out in defence well and got the all important goal (extra point for that).

Pepe: 6.5 – lacked energy and confidence and was a bad outlet for the defenders, especially in the first half. But he made a good move in the second half that led to the goal (extra half point for that).

Lacazette: 7 – worked hard and took the fight to the Leeds defenders all game long. Extra half point for his involvement in the goal. Would like to see more moments of calm in the storm of his play – needs to pace himself as a CF, but he is getting better and the goals soon will come again.

Subs worth mentioning:

Martinelli: 7.5 – MOTM – did not do a thing wrong but really took the fight to Leeds from the moment he was on the pitch and relieved the pressure on the team. He is young and talented and his composure in the middle of the fight is so impressive. Played vital part in seeing the game out.

By TotalArsenal.

19 thoughts on “Arsenal v Leeds Player Ratings: A Sub is MOTM!

  • At first it looked like we were playing 4 at the back. To be honest, Holding is better suited to be the right back and Sok in his position.

    I cannot fault Martinez and the effort of the team. We were outplayed in the first half but the defense did their job well. Once douzi got his act going we were much better.

    My MoTM? Sokratis. He did really well in the first half, with great defending. But he had less passes up front, which to him is understandable. And we know why Arteta chose him instead of Mustafi.

  • Guendouzi motm by a mile. Made some vital interceptions and always looking to pass forward. He kept us in the game, warrior, future captain. Him and Martinelli best buys since Anelka!

  • Just realized there was already a new post (ratings) as I had been poring over the last (live blog) thread. TA, what happened to your usual “New Post” notification?🤨

    From the post to subsequent comments, it looks like we have three potential men of the match (MoTM). It’s all good, considering how we, reportedly, started. Let’s hope this gets the players more than ready for Crystal Palace.

  • Eris, I am a one man admin band these days, so please forgive me my administrative error! 😀

    I would say as a team we failed in the first half and as a team we succeeded in the second half. Nobody stood out enough for MOTM other than Martinelli as per the post.

  • Karlos, Guendouzi had a few good interceptions: when the balls ends up where he is he can be effective. Positionally he was poor though, and it had a big impact on the team and his fellow deep midfielder. This became less apparent when we moved up the defence in the second half, and he had some good attacking moments. Still, I believe we are stronger without him at the moment, but 6.5 is not a bad score, hey?

  • TA, for me, apparently looking at the starting lineup makes my mind tune to 3-4-3 formation.

    Another of Arteta/Wenger tactics to baffle the opposition?

  • TA …. you read my mind with the ratings except that I gave a rating of 6 to Laca. If his role was purely as a disruptor of the opposition I would have rated him 7 too. He’s been completely off the boil as a striker the past couple of games. Notwithstanding, he serves an important role. Bulldozer.

    Well, well, we’ve been brought back to earth. It’ was naive to think that habits can change overnight. At this early stage the change is being driven by the players mind. Arteta would have to shout a couple more times before the motor reflex (muscle memory) takes over fully. The players who already have it in them, pre Arteta are Sokratis, Torreira, Martinelli and Lacazette. Arteta should use them in matches as the core to help the rest of the team achieve the transition from the mental to the motor.

  • I’ve got a bit different idea on MoTM.

    From ‘The Athletic’ and Amy Lawrence this morning– appears Mikel Arteta just might have a grip on this managing thing:

    An excerpt:
    “If Arsenal’s players felt shellshocked in the face of a Leeds team who seemed to have turned up from another planet — suddenly dropping the frenetic rhythm of Bielsa-ball into north London and re-Emerifying Arsenal’s bad habits in the process — the one person who had the strength to tackle it head on was Arteta.

    In the greater scheme of where Arsenal and Arteta might be going in this new adventure, a scrappy 1-0 win in the third round of the FA Cup probably won’t go down as some pivotal step. But that interval spent airing high-decibel opinions behind the closed door of the home dressing room was important both in terms of what Arteta learned about his players and what they learned about him.”


    “He handled the sizeable challenge of a very difficult half-time with aplomb. The words had to be absolutely right and be delivered in the most effective tone to engineer the necessary scale of improvement — “he shouted a lot,” Alexandre Lacazette told BBC Sport after the game. The players saw a young coach demonstrate that it is unacceptable to drop below certain standards of competitiveness in such a way they were duty-bound to react.

    When Arteta was explaining what went on, it felt very telling when he outlined how the players could think about whether they wanted in future to replicate that abominable first half or exhibit the determination of the second half. “It’s their choice,” he said coolly. The phrase was delivered with the veneer of calm reason but underneath felt wonderfully threatening. The kind of stuff that keeps players on the tips of their toes. Arsenal need that sort of motivating atmosphere around the place.”

    + + +

    Arsenal pinned-back Leeds for the last 20-25 minutes. A Leeds team that thrives on the style of pressing Arsenal was using against them. The stamina of Arsenal’s play exhibited in that period– seemed almost as if it was being drawn out of the opposing players. That was the most impressive part for me.

    On rare occasions? The entire team might share MoTM. Think this was one of them.


  • Another headline in The Athletic:
    “January transfer tracker: Nketiah close to choosing new club with Forest, Wednesday and Bristol City in contention”


  • Laca just a six seems low, PE, but player ratings are very personal. Wait till Pb comes with his – I bet they are much lower than mine.

  • I don’t challenge neither the ratings nor the MotM award.
    On one hand I haven’t seen the game, but based on the posts and the YT highlights it wasn’t a good one. On the other hand, while it’s a bit unfair – it is perfectly logical that in a game full of errors and mistakes (decided by a fortunate deflected shot) the MotM award goes for someone with the least errors, not to someone with the most contributions.
    I hope Arsenal will play more convincingly in the next game.

  • It was a scrappy game. The players celebrated a hard-fought win– as did Arteta.
    I was only able to see about 50% all told during work yesterday– and I took the time to locate the full-game online to watch it again last night. It was worthwhile.

    Wouldn’t do that with a match I was likely to be disappointed with. This was an Arsenal team that had a revelatory moment in their growth– and relationship with their new manager.

    Leeds didn’t play like a Championship side either. I’ve read in a couple of place where I give credence to opinions– that Leeds should be expected to be promoted– and do well almost immediately. On a par with what Wolves or Sheffield are doing presently. Rather like the Wolves comparison. Though ironically, they still look to need a #1 striker. Bamford didn’t show me much.


  • Apparently we were saved by Leeds’ lack of finishing touches in the first half.

    Mikel is a good hardworking coach having learned under 2 managers who put their time in interacting with players and the personal touch is so important in the case of all players and youngsters.

    He will be the chosen one that plays Wengerball.

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