Arsenal Player Ratings: Bellerin is Back, Xhaka Leads, Two MOTMs

Chelsea 2 – 2 Arsenal.

10 Gunners win the battle of Stamford Bridge, well at least mentally!

Tiental Arsenal doet Chelsea op miraculeuze wijze pijn

We will analyse this game over the next few days as I have been too busy typing comments with Seventeenho, and a cool, focused head I had not!

Player Ratings:

Leno: 8 – Very present and fought like a lion with some fab saves.

Saka: 7.5 – stood like a man and never looked his age. Tried hard to support the attack but was solid in defence which was his main task (especially after sending off).

Luiz: 4 – you cannot foul as the last man, especially in the box. He should know better.

Mustafi: 5 – dreadful back-pass that led to sending off and goal but, fair is fair, he did not hide and gave everything in the remainder of the game. Well done Arteta for keeping him on the pitch… it took a brave man.

Hector Bellerin: 8 – rusty start but led the team by example and never gave up. Superb goal that means so much to the team.

Xhaka: 8 – superb replacement for Luiz, bringing calm and quality positional awareness, leadership and character to the team. I hope all Arsenal fans will embrace him now.

Torreira: 8.5 – what a warrior. MOTM with Martinelli. Held that midfield on his own at times.

Martinelli: 8.5 – what a warrior. MOTM with Torreira. A superb goal that very few 18 year olds have scored at the highest level! To be so cool after such a run… class.

Ozil: 6 – difficult game for him, especially after we went down to 10 men.

Laca: 7 – worked hard and kept defenders occupied, but I would love to see more anticpation and composure. At times too static when there is space to run into to give the midfielders an option. In short, tons of quantity but not enough quality when it matters.

Pepe: 7.5 – worked well with Hector and was keen and able to burst through the Chavs’ defence, which was vital when we were with just 10 men on the pitch.

Guendouzi: 6 – he is not a defensive midfielder and that is what we needed. But he does not hide and offered something going forward.

By TotalArsenal.

18 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: Bellerin is Back, Xhaka Leads, Two MOTMs

  • Hey, canโ€™t argue with that. I must say that I was apprehensive (and expressed concern) about Bellerin starting in such a game. He started shakily but grew into the game, so I guess I was wrong. He fought like the next man, took his leadership role seriously tonight and scored the decisive goal.

    I doff my hat to all the lads and Arteta for his measured changes.

  • Arteta is being cooked with all these red cards. He is like several years old in the coaching profession already. The sunny side of it going forward.

  • Couldn’t quite bring myself to wake up for this one. Caught the bitesize highlights on Arsenal player (, but how’d we play otherwise? Any of the fluid football on display last time around before the (comically inevitable) Mustafi moment?

  • Hi, dkamp. Iโ€™d say it was all about pragmatism and will power with a focus to win it, rather than a fluid display. Our source of any fluidity (Mesut Ozil) was stifled, I guess in recognition of how brilliant he was in the reverse fixture; whenever he had the ball, he was surrounded but he still kept possession well and tried to Marshall the team to achieve some control. As Chelsea dominated control after we went down to 10 men, Ozil had to come off early in the 2nd half.

    We showed fight and character with fine displays from our captain on the night, Hector Bellerin; add to that the gutsy showings of our 18year olds, Saka and Martinelli, tenacity of Torreira, plus the calm Xhaka brought when he dropped into defence in place of the red carded David Luis…and you have the whole picture in a nutshell.

    Also, glean the previous thread with live blogging by 17ht and (not so much) company.

  • TA, yes, it is not just one point won, it is like winning an army operation.

    Maybe Bells’ second goal will enable us to score freely? Apparently he always helped us with this type of goals, and it is good to see the players fight and having the fans behind them.

    I felt that Pepe has been becoming more and more confident lately. His last game got ruined by VAR, and last night he did well.
    His deluge of goals will come soon.

  • Happy with the result though two shots in 90 mins is poor . MAโ€™s start is very positive and the future is bright, just need some luck and to drop Ozil for a fit Ceballos

    Sorry not to have blogged recently but I am traveling around the Philippines and will do so until March ( retirement is wonderful if you maintain your health)

  • Good to hear from you, EtR. A British-Danish Viking in the Philippines! Enjoy your break and long may your good health continue. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hey there, TA… A day on and I remain impressed by what I saw in the match. I’m not really a player ratings guy, but yours seem about right and well justified with the pithy narratives.

    For me, it’s all about more general impressions about the team (and also the club, which sometimes are very different beasts…), which, of course, are heavily impacted by “events,” most notably match results. Under Arteta, Arsenal have “only” won one PL match (the 2-nil vs United) but they’ve also only lost the single match (vs Chelsea and from a winning position). To come back TWICE for the draw last night, for me, was very impressive.

    Side note–I think results, almost always, have plenty of luck involved–it’s the nature of the game–but, over time, teamwork–or spirit or lack thereof–will tend to even these things out and a club will reap what it sows… And, FINALLY, maybe for the first time since the Goonersphere first turned on Wenger (and when was that? At the losing of the CL final 2006 or some other point over the next dozen years?…), we MIGHT be seeing a collective rebirth of Arsenal teamwork/spirit. The noise AND reaction from the away support last night was something to behold. It’s a short trip to Stamford Bridge but that will be a night to remember for any and all who attended.

    Are there still problems in the team (at the club)? Oh my Gatos (as mi amigo Felipe likes to say…) yes there are. BUT, we’re finally seeing some positives on which we can build and not losing (refusing to lose?…) that game last night was something and the narratives are changing. Instead of “get me outta here” personal narratives (see Kos/Nacho over the summer, Toreirra/Xhaka in the autumn, among just a couple of examples…) you can SEE players fighting for their places.

    I haven’t felt this way for a LONG time, but, unfortunately, we’ve only got a couple of games until the Int’l break. They’re both away matches (Bournemouth in the FA Cup, then Burnley in the PL) and they’ll both be tough ones with the squad stretched nearly to the breaking point (and crying out for reinforcements in the transfer market which, it seems clear, will NOT be coming). Still, the travelling support–For the first time in forever–after last night’s game–MUST be very excited (though nervous, of course…) about those games–with the rest of us not so far behind.

    Or am I wrong? Is it same old Arsenal, crap on the pitch, crap off?… You tell me…

    Please… ๐Ÿ˜€

  • You are not wrong, Seventeenho. We are heading in the right direction, and games are highly watchable again. Arteta can use the PL to try things out and make us stronger and stronger, and hopefully use the cup competitions to get (close to) silverware.

  • Thanks for the review/ratings TA!
    I’m pumped about a team that have just and recently played a total of 90mins+ at 10-men and surrendered but one goal.

    Could we simply start with 10-men? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    We are better than with XI it seems. ๐Ÿค”
    (Have the eleventh player mark the referee?)

    As per your comment from the last thread post-match:
    “Enjoy, jw1. Please have a good look at Guendouzi
    and tell me how he did as a defensive mid. I value your view..”

    Watched the match all the way through. Then went back and watched Matteo from his entrance. Firstly– Arteta got it right and subbed-off Ozil earlier (at 58′)– as he should have vs Sheffield. 10 minutes in– Guyenduzi was mostly pedestrian. After that he was a physical presence that gave Chelsea’s midfielders someone to have to watch out for (his booking sent Mason Mount a message. One that Mount tried to return much later. Meaning Mount was looking for Matteo as opposed to having his focus 100% on the match.)

    Then? Matteo made the biggest contribution of the match.
    Just before Willian’s corner where #20’s header sprang ‘Martinelli’s Dash’?
    Guendouzi– in lining up the players positionally in front of goal– went several yards toward the near post and physically moved Marti into the spot where his pitch-length run-for-goal began.

    If Guendo doesn’t make that effort? The complexion of the match likely doesn’t change. Arsenal possibly doesn’t draw. And we’re not here revelling in the spirit we witnessed yesterday.

    Later after the clowning Cรฉsar Azpilicueta scored? In the run-up to Hector’s equalizer– Matteo was in a position where many might have passed-back to a CB. Instead he ferried the ball square across the top of the box– triggering the sequence of his laying off to Saka-to-LT– then to Hector for the shot.

    He didn’t have the biggest impact directly. Awarding him a rating of 6? Worthy in a traditional sense.
    But Matteo Guendouzi had great impact with two very important decisions just before– and leading to– each of the team’s goals.


  • Appreciate your analysis, JW, even though I agree less with Guendo’s involvement in the goals. I watched the second half again and must admit he did better than I originally thought. Re Guendo getting a yellow for fouling Mount, I reckon that was not clever at all. After that he had to walk on eggshells which you don’t want by a DM when only playing with 10 men.

    But once again thank you for your analysis. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hey, TA, should I turn either/both of the above comments into posts?…

    Sadly, I think I know which one would garner the most hits…though it’s really all about the headline, probably…

    Sleep well, everybody…

  • 17HT, I think we are not doing bad on most positions.

    The Leno/Martinez tandem look capable to provide high quality goalkeeping services for years to come. Yes, they are free from flaws, but I wouldn’t trade them for Kepa, and he is considered to be TOP5 GK, so in this case common knowledge is overrated.

    With regards to fullbacks/wingbacks we are not doing bad either. Bellerin and Tierney are top of their trades, and when there deputies (Kola and Saka on the left, AMN and Chambers on the right) are no longer game-losing liabilities.

    The center back is a tricky position and a sensitive question. I believe (or hope) that Luiz has a good year and a half in him to compete at the highest level, while I don’t think we will be seeing the best of Sokratis again. And while from many aspects Mustafi is a world-class defender, I have to agree with those that it doesn’t compensat properly for being a time bomb. So from next season we will have Luiz, Holding and Saliba, Chambers will be available again, and we’ll see how Mavropanos, Ballard and Medley turn out, but we might be looking for the superman CB you mention (however I would still wait for a year and recruit him in 2021 when we say goodbye to Mustafi, Sokratis and Luiz).

    The (defensive) central midfield is the neuralgic spot. Contrary to many pundits and fans the Xhaka-Torreira partnership is awesome. They complete each other perfectly and have the fitness to play even 3 times a week. On the other hand we need an extra pair of legs in DM in case of injury, suspension (both of them are prone to be booked) or rotation. Guendouzi is not there yet (Elneny neither and he is likely to be sold in the summer) and Willock is not suitable for this position. So we face the dilemma here that we need a competent DM, but we cannot promise many minutes for him. TA covered this problem in a post a few weeks back. Maybe the rumored signing of Bruno Guimaraes can solve this problem?

    In the 2 DM + 1 OM scenario we need player(s) in the #10 position. Ozil is doing it now, and not bad at all (albeit far from the effectiveness and class of his partnership with Sanchez or Cazorla), but he is ageing, and makes too much money to have his contract renewed. I saw Ceballos as his potential successor – with less surgical passes, but with more dribbles and pressing – however Arteta doesn’t see him flourishing in this position, so it’s either the inexperienced Emile Smith-Rowe or the next marquis signing in the summer. Maybe Arteta will give a chance to Mkhi in the pre-season, but he is no long-term solution either.

    On the wings we need no reinforcements. While Liverpool (Mane + Salah) and Manchester City (Sterling + Mahrez/Silva) are ahead of the league, we are not far behind. Pepe, Nelson, Martinelli and Saka will give Arteta the good kind of headache as to whom must he leave out from the starting XI.

    That leaves us with the strikers, where we have world-class players up front as well as inexperienced but undoubtedly talented youngsters. I’m not keen on selling PEA, but he is 30+ has 18 months on his contract and he has significant market value which will only go down from now. Lacazette is younger, skilled in hold-up play and has a year more on his contract, but Arteta’s tactics don’t match his strengths – at least this seems to be the case. Besides Nketiah we have Balogun and John-Jules in the queue, but all of them are finishing strikers, without the finesse Aubameyang brings to the table.

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