Arsenal Player Ratings: Pepe Improving, Xhaka Vital, Tierney a Wee Beastie, One MOTM

Sheffield United 1 – 2 Arsenal

The FA Cup fighters did it again! A priceless win takes us to the semi-finals at Wembley. A very good first half in terms of structure and discipline finished with 1-0 to the Arsenal. But then an under par second half followed, in which we gave away the initiative, invited the Stoke, ooh sorry the Sheffield United, high balls into the box and then almost paid the price for it. A late equaliser was finally conceded and the prospect of a knackering extra 30 minutes, and possibly penalties, threatened; but then came Ceballos with a superbly taken goal to keep us in the competition. More on the game later but here are my player ratings.


Player Ratings

Martinez-Happinez: Very impressive. Plays like he has been in goal for years and was nearly faultless. MotM 9

Tierney: What a battler and complete wingback this wee Scottish Beastie is Is getting better and better and some great crosses into the box: 8

Mustafi: Nothing pretty or masterful but sheer hard work for 90 minutes help to see us through: 7

Luiz: Redeemed himself with good blocks and energetic defending: 7

Kola: Similar style to Mustafi: frantic, energetic but also partly to blame for the goal against us and iffy with keeping the shape in defence: 5

Saka: Worked hard but struggled to get into the game. Was fouled a lot and still had one or two moments of quality: 6.5

Xhaka: A lot of what he means to the team is invisible to many but today he was just so influential in his quiet and intelligent way: 8

Joe: Very good first half with one or two fine key passes and good support for Xhaka in midfield. Dealt very well with the Stoke United physicality. Wilted in the second half and that made us weaker. You can see all his potential and he is getting better every game. 7

AMN: very strong first half and good second half too. Wasn’t to be bullied and worked well with Pepe on the right. 7

Pepe: was a few times in the right place at the right time and was our most effective attacker. Loved his improving work rate as well and he took his penalty very well: 8

Laca: worked his socks of for the team and thus created space for others. He is not as effective as we would like such an attacker to be but he still made a big difference: 7.5

Holding: did okay but was not able to settle down our defence when he came on: 7

Ceballos: scored a priceless winner and worked hard to help us regain the midfield in the second half: 7.5

Eddie: took over well from Laca: 7

Big Sok: Not long enough on the pitch to rate him.





33 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: Pepe Improving, Xhaka Vital, Tierney a Wee Beastie, One MOTM

  • I agree with your ratings Total. Although Arteta has plugged most of the leaks in our defense old habits still creep back. For at least the last five seasons we have been sadly missing a “steel” backbone. We need a couple of big agressive CB’s and another big guy skillful guy in the CM position. Two wins in a row and a semi final to look forward to – that helps to lift ones spirit.

  • Agreed, GN5. We let them come on to us in the second half and that made it hard. Still, this was never going to be an easy away game and the boys saw it through till the end. Fourth away game in a row as well.

  • allezkev

    Pictures of the Invicta ground are few and far between, I remember finding some of the original stand – I’ll dig deeper.

  • Total, Winning becomes contagious so lets hope they catch the contagion.

  • It will be Citeh then. Never easy and the hardest opponent of the three options but we have a reputation of playing v well in the cup games.

  • There’s a piece of old film, about 15 seconds, that is supposed to be the oldest film of Arsenal in existence from 1897, it looks like the players are training…

  • thanks a lot for the report, ta, kev and pb – i always feel merciful in the aftermath of a win, so i’ll turn a blind eye to ta’s dereliction of duty in the last 15 minutes
    i was very happy to read that the lads got their grit back, brighton’s second half had been worrying in that regard, and i’m truly happy for emi – it’s always nice when hard work, loyalty are finally rewarded
    norwich now – it won’t be easy, they have very good players, that young cantwell in particular, and i have a feeling mikel might rest a few before the formidable sequence of games that’ll follow (time to see reiss, maybe??)

  • A few rotations will be needed, Legallos. An attack of Auba, Eddie and Nelsoni is well on the cards. Biggest decision for Arteta is whether to play Xhaka again. An injury to him now would leave us very vulnerable.

    How was your family gathering? Did any alcohol flow and what did you all eat? Any escargots? 😀

  • TA, I will give half a point more to Kola. He actually played a bit better compared to the matches he played before, and to mention one bright point of his, he had more passes up front, and he did well with Tierney in front of him.

    It is clear that Arteta wanted to change the formation to suit those he chose on the field. Luiz had a decent game at the centre of the back 3, Xhaka had a brilliant game, AMN is really involved (he had actually been when he was playing), and Saka had a good time playing with Kola and Tierney. As the game wore on the lads started to get used to each other, and the communication with Pepe and Laca (both speak French, obviously) got better, and we are truly playing better, and controlling the game really well.

  • very quiet afternoon, we were on a cretan diet, actually – but it was very nice to be together again (i hadn’t seen my son in a while)
    just watched the re-run of yesterday’s game; can’t disagree with anything you and the boys wrote yesterday, in the heat of the moment
    i liked shkodran, he’s becoming a quiet, comforting presence (and he’s really, really good in the air – has always been, to tell the truth) – mikel has done a hell of a job with him, and i think his position as right cb suits him perfectly
    ainsley was back on the right wing, and did very well – i don’t want to insist too much, but his performance yesterday, on top of osei-tutu’s great season in that exact position at bochum, plus swanson’s promising talent (he can also deputize as left-back, has done it before at youth level): all of this still makes me frown upon the “soares-the-bargain” deal (i’m from brittany, originally, in france we britons have the reputation of being stubborn)
    rumour has it that balogun will leave us – there’s something sad about that, because he’s a remarkably gifted CF – but eddie’s our immediate future in that position, and there is john-jules in the wings as well, so it might be the right decision for him; i just hope he’ll come across the right coach, the right club …

  • What is a Cretan diet, Legallos?

    Nice praise for Mustafi and deservedly so. JW1 will be spilling his liquids reading that but fair is fair 😀

    Re Balogun… with a name like that surely he is a keeper?

    Re Soares: let’s just see how he plays and where Arteta wants to play him….patience mon ami

  • That’s the vid GN5, thanks…
    I wonder where they were playing?

    Last summer, shortly after Arsenal sold a young defender to Brentford, there came a rumour that really shocked me at the time and that was that Brentford had also bid £5m for Folarin Balogun our hotshot youth striker who everyone au faite with the youth was bigging up. Thankfully it went away, but only briefly and now it seems that following a logjam in negotiations with his agent that Arsenal are preparing to sell Balogun this summer as he’ll only have a year left on his deal.

    Now you can see this is in several ways, firstly the agent of Balogun is also the agent of Nketiah and Saka, he is also the agent of Sancho and Lookman and thus isn’t averse to forcing through a transfer for his player if he thinks it’s to their benefit. An early transfer and a quicker route into first team football means a higher profile for the player, maybe earlier international recognition and consequently a higher value, which obviously equates to better more lucrative contracts and transfers and commission for Mr Agent.

    He might also look at the current situation at Arsenal with Aubameyang, Lacazette, Nketiah, Martinelli and John Jules in front of his boy and what opportunities he may or may not get?
    Even if Aubameyang leaves, maybe even Lacazette the Agent knows that Arsenal will bring in new players, Kliuvert perhaps, and another experienced striker, so maybe it’s an Andy Cole situation where he has to leave to progress.

    The Saka deal could also be having an influence as the club might be running out of patience with this agent and the Balogun decision might just be Arsenal telling the agent that there’s a limit and you are crossing the line?

    The agent will know what are Arsenal are prepared to pay for Bakayo and maybe he was trying or is trying to screw us again with Balogun?

    It’s all very murky but given the agent involved I have to say that I’m quite sympathetic with the club and feel that we’ve been backed into a corner…

  • Allezkev, at first I doubted it could be Arsenal as I wondered if they had moving pictures in the 1800’s and then I found this ——-

    In 1888 in New York City, the great inventor Thomas Edison and his British assistant William Dickson worried that others were gaining ground in camera development. The pair set out to create a device that could record moving pictures. In 1890 Dickson unveiled the Kinetograph, a primitive motion picture camera.

  • In 1897 we were playing at Manor Road so the “video’ was most likely taken there, as I doubt they had a separate training ground.

    It looks like the agents have taken over player management from the clubs – they have far too much influence! It’s way past the time for either the league/clubs/government to step in and set up some meaningful guidelines that will correct the current situation.

  • basically, cretan diet is fruit/vegetables/goat cheese/olive oil/lamb for meat-eaters like me, and a strong, tasty, simple wine – nothing high-brow, personally i like some morrocan wines a lot
    i am patient, my friend, and i don’t doubt soares’s qualities; he’s a full-fledged portuguese international – i should know, he was portugal’s right-back when they beat france in the 2016 euro final
    the thing is i’d rather have a hale end scholar, coming for free, as hector’s backup than a 29-year-old guy who comes at a price – and i think 8M’s a lot in that case, especially in those (financially) uncertain times
    anyway, now the deal’s done, i’m not going to brood over that, he’s one of us, that’s all i need to know to support him
    with balogun gone, it turns out my ideal 2020-2021 squad (no buys, no loan extensions, only sales – you can call me thrifty, but i think the financial hangover will really hurt, in the post-covid period) was such stuff only my dreams were made on; it would have been (in mikel’s favoured 3-4-2-1):
    (backups, or loans: okonkwo-ballard-swanson-olayinka-smith-coyle-johnjules)
    i’m looking forward to GN5’s next history lesson
    norwich is one of rouen’s twin cities, that’s how i first went to england, actually, for a 1-week-school trip there – it was a long time ago, i must have been 15 or something … anyway, i don’t know much about the history of the “canaries”, and i’m expecting GN5 to help me improve that

  • LE GALL,

    I’ve already sent in my post for the game and although it does include some history it’s only about their ups and downs in the Premier League.

    I’ll look up some of my previous posts on Norwich and put some of their history in a comment.

  • LE GALL here’s a brief read on the early days of Norwich City

    Norwich City F.C. was formed after a meeting at the Criterion Café in Norwich on 17 June 1902 and played their first competitive match against Harwich & Parkeston, at Newmarket Road on 6 September 1902. They joined the Norfolk & Suffolk League for the 1902–03 season but following a FA commission, the club was ousted from the amateur game in 1905, as it was deemed a professional organisation. Later that year Norwich was elected to play in the Southern League. With increasing crowds, they were forced to leave Newmarket Road in 1908 and moved to The Nest, a disused chalk pit. The club’s original nickname was the Citizens, but this was superseded by 1907 by the more familiar Canaries after the club’s chairman (who was a keen breeder of canaries) dubbed his boys “The Canaries” and changed their strip to yellow and green. During the First World War, with football suspended and facing spiralling debts, City went into voluntary liquidation on 10 December 1917.

    The club was officially reformed on 15 February 1919 – a key figure in the event was Charles Frederick Watling, future Lord Mayor of Norwich and the father of future club chairman, Geoffrey Watling. When, in May 1920, the Football League formed a third Division, Norwich joined the Third Division for the following season. Their first league fixture, against Plymouth Argyle, on 28 August 1920, ended in a 1–1 draw. The club went on to endure a mediocre decade, finishing no higher than eighth but no lower than 18th. The following decade proved more successful for the club with a club-record victory, 10–2, over Coventry City and promotion as champions to the Second Division in the 1933–34 season under the management of Tom Parker.

  • thanks a lot, GN, for this – as always – valuable information. you should consider publishing a book on the history of english football, some day.
    probably because of that twin-cities-school-trip thing, i have a soft spot for that team, i must admit. actually, in france, the only team i have an outside interest in (now that my fc rouen belongs to history), is Le FC Nantes, caoched by the very wengerean christian gourcuff.
    their nickname?
    Les Canaris, of course.

  • LeGallos, a Cretan diet doesnt sound like any sort of punishment to me!

    I like your line-ups but dont think we can let both Laca and Auba go without one good replacement.

  • I lived in Norwich for about 10 years all together and it is a nice city albeit it very isolated, located in the arse of the pig (Bill Bryson thinks that the UK on a map looks like a witch riding a pig… and Norwich are in the Arse end of the source of bacon!). It is a medieval large town, rather than a city, and has some fine buildings: a great Norman castle kept in fine nick, the famous cathedral, a few medieval streets with cobbled streets and the art deco building of the City Hall, nicely built on a hill. It is a stunning building built in 1938. Finally, there is the library designed by Norman Foster (2000): one of the nicest libraries you will ever see.

    Nantes we visited last year. We liked it so much we visited again and stayed the night. I was thinking of following Nantes a bit but when I found out they in yellow and green I couldnt do it. Yellow and green are the colours of Roda JC’s local rivals Fortuna City, and I hate those colours on the pitch (gelb-grune scheisse – yellow and green shit hahaha).

  • in the first round of the 1969-1970 fairs cup (rouen-arsenal was the third round); “les diables rouges rouennais” (fc rouen’s colours are red and white, too – when arsenal came over in december 69, they wore the yellow-blue kit) knocked out the fc twente
    are they something/anything-scheisse to you??
    and what about our own “gelb” kit??

  • these names … somehow i can see all of their faces
    thanks for making me pleasantly wallow in nostalgia, kev
    did you attend the 1970 2nd leg of the fairs cup final at highbury?
    i watched the highlights on youtube (there are good things about the 21st century, too): the atmosphere that day must really have been something else

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