Arsenal Player Ratings: Obvious MOTM, Midfield Bliss, Lessons for Arteta

Spuds 2 – 1 Arsenal

I was not looking forward to this NLD at all. I will never put money on Arsenal loosing a game, but if I had to have done it, it would have been with this score. I knew we would be the better team, or at least be playing the better football, but get more and more frustrated as the game went on and then would concede… and sadly we did.

A Mourinho team will suck the blood out of you and try to finish you off when you are at your weakest. Arteta probably knew this but still wanted to go out there and play his football. He is building a team and has no time for negative tactics. Good for him and for the development of the team. We were not ready to play a Mourinho team, but there was no way out of it. Unfortunately, for the supporters this was a hard game to watch given the history we have with Mourinho teams.

We have to hope that Mikel uses this NLD encounter to see who has the personality to stand up in a game like this; who can be counted on and who just does not make the grade. It is just one game of course, but we will face a different but even harder challenge in a few days when we host the brand new champions, so he will have another opportunity to judge his players ability to stand up and be counted..

I saw a lot of good stuff today, and some less inspiring stuff, and here are my player ratings.

Player Ratings

Martinez: 9MOTM superb and faultless performance. Intelligent, brave, athletic, present when it matters.

Mustafi: 5 – possibly a game too many for him. Started well but faded late on, especially as he was left exposed time and again by his colleagues (Bellerin and to some extent Ceballos). But he also made poor defensive decisions that cost us.

Luiz: 7 – tried hard to control the defence but there is only so much he could do with wild boys Mustafi and Kola on each sides of him today.

Kola: 4.5 – cardinal mistake after we just went one up. We need more calm and maturity in our defence and Kola is all energy but not much else.

Bellerin: 4.5 – poor game all-round. He is not a wingback and at this stage of his career he should be Mr Arsenal – carrying the flag for the team. Something is missing.

Tierney: 6.5 – tried hard to make things happen from the left wing but the Spuds doubled up against him and he was often left isolated by Auba. Our attackers need to try harder in anticipating his whipping crosses.

Ceballos: 7 – good first half but became less influential in the second half. Left his defensive duties too often behind and as a result was co-guilty of making our right side our weakest point from which the Spuds eventually succeeded to beat us. Still some fine attacking moves and passes, and good partnership with Xhaka.

Xhaka: 7 – balanced performance and good contributions to Laca’s piledriver of a goal.

Auba: 6.5 – tried hard to make the difference but did not take his chances (at least three) when they came his way. Bit unlucky when he hit the woodwork. Hoped for a bit more leadership by him.

Laca: 7.5 – great goal and worked his socks off in attack and midfield (and sometimes defence).

Pepe: 6 – some good moves and link up play but still much too tame for PL footie.

Subs did not play long enough to rate them.

By TotalArsenal.

38 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: Obvious MOTM, Midfield Bliss, Lessons for Arteta

  • Interesting ratings Total, I agree with most but for me and considering that he’s had a bit of a rest after becoming a father I’d not give Pepe more than 5, he played as if nobody had bothered to tell him what the NLD means and I’d give Bellerin a 6, I thought he looked good going forward in fact he was almost a winger for most of the game. On reflection I’d actually thought that in this kind of game that Soares might have been a better pick to start, but don’t call me Captain Hindsight…

    There’s been a lot of talk about Arsenal offering Mustafi a new contract but interestingly Arteta has been less than a little vague on this, despite being complimentary about the player. Compare and contrast that with his clearly stated desire to see the club retain both Aubameyang and Ceballos?

  • Thanks TA. Grades are all fair by me.

    Taking a longish-view of this re-started mini-season? I didn’t expect more than we’ve achieved TBF. What I’m seeing from Mikel is what I’d hoped– a setting of a foundation to progress as he retools the team. He’s laid down the law, with clear rules for everyone. Everybody plays as hard as they can– for as long as they can. Arteta is re-instilling pride in the club.

    Today? Grain of salt outcome for me. We did well enough to control the match in fits and starts. Obviously we did not have enough talent in places to win it– or grab a point.

    Soon enough, Arsenal have one CB coming aboard– in the form of William Saliba. The club needs to bring in two additional CBs. Another of PL starting quality– another at or near. With Holding in the wings and veteran backup from Luiz and Sokratis– a minimum of 3 new CBs (including Saliba) would be smart.

    Credit to Mikel Arteta for the progress he’s made since December.
    Remarkable when you consider the players he’s had to work with.


  • Kev, thanks. We all see different things and I respect your scores. Neither Pepe or Bellerin impressed me but the latter is now at a stage in which he needs to show something different than we are seeing.

  • Cheers jw1, I reckon Luiz, Mari and Saliba might be our 3 CBs with back up in Holding, Sokratis, Mustafi or Mavropanos. I would welcome a beast of a CB of course but I am not sure we will buy one. Tierney could also play as RCB…

  • I like your ratings T.A. and I am with you on Bellerin he did ok today but his crosses weren’t good enough but he showed some aggression going forward. His name keeps coming up in rumors and I think we would do well to sell and reinvest that money.

    I feel for Pepe a little been a tough first season and adapting to a new country without speaking the language. I also feel he is a little unlucky with timing because he was outstanding a few gamesvago but didn’t get to start afterwards and this was before the birth of his child. I feel he will greatly benefit from the off-season and hit the ground running next season as his performances and workrate have improved under Mikel.

  • Cheers makayah, I agree that Pepe should be given time. I would also play him as CF for a while as he lost his confidence regarding wingplay…

  • I agree with you there about Bellerin Total, he’s not been the same player since his ACL, but I did like his running into the box, he almost set up a goal for Aubameyang, wasn’t it the cross shot that Lloris saved? Crossing has never been his strength has it, he’s what, 26, it’s not going to happen now I reckon.

    Interesting to hear Mourinho talking after the game and saying that they planned to really press Kolasinac and Luiz but to give a Mustafi time on the ball, what did that mean? Did it mean that they didn’t see Mustafi as a threat with his passing, but they worked to cut down on the passing options for Luiz and Kola? It could also mean that they thought that under pressure that Luiz, a player he knows well and Kola are more likely to make errors?

  • Don’t know, Kev. If Mustafi is the one to pass then he will often lose it. I thought they targeted our right side a lot and hoped Mustafi would be forced into mistakes. Shkodran made mistakes but he was also left to cover far too much space and players.

    I think Hector is a fine chap but I am still waiting for him to start dominating play.

  • Luiz made the pass from Kola look worse. He should have attacked the ball but he chose to turn around and chase the ball. Infact he panicked. It is unbelievable that a club of Arsenal’s stature can have so many average defenders and midfielders. Why is Holding not playing in a back 3 ahead of Kolasinac. We all know Kolasinac struggles as a full back so how does he play in s back 3. Arteta is not proving to be our solution. He seems to focus on every player defending which affects players like Pepe. He needs to sort out his player management, team selection, and tactics in time for next season. The Arsenal we loved under Wenger is not there anymore. We are do average we deserve where we are. It buffles me how Torreira and Holding can’t get game time. Xhaka, Mustafi, Sokratis, Luiz, &;Ozil, are not good enough. I know some have said I am too negative but all the positives that you talk about are not there to see in results. We can flatter our selves but the honest truth is from top management to playing staff the club is in a mess. Honestly how do you give Luiz another contract with his category of errors. Him playing ahead of Holding says much about the coach.

  • Its not the talent guys. It is the refusal to move the ball up quicker that killed us. Kola likes to pass the ball back rather than move it up with throughballs, and our passing was suspect.

    Losing against the worst team in the world certainly hurts.

  • The team lacks leadership and Auba is too soft and quiet to lead a team
    If we could extend Luiz contract why didn’t we give Koscielny the contract he was crying for. At his worst during his career at Arsenal Koscielny was way better then all the central defenders we currently have.

  • Arsenal doesn’t even have half decent defenders. Mustafi absolute disaster-5 for him, I thought should be 0. Luis and Kola -5. Xhaka same. Cabellos work rate was good. Auba was sharp. Pepe wasted 70 million- all season he showed he lacks fight, overall the team lack heart and fight.

  • Simba, Charlie,
    Please stick to the positives of the way we played. Although it is a team effort that we won or lost, and our defenders definitely had an off day, but the way the team plays has a telling effect on the future of this team.

    I am sure that TA will want us to look at the positives rather than the negatives. In the first half we were ok, but we just failed to convert the chances. And for those who questioned whether Ozil would have changed anything, the answer is no. We just need to be mentally playing as one, and be in winning or losing, play the best for the badge.

  • hi, ta
    sad news this morning; suurbier has passed – i guess your dad will be mourning
    just tell him 62-year-olds like me across europe grieve with him
    at a time when french football was a mess, 1970s’ ajax were the joy of our wednesday nights (fa cup finals were the joy of our saturday afternoons), a joy we shared with our ‘pas on the dining-room couch in front of a black-and white tv set
    the great johann, wim, robbie rensenbrink too (who never played for ajax); my heart had belonged to the arsenal since december, 1969, but there was always a place in it for these great lads, who changed the way football was played
    another sad day for the beautiful game
    as for some of the comments above; there is a famous saying in french: “tout ce qui est excessif est insignifiant” (“all things excessive are meaningless”)
    the harm that has been done to our beloved club, by these kinds of excesses, combined to the pgmol treatment of the team, and the relentless maligning of the club by mainstream media, is immeasurable.

  • Man City have had their european ban lifted, so even if we take 9 points from our last 3 games it may not be enough?

  • I actually thought that we played well generally, dominated the play and looked the better side, but Mourinho did a number on us as he often does, he’s never lost at home to Arsenal and I somehow doubt that he ever will, he just has a hex over us.

    As disappointed as I am about yesterday’s result I’m still positive about the direction that Arteta is taking us and I also know Spurs fans who aren’t at all happy about the direction that Mourinho is taking them.

    We’ve dropped 5 points from the last two games and probably should have won both, those are the narrow margins between winning or not. We’re just as likely to beat Liverpool and then draw with Villa in our next two league games, it’s a learning process for everyone, but maybe the last couple of games have shown Arteta that his coaching can only take players so far, in the end the players stand or fall by their own quality. If Arteta wants to take us to the promised land, and he has the quality and drive to do that, then the club needs to back him, the club needs to be as financially inventive as they are at City and this summer, when clubs are hurting and prices will be affordable, KSE needs to provide Arteta with the means to start his rebuilding programme in earnest.

  • Great positivity Kev. We hope that we can get through this season on a high, but it will not be enough to get into europe.

    LeGall, sad to hear the loss of another great after the loss of the Jack Charlton. Stay healthy guys

  • njk. Frankly I find it hard to be positive – but I try not to be too negative, I agree we could have easily won the last two games – but we imploded instead..

    We are a work in process with many missing and broken parts, we are going to have to be patient while Atreta does his thing and re- establishes us as a top team.

    My biggest concern is that we will not be able to attract any top players as Kronke will most likely keep his purse closed – plus top players want to be playing in Europe and it looks like we won’t be involved.

    I think this is a good time to play behind closed doors – as our “fans” are not known to be patient and that would only exacerbate the situation..

  • Here’s an honest statement for you to consider, as I watched yesterday I was anticipating the worst – and it came from the expected places – a poor defensive play and then a set piece.

    How many times have we been turned over by one of both of those situations?

  • Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett was left “gobsmacked” to see Leicester star Jamie Vardy avoid a red card for kicking Shkodran Mustafi during the 1-1 draw with Arsenal last week.
    The England striker’s boot caught the side of the Gunners centre-back’s head as the pair tumbled to the ground following a challenge for the ball in the first half of the Premier League clash.

    Referee Chris Kavanagh appeared not to spot the incident, however, as Vardy went unpunished and eventually netted the equaliser for the Foxes in the 84th minute of the clash.

    While VAR did not intervene to punish Vardy, it was called upon later in the game, leading to Arsenal attacker Eddie Nketiah being dismissed in the second period, just four minutes after he came off the bench.

    The inconsistency infuriated manager Mikel Arteta, who told reporters after the match: “If [Nketiah] can be a red card then Leicester has to play with 10 men after 42 minutes – that has to be a red card as well.”
    And the Spaniard was not the only one perplexed by the decision to let Vardy stay in the game, as Hackett said it proves there is a crisis of leadership in the Professional Game Match Officials Board, which is responsible for setting and improving refereeing standards across English football.
    “Let me make it quite clear Jamie Vardy should have been sent off,” the 76-year-old said to Football Insider.
    “That was a very clear and deliberate act, in my opinion he knew what he was doing.
    “I was absolutely gobsmacked that VAR didn’t intervene, my phone started buzzing after that. I had Mark Halsey on the phone saying: ‘How can that not be a red card?’.
    “I just couldn’t believe it, he’s had a look at where the player is and he’s whacked him with his boot!
    “I’m getting inundated with emails asking why is the standard of refereeing in England declining so badly, let me tell you this: it’s through lack of leadership and lack of firm management.
    “You can quote me on this, the PGMOL is being run like Butlin’s holiday camp!”

  • Strong words from Hackett there but, sadly, true. It’s all the inconsistencies in the application of the laws of the game in England that make it easy to see there is corruption in the PGMOL. With City winning their appeal and retaining their place in Europe, I told a friend all (Ref and FA) hands will be on deck to ensure United make the top 4, rather than the 5th place they’ve been on, which seemed okay until this Monday Morning’s ruling by the CAS.

    It went well for them tonight until that late equalizer by S’pton; great timing for the goal too or Ref Kavanagh would have conjured up a 14th, season high, penalty for them.

    Someone needs to be speaking up for Arsenal at meetings with these regulating/officiating bodies or we won’t see an end to such biased officiating. I thought Harry Winks had done enough to have been booked much earlier than the late second half booking he received, committing niggly fouls which Arsenal are, apparently, forbidden to make or we get maximum punishment. Things have got to change but I won’t hold my breath.

  • As for the player ratings, agree largely, except I feel Pepe didn’t deserve more than a 4.5 while Bellerin should get a 5.5. He (Bells) isn’t carrying the flag well and should be an inspiration for the team by now, but he did look good going forward; it must be said that the spectre of Cedric taking his place has caused him to improve his aggression and use of the ball, lately. A lot was expected of Pepe today but he huffed and puffed but really didn’t help the cause.

    Auba does a lot of running around and works hard, but these are the games he needs to take by the scruff and win it for the fans. He should have buried one or more of the chances he got in that game, especially since he has designs on the top scorer gong.

    Granit Xhaka deserved the score of 7. The man is fast winning back the fans (at least the discerning ones amongst them) with a few willing to see him retain the arm band as he is the real leader in the side now. Impressed with him; but then, I have always been a fan.

    It is always a sad day if we lose to the Spuds; even worse that Mourinho was in their dugout. Really hoped Arteta was going to wipe clean that silly feat (him not having ever lost to an Arsenal side at home) and further de-mystify him. I guess that’s too much to ask from our team, as presently constituted.

  • Just an observation of the stark differences in what is allowed physically in English football versus, say, Serie A.

    I happened to catch the 2020 Coppa Italia Final between Napoli and Juve. The players when defending were speedy to the ball on both sides. A lot of zonish type defending. Players would run full-tilt to the player with the ball– and stop on a dime without making contact– or rarely– if ever. From the longest camera shots in Stadio Olimpico in Rome, It looked like swarms of gnats buzzing about the pitch. Whizzing all over the place furiously– but no physical contact. I found this astounding compared to English football. The match ended 0-0. The defense on both sides was stifling.

    Watching PL matches? It seems that every approach by a defender results in some form of incidental contact. Often leaving the offensive player off-balance or on the turf– as a matter of course.

    The one move that irritates the crap out of me is the shoulder pull-back of a player running in-stride with the ball by a defender gaining ground. Why? Why is a player allowed to grab another player by the shoulder to slow his run? That is a foul every time it happens. Grabbing another player from behind. It’s a booking when done to a player without the ball. Why is it different when the player is running with it?

    Ought to start with booking moves resembling Judo tactics. Refs can work forward from there.

  • Thanks for comments guys and there are some very fine ones above. My dad has been very poorly over the last few days including a couple of overnight operations but he seems to be on the mend now. Just catching up on some sleep now and less activity on the blog from me for a few days.

  • Thanks for the ratings and the discussion facilitation, TA.
    Make up for the lost sleep, and support your family full time.

  • Family comes first TA. Kev, Pb, GN5 and myself will take care of this blog. Until 17ht comes in once in a while

  • I am really missing 17tinos long posts, he always has something of value to add, maybe he’s out there in them hills trapping beaver?

    And Pony Eye, he’s ridden off into the sunset, I hope he’s ok.

    Really sorry to hear that Total about your Papa, a couple of operations isn’t great mate, what part of Holland is he based? As the fellas above say mate, just focus on your family, it’s more important than Voetbal…

  • Question: Given that Bayern Munich were rumoured to be seriously interested in taking Bernd Leno back to Der Fatherland last season and have been tacitly linked to him since and taking into account the impressive form this post lockdown season of Emi Martinez whilst not forgetting Arsenal’s need to raise revenue to bring in reinforcements this coming summer transfer window. How would you fellas feel if the club decided to cash in on Leno – for a good fee mind – and go with Martinez as our No.1..?

  • Kev, my take is that Leno should still be number 1. Martinez gives us the perfect cup keeper. Not that he is not of PL quality, but he makes or breaks teams which are needed in cup competitions.

  • Total,
    My thoughts are with you and your family – especially your father. I wish him a speedy recovery and ongoing good health.

    I’ve got some appointments today but I will find time to send you a post for the Liverpool game.

  • Kev, while I think Leno is only slightly better than Martinez – and wouldn’t mind the minimal downgrade to make the Argentinian our #1 – the problem is with our next #2. Macey doesn’t seem close to that level, Iliev also far from being top quality, Hein and Okonkwo are way too young to be considered for cup games. So we can only promote Emi, if we buy a decent #2. But any established goalkeeper (even youngsters like Meret, Henderson, Lafont) would have higher ambitions than to become our second choice.
    So the weakness of Martinez is that he is a perfect #2. Talented, big, good at distribution, but mostly loyal and patient. These qualities are hard to find. So let’s keep Leno, and enjoy the competition – as well as the occasional minor injuries.

  • TA, let me use this thread to extend my best wishes to you and the family. As expressed by all here, family comes first and we would understand if you take time off the beat.

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