Classic Laca, Effective Saka But a Few Gunners Below Par: Arsenal Player Ratings

This was a very difficult game for Arsenal who seemed a bit off beam with their passing, we missed Tierney big time and despite Saka playing well I think we missed Maitland Niles as well. Not a great performance but we won and if we can play average and still win then that’s a great habit to have.

Arsenal komt met de schrik vrij na gouden wissel Arteta

Leno: Overall he had a competent match and made the saves we needed him to make, but I have to admit that he doesn’t  dominate his box as Martinez did and that was very apparent as the high balls came into the box and he stayed on his line, I did miss seeing  big Emi coming off of his line to pluck the ball out of the sky. 6.5

Bellerin: Worked hard but not one of his most effective games even so he gave Willian support and was always available but was no where to be seen when West Ham equalised. 6.5

Saka: Slow start and caught the careless disease that was Arsenal’s opening 15 minutes but improved as the game progressed, he was responsible for our two pre-assists and despite being AWOL when West Ham equalised he was one of our best performers on the day. Probably should have scored. 7.5

Gabriel: Another solid performance under difficult circumstances and stood up well to West Ham’s industrial approach. Today will be an education for him as the high balls fizzed into our box but he’s quality, of that I have no doubt, lucky with a possible handball. 7

Holding: A tough afternoon trying to subdue Antonio but he stuck to his task, Little he could do to stop the goal, maybe he could have got tighter but then that introduces the prospect of a tumble and a penalty in these VAR times. 6.5

Kolasinac: My heart sank when I heard that Tierney was out and we certainly missed our Jocko both in attack and defence, I don’t rate Kolasinac and although he didn’t drop a clanger as he did vs Tottenham  I still thought that some of his defending wasn’t all that convincing. 5.5

Xhaka: A tough tough afternoon for Granit, not one of his best but he never hides and never stops working for the cause. West Ham have some big big units in their team and we struggled at times to keep them under control. 6.5

: Very ring rusty in the 1st half, he lacked that zip from last season and some of his passing was bang average, but just like Xhaka he didn’t hide and improved a lot in the 2nd 45 finishing with a lovely lay off for the winner. 6.5

Willian: Some of his passing was well off but he is the man who is always looking for the killer ball and West Ham crowded him out every time he got the ball. He’ll have better days but I like a lot of what he brings to our team. 6.5

Lacazette: Was given a real going over by the giants in the West Ham defence, but he kept battling and fighting and is a real tough hombre. Scored a classic header for our lead and was a constant threat, our major threat until he was subbed off. 7.5

Aubameyang: Showed his captains qualities by doing the unfashionable work to support his mate and created the opening goal. Worked tirelessly down the flank but was crowded out whenever he tried to come inside, still did some valuable team work for the lads. 7

Pepe: Came on for Willian but didn’t make a huge impression. 5

Nketiah: Came on for Lacazette and did his job. 6.5

Luiz: Last minute sub for Saka to close out the game, good to see him back. 5

By Allezkev

31 thoughts on “Classic Laca, Effective Saka But a Few Gunners Below Par: Arsenal Player Ratings

  • Cheers, Kev. I think you are spot on with your ratings, perhaps I would have given Nketiah a 7.5 as he made the difference in a short time and that was mainly due to his box-instinct and a cool head when it mattered.

    It was a great header by Laca, one I did not really think he could do if I am honest. So well done Alex. I do some analysis of the game unless PB or somebody else sends something in today, so will not elaborate too much now, but I though we had a bad shape in this game until the last 20 minutes. Like you wrote, the late leaving out of Tierney did not help and Kola just did not seem to fit in at the back. But he worked hard and that goes some way.

  • You did not pick a MOTM and I would have struggled to pick one too. I probably would have given it to either Laca or Gabriel. Laca for the superb goal and workrate and Gabriel for his sheer desire not to get beaten on the night. Holding, in these more open games in which we push up a lot, looks more exposed than Gabriel, and he will struggle to hold the first eleven selection once Saliba is up and running, I reckon.

  • We still missed the leadership of Luiz though and I am glad he is back. He can play 60 minutes or so v the Foxes and then he should be ready for the empty Anfield battle. I also think Leno (and Martinez) plays better with Luiz organising things in front of him.

    And I will mention it only once now that we missed Elneny big time.

  • At the end of the last post JW1 posted this comment:

    “WHam in a 5-4-1 was never going to be an easy match.
    As Kev mentioned, they are a big, physical side. I felt our players played the game West Ham dictated. Credit to ’em, they got the style of match they wanted. Moyes boys were organized. Imagine him drilling them keeping their shape for a week straight got their attention.

    Arsenal persevered. Also were fortunate on a pair of occasions where Gabriel and Dani each saved a goal being alert and showing grit. That second half was a game of attrition. Dani Ceballos took charge in midfield– the only place an advantage could be had.

    While Ready Eddie was again in the right place? Dani was doing end-to-end duty– giving value to Saka’s through pass–assisting on the tap-in winner by Nketiah.

    Dani Ceballos MoTM. True grit.


  • Clinical kev, not much to add, mate, thanks.
    I did hope I was the only one to have wished Emi was still reigning over our box. Let’s not brood too much over this, I suppose (Bernd is a great lad, a terrific shotstopper), but I still have difficulty understanding why we didn’t keep both. With (roughly) 2 Carabao games, 8 Europa, 2 FA, that was at least 12 full games for our n°2.
    Bukayo’s a great player, that’s what he confirmed yesterday – it wasn’t one of his best nights, but his perfectly weighed pre-assists cracked the east end safe – what a kid.
    We’re very lucky to have the Laca-Eddie pair, probably the best in the PL, perfect illustration of that master-student relationship TA alluded to lately. Actually, should Auba have to be sidelined for some reason (injury …) I’d be very interested in seeing them used in some kind of “Yorke-Cole” partnership.
    Lastly, but TA might expand on that, I think yesterday’s game showed how right he was when he considered how difficult it would be to subdue the PL teams fighting for their survival. There’s always the feeling Mesut would be very helpful in such games, but this ship has sailed, obviously. Having said that, Bukayo’s two pre-assists were very “özilesque”: might be time to think about 4-2-3-1 again, with our young genius in what used to be Mesut’s spot (??).

  • Hey Legallos, good comment. I imagine young Kev is still sleeping away as all night riders do! 😉 But he will no doubt get back to you at some point. There is a subtle difference between Laca and Eddie but I will expand on this at some point. What I liked about Laca is this battle attitude from the start. He has the sort of height that leads to him getting bruised and battered but he seems to like it and then he produced that bullet header that has left Fabianski with recurring nightmares! 🙂

    The Dutch have a saying to be on your guard for a bitten dog, especially when you have an advantage over them and may thus become complacent. Arsenal have often suffered from this being the favourite in a game, especially at home. But on this occasion I think it was the forced leaving out of Mr Tenacity which led to a wobbly defence that made us struggle v the Hammers. Our left side was out of balance and we almost paid for it.

  • Based on Kev’s ratings his MotM was Saka. And while he indeed provided both pre-assists, he was the most wasteful player on the pitch, including a field high 3 offsides.
    It is difficult to pick a MotM though, as we didn’t play any good. This was a ‘thank God, this is over’ type of game, and we can be lucky to keep all 3 points in the Emirates. My vote goes to Ceballos though. He didn’t shine offensively (but did his part with 1 key pass and 2 dribbles), but defensively was a beast (3 tackles: field high, 4 interceptions: field high, 3 clearances: team second behind Gabriel[5], and 2 blocks: field second behind Gabriel[3]).
    As you could see, Gabriel was also fine (but he got the MotM award for the Fulham game from BT Sport), and I was pleasantly surprised for PEA’s constructive contribution for the build-up as well.

    Coming back to my main concern: we lost the key pass game by 6:9, and 3 out of our 6 was provided by the captain. And we were playing at home – not that it matters much without spectators – and with our ideal midfield pairing (without reinforcements). While we had 63% possession, we weren’t too creative with it. We Xhaka and Ceballos were both stalling in the center, providing precise but not particularly dangerous passes, and our wing-play was tamer than expected. I don’t see Partey improving such games (against strong, but not too technical opponents), but Aouar could be a game-changer with his deadly turns.

  • Well, PB, that is exactly why stats should be used in the background. Saka was not great but his pre-assists gave us the points and that is the one stat that matters to me. Like LeG said, these were Ozilesque passes in a congested area. Willian can do these from the right and Saka from the left and I don’t we had a problem there, even though the key passes was in favour of the Hammers. It is easier to pick a key pass when you are playing on the counter and there is space in front of you.

    Also re Ceballos, those stats are impressive and yet I believe he did not follow Arteta’s instructions. I would be very surprised if he plays v Pool next week Monday. But that is football, you and JW1 give him MOTM and I did not see that at all! 😀

  • Morning all, next door had a party until the early hours and the music was awful, I think they call it Trance although I could give it a more apt name.

    Yes LG, I was leaning towards Saka as my MotM but despite imo being our most dangerous outlet in the 2nd 45 I left it as it was.

    PB I thought the whole team was wasteful, I’ve got so used to our slick, one touch, accurate passing but it needs to be just so to be effective and yesterday it was just off. All the same to have an off day and still come through is a positive for me.

    Total I agree on Elneny, because everything he does is understated but it’s also effective, yeah I gave some of them extra marks because it was just a hard day at the office but our strength of unity and character saw us through. You could see how pleased Arteta was at the end, he knew we were off colour and he was delighted with the win.

  • Yes Kev, Arteta was happy as he will use this game as a big teaching exercise without us actually having lost points. That is a big bonus. Pool away will be different.

  • I was delighted for Eddie, I feel that a lot of the fan base aren’t convinced by Nketiah, he isn’t the kind of big money signing who gets the fans excited, but he has a nose for a finish and he is calmness personified in those situations as was the case in his hat trick for England recently, he makes his goals look easy because of his positioning and runs.

  • Yes it certainly will Total, we’ll have to be on point right from the off and I think we probably will, the Leicester game is going to be fascinating, how will Mikel rotate and still put out a team able to win at a very difficult venue?

  • I agree, Kev, that it was a general wasteful day in the office, but since we had so few chances (half-chances included), it is easy to remember only a handful that got wasted: 1 from Laca, 3 from Saka (the first of them was later deemed offside) and 1 from Kolasinac. Yet, he indeed manage to provide thos pre-assists and drew the foul leading to the game’s single yellow card as well. So I’m not saying he played poor per se, but made too many errors for a MotM to my liking. But as TA pointed out correctly, we are different even when watching/enjoying a game, so one may very well disregard the wrong decisions and focus solely on the positive contributions. (However that person must really love Harry Kane, who shoots 8-10 times a game, with only a few reaching the target, but his stats for Tottenham and England are equally impressive if we prioritize volume over efficiency).

    TA, there is a good chance that Elneny will reclaim his role against Liverpool next weekend, as his limitations in offense will be nullified in a counter-attacking game. Yet the line-up will be heavily influenced by the mid-week Leicester game, which is indeed a strong opponent to take (too) lightly. In defense I see a Gabriel-Luiz-Saliba trio and in attack a Saka-Nketiah-Nelson trident, but the midfield is a mystery, even if we assume that AMN plays LM and Soares RM. But if Elneny plays in a midfield duo with either Guendouzi or Willock, then this will be the end of our Carabao-journey. A Ceballos-Elneny pairing could be interesting, but it could see us light on the weekend. I can even imagine that Xhaka will be called to action mid-week, as his physique lets him play 3 games a week. But I would rather see at least on of Özil and Guendouzi (albeit seem unlikely), which case we could revert back to 4-2-3-1, and wait for Luiz to return against Liverpool.

  • Good thoughts on the coming games, PB. We are off for a big round trip through the Highlands, so plenty of time to drive and think about the next couple of games. In short, I will be focusing on getting our balance back: good dancing comes from the hips! 🙂

    Speak later guys.

  • Oddly TA, Kev, PB–
    While I almost always have WhoScored’s MatchCentre open for Arsenal’s games? This one wasn’t about stats at all for me. Didn’t actually know of Ceballos stats until the discussion here. What I saw from Dani in that second half was a player who was central to the team keeping possession. For me, that was the key. Having possession meant enough opportunity to eventually picking WHam’s 9-man lock. Another key moment– was when Leno tumbled over Ceballos when plucking a high ball, losing it upon hitting the turf. Dani on his backside making a leg-save that allowed Bernd to regain his wits and smother it.

    Also like to point out that the pre-assist by Saka to Dani– was Ceballos’ doing too. Dani layed off to Bukayo, then slipped between the lines to complete the parlay– before assisting to Eddie.

    Stats aside, I saw clutch moments and intelligent play from Ceballos in that 2nd-half. Which not only helped the team take the points– but may have saved Arsenal from dropping either 2 or three.

    Without Ceballos poise? Arsenal might have lost by 2-1.
    Sticking with Dani as my MoTM. 💪


    PS Meant to add, thanks Kev– for the write-up! 👌

  • Few things better on an early-Sunday morning– than watching Harry Kane’s superb goal on a shoulder-high roundhouse volley– waved off by VAR. 👍


  • Can’t resist the urge to post this musical homage to Bukayo “It takes a crook/To know where to look” Saka (one my favorite late 20th century bands– they’re from up north too, TA, ever hit upon one of their gigs??, I hear their “unplugged” ones were great, their “Fez” lp sure is)
    Anyway, here it is:

    I agree with PB about Partey/Aouar; I’ve also just read Koeman wanted to get rid of Riqui Puig. I’ve seen the diminutive lad a couple of times, and was mightily impressed – he would be my first choice (partly because he would come (much) cheaper than Aouar). Don’t know if Mick still has a few strings to pull down there??
    1-0 to So’ton just now – Ings
    There is something truly admirable about these “reborn” players, hats off to him

  • TA, have fun and enjoy yourselves in the Highlands!

    Good point, LeGall. I like the Puig kid myself. He is a smart passer, and don’t mind dribbling or shooting from long range, yet is more a CM than an AM. He is not an asset in the air with his 1.69 heights, but that’s an acceptable compromise for a young player capable of swift bursts. Could be the next Cazorla. I don’t know why Koeman wants to get rid of him. I would sign him in a second.

    Bloody Tottenham turned the game around, though.

  • Good summary Kev,
    My thoughts……..Saka and Ceballos need to play when fit. We likely wouldn’t have scored against that west ham yesterday without them. Bellerin gave a typical Hector game. Solid defense, good midfield passing, very little to help open them up going forward. I agree that Emi was better coming for high balls, but Leno’s passing and footwork are slightly superior. Also, as a sweeper, he is as good as anybody, which we saw yesterday. I always wanted a keeper that has that in his game.

    Love Artetas first 2 subs. Disagreed with the 3rd. Willian needs to be preserved and looked tired, we have loads of talent behind him. Fresh Eddie over a tired Lacazette. Once we had a lead, I think Auba should have come off for a defender. Saka defends better, and we need to look after our stars health. He looked tired at the end, even though he continued playing hard, but thats what a leader does.. MOTM Saka or Ceballos, maybe even Xhaka as usual quietly indispensable in the team. He is the rock in midfield. It’s funny, when I watch Xhaka play, I see a captain.

    No way in the world would we have broken down West Ham even once without Ceballos. He began the game rusty, like the rest of the the team, but he had no preseason and about 10 minutes last week. 2nd half he gave a very good performance as PB detailed. …..
    I have said all preseason…. organized premier league defenses will love to play against us with just Xhaka in midfield with a lump like Elneny next to him, with dozens of side and backpasses. Especially weaker teams, which is most of the league, because it makes it easier to defend and press to hold us back. It would have been a clean sheet. That’s a crime for us, with the best striker in the league, and all our attacking prowess.

    Now, having said that, I think I’d start Elneny against Liverpool, because I think we should play a different type of game, assuming the superior Torreira is gone.

  • Good to read the Ceballos comments. I don’t agree with all of it, but I appreciate the views. But MotM?! Really. Jeeps you are quickly pleased 😌

  • Morning all, Total, did you have mushy peas with your fish n chips? A northern delicacy… 😄

    PB, yes a forward line of Saka, Nelson and Nketiah looks the way way to go at Leicester, but I wonder if Arteta might just decide to give Pepe a start in this match, switch Nelson to the left flank where he’s operated well in the past and of course have Eddie leading the line as you say?

    Midfield could be be a window into how Arteta might go at Anfield, the players who don’t start at New Filbert Street could be those who’ll probably start in Liverpool. Mind you with Liverpool being a Monday kick off there is still plenty of recovery time from the League Cup to the Premier League?

  • JW, good points regarding Ceballos, I thought he was well off of what we’ve come to expect from him, he seemed a bit sluggish and gave away a few misplaced passes which isn’t like him.
    I don’t know if Arteta got into him at half time or not but he regained his snap in the 2nd 45 and was the Ceballos of last season again.

    Just a thought, Arteta doesn’t have those water breaks anymore to make tactical tweaks and we missed them, it’s a shame that they’re no more because I thought it improved the general standard of the games.

  • Just an observation, Arsenal have scored five goals and Aubameyang has only got one so it seems as if the rest of the squad are raising the goal scoring bar and not before time.

  • Kev– agree with you on the water breaks. Understand the thinking behind sticking with only 3 substitutes (favoring deep-talented squads)– but those breaks made for a more intriguing, perhaps more focused last 20-plus minutes– for all. Arsenal still has an advantage with Arteta’s versa-lingual capabilities IMO.

    Seemed as though Moyes had his team come forward to press earlier in the second half for the first 10 minutes or so. Where Arsenal began slipping through the first bank of defenders resulting in our forwards having some room to operate. Once the danger became apparent– packed ’em back in deep again.

    As for the MoTM TA? It was hard to award one in this grind-it-out match. The old-school term (over here for what Arsenal accomplished is ‘winning ugly’. I was a big fan of that in my day when required. Perseverance tempered by experience. That once you’ve done it frequently enough– it becomes second nature when called-for.

    That’s what I saw in Ceballos in that 2nd half. Arsenal doesn’t win without what he did.


  • J, the lump metaphor on Elneny was not the most generous, but rather accurate and funny. 🙂

    TA, we might be the minority with regards to the MotM but not entirely alone:
    (That fish and chips look mouthwatering – I never thought I will ever write that down.)

    Kev, the good news against Leicester, that they played on Sunday (late night) with their best team, so they either both tired playing only 2 games (barring pre-season friendlies), or will come with their second team – which is not stronger than our B-team, even if our players are much younger.
    The midfield will indeed be critical, as I see a slight chance to play with AMN and Willock as a CM-pairing. But if we face the back-up CBs of Leicester City, maybe we can call 4 out of Eddie, Nelson, Pepe, Saka and Ozil to action in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

    My line-up would be (assuming Torreira and Guendouzi are unavailable)


    Subs: Leno/Runarsson, Luiz, Tierney, Willock, Willian, Lacazette

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