Arsenal Player Ratings: A Dream Debut, Super-Subs, Elneny Keeps Surprising

Rapid Vienna 1 – 2 Arsenal

After a poor first half and then a poor start to the second half, Arsenal found their feet against a stubborn, well-organised but unexciting Rapid Vienna and then Luiz and Auba found the net to give us the win.

Arsenal were too timid in the first half. The tempo was too low, the midfield sat too deep and the attackers gelled with each other like sawdust. The opponent’s D area saw very few Gunners trampling its grass and everything we did went via the left side, it seems. Clearly, the opponent was expecting this and were keen to outnumber us there. With little in the middle of our attack and our right wing once again performing under par, it made for a dire game up to the seventieth minute when Luiz headed in from Pepe’s fine freekick. Bringing on fresh legs on the flanks – Auba on the left and Hector on the right – and pushing up the central midfielders to the area around the D made the difference in the end.

Arsenal celebrate scoring against Rapid Vienna

Player Ratings:

Leno: 4 – A game to forget for Bernd with not one but three mistakes that could have cost the win.

Kola: 5.5 – The game passed him by at times. Operating in such a tight space up-front is not for him, but he kept trying and had a few decent defensive interceptions. Together with Soares the weakest outfield defender on the pitch for Arsenal.

Gabriel: 7.5 – A very established and assured performance. Love him.

Luiz: 7.5 – Less assured in defence but an extra point for scoring the important goal.

Soares: 5 – started off well but he lacked the intensity needed for bombing up and down the right wing. Really disappeared after the first third of the game.

Elneny: 7.5 – another very tidy performance and he produced THE through-ball of the night. Very good interplay with Partey and all other players.

Partey: 10MOTM What a debut! Glorious midfield play with such composure, fine reading of the game and real presence. I cannot wait to see him play with Granit.

Saka: 6.5 – Had a tough game on the left without his buddies Tierney and Auba and RV committing so many players to their right wing. Still his composure was impressive and he worked hard throughout his time on the pitch.

Pepe: 6 – This would have been a 5 if it wasn’t for his fine freekick that led to our equaliser. A few of this set pieces were poor and his wingplay just lacked conviction once again. Time to find the inner-tiger Nicholas.

Laca: 5.5 – he tried and he hustled but it was to little effect, but he was also left too isolated and the service was poor.

Eddie: 5 – Nketiah on the left wing was painful to watch at times. He tried to play the Auba-role but it did not look good.


Bellerin: 7 – excellent assist and spirited performance from the moment he came on.

Auba: 7 – excellent goal and spirited performance from the moment he came on. A real captain.

Tierney, Willock, Nelson: Not enough time on the pitch to pass judgement.

By TotalArsenal.

36 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: A Dream Debut, Super-Subs, Elneny Keeps Surprising

  • Fair is fair TA. And Arsenal were not even fair until we were scored upon. Almost wish it had happened sooner. Rapid is well-organized. Give them that. They had not lost at home in their last 13 EL matches. So at the very least had a pair of advantages. The other being they’ve played together as a unit. Which ours had not. Clearly. We were a plodding bunch who were best at backpassing to our CBs. Sometimes? I want to throttle our wingers– as they refuse to even attempt to take on a man 1v1.

    Fortunately Leno jumpstarted us with the most casual of errors.
    (You do know #20 was on the bench. Coincidence or contagious?)


  • Ratings are spot on TA. Still concerned about our chance creation but it’s not like that’ll change in one match! Laca really should have played that ball to Auba after beating the high-ish offside line, could have been a tidy 3-1 performance in the end, but I’ll take 3 points regardless.

    I think Gabriel could have been given a slightly higher rating, he’s a MOTM candidate every time he steps on the pitch. So far, he’s been the best CB we’ve had in some time. Partey was incredible for his first ever game, can only imagine how much better he’ll be once he’s comfortable and fully integrated.

  • Yep, much the same as my previous compatriots, I think your marks are spot on and your analysis of their performances also spot on. I’ve not much to add ( thank God I hear you cry in unison) but no more Eddie on the flanks, it doesn’t work, it’s a waste of his talent, he’s a goal poacher not a winger, and why not give Nelson a decent run out?

  • @allezkev, Arteta has made some strange decisions lately (Willian as a false 9 and now Eddie on the wing). I think he’s outthinking himself at this point.

    I also heard Nelson had a fit when he didn’t start the Liverpool league match and Arteta had to discipline him so maybe that’s why he hasn’t feature since – needs to earn his way back into the team.

  • Kev, HH,
    Totally agree about everything you said about Eddie. Also, Reiss Nelson was a guy who could have left us a year or two back. We were very worried about him not extending and becoming another Gnabry situation after a good year on loan in Germany.

    I always start with meager expectations for our new players, but I was really impressed by Partey.
    Like others said, very positive, always looking to drive and pass forward. Sticks that big foot in to poke away balls. Much better first game than I could have asked for.

    Leno so lucky that we won a game that I think was his worst performance that I’ve seen so far. So we got that out of the way. I lost no confidence in him, and want him to stay aggressive as a sweeper.

  • Also, even if Soares wasn’t great, on the whole, he still created more threat down the right side than Hector generally does.

  • Cheers Kev, I am also a bit miffed why Nelsoni isn’t playing more. It may show that Arteta has high standards and expectations, not just for Ozil…

  • J, I like Soares but was disappointed in his performance. Maybe it was a lack of match fitness but he seemed to disappear after 30 minutes..

  • Not a great game, but at least fine ratings, observations and a good discussion.

    I agree with TA on the unnecessary experiments with the 4-4-2 or 4-2-4 formation. In fact, I strongly believe Laca and Eddie shouldn’t be on the same pitch at the same time: they don’t have synergies as they are great substitutes for each other but don’t really complement.

    Also agree with HH on Gabriel being a gem in practically every game. I’m worried about the low number of chances (8). Maybe it will not change overnight in the PL but we could have shown more creativity against Austria’s #2. If you’re right about Nelson that doesn’t reflect much professionalism on Arteta, as jeopardizing the result for vanity/discipline purposes is not the mark of a top manager.

    I don’t know anything about Nelson’s behavior, but he should play a lot more. It has nothing to do with his salary, rather the Gnabry/Sancho effect, explained by Jnyc.

    The only part I am not in full agreement is accepting everything on face value from Arteta, but probably it is my weakness to be rather skeptical (or cynical?) than faithful. Neverthelessit is difficult to fathom that Ozil’s performance dropped to a level that Arteta had no choice but to exclude him from both the EL and PL squads. At least for me it is easier to believe that at some point someone told him than unless he cooperates he will not play any more. For example his recent loyalty bonus of 8M GBP could have been an occasion to strong-arm Mesut, and it is more likely that he is being punished for his stance these days than his training attitude and performance being the reason for Matteo Guendouzi having his name on the PL list hence no place for Özil…

  • HH yes some of his selections have been really unusual, but he’s going to make some mistakes because he is inexperienced but he still makes more correct choices than not amigo.
    More worryingly HH is that I’ve already sensed a rumbling online from some fans who aren’t happy with the style of the team and the criticism of Arteta seems to be growing, it’s small atm but it’s there, these bloggers seem to forget that we still have a squad where many weaknesses remain and if we open up too much those weaknesses will be exposed imo.

    Thankfully on here I find an oasis of common sense, but out there it’s already turning, sadly….

  • The Nelson thing is a bit of a worry HH, are you sure that he had a melt down over the League or was it the League Cup? Because if it was the League Cup then I have a certain sympathy with him, I think he’s a really talented boy and I’d hate to lose him.

  • J that’s the 2nd time that he’s tried Eddie on the flanks and on both occasions he’s been average, I can understand him trying it, I mean he’s tried Willock out wide as well, but I don’t think it’s worked for either player. It’s odd that he’s tried two players out of position when he could have used Nelson in his preferred position?

  • Yeah Total, I tend to agree, Soares started really well I thought, got forward and put over one fabulous cross, but then faded from the game, is it a fitness thing?

  • Kev, why experimenting with non-winger players on the flank when we have great wingers struggling for game-time? Sometimes it works out developing versatility like in the case of AMN, but he didn’t have a position where he was great to begin with. I don’t see neither Laca nor Eddie becoming a capable AM or winger. But even if Arteta can make them average players on their secondary positions it would take a lot of time and could only make sense if we having a small squad with injuries, suspensions and fitness issues. When we have a team of 31 ambitious footballers I don’t see the added value in such experiments.

  • Kev, it was rumoured to have happened after the first cup game and before the Liverpool league match. He said something to the effect that he deserved to start after his performance against Leicester and went against Mikel in either training or in the facility (again, that’s just what I’ve heard/read).

    It’s ok to criticize Mikel in constructive ways – he’s human after all. However, if you can’t get behind what he’s doing from a cultural and on-field perspective, then you aren’t paying close enough attention or you’re simply not grateful for the fact that he basically saved this club from being lost in the mid-table fodder or worse!

  • I can’t disagree at all PB, but maybe Arteta has misgivings about Nelson that we don’t know of, I mean he started out brilliantly at Hoffenheim on loan and then lost his place, so maybe question marks over his ability to do the hard yards – I don’t know I’m only guessing, but I do like him and it’s frustrating to see him frozen out, maybe something has happened internally, maybe his agent has got involved?

    I don’t want to diss Mikel because I love what he’s done and in general what he is doing but the Nelson situation worries me.

  • Ah, ok HH, you know I’d forgotten that we’d played Leicester in the League Cup, hmm I like it that a player shows hunger and desire but he needs to know how far to go and what lines not to cross, I guess he knows that now, but bringing him on for a few minutes at the end yesterday is I guess bringing him back into the fold. That also explains why he wasn’t involved at Anfield in the League Cup, on the pitch anyway.

  • We are still missing the selections for this weeks competition from :-
    Gooneris and JWL
    West Ham v Manchester City
    Fulham v Crystal Palace
    Manchester United v Chelsea
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle
    Arsenal v Leicester City
    Barcelona v Real Madrid

    This week there will be an added bonus of 2 points for the correct score of the game between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

  • Thanks for the reminder GN5!

    West Ham v Manchester City Away
    Fulham v Crystal Palace Away
    Manchester United v Chelsea Away
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle Home
    Arsenal v Leicester City Home
    Barcelona 3 v Real Madrid 2


  • Odd all the discussion of Nelson’s absence– who may be under disciplinary action.
    When the elephant in the room is: Where is AMN? Thought for certain he might have started vs City– the way he handled Mahrez so well in the FA semi-final.

    Or– having AMN in the side on the left in Saka’s spot might have drawn Kyle Walker’s attention from Auba as it had Chelsea’s back line in the FA final.

    Putting players into situations they’re not just prepared for– buy have excelled at– should be a given. Hoping to see AMN on Sunday– where he played well in the EFL Cup vs Foxes a few weeks back.


  • You are all correct in observing that Cedric began brightly then slowed down. Could be fitness or even more likely that Mikel decided to reign him in for a tactical change elsewhere. It is still a fact that it’s at least the second time that a Cedric start has lit a noticeable fire under Hector.

    Also, did anyone else like the way Elneny played ? Looked like he was given more freedom and showed quality. Maybe there’s something in pairing with Partey. I’m open to it because we are so short in midfield.

    Our scoring is concerning enough that we need to stop being cute and start Auba up front against Leicester. Also, as TA has pointed out in the past, we need to find a way to have Pepe less wide to get him some different opportunities. Saka wide right has worked in the past.

  • Exclusive Bergkampesque, Mikel to Mesut:

    Auba central seems to be favoured by many – some (Tim Stillman particularly) have been relentless about it
    This, of course, would mean sidelining Laca once and for good (Stillman’’s dead set on it – didn’t check if he was also among the ones abusing Granit, Shkodran, Mo, Mesut, … when it was their turn to be the target of this strange and eerie part of arsenal fandom)
    I took a look at the stats (before the Rapid game); Auba had 62 goals in 8124 minutes; Laca 58 in 8932
    But if Laca – not Auba – had been our penalty taker (he’s an excellent one), we’d have 55/8124 for Auba, and 58/8932 for Laca, which would give us the following ratios goal/minute s played: Auba 1/147; Laca 1/154
    I’m not saying Laca was great lately – he was not – and I’m delighted by the love Mick and the club have shown Auba, but … sparing a little for Laca would have been nice too, imo
    Between the two of them, we have 113 goals for The Arsenal, to me it looks like an attacking pair that works, but maybe I’ve missed something (Laca has also 21 assists to himself, btw, Auba has 9).
    I’m not sure Auba would score more if he played central (actually, I think he scored that much because he could dart in from the left), but what I do know is that at the moment neither Bukayo nor Pépé, nor Willian would be as prolific as Laca’s been
    The only one who could deliver that much from a wing would be Gabe Martinelli, but I don’t think we’ll see much of him this season, unfortunately. And even so: Auba central, now that his contract has been extended to June 2023, would mean “game over”, literally at The Arsenal, not only for Laca, but also for Eddie/Balogun/JohnJules too, which I’m not looking forward to.
    So, I’d like Mikel to play Marcus Aurelius to Laca/Commodus right now, not after he’s gone; we lost Aaron (Mick has nothing to do with that, of course), who was our only goalscoring midfielder, we’ve marooned the best assist-provider in professional football, and now, at a time of (relative) goal-drought, we’d lose a guy who has delivered goals for us, on as regular a basis as our captain.
    I can’t see the rationale in that, and it worries me, to tell the truth …

  • Great comment, LeG. Your love for Laca is truly son like 💕

    You have good points and Laca can only play central… And I agree to keep Auba on the wing. Let us await the Partey impact as I expect all to fit together much better.

  • I mixed my numbers up, though; Laca’s actual goal tally is 51/8932 (what a dutiful son I am indeed!!); 58 is after figuring out what this tally might (would) have been, had he been the penalty-taker – I think you corrected that yourself
    Thomas has impressed me immensely too; from what (the little) I’d seen of him with Atleti, I didn’t expect him to be that good, that fast.
    The 2 Gabes, Kieran, Thomas, Mikel … whatever happens in the few weeks ahead, let’s not forget the great job this club’s been doing lately, even though it might not pay off right away.

  • Le Gall, TA, please remember that I do appreciate Lacazette. He is a high quality striker and has been good for us. But this team is in a malaise as far as goal threat. I like Mikel’s false 9 strategy for certain opponents. Lacazette doesn’t have the skills for that job.

    Also, we have been trying to play on the counter with solid conservative defending, and Lacazette is not ideal for that. He works hard when he drops deep, steals possession very well, but doesn’t get back fast enough to capitalize on most counters.

    You did see he did us no good when brought on against Man City because we need to be playing around the opponents box for him to be his dangerous self. Another midfielder would have been a better option in that situation.

    We have maybe the league’s best striker in Aubameyang who could be jumpstarted by playing up front, and he at least fits the strategy we’re employing. Honestly our whole attack needs a shot in the arm. If some people dont see him as the league’s best striker, maybe that’s because he’s being wasted wide left, where a true winger would be more effective certainly.

    He has shown a great attitude, but partly because he’s being very well paid. I’m not even saying stick him up front forever with no tinkering… I just want us to establish some goal threat, by getting back to basics. Dont forget, there are plenty of other competitions for Laca and Eddie anyway.

    I’d prefer to see PEA scoring, smiling, and putting fear and RESPECT into the opponents thoughts and tactics. We’re not getting any of that right now.

  • Good shout for a central Auba, J. I thinks he likes the freedom and possibility to unleash diagonal shots that the left wing gives him.

    Laca doesn’t need freedom but likes the cage fights in the box. Once we start pushing up and press the opponent into their box we will see once again the best of him.

  • United Chelsea draw…. good for us. Tomorrow is a big game in my mind. A barometer of where we stand right now with other teams with top 4 aspirations.

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