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.
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: 10 – MOTM 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.