Arsenal Player Ratings: There Are Dark Clouds Above the Home of Football

Another loss at home and it all is hard to take. Yet I thought we played some good football but were unlucky once again. Does anybody do astrology? Are we soon coming out of this dark corner, hey?!

I am Granit’s biggest fan but there is no excuse for that behaviour and letting the team down so badly. And then, op top of it all, Auba’s egg-shaped head somehow scores an own goal. Tough times at the home of football, but we have got to keep going.

There were once again some good performances and they need to be highlighted, as well the under-par ones of course. However, nobody stood out enough to deserve the MOTM accolade.

Player Ratings:

Leno: 6.5 – not much to do and not at fault for the goal.

Tierney: 7 – solid at the back and worked his socks off in attack.

Gab: 6.5 – couple of dodgy passes at the beginning, but another committed performance.

Holding: 6. – same as Gab.

Bellerin: 6.5 – always willing to receive the ball and tried hard to get forward.

Elneny: 5 – lucky to stay on the pitch and added very little to the attack this time.

Xhaka: 3 – he let us down. The haters will hate you even more, Granit… That was dumb.

Saka: 7 – once again very driven and played really well in the last twenty minutes.

Willian: 6 – I know many have it in for him, but imo he had a committed game.

Auba: 5 – tried hard but he had an unlucky game. I cannot blame him for the own goal.

Laca: 5 – tried hard but just lacks composure at the moment.


Ceballos: 5 – chicken in search of its head.

Maitland-Niles and Eddie: not long enough on the pitch to make a judgement.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

By TotalArsenal.

27 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: There Are Dark Clouds Above the Home of Football

  • (I’m afraid, and believe me, I feel very sorry for it) :
    Mikel Arteta at The Arsenal, a parable

    Cast of characters:
    James Franco as Mick
    David Oleyowo as Edu
    Caesar’s mum and Gen-Sys building as … well, this beloved club of ours

  • The only polite thing I can say is that I don’t want to see Granit Xhaka in the Arsenal shirt ever again. If he wears one in his spare time, I want an angry Arsenal fan close to him to rip the shirt off him.

  • Thanks TA. Not sure I can even give consideration to ratings right now.

    What Xhaka did was tell all of his teammates:
    ‘I’m more important. My ego is bigger. None of you matter.’
    ‘And BTW? I’ll be unavailable for the next 3 December matches.’

    We had been looking better in attack– for nearly the entire 60 minutes– than we’d looked for several matches. It seemed inevitable the break would fall to Arsenal. Alas.

    Maybe a silver lining. Maybe we see ESR get his chance.


  • Arsenal had plenty of luck this evening, all of it bad.

    We should have won that game but we can’t buy a goal in the Premier League at this time.

    Arteta will need to make changes for Southampton this Wednesday and he needs to be brave because this squad is bereft of confidence.

    It might be considered extreme but I’d have Balogun on the bench, he’s on a hot streak and we need some of his gold dust to rub off.

    I would not start Lacazette or Willian on Wednesday either as we need some energy and a spark from somewhere and I can’t see them providing it.

    Soares will start at right back and Arteta needs to fit Niles into the team for all his pace and enthusiasm, maybe Nketiah up front and Auba on the left?

    Will Pepe come back or will Nelson get a start, Nelson has pace and always looks to go forward not sideways or back, the crowd were moribund tonight because these players don’t get anyway excited, Arteta needs to be proactive because if he keeps trusting the same old suspects they will cost him his job and he’s on thin ice now as it is….

  • Good thing we play on Wednesday. You just want to get on the pitch, play again, try and do better.
    Not so good thing– Soton has been looking good of late. Danny Ings was out 3 weeks– and they found some chemistry in that interim. James Ward-Prowse and Jannik Vestergaard have been very good of late on corners and set pieces. Very good.

    (Vestergaard would be the guy I’d most like to pair with Gabriel if I could wave a wand).


  • Firstly, great to see LeGall.

    I just watched after hearing all the hate about the outcome. So, knowing the result, I watched in a very analytical manner. For the people saying Arteta out on Twitter. Our guys came out with great energy and really looked up for it… and not just for a few minutes, for most of the game we dominated. I thought Willian looked better, Lacazette, not bad, even Xhaka made some gorgeous passes.

    A word about Auba getting hated on. He looked the best he has since last year! He was dangerous, he was all over the pitch, playing with freedom, left, center, and even right…..sharing the ball well and getting into good shooting positions. Obviously he was unlucky, as own goals are always unlucky. But he was back there trying to defend, and I thought his attitude was great all game. If he keeps playing the way he did today, he’ll be fine and nobody will complain about his salary.

    To the negatives. Slight quibble, still a little too much unnecessary crossing (but less was an improvement). Example.. Early on Bellerin tries a wasteful cross from way out (the same as the one that got turned into the Son goal vs the scum. It’s just throwing possession away.

    Also at one point Saka, also 1st half I think… in lots of space on the left outside their box 1 on 1 with a defender, and space in the box behind the defender… he lobbed a cross over him into a 2 on 2. It was such an opportunity for our best dribbler to take the ball into the box, or at least get to the by line for a cut back.
    ….. that’s what I meant last week calling it creative laziness. …But
    …. in the second half I think we did less of that, and we looked very good, maybe a point made by Mikel at halftime. He also allowed Elneny to sprint forward more, I thought he was held back in the first half. No use having him deep with Xhaka unless it’s Liverfool or another dangerous attack.
    I’d say leave crossing to rare occasions and basically by Tierney and Cedric. Willian and Saka are our dribblers
    I wasn’t excited by the lineup at all, but everyone was hustling and looking good, even Willian and Lacazette… so whatever preparation Arteta did worked.

    I’m the most critical of him on here, I think, but today I thought Arteta motivated the team beforehand and at halftime, i thought the subs were well done, and he got us playing better.

    I just watched the post match interview and I thought he struck the perfect tone. I think the players and Aubameyang especially could be hurt psychologically if he criticized them after such an effort and outcome. But he made sure to point out how well we played, dominated even down a man. We had stupidity from Xhaka and very bad luck. That’s it.

    Now let’s look forward to seeing Ainsley take Xhaka’s place forever!!

  • J, your comments these days are even more balanced than usual. I think you summed it very nicely and good to read the positives. Time for AMN to make his mark!

  • Hi, lads, here are the (slightly modified/expanded) lines I wrote to TA before the Burnley game – I stick to them:
    As far as the Arsenal-fan experience is concerned, watched all the games, but just didn’t have the time to discuss them with you, guys. As an Arsenal fan, I’m in a strange place at the moment, actually. Whatever happened on the pitch, just watching our lads was a relief to me. I suffered with them, suffered for them, but I’ve never felt angry or anything.
    Now, I’m not blind, and the near future of this club worries me too. I’ve read most of your posts/comments, and I really don’t see what original analysis I could pile on top of them. BK is one of the very, very few spots on the web, where you don’t feel like the lads are standing in front of a rifle squad; not only do I agree with that, but I keep thinking this group of players could be back among the very best in no time.
    I get the feeling our main problem is not technical-tactical, but mental, and as soon as it is properly tackled, we’ll be firing on all cylinders again. For all the high esteem I hold Mick in, I do believe he’ll have to improve that side of his coaching style. Just one example, maybe inspired by my teaching years: the more I think about it, the more convinced I am his original sin might have been taking Mesut out of the 25-man list. Then again, I’m not talking tactics here, but the moment he decided to do that, I think the only thing he achieved was to instill fear into the whole group. All the lads must have thought to themselves, “if he can do that to a £350.00 a week-German world champion-former Real playmaker; at the slightest mistake of mine, what will happen to ME??”. This is the madman theory applied to football, you get some kind of order, of course, but at the cost of killing initiatives, of sucking the life, the fun, out of the group you’re in charge of.
    I could write about the way Laca has been treated, or Ainsley (the lad makes it to the English team, only to be dropped right after that, not even on the bench for the “Wolves” game!! – “madman theory” again), but you’ve got my point. Such a problem is not that hard to fix, though: professional players are intelligent guys, they can see that – just as a fearful young teacher – M.A. just wanted to prove how ruthless he could be, to get a grip on them (it never works, believe me; time is on THEIR side, not yours; sooner or later, they’ll make you pay for trying to frighten them into submission).
    Now, there’s only one way to get out of this (THIS is the hard part, for as proud a boy as I suspect our head-coach might be); you have to talk to the group, admit to your mistakes, and tell them you’ve realized they need to be given some slack, and won’t be axed at after the first step out of line – or something approaching that, well-adapted to the (strong) personalities you’re in charge of.
    You also have to go back to basics: when I read TA’s pre-Burnley post, I agreed with the structure of his lineup; when you’re short of confidence (understatement), you have to run for the cover of what was successful, what made everyone happy, and in our case that’s a back-3 and a 4-man midfield. I wish the Pépé-Laca-Auba trident were given a full 90-minute-opportunity to shine, just for once. All the more so since (and for all the belief I have in them) trusting a bunch of younger lads (you can trust some of them, of course, but not all of them at the same time) with the daunting task of taking a club like The Arsenal out of the dark place it is in at the moment, is much too heavy a burden to put on their young shoulders imo. Emil, Joe, Reiss, Folarin, have had so little PL playing time (or no time at all) so far, that I feel deciding overnight to give them the responsibility to save us would be like throwing their livers to the dogs (the other teams’ experienced PL players, who’ll be too happy to prey on them).
    As always, simplicity’s the key, but it comes at a price for those who achieved it, and Arsène paid for it. Those who wanted him out, took Wengerball (and our results) for granted, because of his 4-2-3-1, and of his changes on the stroke of the hour, as though all The Great Man had to do was to turn up at Colney, get the boys to play five-a-sides, and cash in at the end of the week. But Arsène (just like Graham, as different as our two legends might have been) were great teachers, insofar as they accepted their work to look basic, or even go unnoticed. They were not obsessed with being remembered as Professors Keating (“Dead Poets’ Society”??) of football. I think Mick has to learn that from them too; we won’t get better by making successful a never-seen-before-game-plan, we will get out of this mess by doing very well the very simple things.

  • Thanks LeGallos, for a fine comment that I read earlier in your email to me. You are making a hell of a lot sense re the team and Mikel’s management approach. The only thing I am not sure about is whether leaving out was Arteta’s decision or the BoD’s. I feel strongly it is the latter but would rather not write about it publicly.

    Yet I agree that sitting together with the players and finding the middle way between Mikel’s ideal (4-3-3 with highly trained roles and expectations) and Wenger’s Laissez-Faire football is the way forward. But, like JNYC above, I thought we did not play badly last night. There was good stuff but the form is missing and the ball refuses to do as we want right now. So there is hope anyway.

    Good to have you back and hope you and your family are up for much more positive times and a great Christmas. I will email you soon too. 🙂

  • Bellerin: For me he is Arsenal in microcosm. Naïve and undisciplined.

    He nominally is playing at right back in this team. In a back four he spends a lot of the game playing on the wing. Yesterday he was at centre forward at one point in the first half. That’s fine if a midfielder or winger covers his forays up the field. That doesn’t happen. Willian & Pepe make little effort to track back and the midfield haven’t been covering.

    Opposition teams lump the ball long into the position Bellerin is meant to be in (Aston Villa/Wolves/Spurs) and create serious problems for us. The sight of Hector galloping 10 yards behind an attacker is common. When he is in position he doesn’t play the offside trap. Yesterday he played Wood onside where he should have scored.

    He can create goals. He can provide an overload on that wing. He got the penalty at Man United, but most of our goals are conceded down his side of the pitch. The bad is outweighing the good.

    The big question: Is he being told to play that advanced role or is he doing it off his own back? If it’s the latter he should have been dropped a while ago. So I guess Arteta is encouraging him to get forward. Which leaves us open to counter attacks without a midfielder or winger covering his position.

    This is pretty basic coaching/tactics at the highest level. I surprised Arteta hasn’t returned to a back 3 for solidity or added bodies to the midfield.

  • Was waiting for this TA. I watched the complete match with expectation that we will nick it. I was as disappointed as everyone was when Xhaka was sent off and i saw his grabbing throat Realtime and i said it would be Red. Two things that stands out for me in this game and i had alluded earlier.
    1. Footballing Intelligence – Its one thing to be aggressive in your play and another to be a daft stupid behavior on the pitch. More so when VAR is available, its pretty bad football intelligence to grab someone’s throat. I mean you make a foul, just accept a card and just walk to your position. Mo did the same, aren’t these guys have any footballing intelligence. Aren’t these guys highly paid matured professional?
    2. The own goal fiasco, correct me if iam wrong, Auba is at the near post and probably the first defender, why the hell did he flick it behind him rather than heading it back in the direction the cross came in?
    Yesterday id di mention that iam dreading the R word. We surely are in the Relegation dog fight. Iam scared really and remember my friend who is to say this about Sheffield Wednesday ‘ Great Stadium, Great Fans, Shit Team’. Hope we dont have to say the same.

  • Cheers PtT

    I think you are right that Bellerin has been instructed to go forward (and Willian to go central as well as stay on the wing). I thought Elneny covered well for him, but the problem is that Bellerin just has not got the attacking instinct we need in such a position. He is not aggressive and incisive enough. Such a nice lad who cares about the club but just lacking the required quality unfortunately.

  • Cheers Madhu, I really don’t understand why Xhaka let himself go like that. He normally is much more controlled. Arteta thought it was caused by over-commitment by Granit and I can understand that a combination of eagerness and nervousness can lead to such an action, especially when the chips are down. Still it was stupid and damaged us.

    Re Auba’s own goal. I think he had no time or space to anything else than get his head to it. It was a sharp corner and he was unlucky. He would not score a goal like that again in a hurry even if he would want to.

  • Oh the boring CL draw. It is all so calculated and the UEFA darlings once again got an easy draw:

    Borussia Monchengladbach v Manchester City

    Lazio v Bayern Munich

    Atletico Madrid v Chelsea

    RB Leipzig v Liverpool

    Porto v Juventus

    Barcelona v Paris St-Germain

    Sevilla v Borussia Dortmund

    Atalanta v Real Madrid

    Last eight…. BM, Liverpool, Juve, Barca, Real Madrid, Man City. Only games worth watching Atletico v Chavs and Sevilla v Dortmund.

  • The UEFA League is more exciting this year: “The Europa League may be Europe’s second-tier competition but today’s draw contains the leaders of all five major European leagues – Real Sociedad, Tottenham, Bayer Leverkusen, AC Milan and Lille.” From the BBC website.

  • The Atletico Mardid vs. Chelsea and the Barcelona vs. PSG seem to be the though encounters in the CL. +
    In UEFA we got a big, but not impossible challenge. Benfica is about as strong as West Ham or Newcastle. Other exciting pairings are
    Lille vs AJAX
    Real Sociedad vs MU
    RB Salzburg vs Villareal
    Olympiakos vs. PSV

  • We played Benfica in the official games in 1991-92 UCL Qualifications. Both games finished 1-1 after 90 minutes but they scored twice in the extra-time at Highbury to knock us out. George Graham was in charge.

    We put 5 past them at the Emirates Cup twice – once it was Yaya Sanogo who scored four.

  • Wolfsberger v Tottenham
    Dynamo Kyiv v Club Brugge
    Real Sociedad v Manchester United
    Benfica v Arsenal
    Red Star Belgrade v AC Milan
    Royal Antwerp v Rangers
    Slavia Prague v Leicester
    Salzburg v Villarreal
    Braga v Roma
    Krasnodar v Dinamo Zagreb
    Young Boys v Bayer Leverkusen
    Molde v Hoffenheim
    Granada v Napoli
    Maccabi Tel-Aviv v Shakhtar Donetsk
    Lille v Ajax
    Olympiakos v PSV Eindhoven

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