Arsenal Player Ratings: Mixed Bag But One Player Stood Out

Blowing hot and cold – player ratings on Arsenal 1:1 Southampton

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Bernd Leno 6.5

Didn’t have much to do, the goal was not his fault and prayed well when Redmond hit the crossbar. His distribution was worse than usual, probably related to playing less from the back than usual. Not the weak link in the team. Based on his post-match statement he seems to understand the problem with the way Arsenal played in recent months.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles 6.0

A mixed bag of a performance I. Our interception king for the night, but gave the ball away multiple times (without pressure) in dangerous areas. Tied with Saka leading the ’lost possession’ department (with 18) which is something people don’t appreciate for a defender. Had the worst passing percentage of all 27 players on the pitch bar Leno. None of his mistakes led to a goal, yet it was a missed opportunity to stake his claims as RB/RWB.

Rob Holding 7.5 – MotM

A (slightly) mixed bag of a performance II. Was our best passing defender, albeit some of his long balls seemed overly ambitious. Made the most clearances on the pitch, and won all of his aerial duels, delivered crucial blocks. Yet almost gave a second-half penalty away, and lost his man Redmond in a critical moment. He hit the crossbar himself in the dying minutes with a beautiful, powerful header that deserved to go in. Among the few who can be proud of his performance.

Gabriel Magalhaes 3.5

There are some cases where it makes sense to sacrifice yourself as it is often easier to keep the score than to come back from behind. This was unfortunately not the case here. Gabriel was sent off for needlessly fouling Theo Walcott on the halfway line. It was his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt, undid some of the good things with letting his teammates and manager down.

Kieran Tierney 6.0

I have to come clean: I really think Kieran is one of the best LWBs in the league, but LCB is not his best position. He was solid in the second half of the game, but couldn’t really contribute to the attacks, and looked shaky when facing fast wingers. Could have made Walcott’s life a bit harder, but that would have been the task of a hardcore CB. Made 4 clearances though, but only a single interception.

Bukayo Saka 7.0

A mixed bag of a performance III. On one hand he often was Arsenal’s bravest player going forward and played a huge part beating 3 men building up Aubameyang’s equaliser. Dared to dribble at times. On the other hand he was wasteful in possession: only 1 out of 5 crosses connected, made pitch high 3 bad controls, and quite a few wrong decisions spoiling some of our promising counterattacks. (Interesting fact: Arsenal made 12 bad touches, Southampton only 2.) Still he was one of the brightest players on the pitch, but that tells more about the rest of the team than Bukayo.

Mohamed Elneny 5.5

Mo’s performance was not a mixed bag this evening. As usual, he didn’t make major errors, but nothing extravagant either. He made his short, efficient (side) passes, took his part in the defence with a block and 2 clearances, but his offensive contribution was non-existent. He had 3 good games this season (against Fulham, MU and Rapid), so he should rather play away from home. J Despite his high workrate and cheerful personality, he doesn’t seem the proper midfielder if we want to win a game.

Dani Ceballos 6

A mixed bag of a performance IV. If I were watching only moments of the game (e.g. during a family dinner) I could feel Dani being our best player, or even the worst depending on which parts I saw. He was our most creative player, (maybe the only one), especially in the final third. He spotted a few delightfull passes, and even had a decent shot from Nketiah’s „assist”. Yet he blew our best chance by going down for a tame penalty claim (which was not impossible to get) when – looking for – an assist would have been the better choice on so many levels. Was booked for dissent, which is quite stupid for a player of his intelligence. He had to cover for Tierney as he joined our attacks which suits Xhaka more, as it limited his value creation. And another reason for not playing Kieran as LCB…

Nicolas Pepe 5.5

Another missed opportunity to stake his claims. Had a shot blocked in the first half. Did not offer much offensively, but was surprisingly active in defence. Won 7 of his 8 duels which is uncharacteristically high in his position. Gabriel’s red card affected Nico, had only 35 touches. He was substituted in the 85th minute – and while Cedric couldn’t change the game, it wasn’t a bad or unfair decision from Mikel.

Eddie Nketiah 7.0

A striker with tackles and clearances. Struggled to get in the game in an offensive capacity as Southampton controlled possession. Nicely set up Aubameyang for the goal, and was sacrificed after the red card. Not for his lack of efforts, as he worked incredibly hard pressing the Saints’ defense all night. Overall Eddie did well, probably enough to start against Everton on Saturday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 6.5

Finally a goal – and a really nice one – and from open play. I hope it does a miracle with his confidence. But this rating won’t, as to be honest he took the only chance that fell his way to end the goal drought but offered little else. But now let’s celebrate his superb finish and hope for more to come. He should work his socks off in the remaining 4 games in December not to let TA down. 😉

David Luiz 6.0 (for Nketiah, 65)

The Brazilian is a quality six-yard-box defender and did a good job of marshalling Arsenal’s back line under continuous pressure. Will most likely start the next game following Gabriel’s red. Important cameo.

Joe Willock 5.5 (for Ceballos, 67)

Seemed to demonstrate Arteta’s will to win the game as he is a box-to-box attacking midfielder, but Joe was preoccupied with defence. Provided more legs than creativity. Made only 3 passes in 28 minutes (with 100% efficiency).

By Péter Bárány

40 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: Mixed Bag But One Player Stood Out

  • Thanks PB for a well reasoned set of player ratings.

    I agree with your MOTM but probably would have added Saka as well. Rob was solid, partly due to the great positional protection by Ainsley, and Luiz helped a lot as well. Bukayo is our spark and that was one fine dribble for our goal – very few can do that.

    Most ratings are close to mine. Gabriel was trying to fill a huge hole in midfield and I cannot blame him too much for his second yellow: these things can happen sometimes.

    My biggest disappointment was in myself. How could I have missed till this season how limited a footballer Auba is. He is a finisher and that is about it. Eddie did indeed put in a shift but is also limited as a non-finishing attacking footballer. Same goes for Laca although he is a bit better than them. We can only really afford to play one of Auba, Laca or Eddie it seems.

    Final comment is on Elneny. He was a seven for me. When he is played with Ceballos then the Egyptian will be the deeper midfielder, having to cover a lot of space. He played well in that role. I think Arteta really has to start playing with a midfielder in the hole position if he wants to make us play better. That is where Ceballos has a future but please not in the double DM-‘pivot’. He picked some great passes and we need that desperately, but we also need a solid midfield. I am convinced we would have played better with AMN next to Elneny, Soares at RB and Ceballos in the hole behind Auba and Pepe (who should have interchanged more as Pepe on the left is more lethal).

    Once again thanks for the well argued ratings.

  • Thanks for the opportunity, TA.
    I appreciate the spelling check, I really do, and please keep it up for the future, but in the first paragraph (Leno) I intentionally wrote “and prayed well when Redmond hit the crossbar”, as there was nothing else to do there but pray. 🙂
    On Saka I agree. He did the most positive things for Arsenal, so he probably has deserved a joint MotM award. I just found him becoming a Sanchez-type player who loses the ball way more often then necessary. But I was Alexis’ biggest fan, so that shouldn’t be a factor against Saka.
    On Elneny I still think he had an average game at best last night, but I probably jumped to a conclusion too early. I still stand for his best game being DM-partners with Partey, but we have to see if partnering with Thomas makes everybody a great midfielder, or they indeed have some chemistry. Nevertheless I would prefer him against heavy opponents, as a back 3 (which is a back 5) and a non-attacking midfielder puts too much pressure and responsibility on our few attacking players. Who – as you properly summarized – excel more in finishing than creating chances.

  • I had Saka for motm Holding a close second. I like the other guy wanted same midfield pairing of Elneny and AMN with Soures at r/back,who by the way would’ve excelled against his former team. Mr Walcott springs to mind, again had 60,000 faithful been in I doubt he’d of celebrated his goal.
    A goal from open play Yay 😀 at last.
    Now let’s see if The Arsenal can build on this result

  • haha PB, there was me thinking you had made a spelling mistake. Yeah Leno did put in a quick prayer when that ball went past him, hahaha. 🙂

  • I am not sure I have seen Saka lose the ball unforced a lot, PB. His passing options are so limited at times and he always tries to do something meaningful with the ball rather than just giving it to somebody so he does not have it anymore. That is what I like a lot about Bukayo. He also plays in tight spaces and gets kicked left, right and centre by defenders. That does not mean he cannot improve, or must not improve, but I think he would really love to play with a proper nr10 to combine with.

  • Hi Garry, welcome to the blog. We are missing those fans so much, it is true. I am annoyed that we let Walcott score that sort of goal, but I guess it had to be. I am also not sure what Soares has got to do to get first team starts. He is the better footballer both in defence and attack, I reckon.

  • TA, About Auba there were couple of good moments when he had a chance to deliver an assist, but the fact that he is so one dimensional he just cant make that final pass. This has been my position from the time i have watched him. Dortmund used him well as they played fast football and released him in space. In the current Arsenal setup with slow ponderous build up, he is constrained. After a long time he found space behind defenders and a delightful ball from Eddie and he did what he is best. God i miss Henry and the entire team of early Wenger years. Now you feel that they really didn’t fulfill their potential. They should have really won Champions League and retained PL atleast once.
    On Another point, we saw from youngsters playing and not only their drive, but you can see their body language which is no different from that of Auba, Willian, Laca etc. Ultimately it was down to Saka and Eddie to unlock the defense. That’s why a healthy mix of seniors and juniors a must from now on. AMN should be played in the center as well. Ceballos had good moments and really should be scored in stead of trying to get a Penalty. Pepe should do better when he gets a chnace atleast make the goalkeeper to move to his right or left to make a save. All in all some positives but you cannot win games when you keep playing half the games with 10 men,

  • Great blog to have discovered, well written and balanced!

    I have to say I feel 5.5 for Pepe and 6.5 for Auba seems a little off, Auba did nada but score and Pepe tried lots of things but couldn’t hit a barn door. I thought his energy and all action was decent compared to Auba’s sluggishness bar for the goal. Not saying Pepe was great but more that to be a whole one mark below Auba who was very average seems out of kilter

  • Very harsh on some of the players. Let’s not forget we went down to 10 men with 30 minutes to play. Were you expecting a 5-0 win?

    AMN may have given the ball away, but he maintained his position and stopped attacks down that side of the pitch. Bellerin would have been playing right wing not bothering with the dirty part of the game. Maybe it doesn’t fit with his philosophy?

    Saka MoM easily for me. Holding did well.

    @TA what are you expecting from PEA? He scores goals…

  • Good Morning, TA,

    A very creditable Player Ratings assessment by Peter, and I would possibly only change to a joint MoTM, as I thought Holding was also excellent covering for Gabriel on an ‘Off Day’ — and Saka is simply brilliant, the only worry being that he is carrying the whole forward line.

    You are not alone in your concern about Auba, I have also wondered at what has happened to him this season, because if he is currently unable to get on the scoresheet, as he has in previous seasons …… what else has he got? 🙄

  • Hi RA,

    Nice to hear from you here! 🙂

    Yeah what is wrong with Auba? I think he is not a natural runner but rather waits to pounce when the opportunity arises. He also seems an introvert and thus doesn’t show emotion naturally. We know he is an excellent finisher and maybe the balance in attack is just not right. Too many are looking at trying to finish an opportunity rather than creating one for another attacker. Maybe?

    It just seems that he is out of form and confidence and that is a lot of pressure on him.

  • Morning RA, So nice to read one of your comments again.

    A well balanced player rating PB – thank you.

    I thought the team did very well to gain a point with 10 men. Stopping a long(ish) losing streak was important.

    Saka is a joy to watch and was my personal MOM but Rob Holding has matured into a first class all round defender.

    This EPL season is pretty much a write off which gives Arteta a wonderful opportunity to “blood” more of the younger players.

  • Pete the Thirst, TA invited readers late November to predict/guess/bet on how many goals would Auba score in December.
    He demonstrated a fine example of optimism by going with 8. I estimated 4. And maybe some other members joined the game, it was about 3 weeks ago.
    Of course there were no awards, so probably betting is not the proper word here, which made perfect sense at the time, but now I kind of regret it. 😛

  • GN5,

    I have missed you. How are you keeping? Well, I hope. I had no idea you had found a home here with TA — I’m delighted! 😁

    I haven’t been on TA’s great blog site for a long time. Truth to tell, I have been cutting back on all blogging, and intended to stop altogether a month ago. But Rocky has been left holding the fort, and I have found it difficult to just let go.

    And now you are here, as well, I will be more tempted!! 👍

  • TA,

    Auba is a brilliant goalscorer, and when shooting after running on to a defence splitting pass, he is among the best.

    He was OK-ish in previous seasons, but it was rumoured he had delayed his contract extension in the hope Barca would come calling — but did not.

    Maybe that took something out of his enjoyment at the Gunners, despite being given a good contract. My fingers are crossed that he will buck up after Xmas, and start scoring for fun.

  • RA, I’m delighted to blog on BK it’s very harmonious, problem free site and so well administered by TA.

    I’ve been here since leaving AA along with two of our other friends – Erik the Red pops up every so often and makes a comment – but Chas seems to have stopped blogging altogether.

    It would be great if you continued commenting on BK as you are ideally suited to BK.

    I’ve not been so well but at the moment everything seems to be under control – so I keep trucking along.

  • I’m sorry to hear you have not been too well, and I hope it does not get you down too much.

    You might remember that I had not blogged on AA so much in recent times, but after being away for a while I got back to AA and was shocked to find you and the other guys, Chas (Duck) Big Daddy, Micky, et al had called it quits.

    I thought you had agreed to take on the admin duties, when asked, because it was becoming too much for them, so I made some enquiries and was politely told to mind my own business, which was fair enough as it was not my blog, and I did not know the why’s and wherefores.

    Anyway, AA would have gone under if Rocky and RC had not worked on the necessary Posts, as no one else was doing so.

    In the circumstances, as you are not feeling too well, perhaps it was all to the good.

    I hope I will see at least another one of your magnificent Posts on BK ?? 😁

    I am still not blogging too much nowadays, but I hope to see you, TA and Erik the Red here on BK.

  • Peter, very detailed reviews and I agree with most. I hope you can do more of these for us.

    Especially loved your view of Dani. My mental note while watching was, this guy hustles his ass off for the team. For a Madrid guy on loan, who probably prefers a CAM role, I can’t fault him for getting occasionally sloppy because he’s giving to much on both ends, defending dangerously in the box (i can remember at least one important clearance) and he really throws his body around as he battles.. Tries do drive forward and make things happen, but is limited by other duties as you explained. In a well functioning lineup, I think he’d be great.. Remember I call him Ramsey minus the goals.

    I might get into other individuals later, but I want to say, Southampton are very good and the table shows it. I’ve watched the league a lot so I already knew. The coach may actually be something special.
    In general, Arteta should have had us prepared for the Theo threat. We won’t know if he did though. We all know what happens when good teams have scoring droughts, or feel the pressure to score more urgently. The defenders venture forward more, especially when they know our midfield is really lacking. Everyone knows it, including the opposing teams.

    I don’t think we looked as sharp as last week, and when we tried pressing in the 2nd half, we looked disorganized and a little feeble. I think the coach needs to focus on that in training much more.
    Also on Arteta, I think it was either Kev or HH who mentioned the conservative bench he chose.
    I agreed, and it left us with poor sub options at the end.

    Personally, with limited midfield options, and lacking creativity, I wouldn’t be playing with 2 strikers starting. I see the temptation, having 3 good ones. But i think we need as many skill players helping in midfield and creating and defending. I’d play Auba and maybe remind everyone that they’re just as welcome to shoot as a strikers are.
    Still more crosses than I’d like to see. Saka and Pepe can do much better things than crossing when they have the ball.

  • RA!

    I was asking for you! Its so great to hear from you. You know you’re really special to me. Thanks for the update for us. I didn’t know all that was happening. Remember, we won’t let difficulties at Arsenal or in life change our attitudes! Be well and stay in touch.

  • Hearing from RA about what’s going on, and being reminded of the great blogger friends he mentioned…. I’d love to see a merger ! Them joining us of course.

  • RA,
    I had agreed to help out Chas and Erik the Red, the three of us were doing the lions share of the posts and work anyway, but the missing admin came out of the woodwork and took exception – so we packed our bags and left. But that’s all water under the bridge and thanks to Total there is never any nonsense here on BK.

    Like Jync I’m glad to see you posting back here on BK, I realized some time back that you had posted here previously when I noticed your pseudonym on the list of authors, welcome back.

  • Jync,

    A merger might bring with it some unforeseen issues, but it would be great to see some of the fine bloggers, like RA, over here on BK.

  • RA,

    I post most weeks but I’ve been preoccupied the past few weeks – however I will get back in the saddle very soon.

  • N5, I understand… some of those “admin issues” mentioned, reminded me of the reason I felt more comfortable following T here.
    The merger I proposed less in the technical sense, but really just a nice open invitation for some good people to join us here.

  • A non Arsenal point I’d like to make. Watching United play right now, I hate to say it, but Rashford is turning into exactly the kind of player that we hoped Theo would become for us.

    Also, Fernandez is the best CAM I’ve seen in a long time, and after watching him play regularly, with our current deficiencies, I feel a lot of jealousy, because we could’ve afforded him.

  • Surely Auba is not scoring because he has not had much opportunity to do so.

    He has been going game after game with a couple of shots only.

    The reason could be because Arteta does not play with an attacking midfield and, certainly without any creativity.

    The ball is very rarely placed in a position that a goal predator like Auba can make use of it.

    It is primarily Areteta’s negative style of football that dictates the ridiculously low number of shots we have per game, whether on target or not.

    Let us not get carried away with a point against a higher team, at home. We still have 1 point in 5 home games, hardly much to write home about.

    I did not watch the game, so cannot comment on what the performances merited.

    What I find interesting is to give a player 6 or 7 points, which indicates a reasonably good performance and then in the paragraph afterwards, is highlighted how badly he played.

    I wonder for whose benefit the points are given,

    For those who watched it, they will have their own view as to how well a player played.

    To those who did not watch it, is it not a bit misleading to give a high point and then slag him off.

    Let us not beat about the bush.

    We are awful in every part of the field. For there to be an improvement that means anything that improvement must be marked and effective,

    So for those who saw the match are they satisfied that there really was an improvement or just a delay in execution?

    At least there is no risk of Allardice being brought in to rescue us.

  • Thanks for the ratings PB. Couldn’t really pick out a MOTM to be honest, thought there were lots of negatives for everyone, but also a few positive moments from some.

    Elneny was the wrong side of his man on several occasions yesterday, which was concerning for me. Then there was the floated cross field pass that he tried to give to Saka without any pressure and sent it straight to the opposing CB, about 10 yards short of where Saka was. Elneny is better with Partey in the side, as are most of the CMs in general.

    It’s clear we lack athleticism, technical quality and creativity in this side. The players are clearly low on confidence right now, best exemplified by Ceballos’ pass to Auba on the break that should have led to a direct scoring chance – instead he sent it to the corner flag basically.

    I’m glad we held on once we went down to 10, but it is getting quite difficult to watch the Arsenal these days. It seems to take us 45 mins to get into the game, then any momentum is undone by petulant red cards. We’re finding new ways to cost ourselves 3 points.

  • Thanks for all your work PB, I didn’t see the game as I have no intention of making Jeff Bezos anymore disgustingly wealthy than he already is, so I listened to the radio, therefore I can’t really comment on your marking, but that’s a well written effort, well done.

    It seems that two red cards have cost us a lot and possibly two wins in our last two games, but sh*t happens, this a long season and a lot can change very quickly.

    5 subs thrown out again by the the luddites, congratulations!

  • Followed some of the comments from previous threads; fine viewpoints, all round.

    Can’t say I disagree with any of the ratings; just a bit odd to be naming a MoTM when we appear to still be in a funk and didn’t get a much needed win against Southampton, allowing Theo a goal against us to boot. Yes, Holding did good but I can’t get over some of his misplaced passes and decisions in dangerous situations for the team.

    I agree with Kev’s Postulations, in a previous thread, about some of our lads reaching an emotional and technical limit, under stress. Pepe was plain petulance, bordering on stupidity. Gabriel looked to me like he wanted an early shower as he had his worst game for us; the second yellow helped free him from the stress and from the “responsibility”. Xhaka’s case was clearly a bit of coping with the stress and hitting his technical limit (that tackle). However, what the cameras never showed us in the replays of that incident was how the player had planted his foot behind a retreating Xhaka so as to have him fall over, heavily, which riled him. No excuse for grabbing the throat but, when you are on edge…… Bottom line; our boys are in dire need of a win. If it comes against Everton, it may be the antidote to get us out of this rut we appear to be stuck in.

  • GN5, thanks for keeping up with the Predictions game; about the only fun one gets out of the EPL this season😁. My predictions for the weekend’s (did you miss out on the midweek?) round of games are:

    Southampton v Manchester City A
    Everton v Arsenal. D
    Newcastle v Fulham. D
    Tottenham hotspur v Leicester City. D
    Manchester United v Leeds. H
    Barcelona v Valencia. H

  • I bloody am, TA. Even considering to say that even if the boys can’t give me the happiness on a weekly bases, the community here surely can. 🙂

    And they were convincing too, so I would – on popular request – share the MotM award between Holding and Saka.

    On jjgsol’s observation, unfortunately I have to agree that “it is primarily Arteta’s negative style of football that dictates the ridiculously low number of shots we have per game, whether on target or not”, but we are still the minority on this topic. Regarding the level of ratings I admit they might be a very little higher than the performances objectively deserved, but we ended a series of defeats and also managed to salvage a point playing with 10 men for 30+ minutes.
    When I rate I use 6.0 as average. I know that arithmetically 5 should be the average, but since armchair managers don’t play, realistically scores 1-2 are reserved only to ventilate our frustration, so the realistic distribution of rates are between 3 and 9. So I awarded 3 ‘above avarage’ scores (excluding Leno’s bonus given for his post-game observations) and 4 below average. Meaning that while a home draw against Southampton shouldn’t make us proud, that is the expected average when playing with 10 men for 1 third of the game.

  • Don’t have too much time this morning– but wanted to say PB’s ratings/comments were quite good for me– as well as TA’s initial followup comments. Thanks guys.


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