Arsenal Player Ratings: Arteta Creates The Complete Midfielder, Laca Takes the Pee, Obvious MOTM

After an under par first-half performance, the boys stepped it up in the second half and earned themselves a hard-fought win on the south coast. This was all about fitness levels for ninety minutes and patience; and it seemed to me that Arteta had instructed the boys to start compact and not to use too much energy initially. In the second half, the brakes were loosened and the boys started to combine some fine passes which led to a few more than half-decent chances. Unfortunately, Auba lacked once again his ‘normal’ cool and precision and Martinelli was also not decisive if and when a half-chance came to him.

Lacazette gouden wissel, Leeds sloopt Liverpool-bedwinger West Brom

But Arteta was on it; he brought on Laca and within 21 seconds – the expected time for most mammals larger than a rat to pee – he struck gold. A glorious run from our own half by Saka, shrugging off players like they were made of fluff in the process, made all the difference. Saka’s run was impressive enough, but he still had the composure to look up, spot Laca, and place the ball perfectly in front of him – the ball was never off the ground. Laca had time to take the all important first touch and then he found the net like a seasoned sharpshooter. It really was the only and decisive highlight of the game. It was not vintage Arsenal, but the salt and dirt from this game will have tasted extra nice when the boys took their showers after the game. It was a victory of cup game proportions. Arsenal just had to win it, and win they did.

Player Ratings – all boys get an extra half point for commitment.

Leno: 8 – this was a very assured performance by our German goalkeeper. I loved the way he got down quickly and decisively twice, holding on to the ball in the process. Assured in the air, as he once again enjoyed the protection of two classical, ‘English’ CBs. Distribution was not bad, especially with so few options for him for the long balls.

Tierney: 7.5 – did his job in defence well and tried hard to make things happen in attack, with a few peaches of crosses.

Mari and Holding: 7.5 – strong in the air and calm on the ground. Brighton were disappointing and they were only going to score from a high ball into the box today. Both Mari and Holding were not having it and bossed the castle all game long. Passing out from the back and long balls are for both a work in progress, but these boys will fight for us all the way.

Bellerin: 7.5 – it looks like Hector is starting to find his groove again, and he really likes working with Saka both in attack and in defence.

Elneny: 7 – looked tired at times and made a few mistakes, but he also made one or two vital interceptions and always reads the game well when we are defending.

Xhaka: 7.5 – nothing fancy today, just hard work, concentration and reading the game well for ninety minutes. It’s sad to think that just one mistake will make many Gooners jump on him again. Arteta simply loves him.

Martinelli: 7 – BHA knew that the danger would come from Marti and Saka, and they were on them constantly in the first half. They also were very disciplined in blocking off the sides and kept us at bay for quite a while. Marti was less influential than in the Chelsea game, but his hard work was nevertheless important for us.

ESR: 8 – Emile really impressed me with his positioning and discipline; he gave hardly anything away and avoided making fouls for ninety minutes. He may be regarded as a nr10 by many but today he showed he is on his way to becoming a complete midfielder.

Saka: 8.5 – MOTM – worked hard and played so maturely. And then that run, dribble and quality ball into the box for Laca that made all the difference. A very, very fine assist. He is so good Arteta just does not dare to take him off… yet he has to be careful not to overplay Bukayo.

Auba: 6 – Pierre is struggling to regain his phenomenal form of last seasons, and once again he was not sharp when it mattered. But I did like his work rate in defence and so a six seems appropriate.


Laca: 8 – to come off the bench like that and take your chance with such calm and calculated execution is very special. This was not a tap in but a fine goal that earned us three points (or two if you are pedantic about it 😉 ). This is were experience pays off; a masterstroke by Arteta.

Ceballos and AMN were not long enough on the pitch to pass judgement.

By TotalArsenal.

39 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: Arteta Creates The Complete Midfielder, Laca Takes the Pee, Obvious MOTM

  • Happy to see Arsenal winning again but technically the team was not good,too many back pass from Bellerin,instead of playing the ball forward.Once again it was a pity to watch Auba,he should have been replaced.

  • Thanks Anuraj, Bellerin is often an outlet for players to give the ball to… but once he gets it there are often no options other than to play it back. If he takes too much of a risk it is a straight turnover which could cost us. So I don’t blame him. But this is the only position, other than CF, where I feel we can improve the first team.

  • A friend of mine who watched the game was of the opinion that Aubameyang doesn’t look interested and on the BBC website he got the lowest mark and that included our subs so I don’t know what going on between his ears atm, could he be regretting signing that new contract?

    My friend also mentioned that when Lacazette came on he gave Elneny a rollicking for playing safe and told him in no uncertain terms to pass forward and that pleased me.

    Four days rest then we go again vs West Brom before we get a week off prior to the FACup so I’d go with this squad and starting XI again at the Hawthorns.

  • Auba did ok attitude wise, Kev. People project their feelings quickly onto the players. I thought he made important contributions in limiting crosses from BHA’s right side, and he got into scoring positions a few times. He just has not got the sharpness and luck, as he was very close to scoring in the second half (from once again a good action and cross from Saka).

  • Thanks for the ratings Total, Brighton obviously tried to counter our threat down the flanks and West Brom will do the same, we stayed patient and in the end our quality made the difference.
    We’ll need a repeat of that this weekend.

    Arteta may well be exiting his first real crisis as the Arsenal manager, same with his staff, it’s all a learning curve and Mikel has it seems learnt his lessons well…

    That last bit sounded a bit Crosby, Stills and Nash…

  • Thanks for the ratings TA. Wow watching coverage of these covid cases and looks like the premier league might have to take a break. I know TA mentioned a large number of new cases was it 42K? With a number of Fulham staff/players testing positive I would be nervous if I were a Spurs player to play against them so football in general will at some point have to fall in line with society in general and stop for a while to slow down the virus.

  • Cheers Kev, we knew it would be hard to play them, but they left their footballers out; with that I mean those who can do a bit more than stay in position and find the next free man. When they came on after Laca scored we played so disciplined and just did not allow them space and time with the ball. All midfleders were ace and so were the defence, and Auba to be fair really did his part defensively.

  • Fair enough Total, it’s just his body language of late is a tad worrying.

    I’ll see MotD soon and that’ll give me a better feel…

  • Yes Maka, the figure for the last 24 hours is even higher at a whopping 53k, that is 90% of the Emirates filled with cases. It is tough and the PL may well have to take a break too, but only with strict rules for the players. Let’s hope they can continue as we do not have much else to watch sportswise.

  • That is the body language of an introvert, Kev. He just cannot help it I think. We can read things into it and maybe there is truth in it all, but maybe we are just projecting this. With an introvert it is hard to tell.

  • T, over the years I’ve seen every emotion attributed to players who were being hated on by gooners at any particular moment. Occasionally it seems obvious to many of us, but I’m willing to bet that we’re wrong 85% of the time. As you said, it’s projection, and it’s unfair. I haven’t seen the game yet, but from the description I heard online, Aubas one chance wasn’t terrible, the keeper seemed a bit lucky, and Auba could have guided it a little away from him. But to me, following along, it seemed that when we opened up a little in the second half, he almost scored. Remember, the first half we were super conservative, and last week he didn’t get a chance to play with the new setup and our creative kids.

    People, just leave him alone. If we create even the most average amount of chances with a lineup like today, and he as the lone CF , he will score more than his share. He’s been so limited all season by negative tactics, bad lineups, forced to defend like a winger on the team with the lowest chance creation on top of all that, not to mention hundreds of useless high crosses.

    I did see Lacazettes goal and it was better than it’s description. He put it exactly where it needed to be, and that as first touch coming in cold off the bench. I always say, he is a very good striker in and around the box, with some creatives around him. Unfortunately, it’s almost exactly the same with Auba, except he can also be much more effective on counters and breaks. They have proven that they’re unselfish when playing together, but with our current midfield, that’s not a good idea.

    Kev I remember Cantwell in name only, so I’ll keep my eye on him if they come up next season. I love people who make a gutsy prediction like that. I have a feeling I’ll agree, because we usually do lol.

    The fact that Norwich are in a promotion fight makes Buendia much harder to pry away from them. Promotion money is huge. Maybe a purchase but we loan him back for the rest of this season? Or a deal, also for the summer… this price if they’re promoted, or that price if they are not? I know we need him now, but let’s face it, even 2 weeks ago I didn’t think we were in danger of relegation, and now I’m back hoping for top 6. Buendia to me would be worth waiting for next season.

    I have to look up Brandt. I remember his name as an up and comer in Germany. Similar to Draxler, but I really started to see Draxler as overrated… i generally dont like any players that PSG touches…. I cant explain why. I just have no respect for the organization and what they stand for….. though people swear he’s a big talent.

    If, as I hear, Brandt can play a 10 or 8, and can move past some defenders, I’d be very interested. Danny tries, but he’s not quick enough, and we can’t just rely on Partey, even when healthy. Imagine having the option to move Brandt deeper and subbing in Smith Rowe to add to the attack , maybe leaving in Partey and taking off Xhaka or Elneny? Nice options for a common situation.

  • Well I’ve seen the highlights and Aubameyang seemed ok to me, he was unlucky with one and and missed another that is usually food and drink to him so as J suggests, I will leave him alone.

    Smith Rowe is looking quite ‘the man’ floating between the lines if he can retain his fitness he could be the missing ingredient. Now I do hope that Nelson will get a chance next time out, even if it’s just a seat on the bench?

  • Appreciate the reviews TA– thanks! Not much to dislike in a tidy show after the half.
    My view post-match on the previous thread– ‘That 2nd-half showed that not only do The Kids listen– they perform. Solid, aggressive and a no-drama ending. What I liked quite a bit was how clean the team played– against a more physical side. Few fouls, no bookings. That’s how a more talented side is expected to play– and win. Nice job.’

    A bit stumped by that tactic of Graham Potter’s of keeping his most dangerous players out. Maupay has been a thorn to us– Trossard and March have been productive. Even Welbz– being an ‘ex with a purpose’ seems reason enough to have started one of the above. Perhaps figuring they’d find a way (through Lewis Dunk) per usual.

    So we go– on to West Brom. El Jefe Arteta has a working formula. Ply it and refine it.


  • J– I agree with Kev on Todd Cantwell. Had my eye on him over the last term– almost in the same vein I’d been touting Grealish (to the point of assuming Villa was almost certainly to be relegated– and Arsenal ought to target both he and Tyrone Mings). Though I can understand where HH is– with regard to what Cantwell provides for Norwich. However, when a talented youngster is expected to be more than he can be for a team– where he’s surrounded by players of not-quite PL caliber? Perhaps it’ll take playing with better players that you’ll see the quality come through more consistently. Grealish, playing on the left, came into his own this season– after being paired with Ross Barkley at ACM for the first 6 games. Barkley’s gone down with injury. Now Grealish is in the hole– with a pair of grinders in John McGinn and Douglas Luiz playing behind him– that allow Jack to be as freewheeling as he likes. Right place, right time, better players around him.

    Think that Todd Cantwell has that same potential too.


  • Bonaroca:- I am very happy to see Arsenal winning there last two matches, while Mr Arteta is looking after points, which has put extra pressure on the defense by wasting ttime passing the ball backwards which automatically starve the forwards which at times looks disjointed.
    The system that Arsenal are playing is also slower than many teams due to the fact that there is t much passing of the ball from one side to the other which is anther point why the forwards are not getting any goals.Arsenal have what one could say pure wingers who are capable of putting pressure on any team.My comments are observations which any Tom & Harry could notice.
    Well, wish the team now to move forward to catch up for the top position.
    Wish you all players and officials a Happy New year.

  • J, that is another great comment and all agreed.

    I am naturally defensive of players because of the projection thing, and because I feel we are cutting often in our own flesh by making them less and less confident and feel unloved. I go with the manager’s views re players, especially when we have a good people’s person in charge, which is the case with Arteta. He knows the players, we only know what we see on the pitch.

    There have been/are players I dislike(d) or not rate highly, but I try to remain balanced and fair, which is not always easy.

  • Hi Oswald, thanks for the comment and wishes. We remain a work in progress, especially when playing out from the back. I think it will get better once Gabriel and Partey are integrated into the team.

  • It’s cold and frosty today, interesting to see Fat Sam say that the Premier League should have a break during this period of increasing WuFlu cases, a kind of circuit break as the buzz word goes.
    Now being the crusty old cynic that I am, I wonder if this public statement from Sammy boy has more to do with his own position at West Brom than it is a general wish to protect football, because to me it seems more a wish to have a couple of weeks off so that his players can have a rest and where he can drill them into a well oiled low block unit?
    Let’s not forget that West Brom were one of those clubs who voted against 5 subs – yep, the biter is being bitten…

  • Hah agreed, Kevinlinski. Fat Sam is desperate for a break to save his position, but it makes little sense to call for a circuit breaker, as the players are much more likely to mix with friends and families during this period and then attracting C19 that way.

  • The good:
    – back-to-back winning
    – 3 points from an away game with a clean sheet
    – nobody sent off, not even a single booking
    – 9 key passes
    – Lacazette’s goal was a real gem. This was a half chance at best, and we used to miss 10 out of 10 from such situations
    – Martinelli and Smith-Rowe getting minutes to develop full-game fitness

    The not-so-good:
    – while Leeds destroyed WBA on the road, we are celebrating a lousy 1-goal win against a poor BHA side, what makes it even worse – based on our past form – our reaction is completely justified
    – playing it too safe in midfield. Watch ‘The Breakdown’ on the Chelsea win on Arsenal’s website: Adrian Clarke appreciated convincingly the season’s worst passing statistics (only 3 players managed to get over 80%), demonstrating a shift from safe side passes to bold, more probing balls. Yesterday we went back to our risk-free ways (every field players over 76%, 4 over 90%).
    – while many applauds for it, the almost identical line-up and bench means that Arteta is still not optimizing the team, tactics and substitutions to the opponent, challenge and fitness levels, simply found a better line-up and sticks to it
    – when playing against a weaker opponent, Elneny’s limitations become more and more transparent (losing the ball in a dangerous situation is not among them)
    – Saka was the obvious and undisputed MotM, but he managed to achieve it (not for the first time this season) by being part of almost every constructive move. He is indeed our most consistent player along with Gabriel, but the too many awards prevents discussion that he plays with many mistakes: poor first touches, losing the ball on many occasion and an alarming preference to draw a fault instead of passing the ball further.

    Nevertheless it is 6 positives and 5 negatives, but yesterday was closer to a mixed bag than a superb performance.

  • Re the not so good, PB:

    1. Why compare with Leeds and not say Wolves or West Ham? If Leeds manage to beat BHA 5-0 when they finally meet I would have respect for that, but we are still not comparing like with like.
    2. Chelsea gave more space away and it was a totally different game for the midfield. The game also came very soon after the Chavs top-performance game, and it was one for grinding out today.
    3. You have got a point but many would have criticised Arteta if he had picked a much changed team and dropped points. If you were in his shoes what would you have done?
    4. How many games did Elneny play this month? He has held the fort when others were injured or suspended? He was clearly fatigued, but I still so him make some vital interceptions and his positioning is always good. Highest respect for him.
    5. Saka has many mistakes? We all see it differently. 😉

  • I am happy indeed. I just cannot help myself from stating the obvious, that the glass is not entirely full. Which is known to everybody, yet is rarely admitted.

    Your arguments are mostly valid, but I don’t think Arteta should give a damn if many would have criticized him for making changes (especially when we play once in every 3 days).
    Elneny indeed played a lot in December. My point was not blaming Mo for playing the Elneny-way, rather challenging the need to keep him in the starting XI when – clearly and justifiably – fatigued, and is known to have no attacking contribution, against a defensive-minded team.

  • I think we needed Mo for his defensive contributions and excellent positioning, and with three attackers in front of Xhaka and him it made sense to me. What it does show is that Arteta does not think either Ceballos, Willock or AMN are to be trusted in the double DM positions at the moment. Which is a concern for them.

  • TA, did you change the layout/design/theme recently?
    Because it looks different than it did 30 minutes ago…
    Or is it just my Windows malfunctioning? 🙂

    Re Elneny: he was vital against MU and Chelsea with his no attacking contribution. But I wouldn’t start him against a bottom half team, even when Partey injured. You might be right on Arteta not trusting Ceballos, Willock or AMN in the double pivot role, but it could also be him being too reluctant to change a winning squad, even is the dynamics of the game is completely different.

  • 1-0 to Arsenal playing a attritional game. 10 players that played against Chelsea played again so can understand the first half. Thankfully they didn’t concede during that first period. Second half was quite different. But the second half started with a goal mouth melee right from kick off and we somehow cleared. After that we played really well. But I have to say Auba looks like a worry for me. He missed a chance which last season he would have hurried. You cannot depend upon him to create chances for others. I particularly remember a situation where if he had to miss a defender and make a simple pass to I think martinelli was in the box. He missed it with a weak poke. Laca made a difference for sure. We seem to have the problem that we can’t get both of our strikers in form ta the same time. All in all good win on the back. Hope for another one against West brom. Trust Sam A will setup his time to kick arsenal and nick a goal on set prices.

  • Cheers Madhus and welcome. Good comment and I am sure that Auba is not a happy bunny right now. Yet I feel he will play v West Brom, possibly as a sub for Laca or Martinelli later on, and score the winner. You read it here first!

  • Manchester United v Aston Villa D
    Tottenham v Leeds D
    W.B.A. v Arsenal A
    Newcastle v Leicester A
    Chelsea v Manchester City A (2:3)
    Borussia Dortmund v Wolfsburg H

  • PB, BHA are hard to crack at home. We won the game and for the first time there…. so maybe Arteta was right to go with a double DM ‘pivot’. Imo we should always play a double DM pivot by the way. Without it we are simply too vulnerable and with three attacking midfielders in front of them I really don’t see a problem.

  • GN, I know I’ve been out of the challenge for quite a while, but I hope you’ll take my predictions into account anyway – just for the fun of it
    MU – Villa A
    Spuds – Leeds A
    Baggies – AFC A
    Newcastle – Foxes D
    Chavs 0 – Citeh 0
    Borussia – Wolfsburg H
    Liked your ratings a lot, TA.
    As for Auba, I find him very low on confidence, that’s all. His problem is that I don’t think he ever went through such a spell before, so that he looks befuddled. He just doesn’t know how to deal with that, or so it seems.
    And to be fair to him, he wasn’t very lucky yesterday, Sanchez looked surprised by his own save, and the way Auba outrun his defender not only looked like good ol’ Auba, but was evidence that the athlete is still there … but such missed chances are just precisely what happens when your confidence is low.
    Lastly, I don’t think Mikel has done a great job with the Laca-Auba partnership, he has complexified things way too much. The lads showed what their partnership could achieve when they destroyed Valencia in the EL semi-final just 18 months back. When they play together, Laca has to be the CF, and Auba – whatever we may call his position on the teamwheet – has to be on his left, and prey upon chances, cutting in from there.
    I wouldn’t be shocked if Mikel started Marti on the bench so as to renew this partnership; the lad is a true wonder, but he’s only 19, and was sidelined for a year; I think he has been slotted in a little too fast. With his energy, he would give an extraordinary boost to the team around the hour, when one of his two older teammates is underperforming – I’m positive he would score then, which he has difficulty doing at the moment as a starter.

  • Hey LeG, great shout on the partnership between Laca and Auba. I prefer just playing one of them in front of the mad and eager ‘Three’ but there is no doubt that we add extra finishing power if and when we play them together.

  • Man Utd vs Aston Villa H
    Tottnum vs Leeds Utd. D
    West Bm vs Arsenal. D
    Newcastle vs Leics. A
    Chelski vs Man City. D 2-2
    Dortmund vs Wolfsbg H

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