Arsenal Player Ratings: Two MOTM, ESR Arteta’s Link-up Beast, Ceballos Impresses

West Brom 0 – 4 Arsenal.

Well now that was a joy to watch on a cold and wet Saturday night! We will analyse the game over the next couple of days, but here are the player ratings.

Arsenal swingt als vanouds en maakt gehakt van West Brom

Player Ratings

Leno: 7 – Not much to do but one decent low safe and good involvement with the rest of the team. Once again enjoyed the aerial protection of both Holding and Mari.

Bellerin: 6.5 – Worked hard to support the attack but final ball into the box remains below par. It is costing us goals.

Holding and Mari: 7.5 and 7 – Kings in the air and really up for the fight. They kept it simple except for a couple of loose passes. Half a point extra for Robbo for his Tierney assist.

Tierney: 9 -MOTM – superb attacking game on the left and he scored the all important first goal – his second goal for the club. He had an assist and could have had a hat-trick of assists tonight.

Ceballos: 7.5 – a few great attacking balls over the top and he kept it relatively tidy in midfield. A bit more composure in attack would make him even more effective.

Xhaka: 7 – a very tidy performance sitting between attack and defence. Nothing fancy but Granit was constantly available and did the simple passing and positioning well.

ESR: 8 – great assist for the goal of the season (so far) and Emile really linked up play between the lines well once again. He is our linkup Beast and key to Arteta’s new system. Loved his shot that led to Laca’s first goal.

Saka: 8.5 – The Silk scored a great team goal and he just offered that extra class in creating chances. Also some fine defensive contributions. Rest him for a while now, Mikel.

Auba: 6.5 – no goals again but he was close and Pierre wanted it so badly but it just did not come off.

Laca: 9 -MOTM – superb display but Alex who really loves playing in our 4-2-3-1 system. Took both his goals really well and he also had a good part to play in our second (team) goal. He played for the team and the team rewarded him with two goals.


Maitland-Niles: 7 – took over well from Hector.

Willian: 6.5 – got involved quite a bit but struggled to be effective – final ball still too tame.

Willock: 6 – really struggling to come on and adjust to the tempo of the game. Needs a start.

By TotalArsenal.

44 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: Two MOTM, ESR Arteta’s Link-up Beast, Ceballos Impresses

  • Kieran Tierney became the first Scottish player to score an away Premier League goal for Arsenal and the first to do so in the top-flight since Charlie Nicholas v Ipswich Town in March 1986…

    The energy and verve from our young players is infectious, it’s given our seniors the boost/kick up the jacksy that they’ve required. It also seems as if the young players are more prepared to take instructions from Arteta and do what he asks and that also rubs off on maybe some of our more cynical seniors?

  • It’s an explanation, Kev. The change of formation and pushing up higher is equally important. Look at Laca, he is like a freed man and I never doubted his motivation before.

  • The first Scot to score for us away from home since Champagne Charlie. Well deserved MOTM. He was right at home in the snow. I played three seasons in the Czech Republic where the season is divided by winter. The last few games of the autumn half were often played in snow. Orange ball, gloves and a shot of slivovica at half time. Our second goal was right out of the AW playbook, mesmerisingly beautiful. Shades of Jacky W against Norwich. ESR, Laca and “Silk” fully deserved your ratings.

  • I thought it was a good assessment of how Afc players played but must say i thought the three subs especially Willock did nothing,i admit they had very little time but we lost something when these three were on

  • Pretty much posted the same marks Total on the Arseblog player ratings, I am really enjoying the understated, calm and reliable partnership of Rob Holding and Pablo Mari at the heart of our defence, pretty much unflappable in the way they go about their respective jobs with the minimum of fuss, it’s hard to believe that only a few months ago if our defence didn’t have 3 centre backs at the time that we were in for a hair raising afternoon. Now it’s serenity, coolness and control, what a change!

    Ceballos had a very impressive game, the movement and anticipation shown by Smith Rowe and Saka has given our attack a totally different dynamic and opened up so many attacking opportunities for our midfielders and defenders that their first though is now a forward pass rather than sideways or backwards and more often than not a really ambitious forward pass.

    Lacazette is playing some the best football I’ve seen from him since our Europa Cup final season of 2019, he really seems energised by the youngsters, whilst Aubameyang strangely almost seems inhibited by the whole change in emphasis from him as our sole goal threat. I’m sure he’ll regain his sparkle but it’s painful to see him struggling still.

    Leno is looking super reliable again, the guys in front of him have had definitely a beneficial effect on his sense of zen.

    I thought that Arteta used his substitutions sensibly and is definitely improving in that area of his management, it’s a learning curve.

    I reckon that we could afford to loan out Eddie Nketiah for the rest of this season, he needs games and he’s not going to get much with Aubameyang, Lacazette and Martinelli in front of him. Having seen a few Premier League games over the holiday I can think of half a dozen who could do with a striker like Eddie for the next 4+ months?

  • Yeah, I get that about the formation Total, but didn’t we used that formation for most of our losing streak, I think the inclusion of most attack minded young players has change the mentality of some of our more cautious types, negativity can rub off just as positivity can, it’s a state of mind and that change has been provided by our youngsters.

  • When Willian came on for Saka he initially lost possession with his first attempted pass then his next two passes were sideways and backwards, after that he became more progressive and actually did some good things going forward even if his sole attempt on goal was embarrassingly poor. Comparing him with Saka is probably not fair as Saka already is imo much the superior player with more to his game, but he can be a useful tool coming on from the bench and that’s pretty much how Chelsea used him for a lot, if not most of his time at Stamford Bridge.

    I’m not just digging him out for the sake of it Total, it’s just that he is like the ‘poster boy’ for some of our worst recruitment in recent years, not his fault but ours! I know you like him and I truly hope you are proved right, not least because I also was in favour of his signing, but in retrospect I look at him now and just think that he doesn’t do anything that Reiss Nelson cannot do…

  • Wow what a game and glad I woke up middle of night to watch it. Cold and snowy night against Sam’s team which was supposedly Arsenal’s Achilles heel for a long time banished. Well done boys and I was particularly happy that our boys escaped all the nasty kickings from Sam’s team.
    What I observed is that apart from formation and Smith being an added element from the last 3 games, it’s the first time pass to empty spaces that our players are moving are making the difference. Look at the second goal, the lay off from Smith to Saka and then onw touch pass to laca who passed it first time to Smith who was running into empty space on the right. You could see such movements and first time passed few times. No second touches or waiting on the ball. Just pass and keep moving. That’s exciting football. Will not have to see how Partey gets integrated and what will he bring to this team.
    Really happy with the results and football.

  • Appreciate the review TA– and agree with them– except Bellerin’s. Really feel his work with Saka on that flank has been the key to Bukayo having the freedom to shine. While only a small sample of games, the pair have thrived. Hector looks (dare I say) aggressive teaming with Saka.

    Kieran Tierney is my MOTM too. With many others sharing the limelight. But I want to shine a bit more on the CB team of Rob Holding and Pablo Mari– The Odd Couple. Last two guys you’d have expected to end up being mates. I’ve always held Holding in esteem. Felt he was the first real find from the club’s StatDNA project. A year or two more experienced– he might have been the right partner for Koscielny. Then Mari. A panic buy? Or true long term project? But here we are. Wondering what happens when Gabriel is fit? Guess Arteta is due for some happy headaches for a change.

    What a difference a week can make. Ringing in a happy new year. 🥳


  • Znojmo, Southern Moravia, Total. ’93 – ’97. You could buy a venison steak, a pint of Pilsener and an ice cream sundae all for 35 korun (less than a quid). Rode the tide with the Czechs as they made the final at Euro 96. Football and Ice Hockey are their games. Watched Karel Poborsky at Dynamo České Budějovice before he signed for Man U.

  • It’s a thankful job to provide player ratings after a big and clear win like this.
    I generally agree with the scores, like the explanations and absolutely couldn’t agree more with the joint MotM awards.

    The adjustments I propose is – probably for the first time for TA’s ratings – is to add some points, not to reduce some. But I feel Ceballos had a great game. His 3 key passes were proper claims to play ahead of Elneny when we rather create chances than opt for counterattacks (2nd best behind Tierney’s 4), but his defensive contributions were immense. He led both tackles (4) and interceptions (7) by a clear margin for the whole pitch, which is quite an achievement taking into consideration that WBA was defending the whole game. Dani was involved in everything, he looked to get Arsenal on the attack at every opportunity whether with a long ball or short pass, while provided good protection to the back four. I would give a full point premium to TA’s 7.5 score even without taking into consideration that the Andalusian lad had to play in fecking snow… 😉

    Regarding the Bellerin vs. AMN dilemma I don’t think Ainsley deserved better scores than Hector. They were both alright, rarely tested in defense. AMN had minimal offensive contributions, Bellerin had some wasteful crosses and long balls, but neither performance were masterclass or disasterclass. Hector could have got a 7, too… But since he was booked, the half point reduction is also justified.

    Regarding Willock, I think his 6 is flattering, but acknowledging that in his 14+4 minutes the game was practically over, and the boys lost most of their appetites he couldn’t have done much more even with better touches and decisions. But when we have a huge squad where Pepe and Martinelli couldn’t get a minute, Nelson doesn’t even have the chance to sit on the bench (along with his 2 RW mates) and Partey is already in full training, then interpreting – a sequence of – uninspired performances as ‘needs a start’ is a big ‘hell, no!’ from me.

  • Hey, Le Gall, to your question on Lacazette scoring a double in red and white, this was not his first time. The 2 occasions I remember (there could have been more) were against Valencia in the spring of 2019

    with a really strong performance from Alex beyond his brace, and the other game was Emery’s last PL match, a draw against Southampton where Laca equalized with the last shot of the game.

    In the last few weeks people were vocal to sell Laca and terminate the loan contract of Ceballos. Now they both started to show how important they are to this squad when playing good. It is time for Pepe and/or Willian to follow suit.

  • Billy, as a stand alone comment I find that a bit weird. We have just beaten a team by four goals and you just want to point out AMN’s bad performance as you see it…. I thought he did okay but Arsenal are playing like a fast flowing river and it takes a while to get used to the stream..

  • Yes Madhus, that was a glorious goal with great passing and movement. A goal Wenger and indeed Mikel’s master, Guardiola, would have celebrated.

    Glad you were able to watch the game.

  • Cheers JW. Good shout for Hector. I think it is the other way round to some extent. Saka is the cover that gives Bels more freedom. But as a pair they work well and that goes a long way. I still feel that Bels’ final ball is not top-PL level but he could still improve here… hope springs eternal! 🙂

  • Cheers Stuart, sounds like you had a really good time. I have been to the Czech republic a couple of times, but more to the north. You were near the border of Austria I reckon and that is a fine area as much as i can judge. I recognise the cheap food situation. We bought bottles of vodka for a couple of pounds top and the rest was very affordable too. Even went to see a Verdi opera with the lads in Prague for an apple and an egg so to speak. How did you get to stay so long over there?

  • Cheers PB, I thought Ceballos did well and that is reflected in the 7.5 score. He did not score or produce an assist but he added an element to our attacks we are missing when we play Elneny. His stats may be good but the one thing they do not show is his positioning and keeping the shape of the team. I feel he is ball driven rather than space driven. But by all means, if you saw an even better than 7.5 performance than who am i to blow against the wind?! 🙂

  • TA & Kev, I think it is not merely the formation change. It is the matter of playing with a #10.

    If I can be as graceless as quoting myself from my March 29. post:
    “I’m 100% positive that we would concede a lot less goals in the regular 4-3-3 formation with Xhaka, Torreira and Ceballos at midfield (thus no #10), but most likely we would score a lot less too. I’m not preferring this option, but it is clearly an alternative. It is up to Arteta and the club to pursue this scenario if they see reasonable.”

    I have the impression that Edu & Arteta opted for for the latter when sidelining Ozil, but the goals scored dried out much faster than the goals conceded. Our recent 3 wins – in my opinion – are neither the result of relying more on the academy players nor the consequences of Gabriel not playing, my money is on Emil Smith-Rowe playing better in an attacking midfielder position than Willock in the previous PL games.

  • ESR’s natural chemistry with Saka and the emergence of a third partner in Lacazette has been incredibly refreshing. Martinelli on the other side perfectly balances the attacking front.

    What I love about ESR is that he’s not even doing anything exceptional. He’s simply linking the play well by playing the ball FORWARD and QUICKLY and making great runs to receive return passes or to pull defenses out of position.

    The future is incredibly bright with Tierney, Gabriel, Saka, Martinelli and ESR all 23 or under! There’s more youth coming through too, but we all know they won’t all make it. Time to double down and bring in another CM that can play as an 8/10 to protect against injury and that has a real engine to drive play with surging runs next to Partey to solidify a potential top 4 run 🙂

  • Good point PB and I broadly agree with you, there’s also the part played by fate, or luck or good fortune, because managers are provided with the answer sometimes by circumstances, like for example Gabriel catching WuFlu which allowed the Holding/Mari combo to gell and develop, then we had Luiz and Willian taken out of the firing line due to some ‘illness’ and finally the return to full fitness of Martinelli and Smith Rowe. None of these were planned, none of them were a careful construct they were just a change of circumstances and some bloody good luck….

    Who was it, I’m sure Le Professor will tell us, but I think it was Napoleon who said don’t give me good generals give me lucky generals…

  • PB you are correct in your assessment. As I eluded to above, ESR is not doing anything different from what a 10 should be doing.

    We lacked midfielders other than ESR (who wasn’t playing) and Partey (who was injured) that would play risky forward passes. Ceballos can occasionally do it, but he was severely out of form, and Xhaka/Elneny rarely ever do and are more ball retention/recycler types (evidenced in the pass maps vs. Brighton for example).

    If we have one more relatively complete midfielder that could run, dribble past opponents, create from deep and advanced positions, press and defend well, we could continue this run of form. January is the time to strike if we can get the right players out the door!

  • I’ve noticed a slight change in opinion recently PB across the web regarding Ozil and despite my antipathy towards Mesut I can find some merit in it.

    Basically it’s been suggested that instead of wasting millions on loaning Isco we should re integrate Ozil until he leaves next summer, provided that Arteta can trust him.
    The main difference being that if Arsenal continue to win that Ozil returning won’t be viewed as Arteta reacting in a position of weakness but that it’ll be seen as a practical move made by Arteta in a position of strength, if that makes sense.

    It’s all psychological as much as footballistically

  • Kev, there’s no room for egos right now. Arteta is a rookie manager still learning and if Ozil has been training and will help the team, he should be reintegrated.

    Arteta’s already been proven wrong and he’s had no ego about it. We needed a #10 like player and it’s very likely that we would have been anywhere from 4-9 points better had we integrated one in sooner (Leicester, Burnley, Everton and Wolves matches specifically stand out where we should have gotten at least a draw).

    He finally played ESR like many of us had been asking for and our fortunes have subsequently turned around. Saka is now able to reach new heights when the entire creative burden is not solely on his shoulders. Unless there’s something else behind the scenes from ownership that is tying Arteta’s hands from registering Ozil, I think the right decision would be to reintegrate him as #10 insurance than to sign Isco on loan (however this Isco rumour is now being shut down anyway!).

  • Yeah, I get that GN5 and you are right of course we have no need for overinflated egos, but Ozil being in the squad didn’t effect our run to the cup final because we were winning, so I agree with you especially if Arteta does it from a position of authority.

    For me another midfielder to augment Partey is what I want to see because we have so much talent flowing out from Hale End that we’ll be over run with AM in about 18 months time.

  • Cruyff created a dynasty at Barcelona and La Masia was the product of that Espana/Dutch union of talent and thought. It’s spawned a conveyor belt of high quality technicians than were the basis of the greatest Spanish squad in history.

    But are we now seeing a similar Anglo/Francais version at Hale End, a fusion of Wenger and Olde English where a generation of highly talented technicians are coming into the Arsenal squad, English players playing a Wengeresque style of pass and movement, one touch with an exquisite quality that makes it look easy.

    What I loved about yesterday evenings commentary was the reference after the Saka goal of a ‘typical Arsenal goal’ by the commentary team and that is a reference to what we owe Arsene…

  • So sorry HH, it was you I was talking to, my eyes aren’t what they used to be, my apologies buddy.

  • Don’t know about Napoleon, Kev, but I do know my all-time favorite meditation on football came from your side of the Channel

  • Gooneris,

    I just noticed that for the Chelsea v Man City game you predicted a draw but gave me a score of 1-2. – can you let me know before kick off which is correct a draw or a 1-2 away win?

    If I don’t hear back from you I’m going to assume that you meant a 1-2 away win.

  • Agreed, Kev. There must have been a lot of unplanned and unpredictable aspects behind the season’s biggest win so far.
    I am not particularly surprised on the value ESR adds to the team (which – in full agreement with HH – at the moment is just a fraction of what Ozil can still bring), but I didn’t expect that we will have this 3-win-with-2-clean-sheets streak with the Mari-Holding CB partnership, and I had totally no clue that none of our strong RWs will play as Saka will be deployed at right wing. However the key to our 3 victories was not Saka playing beyond expectations at RW (as he plays well anywhere), but probably has to do with
    – switching to 4-2-3-1
    – the fine form of Lacazette and Tierney
    – sharing the creative burden among Saka, ESR and Martinelli/Aubameyang just like HH said
    – tall central defenders, who play confident with their feet (Gabriel won’t be an exception either)
    – Martinelli injecting energy to the team

  • PB, I would also add to your list that changing the roles of our midfielders has helped significantly. Xhaka and Elneny are great at progressing the ball, but not at breaking down teams (they occasionally will play an incisive ball, but it’s not frequent).

    Instead, their job is now to progress the ball to ESR, Martinelli, Saka, Tierney and Bellerin, who then link up with the attackers to create those combinations up top. With ESR central, the onus isn’t all on the wide players to create, which forces teams to not be able to overload as much on our flanks, which is opening up the offense.

  • My bad, GN5. OMG!

    I know how it looks seeing as the game has started. I meant a 1-2 win for the away side.

    Must be poor editing after copying from someone (Kev’s, I think). Thanks for the shout.

  • Good addition, HH. While I see Xhaka capable of delivering long passes and through balls, it is indeed not in his job description to provide assists – at least under Arteta. With 3 + 2 possible recipients (excluding the striker) it is easier to spot the one in the best position.

  • wanted to watch santa clara – benfica, so as to try a preview of our EL opponents
    match abandoned after 7 minutes (rain/winds); I’ll try again some other time …

  • Total, the newly formed Czech Government and the National Churches invited us over to lecture in schools and universities and establish ACET (AIDS Care, Education & Training) in both Czech and Slovakia. Your geography is bang on, Znojmo was an hour north of Vienna. Got up north a lot with our itinery. A magnificent country. Are you leaking a bit of Dutch heritage with your use of “apple and egg”?
    I have a deep soft spot for Mesut’s artistry, his vision on the pitch is God given, tho’ give me a fit Rosický any day. And his world vision which expresses compassion for the Uighurs is admirable, but he exhibits a blind spot when it comes to Turkic human rights abuses, and similarly on the pitch he seemingly lacks a perception of the team ethic Mikel is encouraging. I would love to see him buy into that, come back and support the development of ESR, even if just for the next six months. He may already be doing that behind the scenes.

  • Wow Stuart what a great thing to do and experience that will have been for you! Yes apple and an egg is a Dutch expression. To get something for een appel en een ei means that is was very cheap….

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