Arsenal Player Ratings: Two MOTM, ESR Slays the Beast of the North-East, Auba at Last!

Well the boys made hard work of it but in the end the best team won, and this game will have provided Arteta with some good lessons about the level of his wider squad players. 25 shots and nine on target shows that we created plenty of chances and should not have made such hard work of it, but the Barcodes were impressive with their determination not to lose and they gave us a proper game; only by bringing on quality subs were we able to swipe them eventually. A deeper analysis of the game and ‘fringe’ players will follow but here are the player ratings, for now.

Emile Smith Rowe scores Arsenal's first goal against Newcastle
A rare moment of pure quality: ESR billiards the ball in from an acute angle.

Player Ratings:

Leno – 8 – superb double save at a crucial stage in the game. Close to MOTM. Really seems to be in his element at the moment.

Tierney – 8.5 – Shared MOTM – another fantastic performance. I wanted to rest him for this game and give AMN the spot, but it became quickly obvious why Arteta needed Kieran to start against the rows of five and four Magpies. Tierney must be Gaelic for ‘thrust’ (it is not) because no other player has such ability to make it to the byline and put in such venomous crosses. Half a point extra for the fine assist (of which he could have had a few tonight).

Mari – 7.5 – very tidy and committed. I am starting to see why Arteta was keen on him.

Luiz – 7.5 – stood his ground and seemed to enjoy himself against Andy Carroll. Both Mari and Luiz gave very little away.

Soares – 7 – solid, non-sexy performance. It is clear to me now that he was bought to be a solid nr.2 in a key position, and he did a decent job tonight.

Elneny – 7.5 – tidy, disciplined, no-nonsense midfield-defensive play. Excellent squad player.

Willock – 5 – I so want Joe to do well but like Guendouzi and Ceballos he just misses the ‘ Doube DM-pivot’ positioning and discipline to be a success there right now. Find space, anticipate a pass and know where the ball will need to go when you get it; work closely with your fellow DM and protect the defence, whilst also focusing on supporting the attack when possible. Joe has a lot going for him but I am starting to feel that a loan spell would do him good.

Pepe – 6.5 – this is the sort of game in which I would expect Pepe to show us all he has got. Too many bad decisions and he still lacks a connection with his fellow players. But he put in a shift.

Willian – 6.5 – similar to Pepe, I had hoped he would come to life today. Willian was one of our better players in the first half with excellent work between the lines, but, disappointingly, he faded quickly in the second half.

Nelson – 5 – a game to forget for him. Lacked confidence and seemed not to wake up during the game.

Auba – 7.5 – here was a man desperately trying to find back his great form. Worked hard and finally took his chance late on. Helped out in defence and midfield and an extra point for the goal. Great to see that smile again.

Les Subs:

Smith Rowe – 8.5 – Shared MOTM – came on at the right time and profited from the tired Barcodes’ legs. Worked so well between the lines and made our ‘harmonica’ work again (together with Xhaka), and then he scored a sublime goal to finally bring the beast of the North-East down (extra point for this).

Xhaka – 8 – especially as long as Partey is out it will be very hard for Arsenal to win a game without Granit. He sets out the lines and looks after the shape of the team like a shepherd. He made the ‘harmonica’ work again (together with ESR). We played so much better once he came on and Xhaka was close to MOTM today.

Saka – 7 – great burst of energy and Bukayo added the fear factor. Good and necessary sub by Arteta.

Lacazette – 7.5 – same as Saka but half a point extra for the determined header that led to his assist for the first goal.

AMN – x – too short on the pitch to judge.

By TotalArsenal.

48 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: Two MOTM, ESR Slays the Beast of the North-East, Auba at Last!

  • Agreed with your ratings TA.

    This game showed why Willian and Pepe are starting to drop down the pecking order. ESR and the youngsters trio of Martinelli, Saka and Nketiah are way in front of them. Willian’s passing play is not bad, but he lacked the end product. Pepe as well.

    ESR was lucky to have VAR intervene and downgrade his card to a Yellow, and to have scored the deadlock-breaking goal (Leno had saved from Carroll at the death) and Auba scoring the goal that calmed everyone down speaks volumes on how the team dynamics were.

    Mari is another player to do well for the clean sheet, and we had gone on to win 4 games with him starting. He needs to start the games to ensure that the defense acts as a team.

  • TA, just saw the game, fair ratings.

    One complaint…… I just think it is so wrong to compare Ceballos and Guendouzi to Joe Willock in any aspect, specific or not. They have both shown great upside potential and have had really good moments and games, even though not consistently enough. They will end up successful somewhere and will be sought by good clubs. You know I like Guendo and Dani.
    ….. Willock is an athletic guy, and the next athletic guy that comes through is likely to have a higher upside with more football instincts. He is not going to turn into a Gnabry if he leaves tomorrow.

    Agreed on Willian, am still hoping things will start to click. He is ours and we can use some production, even if off the bench or in cup games. I’m starting to feel the same about Pepe. Chances of him exploding into the star we hoped decrease over time.

    Leno is constantly underrated, but as long as he’s our keeper, I don’t care what they say.

  • TA, your ratings are fair and reflect the output of the players, for this one. I would place Pepe a notch above Willian, though. Either Willian is a 6 or Pepe gets a 7, if he (Willian) remains a 6.5. Pepe did a bit more, in my opinion. You feel fans just expect something magical from him, each game, and end up being disappointed as expectations fail to match the reality, giving vent to Jync’s observation above.

    Looking at the man, I also do not think he will get much better than this. We have to accept we were had by Lille (or, by someone in our management) and made to pay too much for his level. Maybe, if we accept that, the lowered expectations may allow us see his other good attributes. Just saying; you all know how hard I criticize the man.

    Your choices of MoTM(s) is/are spot on. Tierney just can’t seem to have a bad game day, for now and Smith-Rowe’s influence probably gave us the win.

  • Hi 84, good to hear from you. You are too quiet these days. 😊

    Good call on Mari, he has been solid. ESR was not lucky as that is what VAR is for, and the goal was class.

  • Cheers J, we all see different things. I looked at it from the double DM pivot position and stand by my view. None of the three are good at it and I don’t think that any will end up at a big club. But if I am wrong I will eat humble pie.

  • Thanks Eris, good argument about expectations re Pepe. Mine are low now indeed. I rated his effort but thought his team play, decision making and goal attempts were all below par. Only because of the former I didn’t give him a 5 or 5.5. But PRs are subjective and you make a good case for a bit more for Pepe.

  • J, it is who the midfielders are pairing with that brings a person’s skills forward.
    If Joe is paired with Elneny and ESR then the whole midfield pivot will brighten up. their skills can then complement each other.

    For Leno, he is severely underrated (my definition of that is other people thinks that he is not as good as Martinez), imo. He is not flashy, and does his job well. Martinez will be a good competition for him if Martinez had stayed, and Runarsson is still getting to grips with the english game.

  • Total, thanks for the ratings, I read them last night but left it until today to comment.

    My biggest disappointment from the game was Reiss Nelson, maybe he wasn’t as prepared mentally as he would have been if he’d been in from the get go, but all the same you have to grasp opportunities when they arise and he didn’t sadly. A bright start where he probably should have scored but he quickly disappeared from the contest and it was no surprise when he was withdrawn.

    Reiss needs games, a run of games as I suspect that he’s a player who needs to play regularly to maintain a rhythm he’s not an impact player, or that’s how it seems. You would think with he’s tools that he would be but the proof of the pudding is in the eating…

    I think that with Saka and Smith Rowe as first choices and Willian and Pepe as reserves that that leaves Reiss well down the pecking order and a loan for the rest of this season could be just what he needs to rediscover his form and some confidence, but only a loan to a Premier League club.

  • Morning all,

    Total, when you lay out both your thoughts and ratings on the players it’s easy to be critical but I won’t agree or disagree on your opinions as we all see things from our own perspective. So I congratulate you on your well thought out and constructive viewpoint.

    My own perspective is that Tierney was by far our MOM his energy and crossing are simply outstanding and IMHO he is the only world class player in our team – at the moment.

    Unfortunately Pepe and Willian are both struggling and look/are out of place, especially Willian.

    ESR looks more and more like a new Aaron Ramsey with boundless energy and an abundance of skill.

    Mari looks very solid and Xhaka controls the mid-field and is looking better and better.

    Leno is priceless for us but we desperately need a solid understudy.

    Saka shows more and more how important he is to the team – the game turned around with both his and Xhaka’s introduction.

  • Here are the results of the competition:-
    Ist PB with 5/6 plus 4 bonus points
    2nd Total & GN5 with 4/6
    4th Gooneris & JWL with 3/6
    6th Le Gall & Kev with 2/6
    Season to date:-

    1st Kev with 68 points
    2nd Gooneris with 63.33 points
    3rd PB with 56.66 points
    4th JWL with 51.33 points
    5th GN5 with 50 points
    6th Total with 46.33 points
    7th Le Gall with 22.33 points

  • Agreed Kev, Nelson seemed shocked and not at the races. A loan deal for him and Willock seems necessary. Both are not impact players and need to start regularly.

  • Willock also didn’t grasp the opportunity, but he almost and probably should have scored, that’s his gift he has an unerring ability to find space in the box and score goals. But like Reiss he needs games and a loan to another Premier team where he will play regularly would just the ticket, I’m just not sure that we can afford to loan them both out because you only need a couple more Martinelli type accidents and you’re in trouble.

    We don’t know if Real will recall Ceballos if they can, because if Real Betis or another club comes in with an acceptable offer then Madrid will sell, like everyone they need cash flow and that might force Arteta to recall Monsieur Shaggy Perm from Hertha Berlin?

    All of that could affect a Willock loan…

  • Cheers GN5, yes the scores and comments are subjective. A big statement regarding Tierney but hard to argue against you right now. I think Leno, Gabriel, Partey, Saka and Martinelli have a lot of potential to become this too. Possibly also ESR.

  • I can see where you’re coming from GN5 because Tierney is the finished article and his performances don’t deviate, they stay at the top top level and that’s why Arteta needs to play him.

    All I’d add is that Thomas Partey is also at that level, he’s just not had the chance to prove it yet and what does your statement really say about some of our more experienced and well paid superstars?!

  • Depending on our next opponent in the FA cup, both Reiss and Joe could get another chance to shine this month. They could really do with that.

  • We know that on the day and when back in form again, if ever, Auba can be world class. You also have to ask who is truly world class at Pool or City? Luckily, it’s a team sport.

  • These are my selections for the next round of our competition.
    Two extra bonus points go to the correct score of the Liverpool v Manchester United game.
    Wolverhampton v W.B.A.
    Leeds v Brighton
    Leicester v Southampton
    Liverpool V Manchester United
    Arsenal v Newcastle
    Vlf Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig

  • Here are my predictions:-

    Wolverhampton v W.B.A. – H
    Leeds v Brighton – H
    Leicester v Southampton -H
    Liverpool V Manchester United – H (2-1)
    Arsenal v Newcastle – H
    Vlf Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig – D

  • As far as yesterday’s game is concerned – All’s well that end’s well………………..

  • Wolverhampton v W.B.A. – Home win 2-0
    Leeds v Brighton – Leeds win 2-1
    Leicester v Southampton – Away win 3-0
    Liverpool V Manchester United – Away win, 1-2
    Arsenal v Newcastle – Home win, 1-0
    Vlf Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig – Draw 1-1

  • Wolverhampton v W.B.A. – H
    Leeds v Brighton – H
    Leicester v Southampton – D
    Liverpool 3 Manchester United 0
    Arsenal v Newcastle – H
    Vlf Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig – A

  • njk, Thanks for your predictions but just a reminder – you only have to predict whether it’s a home win, away win or a draw, occasionally we throw in the extra two bonus points for a specific correct score. Good to see you back.

  • Yes Total, if we get a bit of luck and we get drawn at home in both the 4th and 5th rounds on Monday then we don’t have to make a decision on Joe or Reiss for at least another couple of weeks and they could play in the next round and then the club can see where we are say on the 24th Jan?

  • Can’t say I have any objections to the ratings TA– thanks!

    Feel the game was representative of the team sent out. Yesterday Arteta started 4 first XI (including Leno), 3 former first XI, 3 reserves, plus Mari who has been starting. Newcastle’s Steve Bruce sent out a similarly mixed XI. Can’t say I’m disappointed in the result. We did advance.

    This was an opportunity for those players who needed to shine– the reserves– to do so. None did. Here’s where I feel some are affording too much value to younger players who aren’t delivering results. I have to object to the idea Kev puts forward that Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, if loaned out– they need to be loaned out to a PL club. Honestly, neither are going to walk into non-relegation type clubs and start. That’s unrealistic. If Arsenal were to see injury to multiple first XI players– Nelson and Willock are two of the players Arteta would need to fill in.

    That, in my opinion, is the extent of their value to the club. Neither are going to be stars. A Serge Gnabry or an Aaron Ramsey. If neither will be central to improvement of the club after this season? We need to consider moving them on when possible– in order to improve the club, recover the club’s investment, and clear the way for the next series of youth players. The fact that the club are seemingly developing a productive academy pipeline– underscores the need to make businesslike decisions on younger players before they stagnate– or move on of their own accord. Losing a player like Falorin Balogun? May be unavoidable. A consequence of timing. Let’s not allow players like Nelson or Willock to stunt the progress of the next-gen of academy players like Miguel Azeez or Nikolaj Moller.

    Use Nelson and Willock as necessary through the end of this season. And as assets this Summer. If it is still possible to use them in a deal for Emi Buendia this month? Pull the trigger. Arsenal need one Buendia more than two loanees that may never pan out. When panning for youth gold? You don’t keep what falls through the sieve.


  • TA, lots of great comments here. I want to respond about the midfielders specifically … just want to be clear.. I am happy to predict Ceballos will end up playing regularly for a good (not “big”)club in Spain, Italy or even Germany. I personally like him enough to keep him (if the price were right) as he’s a fighter with some good skills, but I think we can do better for the high premier league level.

    Guendouzi has huge upside, and just may end up at a big club. He has starred for the young France team, and his transfer value (i dont live by those sites, but they do count for something) was skyrocketing when he was playing for Emery regularly. I also saw a lot of special qualities in my opinion.

    Joe Willock will probably end up in the championship. As always, I hope to be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

    The Leno slighting I see everywhere but on Bergkampesque. Every other site, commentator, pundit, big YouTube accounts treat him as mediocre.
    He is easily good enough to take a team to a title, but nobody seems to point out his consistently good work. I love our keeper and I’ve long forgotten about Emi.

  • Kev, I agree and was surprised too that Nelson didn’t live up to expectation. I put it down to match rustiness as he has not played a game for over a month owing to a muscle injury. For me, he is one who could easily fit into the first team and if we moved him on, he will be a star at some other club.

    I cannot say the same for Willock and fully expect him to end up in the championship or go abroad to make a living. While they were both in the Arsenal academy, I rated his brother, Chris Willock, ahead of him and still rue the latter’s departure. Nketiah, on the other hand, can be a good striker for an EPL side, just not Arsenal.

    Lastly, I am not sure who has floated the idea of getting in Rúnarsson as back up keeper when we can’t even trust him in an FA cup tie. We should be in the market for a reliable keeper because we are one injury to Leno away from him being our first team keeper.

  • Shaggy Perm, Kev. That had me in stitches man. 🤣

    I think Guendouzi will return to play fairly regularly for Arsenal. May be the reason we don’t take up the option on Ceballos. I like the kid. He has fire in his belly and we need characters like that, at times…..

  • GN5, I told you I wasn’t feeling lucky with the FA cup and its unpredictability. My predictions:

    Wolverhampton v W.B.A. – H
    Leeds v Brighton – H
    Leicester v Southampton – D
    Liverpool v Manchester United H. (3 – 2)
    Arsenal v Newcastle – H
    VFL Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig – D

  • Eris, I felt that there might have been some traction in the Nketiah to West Ham rumours on the back of the Hammers moving on that big lump Haller, yet another example of a more money than sense transfer by a Premier League club, but with Martinelli under a cloud I doubt that Arsenal will sell Eddie unless the offer is too good to refuse?

  • We currently have a few players out on loan who haven’t really spent a lot of time under Arteta due to the curtailed close season, hopefully that’ll be rectified this summer and Mikel will have a good look at the likes of John Jules, Olayinka, Ballard and Matt Smith and who knows who’ll catch his eye and hopefully save us spending a load of dosh on a Haller type complete with an inflated reputation and inflated costs…

  • Wolves vs West Bromwich..H
    Leeds United vs Brighton….H
    Leicester vs Southampton..H
    Liverpool vs Man United…. H (3-1)
    Arsenal vs Newcastle Utd..H
    Wolfsburg vs RB Leipzig…A

  • I saw the comments from Mikel where is he saying that he will give Pepe the minutes to get his confidence and develop. He has also said that he will keep playing Willian till he comes good. What is so upsetting is that he is unwilling to day the same for AMN. He is our academy product and needs playing time. Dare I say he is much better than these dross. Pepe doesn’t seem to have balance or control over his body. He seems to be a very fragile player. Seeing him you feel he just doesn’t have control over the football. The harmony between his body and ball just doesn’t exist. It’s unfair to be treating these with kid gloves whereas our own academy products are not given enough backing and playing minutes. AMN is an England international and needs tk be treated better. This is very annoying and smacks of unfair treatment from MA.

  • Well Haller may not have been used properly by the Scottish wizard, just like Laca is only now coming to life again in our 4-2-3-1 system.

    Haller had a goal disallowed and an assist whilst only playing in the second half for Ajaxv PSV. So great start for him. But yeah West Ham overpaid for him.

  • Yeah Madhu, I am not sure what’s going on with AMN. Again I trust Arteta who works very closely with him and who is using young players really well. A lo of this may be down to attitude and/or lack of getting Mike’s instructions right.

  • Good point about Lacazette there Total, although having young team mates who pass and move and who look to progress the ball rather than the previous incumbents who loved a square pass and never went past an opponent could be the reason for our revitalised centre forward.

    I can’t explain why Haller looked so ineffective, maybe he just didn’t settle in the UK, it happens, but you can’t go wrong in Amsterdam mate, if you can’t relax there then you can’t relax anywhere. 🙂

  • I think you are right there, Kev. Laca loves the energy and desire to play forward of Saka, ESR etc. He buzzes like a bee with a nasty sting around them.

    I believe that Willian will also do well if he is paired up with them, but am less convinced about Pepe and even Auba, as they don’t seem to have the required skill set (rather than lack of attitude).

  • January business–

    “Arsenal centre-back Rob Holding has committed his future to the club by signing a new long-term contract, The Athletic can reveal. The 25-year-old was close to joining Newcastle United on loan last summer but is enjoying regular game time this season and has now extended a deal that was scheduled to expire in 2023.”

    Good for Rob. A dependable and all-business CB.


  • Thanks GN5!

    Wolves vs West Brom = Home
    Leeds United vs Brighton = Home
    Leicester vs Southampton = Home
    Liverpool vs Man United = Draw 2-2
    Arsenal vs Newcastle = Home
    Wolfsburg vs RB Leipzig = Away


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