Arsenal Player Ratings: Two MotM, Soares like a new Signing, ESR the Glue Man

Well that was much better by Arsenal. We pressed them high and gave them little time. It almost payed off immediately but Laca was probably still cold when he got the chance. We then conceded a good set piece goal by Southampton and we had even more work to do. Two fine goals by Pepe and Saka turned things round, though. The Saints were still dangerous in the first half and they had a few half chances to equalise. But the second half was ours, and a fine move between Willian, Soares, Saka and Laca finished it all off beautifully. We will analyse the game in the next few days.

Player Ratings:

Leno: 8 – Good stops and great presence.

Soares: 8 – very committed game with fab passes and resolute defending. He has a really good physical balance when he plays. It is like having a new player!

Luiz: 7 – seemed tired towards the end, but a good battling performance.

Holding: 7.5 – solid and excellent reading of any danger, solid in the air and on the ground.

Bellerin: 7 – as always committed, just his final ball lacks either purpose or conviction, but a good team player to have.

Partey: 7.5 – still getting into things but solid in midfield and he adds that fighting spirit and footballing intelligence we have missed for so long.

Xhaka: 8 – extra half point for the assist. Solid performance especially in first half when he pushed up a lot.

Pepe: 8 – much better by Nicolas. He seemed so much more free and happy on the left. Great goal.

ESR: 7.5 – great, involved game with and without the ball. He is the glue of the team.

Saka: 8.5 – the Silk was a joy to watch. He is so on the ball. A goal and an assist. Shared MotM.

Laca: 8.5 – worked hard, made things happen and a great goal and assist. Happy Days! Shared MotM.

Subs: Not long enough on the pitch to pass judgement. But they did OK.

By TotalArsenal

39 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings: Two MotM, Soares like a new Signing, ESR the Glue Man

  • Great match ratings TA, agree with all of them. If I want to nitpick, I would say Luiz and Bellerin didn’t have great games, but everyone else put in a good to great performance today.

    On ESR, it’s really incredible how one player can galvanize a team and change the way they play. There was clearly always talent – we were just missing that glue as you aptly pointed out 🙂

    I simply cannot wait to see Odin’s son join up with the lads. We will finally have cover and more creative midfield options!

  • Good ratings TA. Good from Pepe and Cedric. But Pepe still needs to more decisive and balanced when he is with the ball. He needs to work on his composure. He could have had another goal if he works on composure.
    Got to say Cedric was excellent on both ends of the pitch. His ball for Saka was sumptuous. He had done something similar in first half as well. Solid in defending as well. His positioning was off during transition but has a good recovery run.
    Worrying signs for Partey and ESR due to injuries. Let’s hope it’s only cramps and tiredness. All in all worthwhile to wake up at 2 AM to watch the match.

  • Fair enough ratings, T. I’m with HH on Hector and Luiz. Luiz had at least a pair, maybe 3, of Mustafi type brain fart moments where the ball could’ve ended up in our net… we were fortunate today.

    He would be my 4th choice in CB pair at this point behind Gabriel, also…Is Mari out of contention because of a cash payment for number of appearances we are trying to avoid? Such a poor, small club we behave like if it’s true.

    Hector, El Rey de horrible crosses. Three of every four crosses he attempts turn out to be possession given right to the opposition, and that’s not even under pressure. I won’t even mention his throw in problems. You know that I’m not exaggerating the 75%.

    One more, I love Bernd, but can he stop kicking the ball straight out of play? Did it at least twice again today. Also, not under pressure. Why are we not at least getting a 50-50 chance from goal kicks?

    Many positives so I’ll just go with the most interesting… great game from Cedric. I don’t know why he isn’t used more. I haven’t seen him as bad in any of his opportunities, and Bellerin always plays better when motivated by the occasional “rest”.

  • Fine comments from the previous thread, guys. Enjoyed reading them all. Always good to see the team play so well and get the win; I had no doubt we would win, despite losing the FA cup game to the same side barely 3 days ago. How many times have we seen similar results over the years: lose to a team in the cup and react to win in the league? Happens frequently.

    TA, I do like your player ratings but won’t give Laca a MOTM rating for this one. He did work hard but misplaced a number of passes and missed a chance for two (potential) goal scoring situations. For me, it would be between Saka and Cedric Soares. The latter looked a man rejuvenated after the “dress rehearsal” he had, on the left side, last Saturday. As for Saka, there is not much more to add to all the plaudits he’s been given on this blog. He was simply brilliant; played with such maturity beyond his age. It is a rare quality to have in this sport.

    Other than that, spot on ratings, as always.

  • It is becoming cliche but the refereeing did look biased against us, last night. Ref Kevin Friend looked like one with a set agenda to frustrate our lads and limit their energy, early in the game. The yellow cards issued to our players (perhaps, to push the narrative Arteta is building a dirty team) were mostly uncalled for. On the other hand, the Southampton players could get away with murder.

    The one to Bellerin for an honest attempt to intercept/clear the ball and having the Southampton winger trip over his extended leg was ludicrous. With ESR down and taking treatment, there was no need for Pepe to hurry off the pitch as the team waited to assess his condition before making the call to sub him off. These things have happened many times. Yet, Kevin Friend wasn’t honourable enough to rescind his call, after the player stayed on, as Arteta changed the plan to bring on Martinelli (frustrating for the lad).

    I won’t mention the foul calls on Xhaka for some clean tackles (in one case, he was tackled) which the ref called, promptly. It seemed the more dangerous the situation, the more likely it would be called against us. It was pathetic and the ref should be ashamed of himself, especially as we won in spite of his antics.

  • My predictions, GN5 (after some poor calls last time out):

    Crystal Palace vs Wolves…… D
    West Brom vs Fulham…. D
    Arsenal vs Man United…. H
    S’pton vs Aston Villa……. A
    Leicester vs Leeds…….. H
    Barcelona vs Ath Bilbao……. H (3-1)

  • it’s very nice to have this wonderful momemtum and dynamic type of play.thanks to all players the staff and choach.i hope this spirit will continiuos throughout the season up the gunner

  • Nice words Hussaini.

    I’m not sure if I imagined this but not only did Pepe play on the left but he seemed to play more centrally and maybe that is where his future lays? If, as I’ve read before that Arsenal play in set channels then Pepe looked as if he was in a channel along the edge of the penalty area, where his finishing could come into play, easily one of if not his best performance of the season.

    The absence of Walker Peters for Southampton definitely helped our cause and allowed Soares more time and he took full advantage hitting some excellent cross field balls to Saka, that seems a ploy, Cedric just aims for the space knowing that Bakayo will get there.

  • Almost every time a cross comes into our box the same head, with thinning hair on it, rises to head the ball away, I give you Sir Robert Holding of Bolton, yes he drops the odd clanger but he is the Mr Reliable in our defence, unflustered, not flashy, economical in his actions, he just does it simple and with no fuss, just like a certain BFG.

    Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m becoming a Xhaka fan, he isn’t interested in the cliques he’s a team man and even if he’s a bit slow in recovery and gives away the odd messy foul his overall effort for the cause is good enough for me.

  • Agree with a lot of the comments a nice win for the gunners. I will say been calling for Pepe on the left for a long time and it was vindicated today. Cedric did well indeed on both ends of the pitch. I think Edu deserves a shoutout too after being slated for a lot of things Cedric and Mari have been decent of late and Gabriel was early on player of the season and we are yet to see the best of Partey who has been injured and was the cherry of his summer recruitment. Would like to see an improvement on retaining academy players and renewing their contracts as I now here that Azeez is out of contract in the summer yet he is viewed by many as a top 2 or 3 talent in the academy.

  • agree about the ref, eris
    i didn’t mention it yesterday during the game – but it was an absolute disgrace, high up there with the unbelievable number of games PGMO conned us under AW
    rob’s a rock, kev – what a lad
    the way willian used his body/skills/experience to keep the ball alive and trigger the move that ended up with our third is the best thing he’s done in an Arsenal shirt imo – hope it’ll boost him, we’ll need ther whole squad firing on all cylinders from now on
    less than 7 for hector/david would have seemed harsh to me – i’m with TA on that one (and the other ratings too – only i’m always tempted to give a 10 to bukayo, and be done with it)
    absolutely crucial win and in style too, exactly what we needed before saturday’s clash – really looking forward to it

  • Excellent ratings overall, TA, with slight leanings towards HH, and Jnyc as regards Hector and Luiz.

    Like Kev, I find myself moving further to respect Xhaka in recent games, as he seems to have his hot temper more under control, and altho he is never going to become pacey or a great tackler, he makes up for that by astute positioning and his incisive through balls are good to watch as they create valuable chances for the forwards.

    Hope he keeps that up.

  • When Arsenal finally announce the Son of Odin as our new loan player, I cannot believe it will only be as a backup to Emile, as part of the contract negotiations will be over how many minutes he will get to play.

    I would not be happy if Emile gets knocked back as just cover in the creative role — he deserves much more than that.

    Mikel will be pleased with the extra talent he is bringing on, and it will be interesting to see who he plays when Tierney is fit, and Cedric and Bellerin are competing for the RB position.

    The same will apply to other areas of the team if Pepe starts to show what he can do, and how we squeeze Martinelli in upfront too.

    Anyway, Mikel will handle it, I’m sure, and it looks promising for the future.

  • Makayah, Jeorge Bird mentioned that Azeez has a one year option on his contract so I think we’re safe with him for now and he also reckons that Matt Smith (on loan and doing well at Swindon) will sign, the big worries are of course Balogun and Arthur Okonkwo this summer…

  • rumour has it rob’s a huge country music fan, but I don’t think he has a fan song to himself

    Well, Rob won’t back down, no he won’t back down
    You can stand him up at the gates of Hell
    But he won’t back down
    Gonna stand his ground, won’t be turned around
    Gonna stand his ground and he won’t back down

  • Thanks for comments, guys.

    Bellerin and Luiz did OK in my opinion and that is reflected in the score. Luiz did make a couple of mistakes but with XhakA pushing up and Soares often far forward too, he was left exposed and he worked his socks off to cover for them. At the end he was knackered and made a mistake or two.

    Bels is possibly our weakest player but he worked hard and always makes himself available. His final ball into the box lets him down. But his presence and availability makes space for Saka, so a 7 seemed appropriate.

    Yes Friend was on the pitch but he was not ours. Specs avers visit must be overdue…

    Nice one LeG, we may need something more snappy. 😜

  • Fine comment today and a very realistic post and ratings Total.

    It was good to see Pepe come out of his bunker and start to show us what he is capable of, lets hope it’s not just a one off. I’m still concerned about Willian’s contribution – I cannot remember one game in which he has shone.

    Next up the red Manx’s – they have been playing some impressive football of late and will be quite a handful, we nesd a strong defensive display and hope to hit them on the break – that also seems to be one of their main tactic’s as they have some very speedy players. I’m looking forward to the game and I’m hopeful we can get one of our very rare doubles over them.

  • Thanks for the review TA!
    Maybe I should hold my post-match comments for the reviews. We’ve certainly been focused on the same qualities– several matches running.

    With calm defending, and moments of panache– Soares has made his case as a backup on either side. In this attack the ability to switch the ball simply opens up the final third. Tonight and against Newcastle– we’ve seen the best of his game. Taking pressure off of Arteta to play Tierney every match– there’s great value in that going forward.”

    I’d mentioned recently, last weekend, after the FA Cup loss– that the first XI had begun to exude a newly-bonded chemistry. That it might be a reach to expect the second XI (that started the FA loss) to play at that level– by osmosis. Players like Martinelli and Mari had a hand in that cohesiveness during this recent stretch of fine play. Now, it’s honest to include Cedric Soares in that core of players who have integrated into that mix, that chemistry. The longer the team continues to play at this level? Adding elements of the squad here and there? The more Arsenal become a finished product.

    A team, with a style. A replicable style. Over a season.

    It’s the next step up for Arteta and Arsenal. Moving toward that goal of playing with a style. One which continues– even when the manager makes the number of changes Arteta had vs Soton last weekend. Able to mold players (not necessarily his own), into a team that is approaching his vision. One by one blending them into the mix.

    Mikel Arteta is close to developing a style of play, a new identity.

  • Do feel we’ve strengthened the club for the remainder of the season with the addition of Martin Ødegaard (4G/6A at Real Sociedad 2019-20). His highlight video gives sense of a player who moves fluidly with the ball and good vision. Hope he’s ready to mix it up PL style.

  • The Athletic did a piece on Martin Ødegaard-to-Arsenal which appeared in my inbox today– so wanted to share it here:

    “Given that The Athletic understands that Arsenal’s technical staff would ideally like to play a 4-3-3 system, similar to the shape adopted by Liverpool and Manchester City, Odegaaard’s most likely fit would be as one of the No 8s either side of one holding player. In this role, his metrics would be similar to players like David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne who have thrived in such a system (and worked with Arteta) at City.

    Odegaard’s numbers really are impressive, but there would be one possible tactical concern. When at his most influential for La Real, the team was generally set up in a 4-2-3-1, so he had two deeper midfielders providing a platform upon which he could work.

    “At La Real, it was a perfect tactical set-up for him,” says one source who has followed his career from the start. “He could drift between the lines. It was so difficult for opposition teams to pick him up and shut him down.”

    4-2-3-1 was also the shape in which now former Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil provided his best results over his career, and Odegaard’s ability to carry the ball before spotting and threading a pass through a packed opposition defence is quite reminiscent of Ozil’s signature moves. The German would have been proud of that Alaves assist which took out almost the entire opposition team.

    However that is not to say that Odegaard is not capable of adapting his game, and he also is a much more natural presser than Ozil, as he showed especially under Alguacil at Anoeta. He does have the physical attributes to cover a lot of ground and has shown a capacity to learn and work hard over his career to date. The creative vision and talent is certainly there, if he can spend enough time on the pitch to show it.”


    Would be the grandest of all solutions to see young Martin slot in and contribute in the same fashion as young Emile. Too often we look at an incoming player pre-empting another. When it appears that what Arteta looks to do with Ødegaard’s arrival, is build strength of squad through depth of similarly skilled players.

    By all accounts might it not have been a bit more comforting to have had Ødegaard come on for ESR at 70 minutes to play in that forward pressing role– than Willian?

  • Thanks for the comments GN5 and JW.

    Re Odegaard, let’s see how he will get on at Arsenal. It is only a four months loan and will he get going straight away? I hope so.

  • Øo-da-god has a different skillset to ESR. It’s important to note that we now have two different central creative options and both can play out wide if required.

    Øo-da-god is more of a player that will pick a team’s defense apart with his passing ability from deep and advanced positions, along with his intricate dribbling in tight spaces to evade pressure. He’s also left footed and good at set piece delivery.

    ESR, on the other hand, has a higher work rate (Øo-da-god does run and press, but not at ESR’s level) and is more of a player that receives the ball and either passes it off quickly or turns up field and carries it, which doesn’t allow teams to set up in their defensive structure.

    Both players will have their uses against different teams and it’s always good to have competitions at positions. ESR was also injured on the weekend and not available for the FA Cup, and left yesterday’s game as a precaution.

  • TA, the problem with me for Bellerin was that he was too easily beat by Armstrong on a few occasions, and then beaten by Ings in the box (fortunately, he didn’t dive in for a penalty). Then of course his final ball and crossing were poor too.

    I get your point on Luiz, but some of his misplaced passes were not even pressured situations, which annoyed me a bit. That said, he wasn’t awful by any means, just below the standard for what I would typically expect of him.

  • Martin Odegaard is closer in makeup to ESR than any of Willian, Willock, or Ceballos. I put Martinelli in that select class with ESR– not necessarily in terms of their creativity– but in their ability to anchor the press when called upon. Appears to me this MO has the critical athleticism, quickness, and workrate to succeed and share minutes in that role.

  • I agree with most of the comments on here. I’m not as forgiving of Luiz as some of you. He has made similar mistakes before. If Mustafi had been playing last night and made those same mistakes I suspect he would have been judged much more harshly.

    Cedric was great last night and those passes he made through to Saka were sublime. I wonder if Mikel is now thinking of playing Tierney on the right with instructions to play passes like that to Auba?

  • Interesting idea, OX10. I see Soares as back up FB but if he keeps playing like that then he will displace Bells sooner or later.

    Tierney is nailed on on the left, I reckon.

  • Cut David Luiz some slack.
    Cold, wet, heavy balls do not for good long passing make.

    Conditions were fairly poor too. 😏

  • don’t know if you like handball, pb
    just watched the hungary-france round of 8 game; I really thought lékai-banhidi would do us in
    the big guy is just formidable; i wouldn’t be surprised if he had earned himself a psg contract tonight
    what a battle, the kind no one deserves to lose
    looking forward to the next round now – our rivalry with sweden goes a long way back

  • TA, Odegaard cannot play the same role as Xhaka. He’s a better presser than he is a defensive presence. While he can play incredible incisive passes from deep, he’s best from advanced positions.

    His best position is as a #10 in a 4-2-3-1, but he can play at RW if needed. He could also play in a 4-3-3 as the advanced #8 with ESR, but again, I wouldn’t want to have Partey defending on an island on his own in such a set-up (with the exception being against a severe defensive low block maybe). Both ESR and Ode work hard, but neither are strong defensively like KDB to allow for that City system to truly work. I also think that Partey is better as a #8 or a rotating #6 with another #6.

  • Yeah,,TA; culminating in the heroic win by Sheffield United at Old Trafford. I did think they would start to falter soon as City got into the mix. Then, the Burnley win over Villa was just what the doctor ordered. Then the draws at Chelsea (v Wolves) and Everton (v Leicester) were helpful to our cause.

    We just have to stay calm and prepare for the next game. I think United were already looking beyond Sheffield to the visit to the emirates.

  • Some great results for us this evening but let’s see how many of our walking wounded from Tuesday are in the starting XI this weekend before we celebrate…

    I noticed that Odegaard was training today in a small group with Ceballos and Tierney, so in the group recovering from injuries and working on their fitness. If everyone is fit I don’t expect to see Odegaard in the squad but it all depends of the walking wounded?

    Thanks for that JW, I’m quite positive about the addition of Odegaard but I don’t expect him to make any impact for a week or two.

  • These are the results of last weeks competition:-
    1st Gooneris with 4/6 plus 2 bonus points
    2nd JWL & NJK with 3/6
    4th PB & Le Gall with 2/6
    6th GN4 with 1/6
    8th Kev & Total with 0/6
    Season to date results:-
    1st Gooneris with 71.33
    2nd Kev with 70
    3rd PB with 59.66
    4th JWL with 58.66
    5th GN5 with 55.33
    6th Total with 50.66
    7th Le Gall with 25.33
    8th NJK with 8.0

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