That was a very mature game of football by Arsenal in which we just lacked the final touch or a bit of luck. A real shame we gave away an unnecessary penalty, more or less the only real chance Benfica had all game. We will analyse the game on the blog but, for now, let’s rate the players.
Leno – 7: noting to do other than trying to stop the penalty.
Soares – 8: half a point extra for his assist. Another committed, professional game by Cedric and excellent in all areas on the pitch. Close to MOTM.
Luiz – 7: not much to do and did not make any mistakes.
Big Gab – 7.5: was allowed to push forward and aid our midfield/attack. Good presence, passing and energy. Couple of good ball over the top too.
Bellerin – 7.5: committed and like Soares effective in all areas. Should have had an assist but Auba fluffed it.
Xhaka – 7: relatively solid but less involved than usually as a result of Benfica not allowing him much space. Looked a bit leggy too.
Ceballos – 8: some great forward balls and defensive interventions. One of his best games. Close to MOTM.
ESR – 7: some intelligent play and he worked hard, but his spark is dimming a bit (and understandably so given his age and number of games he has played recently).
Odegaard – 8: some sublime passes and through-balls but also worked hard in midfield to retain/regain the ball. Great pre-assist. Close to MOTM.
Saka – 8.5 MOTM: good attacking play against a very stubborn and well-drilled Benfica side. Missed a good chance but then took his second one; an extra point for the goal, which makes him move into double figures now!
Auba – 6: Missed too many chances and against a team like Benfica this will be costly. An early goals would have given us wings and Bellerin presented him with an almost unmissable opportunity. But he worked hard to get in the right positions and link up with his fellow attackers.
Tierney – 6.5: offered renewed drive from the left flank and looked relatively sharp.
Elneny, Martinelli, Willian and Pepe: not long enough on the pitch to rate them.