Arsenal fell 1-0 to Manchester City today. Mikel Arteta said his club’s performance showed him “a lot of positive things” and that his side are headed “the right way” this season. I would tend to agree with his assessment. It wasn’t a bad performance, per se, from the Gunners, but there is still room for improvement, particularly on attack. Kudos to the entire side for playing a defensively disciplined game and holding their shape well.
Bernd Leno - 6
Admitted after the match that he slipped a bit on the only goal of the match, and some would say he should have done better with his rebound control on the chance. I’m not sure how much more he could have done given it was a reaction save on a shot from about 12 yards out. Made a couple good saves to keep it 1-0, but had a few distribution lapses. He struggles with getting the proper touch on his lofted passes.
Hector Bellerin - 4
But for getting beat on the goal, thought he had a fine match. Got forward a few times and didn’t make any huge mistakes. On the goal, he got a bit too narrow shading over to pressure Sergio Aguero on the ball. That gave Phil Foden (who Bellerin may have lost track of a bit) too much space and allowed him an easy cutback inside for the initial shot.
David Luiz - 5
Had an unremarkable game. Came close to an own goal, but the intervention might have been important to break up the play. He should never take another free kick for Arsenal.
Gabriel - 4
Got caught too far up the pitch trying to get tight to Sergio Aguero on the start of City’s scoring move. He got back, but it threw off everybody else’s positioning as they retreated back towards goal. Hit a few good chips over the first line of the press — his passing is better than I expected it to be. Everything else about his performance today was average to above average.
Kieran Tierney - 5
Struggled with Riyad Mahrez a bit and looked like a guy who hadn’t trained for 10 days, which he hadn’t. Combined well with Bukayo Saka, as usual, to help provide the bulk of Arsenal’s offensive threat down the left.
Granit Xhaka - 6
Passed well and had three or four good tackles that I can remember, including at least one where he recovered well after getting beat initially. His range remains his biggest limitation.
Dani Ceballos - 5
Took a really bad pursuit angle / ill-advised step-up towards Sergio Aguero on the City goal, partially because he had held back when Gabriel stepped up. Was fine otherwise.
Bukayo Saka - 8
Clearly Arsenal’s best player on the day. Had the most successful take-ons of anybody on the pitch and was involved in all of Arsenal’s threatening attacking moves.
Willian - 0
Clearly Arsenal’s worst player on the day. Really didn’t contribute anything positive, and by Mikel Arteta playing him through the middle, PEA was forced wide. Hopefully this was a one-time experiment. Generally concerned about what he brings to the table.
Nicolas Pepe - 4
Like the team, he wasn’t bad today, but he wasn’t good, either. I think his lack of memorable moments today was due more to not getting the ball than him having chances that he squandered. It’s going to be tough for him to get involved playing on the opposite wing from Tierney-Saka-Aubameyang on the left.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 4
That’s two quiet games against top teams (City and Liverpool). As I said after the Liverpool match, part of his not being involves falls on his teammates not getting him the ball, part can be blamed on the setup with him wide, but at least a small part of the blame falls on him as well. He’s off to a slow start this season with just the single goal in five matches. Had a chance in behind today that was saved. The flag went up, but he would have been ruled onside by VAR.
Alexandre Lacazette - 3
Didn’t add anything when he came on. Actively slowed down one or two counterattacks when he got on the ball. Not great.
Eddie Nketiah - 3
Ran hard but didn’t manage much as a sub playing from the right wing. It’s not his position.
Thomas Partey - NA
Came on for about 10 minutes but only got on the ball a handful of times. Completed his passes and had a partial defensive involvement in the Arsenal area. It was a fine run out.