I really struggled with these Arsenal-Liverpool player ratings. I don’t think Arsenal played a bad game, especially as a team; they more or less executed Mikel Arteta’s plan. To borrow a famous NFL head coach rant phrase, Arsenal’s players “are who we thought they were.” It’s tough for me rate guys down for not measuring up when they played as you’d expect them to given their ability.
It’s also tough to give low grades for looking overmatched against Liverpool, who are probably the best team in the Premier League and one of the best in Europe. Add to that calculus Liverpool being particularly good today, especially in comparison to their recent form.
Bernd Leno - 4
The worst game he’s had for Arsenal in a good while. Should have had better rebound control on the first Liverpool goal. A couple instances of really poor distribution. Did come off his line well once or twice, however.
Hector Bellerin - 4
Lost Sadio Mane a bit on the first goal, but I’m not sure how much that ended up mattering. Called for two foul throws, which is more of a head-scratcher than anything else. When was the last time you’ve seen that happen?
Rob Holding - 6
Thought he had a pretty good game overall. Played Sadio Mane well on a couple different occasions. His distribution was poor, but it’s tough for me to mark a guy down too hard for having one of his biggest weaknesses as a player accentuated by a system designed to expose defenders who don’t play the ball well.
David Luiz - 4
I almost gave him a 5, but then I remembered that in addition to a terrible headed clearance on the 3rd goal, he also got beat at the start of the move for the 1st. He wasn’t dreadful — he’s definitely been worse for Arsenal. But he also didn’t catch my eye with strong, discrete defensive plays in the same way Holding did.
Kieran Tierney - 4
Got beat for pace by Mo Salah on the first goal, which is a thing that happens sometimes. Liverpool’s pressure and attacking pace kept him from getting forward much at all, which is why the number is so low. Goal aside, he didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy, good or bad.
Mohamed Elneny - 4
Again, nothing particularly bad in his play today. He’s just limited as a player and overmatched against Liverpool. I’ll have to rewatch to figure it out for sure, but somebody on the pitch really limited Roberto Firmino’s involvement today, and I’ve got a suspicion it was Elneny.
Granit Xhaka - 6
Thought Xhaka was pretty good today, especially because he was being asked to play in a more advanced role than he normally does when Arsenal were out of possession because Elneny was the deeper lying of the pair. Again, Liverpool did not generate much in the way of a central attack and Firmino had a very quiet game — some of the credit has to go to Granit for that.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles - 5
I wavered between 4 and 5 for AMN. He did a lot of work defensively and ran himself ragged. He’s not good on the ball in the final third, and he wasn’t today. It’s tough for me to mark him down for being the player we know him to be.
Willian - 3
Completely fell asleep and let Andy Robertson run behind him unmarked for Liverpool’s second. Didn’t really do much on the ball when he had it and looked generally leggy.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 5
Almost gave him an “NA” mark for today. Arsenal hardly got him involved in the match at all, which is not his fault.
Alexandre Lacazette - 2
Yes, he scored the goal, but when you’re playing Liverpool, you have to take your chances. Lacazette missed two massive ones. Yes, one was offside and wouldn’t have counted, but one was onside, and he didn’t convert. It’s his job to score those, and he didn’t do it.
Dani Ceballos - 8
Was probably Arsenal’s best player on the day, despite only coming on as a substitute in the 60th minute. He progressed the ball up the pitch and hit several really good passes, including the one that put Alexandre Lacazette in on goal.
Nicolas Pepe - 3
Hit two really poor corners and had one decent run on Virgil van Dijk that never looked all that troubling for the Liverpool man. Not a great performance.
Eddie Nketiah - NA
How do you even give him a grade? Did he touch the ball? If he didn’t, was it his fault?
For Arsenal to beat Liverpool, the Gunners have to be perfect and catch the Reds on an off day. Neither of those things happened. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Please share your ratings in the comments / tell me where you disagree with mine!