I hadn’t done a player ratings post in a while, so I figure what better time than the present, right? Well really, what better time than following a commanding 3-1 Arsenal win over Leicester where the numbers are going to be high and moods higher. Let’s get right to it.
Bernd Leno - 4
He was pretty badly off the angle on Leicester’s goal, far too close to the near post, showing way too much of the far post. He also almost put Arsenal down 2-0 with a bad turnover that nearly gifted Jamie Vardy a goal. It’s kind of nice to have a match where the keeper wasn’t forced into being Arsenal’s best player though.
Cedric Soares - 6
As I wrote yesterday, any game where Cedric doesn’t stand out for having been particularly poor is a win in my book. His delivery was a bit off, and he had one comical sequence where he couldn’t find the ball at his feet on an attacking move, but he was fine. He rans hard, got up and down the pitch consistently, and was involved in the play.
David Luiz - 7
Similar to Cedric, any match where David Luiz doesn’t make a glaring mistake that leads to a gilt-edged chance or a goal against Arsenal is a good one. And honestly, that might be unfair to him. He’s weirdly consistent in that if you take out the “wtf was that” play he makes once in a while, he’s actually, regularly, a solid, reliable defender. That’s what he was yesterday, and he picked up his first Premier League goal of the season on a well-worked set piece play.
Pablo Mari - 6
He was part of the long list of players that made a mistake on Leicester’s first goal — he probably should have slid over to pressure Tielemans rather than retreating all the way back into the Arsenal box. But other than that, he had a solid game. Matching Jamie Vardy stride for stride and muscling him to the ground in the second half was impressive.
Kieran Tierney - 6
Didn’t have any particular “wow” moments nor did he have any standout mistakes. He’s become such an important piece and good player that he may be a victim of his own success in my player ratings. I’ll keep an eye on it.
Granit Xhaka - 7
I really wanted to give him an “8” but his involvement in the turnover leading to the Leicester goal, and his inability to run it down kept me from it. After the goal, he was one of Arsenal’s better players. His anticipation and defensive work won the ball and allowed him to carry then pass it up the pitch to start the move for the third goal. It was exactly what you want your deeper lying midfielders to do, textbook play. I’ll also point out that in a match where Mikel Arteta rotated 6 starters, there was Granit Xhaka again, munching minutes. His ability to stay healthy and play the most minutes of anybody on the team doesn’t get enough recognition.
Mohamed Elneny - 6
Another solid, mistake-free match from the Egyptian. He’s rarely going to put in better than a “7” but his floor is right around “5” and there is value in being consistently fine and hardly ever poor. You know what you’re getting from him.
Nicolas Pépé - 10
Man of the match performance from Nico yesterday. He was rampant. He got his marker, Luke Thomas, on a yellow, had him on skates the entire first half, and forced Brendan Rodgers into a halftime sub. Almost earned Arsenal a penalty, then did earn Arsenal a penalty. Won the free kick for the first goal. Scored the third goal. He did it all.
Emile Smith Rowe - 5
Don’t remember him having much of an impact before he had to leave in the 42nd minute with an injury. Hopefully he’s not on the shelf too long.
Willian - 9
Second in the Man of the Match voting, for me. It was by far his best game for the club since the Fulham match, and given the opposition (although Leicester were quite poor), it might have bettered that performance. He looked livelier than he has looked all season, driving past players, running more freely, and dictating the game. He took the free kick on which David Luiz scored the first goal, was involved in the build-up to the penalty win for the second, and got a non-assist on the third.
Alexandre Lacazette - 7
It can’t be easy for him to play so intermittently then get tapped to lead the line in a tough Premier League matchup. While he didn’t get many chances himself, he was playing striker and Arsenal scored three on the day, he probably had a hand in that, even if it flew under the radar. He converted his penalty, too. He’s 5-for-5 on Premier League penalties.
Martin Ødegaard - 8
Was marvelous replacing the injured ESR. Picked out Pépé on the move that won the penalty and was instrumental on the third goal, controlling a deflected ball and slipping it to Willian at the far post. He hit several well-weighted longer through balls, too. With ESR looking likely to miss time, it’s really important that Arsenal have MØ at the club and firing.
Thomas Partey - 5
More of a run-out, get your fitness back appearance than anything else for the Ghanaian. He needs to stop shooting from absurd distances.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 7
Despite only being on the pitch for 10 minutes, he actually came quite close to scoring a fourth for Arsenal but couldn’t wrap his foot around his shot to get the bend he needed. I believe he had another decent shot that he hit right at Schmeichel, too. Not a bad haul. Sidenote: I was disappointed to see him come on instead of Gabriel Martinelli, but obviously that’s not a knock on PEA.
What do you guys think, TSFers? Was I too generous / harsh on anybody?