There’s not much left for Arsenal to play for in the Premier League besides ensuring they don’t embarrassingly drop below Burnley. Thankfully, they did just enough to keep them at arm’s length by ultimately finding a winner against Southampton in the 81st minute. Here’s how each Gunner performed…
Petr Cech – 6.5
This seems to be happening too much lately, but it’s true that there wasn’t too much he could do to save the two goals. They were both from point-blank range and symptoms of a shoddy defence. Thankfully, he did make some good saves to push the team towards a win.
Hector Bellerin – 7
He was the last line of defence on an early attempt on goal from the Saints and had the 4th most forward passes in the final 3rd for the team. He was fairly solid on defence all day long and offered a bit going forward too.
Shkodran Mustafi – 5
These days, Arsenal fans have little tolerance left for errors, including me. Mustafi wrongfully expected Cech to handle the cross so he just stood there while Long snuck by to poke it in. The German defender also appeared shaky throughout the match. His weaker performances typically come when playing with the “B Team” so let’s hope his form returns on Thursday in a full-strength squad.
Calum Chambers – 6
Had a tough job to do on that second goal and just couldn’t clear it. He was less shaky than Mustafi before and after that lapse but we’ve seen him perform better. Bonus points for his hilarious attempt at an overhead kick.
Sead Kolasinac – 7
Another improved performance for Kolasinac. He looked good going forward and won 5 aerial duels in the defensive and midfield thirds. He also reacted to the Wilshere-Stephens incident correctly (unlike a certain someone I will be talking about next), because a good shove is all you can realistically get in without being carded.
Mohamed Elneny – 7.5
Yes, he didn’t deserve a red card at the end, but the incident had died down and there was no need to get into it again. Despite the incident, he was having a great game. Elneny completed 111 of his 116 passes (a game-high 96%), won the ball back 12 times (game-high), and had 3 key passes (game-high along with Iwobi).
Granit Xhaka – 7.5
For months I’ve been saying Xhaka ISN’T a defensive midfielder like people thought he was when he joined. But, in 2018, his game has changed dramatically in a good way. While he doesn’t think about defence first, he has continuously covered for the defenders when necessary and worked tirelessly in front of them. The Swiss international completed 3/3 tackles, 6/6 aerial duels, and cleared 4 balls out of the box. The only downside to his game was what was usually his upside (84% passing/26 losses of possession).
Reiss Nelson – 6
What I had hoped would be an exciting debut for Nelson turned out to be drabber than first expected. It certainly wasn’t a detrimental performance or anything but he just couldn’t seem to get involved in any significant way.
Alex Iwobi – 8
Possibly Iwobi’s best performance of the season came at a great time. 2 of his 3 key passes came off well, leading to Welbeck goals. The 3rd nearly resulted in an Aubameyang goal right at the start of the 2nd half.
Danny Welbeck – 8.5
I was ready to write this off as a great performance for Welbeck, with an assist and a lucky, deflected goal. He missed an absolute sitter that would’ve won the game in the 78th minute. But, after redeeming himself with a great headed goal just minutes later, I changed my original assumption. This was not a great performance, but a fantastic one!
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 8
He took a page out of Welbeck’s book with the ugly goal he scored, but a goal is a goal! He meshed well even with the “B Team”, letting off two key passes. 6 goals and 1 assist mean he’s been directly involved in more goals than any other Arsenal player through their first 7 Premier League matches.
Jack Wilshere – 6
Considering Jack has looked tired in the late stage of recent games, he looked brighter coming up against tired opponents after coming on in the 64th minute. He was solid enough and did well to anger Stephens into earning a red card. But I need to see something substantial from him soon, like a goal or assist, not just “passion.” It’s been over 1,000 minutes since he last contributed one of those.
Alexandre Lacazette – 6
He only touched the ball 14 times and most of those were in the midfield third. He did okay enough, but I don’t think it was wise for Wenger to sub out the only player who can’t play in the Europa League for our most important striker in that tournament.
Rob Holding – 6
He came on for Bellerin after Austin’s equaliser and did well to keep any other goals from ending up in the back of the Arsenal net.