Arsenal shook off a comeback scare to progress to the Europa League semi-finals with a 2-2 draw against CSKA Moscow on Thursday night.
A few hundred Arsenal fans navigated all the hurdles associated with a match in Russia, and at first it looked like they would end up returning home disappointed. In fact, after taking a 2-0 lead CSKA were just inches away from making it three and going ahead on away goals.
Fortunately, the tie turned after the first substitutions, and Arsenal ended up with a comfortable looking 6-3 scoreline on aggregate. The performance wasn’t nearly as impressive as the final result looks though.
So how did the players do individually?
Petr Cech 5.5
Personally I think it’s harsh to blame Cech for conceding either goal, even though they were both rebounds.
The first was actually a fantastic save from the keeper, but his defence left him stranded on the follow up. The second wasn’t such a good save, but Golovin’s shot was well struck and did move in the air. Again, it would’ve been nice to see an Arsenal defender learn from the first half mistake and get to the rebound first.
Other than that Cech did make a few good saves, and kept Arsenal ahead. Then again, he hardly ever found a teammate with his throws and kick outs.
Hector Bellerin 5
Perhaps I’m being harsh, but I thought this was a poor game from Bellerin. He didn’t make any major defensive errors, but on the ball he was way off his best.
Plus, it wasn’t until the formation change that he even made his first of three successful tackles. Similarly, half of his aerial duels came in that final quarter of the match. For whatever reason, he struggled in the back four on this occasion.
Shkodran Mustafi 5
Mustafi wasn’t terrible in Russia, but after he let Shane Long in at the weekend to score you’d think he would’ve learned his lesson this time.
Instead, he stood and watched motionlessly as Cech’s rebound spilled to an attacker for CSKA’s first goal. He then turned and raised his arm hoping the assistant referee would bail him out.
Laurent Koscielny 6
Koscielny wasn’t at his best early on, misplacing a couple of passes, but fortunately he stepped it up as the game went on. He ended up with 88% pass accuracy, whilst the rest of the defence was in the 70s. A massive 11 clearances, 5 interceptions and 6 aerials won sum up how busy his night was.
Nacho Monreal 4.5
Monreal had a rough game, like Bellerin, until the formation change. He was beaten for the initial header for the first goal, and didn’t react to the rebound quickly enough for the second. He improved after that, but Arsenal can’t afford players only turning up at 2-0 down. A night to forget for one of the team’s generally consistent performers.