Arsenal slipped to a disappointing defeat against Manchester City on Sunday, a match they never really looked like winning, but there were one or two encouraging performances nonetheless.
Unai Emery’s team spent a lot of time trying to press City from the front. Unfortunately, that wasn’t very effective, given Pep Guardiola’s side are probably the best in the league at playing out of that sort of pressure.
Meanwhile at the other end, Arsenal’s defence was relatively easy to force into mistakes in possession, and that’s just what happened on a number of occasions. Let’s look at how each player did individually.
Petr Cech 6
Cech is probably the most difficult person to assign a rating to on this list. The 36-year-old made a few fantastic saves, but Sterling caught him out for the first goal, and he struggled to play out from the back all game. Even when his passes found their targets, that target was usually under masses of pressure.
Despite the shot stopping, most Arsenal fans are now calling for Bernd Leno, so the team can at least be a bit more comfortable in possession.
Hector Bellerin 7
Bellerin quietly had a good game, despite the situation around him. Mendy did get the better of him for the second goal with a clever cutback, but even then it was more a show of the left-back’s quality than of the Spaniard’s failings.
There was nothing Bellerin could do about the first except force Sterling back and towards Matteo Guendouzi, which he did. Unfortunately Guendouzi didn’t quite get it right on that occasion. For the rest of the match, Bellerin put in a positive showing.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 5
Maitland-Niles looked bright at first on the ball, although City were perhaps getting a little too much luck on the right hand side when they put together attacks of their own.
The Arsenal youngster challenged Walker well in a race at one point, but unfortunately it left him injured, and he could play no further part in the match. A shame, given it was his big opportunity with Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac out.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos 6
Sokratis and Mustafi both had very similar performances, where they actually looked surprisingly solid defensively, but really struggled to play out from the back.
The Greek defender made one great tackle in the box, which could easily have been a penalty if he got it wrong, but he didn’t. Like Mustafi, he won all of his aerial duels, and he also made nine clearances. That’s only half the job in an Arsenal team though, he needs to improve at finding his teammates with the ball too.
Shkodran Mustafi 6
As mentioned, Mustafi was generally pretty solid defensively, but not as good in possession. If you look at the stats and see he completed 90% of his passes, you might be confused by that statement. The reality is those passes were either too safe, or put his teammates under too much pressure.
If you just focus on the defensive stats, they were pretty good. He won 100% of his aerial duels, 80% of his tackles and added three interceptions as well. But again, that’s half the job.