Arsenal had to fight hard for their 11th consecutive win on Thursday night, but they managed to grind out a 1-0 victory in the end.
In arguably the most difficult fixture of Arsenal’s Europa League group stage, they travelled to Lisbon to face Sporting at the Estádio José Alvalade. The hosts hadn’t lost at the stadium for over a year, and Arsenal weren’t at full strength, with injuries and two Premier League games in close proximity affecting the clash.
As a result, it wasn’t the best performance we’ve seen from the team this season, but they got the job done.
Let’s have a look at our individual player ratings.
1Goalkeeper and Defence
Bernd Leno 7.5
Leno didn’t have a save to make in the 90 minutes, but he did have to make a couple of high claims and sweep up the danger when the ball was played in behind the defence. The goalkeeper’s distribution was generally good, though not quite as impressive as against Leicester.
Stephan Lichtsteiner 6.5
There’s no doubt that Lichtsteiner loves to get under the skin of Arsenal’s opponents, and he did so again on Thursday in a few fiery incidents. Defensively he did well enough, but offensively he was disappointing.
The Gunners gave the right-back plenty of chances to get the ball in, and he couldn’t find a teammate with a single cross, nor create one chance over the 90 minutes. He preferred to cut inside and lay the ball off far too often.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos 8.5
Back in the team after injury, Sokratis showed the Arsenal fans exactly what they’ve been missing without him. He won all of his attempted tackles, two-thirds of his aerial duels and 75% of his duels overall, not giving the Sporting strikers an inch. That was a large part of the reason the hosts didn’t have a shot on target.
The Greek’s passing was also more accurate than anyone else in the team, at 94% accuracy, including both of his long balls finding their target.
Rob Holding 8
Holding also had a very good game in general, with the exception of one poor moment in the first half. He gifted the ball to Nani, and the former Manchester United man almost found the top corner with a curling effort from outside the box. It was the closest Sporting came to a goal, though it would’ve been a world class finish if it’d gone in.
Other than that, the Englishman was very solid, making more clearances and winning more aerial duels than anyone else on the team. His partnership with Sokratis shows a lot of promise.
Granit Xhaka 7.5
Xhaka did a very good job considering the circumstances, playing out of position to allow Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac to continue their recoveries. It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, particularly when it came to getting to the line and putting a cross in.
Defensively, though, the Swiss international exceeded expectations, with many worried that Sporting’s tricky wingers would have a field day against him. That wasn’t the case.