Arsenal managed to grind out a victory over Cardiff City on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t as easy as it should’ve been for Unai Emery’s side.
Arsenal really struggled in the first half of their Premier League clash, and either team could have been in the lead at the break. Though things did improve after that, with a change in formation and the introduction of a couple of substitutes, it still wasn’t vintage Arsenal in the second half either.
Nonetheless, The Gunners got the job done, scoring twice before Cardiff pulled one back with a very late consolation goal.
Let’s have a look at our individual player ratings for the match.
1Goalkeeper and Defence
Bernd Leno 7
Leno’s distribution was very good, and he showed more press resistance than many of the players ahead of him at times. The German only had to make one save before injury time, at which point Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scored a very nice goal past him. There wasn’t much the Arsenal goalkeeper could do about that one though.
Stephan Lichtsteiner 5
Lichtsteiner is still struggling to make a case for himself as Arsenal’s first-choice right-back, despite Hector Bellerin’s injury.
The 35-year-old didn’t make any tackles, interceptions or create any chances, so his impact on the game was minimal at best. None of his crosses found their targets, and he only won one of his eight duels.
On the other side, Lichtsteiner’s passing was generally accurate and he did make one clearance and block one shot nicely. Still, it was no surprise to see the right-back taken off with half an hour to go.
Shkodran Mustafi 8
Mustafi had a pretty busy performance, with no one on the team making more tackles, more clearances or more aerial duels than him. A couple of those tackles were very well-timed slides in the box, which are fine when they actually come off. The centre-back also won the majority of his duels.
The 26-year-old remains an inconsistent and confusing defender, but this was one of his good games.
Nacho Monreal 7
Monreal wasn’t quite as impressive off the ball as Mustafi, but he was very good on it. He got a bit ambitious at times, racing forwards to help the attack, but it wasn’t a big deal as Arsenal had three midfielders to help fill in.
Nonetheless, it was generally a pretty solid performance from the Spaniard. Although it felt like Cardiff were getting opportunities, they ended the game with 0.87 xG and zero big chances, so Arsenal did well enough defensively. You just worry about this pairing against a top attack like Manchester City’s.
Sead Kolasinac 8
Kolasinac had another good game, as he continues his run in the side as Arsenal’s first choice left-back. He won all of his attempted tackles, made a couple of interceptions and five clearances.
However, the Bosnian’s best moment of the match came in the opposition penalty area. He raced onto an Alex Iwobi through-ball, getting to it just before the Cardiff player and winning a penalty for The Gunners. Somehow, the left-back remains one of the team’s most influential players offensively.
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