Arsenal came from behind to win 3-1 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final against Valencia on Thursday, putting them in a good position ahead of the reverse fixture in Spain.
Unai Emery’s side got off to the worst possible start as Mouctar Diakhaby headed home an early away goal to give Valencia the lead. It only took seven minutes for the Gunners to draw level though, after good work by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Alexandre Lacazette the chance to put away a tap in.
Lacazette then scored a second eight minutes later with a strong header, before Aubameyang added a potentially-vital third late on.
Let’s have a look at our individual player ratings for the match.
Midfield and Wing-Backs
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 8
Maitland-Niles was pretty much the only player on the team willing to take opponents on and drive forwards. His five dribbles completed was more than the rest of the team managed combined, and it got him in behind the defence on a few different occasions to create a couple of good chances.
The one stain on Maitland-Niles’ performance was his attempted headed backpass, which went straight to a Valencia man. As long as he learns from that moment, everything else was positive.
Matteo Guendouzi 5
Guendouzi’s passing was nice enough, but it wasn’t particularly searching, and there was nothing else to his game. He only attempted one cross (which didn’t find its target), he didn’t create any chances, he didn’t complete any dribbles and he lost five out of his six individual duels. It was a pretty anonymous performance before his early substitution.
Granit Xhaka 6
Xhaka had his moments, setting up the second goal and making a few good tackles. His passing wasn’t at its usual high standard, as he struggled to maintain accuracy when he played it forward in central areas, and only played a few long balls all game. He was also dribbled past more than any other Arsenal player and had one truly terrible shot late on.
On the other hand, he also created more chances than any of the others and was particularly effective with his crosses, so it was a mixed bag overall.
Sead Kolasinac 6.5
Kolasinac’s final ball continues to perplex supporters. He got into dangerous areas on a number of occasions throughout the match and hit the first man or cleared the entire pitch pretty much every time. Then, he suddenly found a perfect cross to Aubameyang right at the end to create Arsenal’s third goal.
The 25-year-old wasn’t Arsenal’s most effective player defensively either, but he was very good in the air. Like Xhaka, this was another mixed performance.