Arsenal fell disappointingly short against bottom-of-the-table Watford on Sunday, throwing away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal reacts as Kiko Femenia of Watford take a throw in during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Arsenal FC at Vicarage Road on September 15, 2019 in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
WATFORD, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 15: Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal reacts as Kiko Femenia of Watford take a throw-in during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Arsenal FC at Vicarage Road on September 15, 2019, in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

In all honesty, a player ratings article feels a bit unfair after this kind of game. Though there were good and bad performances, the overarching problem was that Arsenal’s tactical setup just wasn’t good enough to win, particularly in the second half.

No individual player could have won this game alone with a better performance, so to rate them individually feels like missing the point.

All the same, with that context in mind, let’s have a look at how they all did.

Goalkeeper

  • Bernd Leno – There were two sides to the goalkeeper’s performance, shot-stopping and distribution. His eight saves included some crucial stops to at least earn Arsenal a point, but his part in playing out from the back possibly cost the team all three.

Defence

  • Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Got forward well and provided a good assist for the second goal. Unfortunately, he was dominated at the other end by Gerard Deulofeu. Deulofeu’s many long-shots weren’t too troubling, but his EIGHT chances created were.
  • Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Directly at fault for Watford’s first goal, allowing them back into the game with a stupid pass. The fact that Cleverley was just inside the box on the goal kick is no excuse for playing such a poor ball when facing the play.
  • David Luiz 4 – Complemented his defensive partner’s error by making one that was just as bad, giving away a penalty as close to the edge of the box as possible under little danger. He was playing pretty well before that.
  • Sead Kolasinac – Pretty similar to Maitland-Niles on the other side. Kolasinac got his assist, but it was an anonymous defensive performance from him and he picked up a booking for a terrible challenge.

Midfield

  • Matteo Guendouzi 4.5 – Struggled to make his mark on the game in any meaningful sense, the complete opposite of his last performance against Tottenham Hotspur. Made a couple of big errors on the ball in the defensive third that could have been costly.
  • Granit Xhaka – Played well, although social media has been full of blind criticism anyway. Made as many tackles as all the other defenders and midfielders combined, passed effectively, and left the errors in possession to his midfield partners.
  • Dani Ceballos – Ceballos didn’t offer much defensive protection, nor much inspiration in the final third, so it was easy to see why he was the first player taken off. His passing was fine.
  • Mesut Özil – That one pass in the build-up to the second goal was excellent, and a sign of what Özil can bring back to the team. Needed to do more, but for a first game back that’s acceptable.

Forwards

  • Nicolas Pepe – With Arsenal’s difficulties in midfield areas, Pepe didn’t really have much of an opportunity to make a difference. He created one good chance for Nelson late on and completed a few nice dribbles, but had just one shot of his own.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – At least Aubameyang is here to stop things getting too embarrassing. The striker had three chances all game and scored two of them, displaying his excellent movement and finishing abilities.

Substitutes

  • Joe Willock 5.5 – Carried the ball forward nicely a couple of times, but he held onto it too long when he had a good chance to set Aubameyang up for a third. Pressed Watford better than most of the starters had.
  • Lucas Torreira – Torreira was presumably introduced to provide some protection to the back four, but his only defensive involvement was being dribbled past once. He also completed just five passes in the final quarter of the game.
  • Reiss Nelson – Came on for the final 20 minutes and had one tame shot easily saved. He made a couple of tackles, which is more than you could say for seven of Arsenal’s 10 outfield starters.
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