Arsenal’s youngsters, backup players and injury returners put in another fantastic performance on Thursday night to ease past Standard Liege 4-0.
Many have argued the back four of Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi and Hector Bellerin is actually stronger than the current Premier League defence, but for the time being, they’re playing in other competitions to build fitness and get game time.
In front of them was a very youthful side. 23-year-olds Dani Ceballos and Lucas Torreira actually looked like the experienced ones behind Reiss Nelson (19), Joe Willock (20), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (22) and Gabriel Martinelli (18).
Despite the inexperience of the side, they had no trouble racing into an early 3-0 lead before seeing out the rest of the game without any problems. Ceballos scored his first Arsenal goal in the second half to make it 4-0 and seal the result.
Let’s have a look at our player ratings for the match.
- Emi Martinez 7 – Made a couple of good saves in keeping another clean sheet, the best of which took a significant deflection off Bellerin. He did come for one cross he was never going to get, though, and he was lucky not to be punished.
- Hector Bellerin 6.5 – Most would probably agree Bellerin looked solid without quite firing on all cylinders. He created a couple of chances and linked up nicely with the various players joining him on the right, but could’ve done better in the dribbles and duels. Only natural in his first senior start for the best part of a year.
- Shkodran Mustafi 7.5 – Another solid display, making more clearances than the rest of the outfield players combined, a tackle, an interception and a couple of aerials duels. He wasn’t put under too much pressure though.
- Rob Holding 7 – This isn’t meant as a negative as such, but Holding had a quiet night. He won a couple of aerial duels and made two clearances but that was it. He did well on the ball though, with the best pass accuracy in the defence.
- Kieran Tierney 8.5 – Fantastic performance. Tierney got his first assist and created two big chances (four chances in total), he won the most tackles and the most interceptions of any player on the team, completed both of his attempted dribbles and backed up Martinelli after a physical confrontation. A lot to love.
- Lucas Torreira 6.5 – A bit of an enigmatic performance, as Torreira shielded the defence well, but he made some clumsy mistakes in possession. None that were too damaging, but he just seems a little off when he’s on the ball lately.
- Dani Ceballos 8 – Scored his first goal with a tap in, and could’ve had another if his powerful header wasn’t straight at the goalkeeper. Spent a huge amount of time on the ball and made great use of it for the most part.
- Joe Willock 8 – Struggled for league starts lately but when he features in other competitions it’s very hard to see why. Willock scored his third goal in three starts with a very well taken finish, though he should’ve scored another after an inch-perfect cross from Tierney. His pressing, forward runs and confident passing were crucial to the team’s dominance.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles 6 – Played one really nice pass in the build-up to the third goal, but things didn’t quite work for Maitland-Niles on the night. No Arsenal starter completed fewer passes, and it was no surprise to see him substituted first. Helped out well defensively.
- Reiss Nelson 8 – Whilst Maitland-Niles appeared to be lacking in confidence, Nelson certainly wasn’t. He had the beating of the full-back almost every time, whether cutting in to shoot or going around the outside. He got one assist for Martinelli, created two big chances, and it was his shot that fell to Willock for his goal.
- Gabriel Martinelli 9.5 – This was one of the best individual performances of the season for Arsenal, even if it was against weaker opposition. Martinelli pressed well, created five chances (including two big chances), scored twice and he actually missed three big chances as well, so he could’ve had five. He won the joint-most tackles with Tierney, assisted Ceballos, completed both of his dribbles and his pace caused nightmares.
- Nicolas Pepe 6 – A few nice passes, one placed shot well blocked, but we still need to see more from Pepe. At the moment he seems to be trying to force things a bit.
- Matteo Guendouzi 6 – Played the ball around with his usual elegance but he was dribbled past three times in 16 minutes without making a tackle, perhaps taking things a bit too easy.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 8 – The fans weren’t too keen on Aubameyang risking himself for this one, but he came through the final 10 minutes without any problems and almost scored yet another goal to add to his eight this season. He also created one big chance in his limited minutes.