Arsenal slipped to their usual 3-0 defeat against Manchester City on Wednesday, their first game back since the Premier League restart.
Unfortunately, Arsenal games against Manchester City are starting to become a foregone conclusion. Leading up to this match, City won the last six clashes 3-1, 3-0, 3-0, 2-0, 3-1 and 3-0.
Anyone hoping for a different result this time had their hopes dashed by some early misfortune for the Gunners. Granit Xhaka, a doubt going into the game, rolled his ankle and had to come off within the first eight minutes.
After that, Pablo Mari went down and had to come off for David Luiz. It was then Luiz’s mistake that gifted Raheem Sterling the opening goal in first-half injury time.
To compound his mistake, Luiz brought down Riyad Mahrez for a penalty and a red card in the second half. The game essentially ended as a contest, with Phil Foden adding a third goal in injury time.
Let’s take a look at our player ratings for the match.
- Bernd Leno 8 – Conceded three goals but also made nine saves, including a couple of one-on-ones. He looked as solid as ever, and the only slight criticism is that none of his 10 long balls found their target. But that wasn’t solely his fault.
- Hector Bellerin 6 – A look at the stats suggests Bellerin was pretty good, with 92% pass accuracy, winning his only individual duel, two clearances, two interceptions, one tackle and no fouls or times dribbled past. He just needed to show a little more ambition in possession.
- Shkodran Mustafi 5 – A performance completely overshadowed by his centre-back partners, but he was fine on the night. Not exactly impressive, but no major mistakes either. Like Leno, the biggest negative was his long-ball distribution (zero of five).
- Pablo Mari 4 – Didn’t start too badly, but he pulled up in a vital moment to almost gift City the opening goal and then came off injured. So overall, it wasn’t a great day for him.
- Kieran Tierney 7 – One of Arsenal’s better performers on the night. He had a strong first half up against Riyad Mahrez, before having to switch to centre-back in the second after Luiz’s red card. It’s not his position but he certainly didn’t embarrass himself. Looked good on the ball as well as off it, though he should have released Aubameyang in behind at one stage.
- Joe Willock 5 – Put in a good shift defensively, but was part of a midfield that didn’t create a single chance. As with many of his teammates, it wasn’t that he was constantly misplacing passes (he only missed one of 17), but rather that none of them were ever likely to lead to anything.
- Matteo Guendouzi 5 – A little frustrating, for me. There were a few moments where he faked a pass to create some space but then continued to delay until it was much too late. He needs to release the ball earlier and with more ambition, he didn’t even attempt a long pass on the night.
- Granit Xhaka N/A – Made one touch before rolling his ankle and coming off with an injury. Possibly shouldn’t have started the game in the first place given the concerns about his fitness pre-match.
- Bukayo Saka 4 – Had a couple of bright moments but looked isolated most of the time and couldn’t handle the physicality of his opponents on this occasion. Offside way too often. Ended up at left-back after the red card, where he was fine.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 4 – There were two times his teammates should have taken a risk and played him in. Who knows what might’ve happened if they did? The rest of the night Aubameyang was barely even noticeable.
- Eddie Nketiah 6 – Considering how badly the attack and midfield underperformed, Nketiah had a decent game. He held his own in a very isolated role, winning the majority of his individual duels against a tough City defence. Even tracked back to make a couple of tackles and pressed pretty well. Just needed to do better with his one chance.
- Dani Ceballos 6 – Played 82 minutes after Xhaka’s injury. Brought a lot of energy to the match, even when things went badly wrong. He has a bit of an all-or-nothing defensive style, which leads to a lot of tackles and interceptions but also a lot of times dribbled past. This game was no exception. He was fairly positive on the ball, which is more than you can say for most.
- David Luiz 1 – An absolute disaster. Coming on as a substitute, Luiz gifted City two goals in 25 minutes and reduced the team to 10 men. He admitted his fault after the game but that doesn’t change the result or the fact we’ll face the next two games with two senior defenders.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles 5 – The game was long dead by the time these final three came on, so it’s really hard to judge their performances. Maitland-Niles did well in possession and made one important defensive clearance but didn’t provide a huge amount of cover.
- Alexandre Lacazette 5 – Hardly had an impact but as a striker playing for a 10-man team 2-0 down that was somewhat excusable.
- Reiss Nelson 6 – Looked bright and positive, tried things even if they didn’t all come off. Probably should have started on the right instead of Saka if Arteta didn’t want to use Pepe.