Arsenal shot themselves in the foot to throw away a lead and lose against Tottenham Hotspur in a key match for European football on Sunday.
Arsenal took a slender lead into the North London derby, meaning even a draw would be enough to at least remain ahead of their local rivals. A win would keep Mikel Arteta’s side in touch with the Europa League places.
It looked like they might get one in the early stages, as Alexandre Lacazette fired a shot into the top corner. But a mix-up between Sead Kolasinac and David Luiz gifted Spurs an equaliser.
Though Arsenal dominated possession for the rest of the game, they only made a few good chances and failed to convert any of them. Then Toby Alderweireld scored from a set-piece to condemn the Gunners to a damaging defeat.
Let’s have a look at our Arsenal Player Ratings for the match.
- Emi Martinez 8.5 – There’s little more Martinez could have done on the day. He made a huge seven saves, including a couple from dangerous one-on-ones. He always got out quickly to meet the attacker, which smothered a lot of chances. Also completed 93% of his passes. But the Arsenal defence badly let him down.
- Shkodran Mustafi 4.5 – The only one of the three to have a strong first half, Mustafi fell apart in the second. After continuing his good recent form and showing good composure for 45 minutes, maybe even 60 minutes, he suddenly started diving into challenges and running out of position again. As soon as his head went, he was a major liability.
- David Luiz 4 – Partially at fault for Spurs’ opener, and did very little to make up for it. Even before the goal, Luiz bizarrely tried to shield the ball within the opening 10 seconds to gift the hosts a shot on goal. We can add this to City, Liverpool and Chelsea on the list of big games Luiz has fallen apart in.
- Sead Kolasinac 2 – There was nothing at all to like about this performance from Kolasinac. He genuinely offered more to Spurs than Arsenal. If Arteta wants a left-footed centre-back, he needs to start playing Tierney there with Saka on the left, because Kolasinac can’t do it.
Midfield and Wing-Backs
- Hector Bellerin 6 – Most of Arsenal’s threat in the first half came from the right-hand side, but most of Spurs’ did too, so it’s hard to evaluate how well Bellerin really did. He got forward well, and had some really nice moments on the ball, but clearly that left spaces for Moura and Son to exploit.
- Dani Ceballos 8 – Arsenal’s best outfield player, Ceballos was lively, positive and not nearly as sloppy as some of his teammates in possession. If I’m going to be critical, he still didn’t create enough for the amount of the ball Arsenal had. But it was still a strong performance and he pressed Spurs well whenever possible.
- Granit Xhaka 6.5 – Did well for Arsenal’s goal, making an effective tackle before shielding Lacazette to allow him the shot on goal. It was still a little generous to call it an assist, and like Ceballos, Xhaka didn’t create enough outside that moment. He also failed to find Tierney in space on the left nearly as effectively as he should have, almost always passing too early, too late, too far ahead of the wing-back or not at all.
- Kieran Tierney 6 – With the above in mind, Tierney still needed to do better with the possession he did have. The 23-year-old was hardly involved at all defensively, so he needed to create something going forward. To be generous, perhaps he was tiring after so many recent games post-injury and COVID-break.
- Nicolas Pepe 6.5 – Divided opinion on social media, I thought he did pretty well after a dodgy first 15 minutes. He progressed the play and it took a lot of fouling to stop him, winning Arsenal some dangerous free-kicks. Also had a couple of decent efforts at goal. But he also gave the ball away dangerously a couple of times.
- Alexandre Lacazette 7.5 – Only had one chance, if you can call it that, and he smashed the shot top corner. An excellent finish that deserved more than three minutes in the lead. Also played the pass to create Aubameyang’s best chance.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 6 – Aubameyang really had to score one of two great opportunities he had to give Arsenal the lead. Ironically, he caught a much harder half-volley really nicely, after scuffing a close-range effort and hitting the post when in on goal. Neither were easy chances, but this is Aubameyang, the PL Golden Boot holder. He had to put one away.
- Bukayo Saka 6 – Looked bright at first, but it didn’t take long for Spurs to shut him down. He’s still not a right-winger, however much Arteta seems to want him to be. After moving out to the left Arsenal stopped passing to him, which was frustrating.
- Joe Willock N/A – Came on too late for a proper rating, but immediately started trying to carry the ball up the field on his own. The best he managed to win was a free-kick, but at least he added some forward impetus in central areas.
- Reiss Nelson N/A – Only had a few touches after coming on, looked lively but didn’t get much of a chance to prove himself.
- Cedric Soares N/A – Decent cameo, he was at least trying to make something happen.