I’m getting fed up with Arsenal at the moment.
Average. That’s the best way to describe this Arsenal team’s performance against Leeds. Plum average. We had four or five solid individual performances in the first half, but just no cohesion within the team. Leeds were profligate, but that’s no excuse for the lack of energy we showed on the pitch.
The second half was off to a better start, with the introduction of Reiss Nelson for a despondent Willian. That, of course, is until Nicolas Pepe decided that Ezgjan Alioski‘s forehead had a speck of grease that he just had to wipe off with his own forehead. But jokes aside, there’s no excuse.
And after we went down to ten, the performance levels actually increased. The red card appeared to be the first reason for this squad to try, and that might be the best standard for the way Arsenal played today. Our subs made a difference, but it wasn’t enough.We did well to rescue a draw
Goalkeeper & Defenders
GK: Bernd Leno – 8.0
Looks more comfortable every week in his punches, but catching under pressure could still use some work. That being said, he read crosses really well today. Untroubled by a pair of weak shots from Patrick Bamford, and looked sharp in the first half. Watched so many shots fly over the bar, I’m shocked he doesn’t have whiplash. Excellent save from a Stuart Dallas rocket.
RB: Hector Bellerin – 5.5
Clearly asked to play a more defensive role in the first half. Barnstormed forward well on a few occasions, and nearly set up Aubameyang in the 25th minute. Tucked in a bit too much for my liking, and Leeds found so much joy on Arsenal’s right flank.
CB: Rob Holding – 6.0
His first real action was a 20th minute foul on Patrick Bamford, and his name wasn’t really called other than that. Did well to clean up a few long balls, but got caught out by Jack Harrison once or twice. Really took a commanding role in the back four, talking constantly. Backed up Gabriel well too. Loving the partnership here.
CB: Gabriel Magalhaes – 7.5
It’s clear how much his teammates trust him in possession. Always the first look when recycling possession, and made some adventurous runs. One scary moment when he missed a clearance, teeing up Patrick Bamford, but solid otherwise. Developing quite the relationship with his teammates, specifically Tierney. Mistake-free second half.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 7.0
Clearly in a good place with his football, after Scotland’s EURO 2021 Qualifying success. Silenced Leeds’ right side for the most part, and got forward well, showing life on the touchline and coming inside. Got frustrated late on in the first half with the lack of energy around him.
RCM: Dani Ceballos – 6.0
Looked to dictate play early on, but misplayed so many passes in the opening ten minutes. Grew into the game, and it’s clear he’s found a lot more grit in his game while in England. Made some key tackles, and a number of lovely interceptions. Just defended in the second half, but did so quite well.
LCM: Granit Xhaka – 5.5
Quiet game for Xhaka. Tasked with marking the energetic Mateusz Klich, and that occupied most of his attention. Filled in for both Tierney and Bellerin, allowing them to scamper forward on occasion, but didn’t defend well. Leeds got countless opportunities at the top of the box. Essentially played centre-back after Pepe’s sending off.
AM: Joe Willock – 5.8
Classic Joe Willock. Played a free-flowing game, and was at his best around the edge of the 18. Still occasionally loose with the ball, but did well to maintain possession. Arteta was in his ear for a lot of the game, and he responded well to the advice. Battled Kalvin Phillips throughout, and came out on top more often than not. Nonexistent out of possession.
RW: Nicolas Pepe – 1.0
We actually saw a few good set pieces from the Ivorian, in that they didn’t hit the first man every time. He pressed well in the first half going forward, but was nowhere to be seen tracking back. Hit his stride around the 25th minute, and look really bright, but the defensive woes were the main talking point of his game today. Until, of course, he one-upped himself by headbutting Alioski like a moron. I can’t even look at the upsides of his game because he so monumentally screwed us over against an already dominant Leeds.
LW: Willian – 4.0
Looked like he came into the game with some serious misconceptions about Leeds. Caught in possession throughout the early part of the first half, and looked unready for the Lilywhites pressing. Just no dynamism to his game, and his dribbles are so predictable. Didn’t make good runs, and Luke Ayling ran the field with him going forward. I’m very glad Martinelli is recovering fast.
ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 5.5
Pressed well, and it was really nice to see him playing up front. That being said, had a very quiet first half. Regulated possession well, held the ball up on a few occasions, but had very little cutting edge. Looked disinterested off the ball, and I saw him walking far too much. Didn’t do much in the second half, despite a few half chances. But also got no service, so I can’t blame him too harshly.
Reiss Nelson – 5.8
Bright from the off. Countless poor set-piece deliveries, but looked really good on the ball. Nothing he could do once we went to ten, but ran his heart out, and defended really well, unlike his predecessor. Amazing what we can do with wingers who defend.
Bukayo Saka – 7.0
A beacon of confidence for this team. Good to see him on the pitch, and I’m glad we rested him for the first half. We needed his defensive nous and energy in the midfield to defend against a rampant Leeds. And he made a difference from the off, bamboozling his markers and generating our first shot on target. Our best attacking threat in the second half, and defended well too. Gutted to see him hurt