The Arsenal player who flew under the radar vs Aston Villa

Arsenal are a half-decent team when everyone plays well. Against Aston Villa on Friday, everyone played well. Some were better than others, naturally, and some did their jobs without needing to excel, but all in all it was a collective display with an abundance of energy.

That latter point is a key one: each player was singing from the same hymn sheet at the Emirates Stadium and no individual failed to match the desire of the man next to them.

Emile Smith Rowe has already stolen the limelight for what was one of his best ever displays in an Arsenal shirt. Setting up the first goal and handing Arsenal the breathing space with the third, it was an electric outing from the 21-year-old who deservedly scooped the man of the match award.

Looking down the line there are a host of other options to single out for praise, but one who went about his business quietly amid a backdrop of loud performances, needs his own mention: Albert Sambi Lokonga was superb in the centre of the park.

Albert Sambi Lokonga’s performance for Arsenal against Aston Villa flew slightly under the radar amid a stirring collective display in the 3-1 win

Mikel Arteta opted to drop Martin Odegaard and reinstate the Belgian into the side, providing Thomas Partey with a recognised midfield partner.

On his birthday, Sambi put in one of his best displays for Arsenal to date as his energy and enthusiasm was matched with defensive discipline and confidence on the ball. Villa didn’t know where he was or where he was going.

More than any other occasion prior the 22-year-old had the determination to carry through the lines from deep. Playing on the angle with Partey made this possible as they covered each others tracks, handing Sambi the platform to glide beyond challenges and receive on the half-turn.

His close control goes unnoticed and just like Odegaard can follow suit on his day, Sambi was silky in possession and, crucially, steely out of it. This is what a real double pivot can be and following the error in the Crystal Palace game, his determination to put things right was demonstrated.

“I want to play the next game as quick as possible,” he said. “When you play a game like this, you are hungry inside because I made a mistake.

“It is difficult because we have to analyse them. I think they (the goals) are from two mistakes, one of them mine as well. It is an area where I cannot lose the ball, so it is difficult to speak about the goals when I made a mistake.”

Seeing both sides of his game on Friday offered a glimpse into not only his potential, but the potential of this partnership. Sharing many qualities with Partey, in playing together they can dovetail in a way that allows both elements of their skillsets to sing: No. 6 type play breaking and progressive carrying a la No. 8.

An extremely encouraging outing from the youngster who got to play where he should be playing. None of this left-back covering nonsense that detracts from him and others instead of enhance. Now, don’t change it.