Player Ratings: Pepe flops and Leno stars as Arsenal disappoint again

Written by Edward Pitt

November 22, 2020

Arsenal have just been held to a goalless draw to Leeds United. Or should I say we held Leeds to a draw. Leeds were all over from minute one, hitting the woodwork multiple times. Leeds were very unlucky to not get the 3 points in another disappointing display for Arsenal, in which despite a more optimistic formation, the players out on the bench simply weren’t able to get the job done. I think this is a key lesson to take from this game – Arteta tried to commit more players forward and be creative, but ultimately this game shows he doesn’t have the players to do so just yet. Saying that, I do not mind this at all. Strangely, I am quite content with the prospect of another poor season in terms of results, safe in the knowledge that by the end of it Arteta will know for sure which players we need to keep and which just won’t be good enough for Arteta’s plan. Here are how our players performed in this disappointing result against Leeds.

Leno – 8/10: Anyone who claims that Arsenal made a mistake in letting go Martinez need only look at this game to see if this isn’t true. Without him today, we could have lost by 2 or 3. His distribution was also as good as it could be, considering the lack of willingness from people in front of him to run and make themselves open.

Bellerin – 6/10: I thought he had quite a poor first half; defensively a bit shaky and misplaced a number of passes in the final third. However, in the second half the Spaniard was one of our better players, willing to defend and put his body on the line. He also created our only meaningful chance of the game, which Saka probably should have put away.

Holding – 5/10: I felt he could have dealt with crosses a bit better throughout the game and shown a bit more urgency when the team needed to build from the back. That being said, he defended very well in the latter stages to help Arsenal to walk away with a lucky point.

Gabriel – 4/10: I’m not going to make any outrageous statements about this guy not being good enough; the fact is he’s been arguably our best player this season and he’s allowed a bad game. This is was very bad one for him if you ask me. He seemed very awkward at times and lost almost every exchange he had with Patrick Bamford, who on another day could have scored a hattrick. He also really struggled with the Leeds crosses.

Tierney – 7/10: Tierney was solid today and showed some good moments going forward too. He put his body on the line left, right and centre, all while being forced to work doubly hard as Willian struggled to get back and help out. As good as he’s been at centre back in recent weeks, it’s clear his best position is at left-back.

Xhaka – 4/10: We know Xhaka is the most extravagant or dynamic player, but normally you can rely on him to control the tempo, win his duels and make the sensible pass. Well, today he had a shocker. Much like most players on that pitch, he lost most of his duels. He also gave the ball away in bad areas a lot for Arsenal. Certainly, a night to forget for him.

Ceballos – 6/10: He was quite sloppy at times, but he was one of the few players willing to get Arsenal moving forward. He was trying to be inventive the whole time, and whilst it didn’t work often enough, Arsenal fans will appreciate this attitude. 

Willock – 4/10: I still stand by that it was good to give him a start. And one poor performance does not mean he should be immediately removed from the first team. But, it’s safe to say he was very poor today. He seemed very slow and laboured on the ball and often went for the safe option. Disappointing considering the confidence he’s been playing with in the Europa League.

Pepe – 2/10: I was ready to write about what a decent performance he was putting in. Sure, he wasn’t doing anything spectacular but he showed glimpses of quality and the ability to beat a man that only he was showing. That was all ruined by a childish and foolish reaction to a coming together with Alioski. Getting yourself sent off due to bad luck won’t ruin your reputation with fans, but to do so in such pathetic and embarrassing fashion will give him a period on the sidelines to really contemplate his actions. I’m a fan of his, but he needs to use this time to get his head screwed on and ready to come back firing after serving his suspension.

Willian – 4/10: He just seemed so tired today did Willian. On the ball he wasn’t actually too bad, but off the ball he simply didn’t seem to have the legs. Arteta recognised this and took him off at half time for Nelson.

Aubameyang – 5/10: Arsenal fans got their wishes; we played him through the middle. Unfortunately, we still couldn’t get the ball to him in the right areas. My one criticism of him is that when he is marked out of a game, he cannot really offer us anything. Compare with someone like Harry Kane who, if having a tough day at the office, can drop in and be a creative player, or even a defensive midfielder for Spurs. 


Saka – 4/10: Looked good until his injury, which hopefully is not too serious. He gets such a low rating for missing our biggest chance of the game which would have gotten us an undeserved 3 points.

Nelson – 5/10: Showed some good moments, but was largely ineffective for Arsenal. Particularly in terms of his set piece delivery. However, showed enough to deserve more first team chances to impress.Ainsley Maitland-Niles – n/a: Brought in for the closing minutes and didn’t have enough time to do anything of note.

Photo: Chensiyuan 2018



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