Arsenal 1-1 Southampton: Player ratings from a frustrating day

Written by Edward Pitt

December 18, 2020

Arsenal have again disappointingly dropped points in their 1-1 draw at home to Southampton. However, considering the way the game looked to be going at time, and again going down to 10 men, it could have been a lot worse. Here is how the players got on.

Leno – 5/10: A fairly nervy performance from Leno. I think that when a team is as nervous and fearful as Arsenal are right now, this is always going to be felt by the ‘keeper. I am still certain we have a great goalie and we will see him back at his best once the confidence is running in the team again. 

Holding – 7/10: A fairly rock solid performance by Holding and certainly our best centre-back in this game. He was also incredibly unlucky to see his late header not find the top corner and steal the 3 points.

Gabriel – 4/10: He has hardly put a foot wrong all season, but sometimes it is just not your night. His timing all game just seemed completely off; always just a second or two out of place. For me, he was partly at fault rushing out from the back and losing that 50/50 against Che Adams for the first goal. Then obviously the red card compounded his miseries; he was just quite erratic today compared to his usual composed style. 

Tierney – 5/10: He also didn’t cover himself in glory with the first goal with entirely the wrong body shape. Though in fairness he had little time to react to Gabriel’s decision to burst forward leaving his post. He also wasn’t able to show his quality going forward. To me, it makes no sense to force him to play centre back when clearly his best position is left back and Saka’s best position is in the final third.

Maitland-Niles – 6/10: A solid performance at right back. Defended very confidently and showed some glimpses in the final third with Pepe. Certainly nothing to write home about, but enough to suggest he deserves a run in the team ahead of the struggling Hector Bellerin.

Elneny – 6/10: I think he struggled in the first half, like most Arsenal players. However, looked more assured in the second half and his winning the ball back at times was what led to some of our best chances.

Ceballos – 6/10: Same as Elneny really. A poor first half with an improvement in the second. He was heavily involved in the first half though, but the end product was missing. I was very disappointed with the way he looked to draw the foul rather than try and shoot shortly after Walcott’s opener.

Saka – 8/10: I’m running out of compliments to give this kid without repeating myself. He was a little bit laboured in the first half – I’m sure you can notice a theme at this stage regarding our poor first half. But in the second half he was so creative. He was always looking to take his man on and make something happen, which I haven’t seen enough of the other players doing this season. The part he played in our goal was simply brilliant to wriggle through 3 Saints defenders and stay on his feet. His tweet after the game saying the fans deserve better was a nice touch too. It shows that not only does he have the ability, but he also cares and has the attitude to go with it. As a fan, I know for a fact that we cannot deserve better than what he is producing in our struggling team right now. For a 19-year-old kid he has been magnificent. 

Pepe – 6/10: Showed some good moments but couldn’t get on the ball enough to really hurt Southampton. He keeps a respectable rating though because I thought that off the ball he was exemplary, chasing down the defenders in excellent fashion, though often in vein.

Nketiah – 6/10: Much like Pepe he couldn’t really get on the ball enough, but his good pressing keeps him in my good books for this one. I’ve been vocal about how Arsenal need to improve on their pressing ability, and I think that we Nketiah, Pepe and Martinelli when he returns, we should be better placed to do this effectively. Also a very nice touch to set up Aubameyang’s goal.

Aubameyang – 7/10: In the first half I thought he was poor and looked very disinterested. But it was a great reaction in the second half. He got himself back on the score sheet (and from open play thank goodness). Hopefully, that goal will give him just that bit more confidence he needs in the upcoming games.


Luiz – 6/10: Replaced Nketiah after Gabriel’s dismissal and put in a solid shift alongside Holding to ensure that we came away with a point. 

Willock – 6/10: Came on for Ceballos, but had to probably do more defending than he would have wanted with us being down to 10-men. His attitude and work rate seemed good though.

Cedric – N/A: Came on very late to see the game out. So late in fact I’m not sure if I remember anything of note that he was able to do. Therefore, it would be harsh to give him a rating. 

ARTETA – 6/10: If we remain reasonable and examine the game just based on this game, then it was far from a terrible managerial display. He was again forced to manage a game that was there to be won after Gabriel’s dismissal. Mikel can’t seem to catch a break. However, given the circumstances, escaping with a point and with Holding’s header coming so close to winning it is not too bad. Regarding the lineup, I thought the players he selected were all spot on. However, I would have liked to see them in a different tactical setup. Like I mentioned before, I think a 4-3-3 with Tierney providing the width and Saka and Aubameyang afforded more of an ability to roam would have seen us cause Southampton more problems.



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